Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Sexiest Perfumes

Its a frequently asked question on the fragrance board at MUA, something along the lines of: "which fragrance is a man magnet? what do you consider to be the sexiest perfume? what scent gets the most compliments?" Usually the question comes from a newbie or someone visiting from another board. Many times the question is answered with jokes, such as "bacon" or "beer" or "just get naked." The question of what is a sexy perfume is asked so often it's hard for board regulars to bother answering it. Mostly, when a few good souls take the time to answer, something along the lines of "wear whatever makes you feel good," is the response.

Wearing what makes you happy and therefore feel good and sexy is the correct answer. But occasionally I get to thinking about what constitutes a generically sexy scent. I've come to the conclusion that a sexy fragrance is one that smells man-made, not something realistic like a soliflore or a specific aroma in nature. I wouldn't consider a scent that smells like true red roses or honeysuckle or peach salsa or cedar wood chips to be sexy. I do, however, think orientals and florientals are the sexiest scents. Chypres, to me, are fragrances one wears for herself. I can't imagine any chypre I own as sexy. Chypres are too complicated, intelligent, wanting to talk. Big aldehydic fragrances are too prissy and pulled together. I adore Le Labo Aldehyde 44 *because* it makes me feel dressed and complete, not undressed in a dimly lit room. I don't think anyone thinks hesperedic or green fragrances are sexy - I wear these to feel fresh and practical.

Here's my list of sexy orientals and florientals:

(in alphabetical order)

Alahine by Teo Cabanel - Alahine is a smoldering aldehydic amber with floral notes woven throughout. It's noticeable, warm and perhaps equally as sophisticated & refined as it is sexy. Alahine makes your skin hot and your mind wander. It's classic with a racy undercurrent. (Alternatives: hmmm, not really similar but picking up on the amber theme - maybe Laura Mercier Minuit Enchante or Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe but these are less polished)

Alien Liqueur Limited Edition - Alien Liqueur is hypnotic. It's the original Alien with a boozy, woody bent. It's heavy lidded and languid. It's sweet, spicy and addictive. (Alternative: Dior Addict)

Amarige by Givenchy - Amarige is perfume wearing stilettos. It doesn't whisper come hither, it announces it with a husky voice ala Kathleen Turner circa Body Heat. (Alternative: Jean Paul Gaultier Classique)

Barbara Bui Le Parfum - Barbara Bui is probably the most low-key and whisper-y type of sexy fragrance I can think of. If you don't want a potent perfume then this is your answer. Barbara Bui is all about the smell of your lovers undershirt and pillowcase. (Alternative: Costes)

Chaldee by Jean Patou - Musky and sweet, warm and animalic, slightly dirrrrty. Chaldee is an olfactory negligee. (Alternative: Bond No. 9 Fire Island)

Divine eau de parfum - Bombshell tuberose-oriental. Hollywood Glamour. (Alternative: maybe Chinatown, not completely sure)

Gucci eau de parfum - Gucci is a sensual skin scent extraordinaire. It's musky, sweet, herbal, spicy and becomes you. Gucci melts into your skin. If I could have sex with Gucci eau de parfum, I would, but then you'd think I was weird.

LouLou by Cacharel - another Hollywood Glamour scent here. LouLou is a bit less extravagant than Divine. LouLou might wear fishnets under her tailored suit and carry an old fashioned cigarette case in her purse for the occasional dalliance over coffee.

Monyette Paris - Now this is one of the most overtly floral of the bunch. Monyette is predominantly gardenia focused scent but it veers away from big in-your-face florals and falls firmly in the camp of sexy with it's luscious nag champa and mind altering musks.

Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle - In some ways, Musc Ravageur is similar in style to Gucci edp. MR is a sweet, vanillic musk with what seems like layer upon layer of different musks. There's a stage of Musc Ravageur when sniffing it numbs my nostrils like novocaine or some such thing (surely the clove). It's a naughty scent, pure and simple. (Alternative: not particularly similar but a runner up: Chanel Coromandel. Perhaps the only Chanel I find sexy).

Songes by Annick Goutal - Another overtly floral fragrance - almost too floral to be sexy but it manages a kittenish little shimmy towards the dark side with it's buttery tuberose, tropical frangipani and indolic white florals. (Alternative: Penhaligons Amaranthine)

I didn't include these in the above list, but obviously Shalimar should be included and the following masculines strike me as having the ability to make a bombshell out of a guy: Hermes Terre d'Hermes, Fahrenheit (don't shoot me), Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare, Fresh Index Tobacco Flower, Creed Tabarome, Annick Goutal Sables and Caron Yatagan.

So, what fragrances do YOU think are sexy? Do you care? Do you avoid fragrances like these? Can we even define sexy perfumes or are they, like most things, entirely individual? What I'm wondering, is whether there is a culturally agreed upon type of scent which strikes most as sexy. Hmmm...


bk377 said...

For me, I would have to disagree on the choice of orientals being sexy because their sillage and lasting powder make them turn-offs for some. From your list, I've had some violent reactions against Amarige and Musc Ravageur (much to my dismay as I love them!). Whilst I feel sexy wearing them, they led to the car windows being rolled down and a rapid getaway from my date. In fact, I've relegated them to the "wear liberally after he's learned to love me!" category. In the early stages of a love affair, my own sexy scents tend to be skin scents like soft white musks: Narcisso Rodriguez EdT, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, even Philosophy Amazing Grace.

Alternatively, fragranced body oils and creams seem to go down well. Musc Ravageur and Alien in their EdPs have a robust presence on me, but the oils whisper more seductively.

Tatyana said...

My husband thinks chypres are most sexy of all perfumes, specially animalistic chypres.
I take it that sexy is every smell making us feel sexy too. Even beer :)

Mals86 said...

What *I* would call sexy are the fragrances that have the effect of making me wanna, um, you know. Whether or not it interests my husband - and it's rare, actually, that our ideas of "sexy" align.

The ones that make him grab me are typically light, young, fresh florals. He's the only guy I know who's got a lech for Marc Jacobs Daisy, for example. Diorissimo, PdR Rose d'Ete, Paris, and pretty much anything with freesia in it. (My fault: I wore Freesia body products from BBW on our honeymoon. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.) He's developing an appreciation for Shalimar Light, though.

The ones that light my fire, on the other hand: JHaG Citizen Queen. MFK Lumiere Noire. Bal a Versailles. And SSS Tabac Aurea, which I will shut up about someday, but not anytime soon. That one reminds me so much of an old boyfriend that I have only to sniff it, and my toes curl. Seriously, it makes me want to do things better left undescribed in a family-friendly blog.

(And no, I'm not giving TA to my husband. That would be so weird that I think my brain would explode.)

Funny, I don't get "sexy" out of Alahine at all. I get "beautiful" and "happy," and lots of emotional resonance, but no inclination to get out the almond oil.

Mals86 said...

Oh, and I forgot to add That Slut Tocade to my list of strike-anywhere matches...

Marko said...

Great question Abigail.

"Sexy" is sooooo subjective, I wonder if we'll ever be able to agree on what constitutes someone being sexy - let alone what kind of fragrance could be alluring and provocative. Mals86's response regarding her husband (and the smell of freesia) reminds me that scent is a huge component of memory recall. If we're intrinsically conditioned to associate the smells of "our first time" to what is "sexy", then I suppose ANYTHING could be considered "sexy".

For me, the fragrances that get the most "low register" compliments (these are the fragrances that illicit comments spoken in a hushed or lowered vocal register....."Mmmmmmmmm, you smell so good" as opposed to the high-pitched compliments, "Oh My God!!! You smell so Good!!!!") are FM Une Rose, Musc Ravageur, Montale White Aoud, Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade and Ava Luxe Film Noir.

All of them are fairly "dark" and complex fragrances....so maybe that has something to do with "sexy"? Who knows.....but it was fun to think about it for a while.

Thanks Abigail -


Tania said...

Generally I think oils are sexier, because they stay close to the skin, so one has to get closer to smell them. (Amber and musk oils are my favourites, and they don't ahve to be expensive. Coty Wild Musk and Kiehl's Amber are fine). The same goes for skinscents, I guess. The problem with 'big' scents is that they can be just too big for close quarters.

moongrrl said...

My husband is all about the chypres, the drier and greener the better. He adores Ma Griffe and gets all excited over Chanel 19. He asks when I will wear Y again and won't let me leave the house wearing Tauer's Vetiver Dance.

The only oriental he reacts to is MH L'air de rien, but that's kind of a chypre, too.

Unknown said...

Orientals (lightly applied!) read sexy for me, too. The most sexy frags I know of have a sort of duality going on: a bitter or gritty edge to balance the sweet or the smooth.

In summer, nothing beats Eau des Merveilles. This summer a good friend's jaw dropped and she said: but.. you smell like ..sex! Dunno if it reads like that for everyone. I mainly get sun-warmed, sweaty skin from it. Love it.
Ambre Sultan is another skin-faker and dead sexy IMO. Chergui is the other Lutens that exudes sex, though in a more polished way.
Totally with you on Gucci EDP - such a skunk underneath that goody-two-shoes heliotrope-y exterior.

But of course, it's very, very personal. Which can get annoying if the other half doesn't agree :)

Anonymous said...

What a great question.

I'd have to say that the fragrance that impressed me as being the sexiest I have ever smelled is Let Me Play the Lion. It starts out very dry... so dry, you feel it in your gut like a primal longing... eventually, it builds, and builds to an irresistible radiating warmth. Really.

L'Antimatière is the sexiest and truest skin scent I have ever used. It is subtle, and as intimate as bare skin and a rumpled bed. Just gorgeous.

Vintage Halston and Aromatics Elixir both have a certain something -- warm, but not sweet.

And then of course, there are the Tauers, which I find irresistible... Lonestar Memories is a wonderful leather scent and Maroc Pour Elle just to most voluptuously sexy rose scent. Mmm...

I also find Eau Sauvage on a man can make me swoon, and FM's French Lover is pretty gorgeous too.

Abigail said...


oh, boy, now I NEED Let Me Play the Lion! Arghghg.

Kristal said...

Florals I think.
1-Absolutely Irezistible- Givenchy
3.Pure Poison- Dior

I like only sweet,very feminine and athe same time strong scents.

Anonymous said...

You are so persuasive Abigail, that you talked me into the Gucci -- after trying several stores for a sniff, I ordered it untested, as it is becoming too hard to find. I suspect the Barbara Bui is next... (and just did Theorema).

pheromone cologne said...

I agree that Gucci is a sensual skin scent extraordinaire.that why I like it so much it has a sweet scent love it.


Darryl said...

Agreed that orientals, all variations (florientals, fruitientals, spicientals, woodientals, chyprientals, vanillientals...did I miss any?) are the most quote-unquote sexy scents. I think any fragrance that reads as dark, rich, and heavy conjures a classically sexy, sensual image or feeling - the tall, dark stranger, the femme fatale, etc. - and orientals fit the bill. But the right person, with the right energy, charisma, aura, whatever, can make just about any kind of fragrance read as "sexy", even high-shouldered chypres or fusty aldehydic florals (or, Lord help me, aquatics).

I do think men in general smell sexiest in woods, spice, and musks (and if you're so inclined, greens and aromatics). You will not get shot for mentioning Fahrenheit - it's rich and distinctive, and on the right man, utter Love Juice. They should have called that one Ravageur.

pheromone advantage said...

Well, I think there is a use if I consider to be the sexiest perfume having a a great scent gets more compliments. :)


diana said...

I had a short vacation romance with a yummy guy,who told me he loved the way I smelled,and hated changeing the sheets after I'd spent the night,so he could smell it when I wasn't there. what was that gorgeous perfume, what's it called?
I told him.
'HANAE MORI', Teehee(it made me laugh anyway)