Q. I have been reading the section in one of your books on perfume, and I notice that you mention nothing about wearing scent to attract a man. I was working in an office two years ago alongside a guy I really liked. He kept asking what I was wearing, and I told him: Burberry Weekend. It’s actually driven a lot of the men I know crazy! So could you please give information on scents to attract the men in your life – I’m looking for something really sexy.
A. Of course perfume has traditionally been used to attract the opposite sex – though today, many women we know wear it just for their personal enjoyment. Here are some of our recommendations for ‘sexy’, sort of light-the-blue-touch-paper-and-retire scents, which in our experience – or that of women who’ve let us in on their secrets! – seem to be man-magnets. First of all, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan: Jo thinks this is the sexiest fragrance ever created: lots of warm, exotic woodsiness and lashings of amber, which has traditionally been used in fragrance for its seductive powers. Guerlain Shalimar is adored by lots of men we know (Jo’s husband actually buys it for her, which is very sweet, considering how many bottles of perfume we get sent each year by beauty PRs!): it’s hypnotically sweet and powdery andvery grown-up, and men find it swoonworthy. (Beware of putting on too much, though, because it does have a touch of ‘painted lady’ about it…!) And if you can get hold of a bottle, try Tabu: it’s a classic Oriental laced with bergamot, jasmine and amber and although it’s been tinkered with a lot since its 1932 launch, it’s still pretty smouldering. (You might have to hunt around a bit on the net for this.) Editions Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur is pretty hot stuff, too: it’s been described as an ‘elegantly depraved oriental’, which has sensual depths of cloves, vanilla, cedar and tonka wood. (If you have a moment to pop into the London boutiques of Les Senteurs, it’s well worth it – to discover the whole Frederic Malle collection, but they do offer a useful sample service, with a teensy vial of Musc Ravageur costing just £5). You may be noting a theme coming through here: most of the ‘sexy’ fragrances we’ve mentioned are orientals – and it’s here we recommend you start, if you’re looking for seductive scents. But we’ve one last recommendation that’s a floral, rather than an Oriental: Chanel No. 5. Not for nothing is it the fragrance most bought by men for women (and no, it’s not just because it’s the only fragrance most of them can name!) Have fun trying them…! For more recommendations for sexy fragrances – and some of the greatest writing about perfumes we’ve ever seen – do check out the book Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. And happy seduction…!