Among the senses, your eyes may deceive you, but the nose never lies. A scent can arise out of nowhere, catch you off guard and, before you exhale, transport you to a distant memory – a kitchen, a beach, a rooftop, a lover. The power of scent – like sex – is not lost on the commercially minded. Last year, two “nosey” sisters started 12.29, the first olfactory branding company, and one famed fragrance campaign even raised the dead. (Read on.) Globally, fine fragrances comprise upwards of $2 billion, no doubt with February’s love holiday bringing in lots of the bacon (which – let’s face it – is definitely my favorite smell). In honor of Valentine’s Day, and in homage to The Clovers’ sensuous 1959 ditty “Love Potion No. 9,” here are nine intoxicating fragrances to outfit you this month:
• No one did the perfume wardrobe better than Marilyn Monroe. She’s been a candle in the wind for more than 50 years, but Chanel recently resurrected the icon to revive the scent she made iconic. Audio footage from 1960 reveals Miss Monroe in all her sweetly intoxicating coyness admitting, “It’s the truth” that all she wears to bed is her Chanel No. 5. The association between Chanel No. 5 and the classic sex symbol has persisted longer than the star herself. So even if you’ve never worn Chanel No. 5 before, a bottle may just bring out the Marilyn in you.
• For the scent of a modern diva, the queen of pop has a new fragrance out this month to add to her Heat and Pulse lines. Capping off 2013 – what pop news called The Year of Beyoncé – Queen Bey announced her third monosyllabic scent, RISE. It’s “sexy and sophisticated” Marsha Brooks, Coty Beauty’s vice president of global marketing, says in a press release, and “about female empowerment and finding the inner strength that makes women so beautiful.” Though everyone likes an inspiring narrative, I think the real selling point behind RISE will be its top notes of Italian bergamot, golden apricot and iced basil sorbet. Not to mention its glam gold bottle.
• Speaking of flacons, another showstopper in gold – this time accenting smoldering red enamel – is the sultry FENDI L’Acquarossa. In fiery colors, the geometric design seeks to pay tribute to the Roman monuments. The fragrance, equally divine, opens with tangerine and plum, with latana flower at the heart and red cedar, musk and patchouli at the base. In this the season of all things intriguing and feminine, there’s no better time to sip “The Red Elixir of Passion.”
• Also a timely find is the just-released Gucci Guilty Stud, a limited edition his-and-hers set that’s covered in more than 400 metallic studs. The redesign reinvigorates two hugely popular scents from 2013. According to the NPD Group, Gucci Guilty Pour Homme was the most popular men’s fragrance of the year while its counterpart ranked third on the women’s list. Released globally last year, Stud is finally available stateside.
• Another favorite gets new life with Calvin Klein Endless Euphoria. The descendant of the original Euphoria, and with a pretty pale-peach visage, the latest version hitting the market is “lighter, fresher” and, yes, even “sexually provocative,” says Steve Mormoris, the Coty senior vice president for global marketing. Think cherry blossom, mandarin and heart of violet.
• Tory Burch Eau de Parfum, a fan favorite at Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, is also a newer addition. The brand’s first fragrance hit the market with notes of grapefruit, peony, jasmine and sweet alyssum. Its anchors are cedar and sandalwood, which Burch says is a nod to the “dynamic” and “unfussy” vetiver-based cologne her father wore. (For some there may be no richer romance than that of a father and daughter.) Built with modern Tory Burch styling, the angular atomizer features her signature fretwork and hues of orange and gold. Users have called the spirited scent “friendly” and a “pick-me-up” that takes you from the city to the suburbs.
• Whether or not your V-Day plans take you jet-setting to the nearest warm white sands, one new scent is sure to transport you to a tropical hideaway. (Faster, too.) Inspired by the luscious piña colada, ESCADA Born in Paradise whisks you to beachside bliss with notes of coconut and pineapple, watermelon and guava. The spring scent is on shelves now.
• If your romance narrative is more Hamptons than French Polynesia, waltz into a spray of AERIN Evening Rose. One of Aerin Lauder’s five fragrances topped with a gem-like stone (this one lavender), it pairs rose with blackberry and Cognac. The scent, she says, is “sensuous and luxurious” and “imparts soft warmth, like a lingering memory of an unforgettable evening.” If that’s not enough allure, the pattern on the packaging – an AERIN for Lee Jofa design – is called “Hither.”
• And ringing in at number nine, try Bond No. 9 New York Oud. For you romancers who prefer a richer, woodier fragrance, oud is a trending scent big in the Middle East (even in the region’s 100-plus temps) that’s building traction among U.S. luxury fragrances. This velvety, earthy scent, which is not for delicate nostrils, gets a makeover as its signature splashy flacon goes subdued in sexy gunmetal. For you Bond, James Bond, girls.