“Where should I apply perfume?” asked a young lady. “Where you want to be kissed,” replied Coco Chanel.
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, Savoir Flair is feeling rather romantic – and what better way to get in the mood than with lots of fancy fragrances in beautiful bottles? Smell has the power to change your mood, evoke memories, transport you to a faraway land, and even help you fall in love. Yes, that’s right. Just by taking in a good old whiff of someone, you can be struck so strongly by their smell that it’s almost as if you’ve been hit by Cupid’s arrow.
As Jose Eisenberg, creator of luxury beauty and fragrance brand Eisenberg Paris, tells us, “Scent is so closely connected to emotions. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, otherwise known as the “emotional brain”, because it’s responsible for feelings and memories. It has very close access to the amygdala – another part of the brain – which processes emotions. It is therefore firstly a physical process.” It’s this strong emotional component of perfume that gives it the power to make us fall head over heels simply through scent.
“The beauty of perfumes is that they are deeply personal and can evoke strong memories with a single note, even on a subconscious level. Scents can draw us to others, creating special bonds,” says Martine Micallef, co-creator of niche fragrance brand M.Micallef. Fragrance is also a form of expression, a way of revealing your mood or personality, giving others a piece of yourself simply through smell.
When it comes to falling in love or setting the right mood for Valentine’s Day, fragrance is the most important alluring accomplice to add to your arsenal. – Roja Dove
Jo Malone Fragrance Director Chris Wyatt goes on to explain, “Our sense of smell is most primitive and immediate. Fragrance is an extension of our personality. We can choose to create an aura of scent around us that portrays an impression of how we wish others to perceive us. It’s like a little black dress. You can accessorize it extravagantly or pare it down.”
On a similar note, world-renowned fragrance creator Roja Dove says, “When it comes to falling in love or setting the right mood for Valentine’s Day, fragrance is the most important alluring accomplice to add to your arsenal. It is the catalyst for romantic alchemy. I have no doubt that when you lose your heart to somebody, it is impossible not to fall in love with their fragrance.
There is a wonderful old proverb that captures this perfectly: ‘With one breath of her perfume, I forfeit my kingdom. With a second, I forfeit my soul.’ When you first see someone you’re attracted to, you instantly feel that magical frisson of excitement. As you get closer, you breathe in a little of their perfume, and their olfactory tattoo is imprinted on your psyche. When you smell a desirable fragrance on someone, the hormone balance in your body is stimulated and you subconsciously become attracted to them.”
If you’re looking for love or to spice up your scent this season, there are three notes you need to bring to the bottle: oud, oriental, and floral.
The note du jour, oud has taken the fragrance world by storm. Used for centuries in Middle Eastern scents, YSL brought oud to the forefront in 2002 with the creation of ‘M7’, a scent designed to embody male sensuality. Now, almost every major perfume house is bringing it to the mainstream thanks to its intoxicating smell. One of the most expensive ingredients available – often costing more per ounce than gold – this precious resin from the heart of the agarwood tree has a smoky, incense-like richness and a sensual aroma, making for one richly romantic note.
“A note that we often use in our fragrances is oud, which we discovered in 2002 during a trip to the old spice souks of Dubai,” says Micallef. “We were captured by the qualities that this wonder oil possesses and took it back to the lab in France to blend it with some more traditional European scents. It caused a sensation when we brought it back to the Middle East! An animalistic and leathery scent, oud is a captivating note that seduces both men and women, and definitely attracts a particular type of outgoing personality.”
Evoking exoticism and sensuality, oriental scents incorporate intoxicating and intense ingredients to create warm and spicy smells. From cinnamon and clove to nutmeg and musk, they’re deliciously enticing and are often accompanied by exotic flowers or hints of caramel, dark chocolate, and creamy coffee. But one particular ingredient that makes orientals so alluring is vanilla. Proven to be one of the most romantic smells in the world, it was used by Aztecs in the 1700s as a natural aphrodisiac and has long been a part of Chinese and French perfumes.
More recently, Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that it was the most enticing smell for men, making it the perfect fall-in-love fragrance. Dove also believes orientals to be the most romantic scents, telling us, “For serious love, orientals come to the fore. The underlying note of vanilla gives an enveloping feeling, but there’s a message of temptation and promise. For romance, the proven aphrodisiac vanilla is key. It enhances sensations of pleasure across the entire central nervous system and the tiniest hint of it can speak volumes. Alternatively, a perfume with leather notes can unlock your inner compulsions to reveal a world of raw sensuality.”
There’s no denying that flowers are the ultimate symbol of love and romance, but it’s not just because of their pretty petals — it’s also because of their scent. The most popular fragrance group, florals are fabulously feminine and can be soft and subtle, as fresh as newly cut flowers, or intense when mixed with fruit and spices. They also contain a naturally occurring aphrodisiac, which means you can (quite literally) fall in love with flowers.
Rose is the flower of love! It is a real heart-opener. – Jose Eisenberg
As Dove explains, “To enhance sensations of pleasure, heady white flowers like jasmine, magnolia, gardenia, and tuberose are essential. White flowers have a hidden, naturally occurring aphrodisiac in them called indole that we, as human animals, produce naturally. Fragrances with aldehydic top notes lift the spirits — they add a sparkling effect that can give a tremendous boost to the psyche.” The most romantic flower of all? The rose, of course. It’s February’s favorite flower, and for good reason.
“Rose is the flower of love! It is a real heart-opener,” says Eisenberg. “Such notes are crucial for me in a perfume because a fragrance has to speak to one’s imagination. I imagined my collection as an ode to beauty and love.” Reason enough to bring the bouquet to your bottle.