Now, I’m not saying romance is dead. Just that it needs a little re-branding. Luckily, there are plenty of vivacious scents to inspire new romance this Valentine’s Day.
Bulgari Splendida Magnolia Sensuel
$213 for 100ml, Department Stores
Resplendent. That’s it, review complete. Because you remember what magnolia smells like right? It’s creamy, heady, sensuous while simultaneously bright and lemony. It’s enticing yet calming. In fact, since the chemical in magnolia, hedione, has been proven to light up the sexy-time segments of the brain as well as those linked to emotion and memory, you can probably imagine it right now. (The flower! You can remember the flower!). So all perfumer Jacques Cavallier had to do was take that magnolia magic and multiply it to absolutely decadent levels and there we have it. Yeah it’s a little trickier than that I’m sure but what Magnolia Sensuel presents so beautifully is the pure flower amplified by tangerine and orange blossom, supported by swirls of creamy vanilla and nothing else to get in the way. Resplendent!
Steven Khalil Eau de Parfum
$190 for 100ml, www.stevenkhalil.com
If you’ve seen one of Steven Khalil’s gowns (he’s the wedding dress and red carpet maestro of Australia), you’re already on track to surmising that this scent is sumptuous. Applying the same standard of luxury to his first fragrance as he does to his one-of-a-kind gowns, Khalil’s Eau de Parfum contains only the finest absolutes and extracts: we’re talking all the big hitters lily of the valley, tuberose, jasmine and neroli. And like the expert tailoring that underpins those magical sweeping gowns, this epic parfum is carefully constructed to handle that weight flawlessly. Classic, bright bergamot lifts the opening, feminine snow peach adds skin-clinging softness to those big white flowers and a drizzle on honey lengthens the fragrance into a sensual, almost exotic base of patchouli, tonka and sandalwood. It’s a statement for sure, worthy of whatever decadence you may have in mind.
Prada La Femme L’Eau
$198 for 100ml, Department Stores
You know when you rip open a really perfect mandarin, and the oils from the skin burst into the air while inevitably the sweet juice runs down your wrist all sticky and sweet and lickable? That’s the opening of Prada La Femme L’eau. It’s so delicious that you’ll be tempted to spray and respray just to get that fizzy, flirty, opening on repeat. But don’t (OK one more time), because what’s in the heart of this pretty scent is just as delightful. Yes it’s mostly the typical white flowers that make summer scents so breezy (mostly a tamed tuberose), but there’s a hint, just a hint, of frangipani in here that makes it swoony. So tricky to pull of without smelling like a cheap resort beauty salon, perfumer Daniela Andrier keeps the frangipani light and modern and dewy, letting the sexier ylang-ylang pull the perfume down into its woody base notes. So much fun.
$199 for 90ml, Department Stores
So the emerald heart-shaped bottle looks like something out of Avatar, and it contains two entirely made up fragrance notes called Tiger Liana and Wolfwood. You can’t accuse Mugler of being ordinary and Aura is anything but. It opens with a lush neon-green accord, synthetically sweet and bright and almost mentholated, a laser beam cutting through a wet jungle (in fact, maybe the team at Mugler were watching J-Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight” on repeat while working this out). There’s a heady, sexy sweetness from orange blossom, and more green tartness from rhubarb leaf, then the scent slowly morphs into something smokier, animalic and oriental, although still undeniably “green”. This is a longwearing juice and for a few hours you’re deep in the jungle, before that Wolfwood – actually a sweet-tooth with a pocket full of Werther’s Originals – comes to rescue you. Fantasy stuff, and fabulous.
Diana Vreeland Vivaciously Bold
$266 for 50ml, www.mecca.com.au
If Vivaciously Bold was in your bedroom she would absolutely leave that tassel on. Theatrical, exotic, cleary adults-only and undoubtedly bold, this is a scent designed to bring others to their knees. A sharp, biting cocktail of citrus – grapefruit, lemon and bergamot – opens proceedings, and it’s served in cut glass crystal, glinting and cool, with a black pepper note to make sure the message gets across. Eventually, Vivaciously Bold becomes a dry, smoky vetiver but before it does, there’s this: a santiny note of sambac jasmine. Like a silk shirt peeking out from a black suit, that jasmine is the making of the scent. Supported by earthy patchouli in the base, it walks that line of being bold but beautiful.
$280 for 100ml, www.sisley-paris.com/en-AU
One rose. I’m allowed to show you one rose perfume, right? Because Sisley Izia is not even remotely related to a sterile delivery rose that hangs its sad head after a day. This is a radiant, sunset-hued, full bloom of a thing, a rose that I reckon would love a bottomless brunch and a bubble bath. In fact, along with a really clear, green, citrusy opening, the other major element here is aldehydes. Made famous for their inclusion in the classic Chanel N°5, what aldehydes can give a fragrance is a clean, soapy, bubbly character and Izia has this in spades. It’s impossible for me to spray this and not be imagining a petal-strewn afternoon bath, golden sun streaming in the window and maybe someone to share it with.
Australian model, and The Block winner, Elyse Knowles shares the stories behind some of her favourite Instagram posts in the latest issue of body+soul.