Oh the dilemma that surrounds date night fragrance. Creating the perfect aroma around yourself on a date can be harder than choosing your outfit and rightly so, as how you smell is likely to last longer in the memory than what you wear. Not wishing to assume anything about how things might turn out for you, but the sixth century Karma Sutra stressed emphatically that the concept of beauty was determined by odor and not physical appearance (from the excellent Historical Perspective On Smell, FYI). Although most scientists have dismissed the recently popular notion of capturing pheremone-attraction in a bottle (way too tricky and reliant on other external stimuli, despite what that marketing bumph might say) there’s no doubt that how you smell plays a very important part in sexual attraction. Our favourite historical reference on just how far someone might go to attract a partner by using scent is Cleopatra, who used perfumed sails on her boat to adorn her ship when she visited Marc Anthony.
But you don’t need to go to such lengths, we’ve selected our favourite fragrances of the moment to help you leave a memorable silage*, one that will have your date wanting to come back for more.
French Lover by Frederic Malle
The title does it for us, but Frederic Malle’s beautiful French Lover is possibly the very best scent for a man for a first date. It is quietly confident in its woody aromatic-ness, it isn’t shy in stating its presence, but won’t scare the horses and it’s intriguing enough to encourage a second, closer sniff.
The fragrance, which was created by Pierre Bourdon, starts with a mossy, spiced top note that implies stylish grooming, but not taken to vain extremes. There’s a herbaceous, shower-freshness from angelica and upbeat spices (chilli, we’re told) which warms down to a soft, earthy loveliness. Vetiver and cedar wood provide the manly woodiness, patchouli the more liberal base note and incense for a touch of daring. Totally delicious and if your date turns up wearing this, don’t lose his number.
What We Do In Paris Is Secret by A Lab On Fire
This sensuous, gender inclusive fragrance by artisan brand A Lab On Fire, is one of those ‘amplified skin’ scents that you end up wanting to spray everywhere, making you smell like yourself, only better. It contains gentle quantities of musk, an essential ingredient in neck-nuzzling scents. Perfume historian Richard Stamelan** claimed musk acts like a form-fitting corset on a woman, he said “Musk accentuates the ‘salient contours’ of the body, highlighting the woman’s aromatic silhouette’. We think everyone should aim for a good aromatic silhouette, here at WWP and we certainly wouldn’t restrict the concept to just women.
What We Do In Paris Is Secret, created by Dominic Rupion, starts off with a honeyed note of delicate lychee, wrapped in a soft, powdered cloud of tonka bean (the love-child of coffee and vanilla), amber and sandalwood. Warmly comforting and again, quietly confident, if your date doesn’t turn out well, you feel it wouldn’t matter wearing this as its delicious embrace would ward off heartbreak.
Undoubtably one of the most glamorous bottles on the dressing table this season, the gloriously curvaceous rose gold and glass creation holds a pretty, fruity rose which beautifully combines a floral freshness with a cashmere-wrap sensuality. Rose Goldea’s nose is Alberto Morillas, so you know you are in safe hands here, and unlike many ubiquitous fruity florals we could mention, this steers cleverly away from being too sweet.
The scent opens with a fresh hit of pomegranate and rose, a combination once experienced, seems a perfectly delightful pairing. It warms down to a gentle musky rose, boosted by jasmine (apparently, although to us it’s mostly a shower of rose petals) and warmed by a base of sandalwood. It’s sensual and delicately feminine without being shouty, with those musks quietly amplifying the attraction.
There are many reasons to love L’Envol de Cartier, the newish release from Cartier. Firstly, its refillable and elegant glass bottle, which may appeal to anyone concerned with sustainability. Then, the scent is a ground breaking transparent oriental, meaning it is exotic without being densely heavy and appealing perhaps to those who like to be ahead of the curve with innovation. Finally the gorgeous, mead-and-floral drenched scent, which is both richly spiced and floaty at the same time.
Although the scent is marketed for men, it’s interesting that the nose is a woman, Mathilde Laurent, perhaps creating how she wants her perfect man to smell. We find it smooth, elegant and almost golden in its aroma. Hints of tangerine linger on the skin, there are shadowy notes of powdery iris and violet which add an intriguing angle. It warms to a patchouli and musk hum that lingers delightfully for hours on the skin.
Our beautiful images are all by the talented William Bunce, with set design by Imogen Frost
*Silage, the name given to the ‘wake’ of scent that follows a person once they’ve passed by, a little like a perfumed shadow.
**Also learned from the excellent Historical Perspective on Smell, by Jonathan Reinarz