7 creatives on the most sensual perfumes and scents

My relationship with Jason Wu’s Velvet Rouge can only be described as Pavlovian. As soon as I spray it into the air (I always create a little cloud to go through before applying half spritzes to my neck and wrists) I go from a Miranda to a Samantha. A fair amount of thought and analysis goes into a nighttime look. Makeup and clothes cover and accentuate what I want them to (hopefully) contribute to the overall desired effect: to look sexy. But the scent is purely instinctive. It is more powerful than any smoky eye or tight dress, because this scent contains both memories and promises. It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel. With that in mind, we asked a few of our friends, including a perfumer, a lingerie designer, and a “poet and pious bride,” what scent evokes sensuality to them.

Photo by: Basia Wyszynski

A fragrance that evokes sensuality is Dior Poison. My mom wore Dior Poison in the ’90s, and I vividly remember the dark red apple-shaped bottle sitting on her top shelf. Poison, apples, Adam and Eve! What could be more sensual than original sin! My mom was a young divorcee and loved wearing boots without stockings, so this was the perfect scent for her. It is a fragrance that needs no introduction because it has already entered by force.

“Fucking Fabulous makes me feel… well, what do you think?” There’s something that makes you feel alive, like anything could happen when you step into a haze of the smell of Tom Ford. I love the spirited leather notes combined with something traditionally soothing, like the top notes of lavender and sage. I like a juxtaposition, like a 5’1 woman of color wearing something so powerful.

“A few years ago, a very dear friend gave me a bottle of Gabrielle Chanel as a wedding gift, and it became my signature. It is a fragrance designed to evoke the scent of an imaginary flower; with its notes of white jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom and creamy tuberose, it is both exhilarating and sensual. I love how it offers a decidedly feminine vibe that contrasts with my mostly black wardrobe. Every time I spray it, it reminds me of my wedding day – the venue was a beautiful old Masonic lodge, which looked quite gothic, but we filled it with hundreds of flowers…that delicate balance between fresh and light and dark and dramatic is something I come back to again and again as a designer.


Photo by: Hana Haley

“I created a perfume last spring when I fell in love with someone who sent me bouquets of mimosa flowers. The scent of mimosa is so heady and unique; it’s sultry in a pervasive, nostalgic way, and to me, there’s nothing quite like it. I called the fragrance Mimosa Myrrh, which is part of a series of scent experiences in my latest launch The Garden Collection. When creating the fragrance, I wanted to capture the feel of that special romance, sweet and classic, even a bit old-fashioned.


Photo by: Michael Krim

“I met Nico Walker – the bank robber turned novelist – because he bought a cell phone from Walmart to email me. He lived in a halfway house and had seen the cover of my book of poetry, Carnival of porn. I had already read his book, Cherryand felt that it was an extremely rare literary event, as if Catcher in the rye were written by Dostoyevsky.

“Nico had been in prison for nearly a decade when we met. The day he was detained was the day his indie band was supposed to be featured on Consequences of sound, which is a very 2010s phrase to type. Of course, he was the lead singer.

“There have been a lot of twists and turns in the relationship. I was in New York. He was in Mississippi. I was nicknamed ‘the winning whore of the dirty bag on the left’ while he was known for 10 bank robberies in Cleveland – although I had heard it was more like 15 or 20.

“When the pandemic hit, I went down south at his suggestion. He was about to get a ‘compassionate’ early release with five years probation, and he swore that if I came, we could see this for real – or at least we’d have over an hour to learn. to know us. Either way, neither of us could get over the idea that we’d be able to sleep together all night in one bed. What luxury. We found ourselves (accidentally) quarantined together for months due to the lockdown.

“When we officially got married about a year later in Biloxi, I was wearing a Halfpenny London dress and my favorite perfume, at the time, Antidris: Cassis by Maison Louis-Marie. This scent will always remind me of those early spring months we spent in Mississippi. It’s clean, sweet, woody. It evokes morning sex mixed with a thunderstorm the night before, the herbaceous smell of rainwater mixed with the sweetness of a lover fresh out of the shower, and then… lightning, a little dirt, an odor to mess up the white sheets.

“I have always been very drawn to jasmine and we use the flower in many of our oils and perfumes. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a very low tolerance for sweet or heavy scents, so I lean towards simple scents. Jasmine is known to mimic animal musk, and I’ve even seen it described as smelling like “sweaty skin” (and that’s not even the worst thing people say about it). The white flowers contain a compound called ‘indole’, which when broken down has a heady, musky scent that can be really arousing, possibly due to the association with sweat-soaked skin and animal passion. The ancient perfumers even said that young virgins should never be allowed to pick in the fields of white flowers.

“Tuberose is for me one of the most seductive fragrances. It’s floral and a bit sweet, but also super earthy – it smells of dewy grass, damp clothes and wet hair, a nighttime fall in a field. And although it is quite sweet, the Victorians thought it was such an erotic scent that it could induce orgasms in inexperienced young women. If only!”

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Sarah C. Figueiredo