Ask national fragrance trainer and scent consultant Melanie Caplan the definition of a romantic scent during this era of social distancing, lockdowns and staycations and she sums it up succinctly: “A romantic fragrance is one that makes you feel loved. It doesn’t matter if you are single or in a relationship; living alone or with a family; or what your age is. A modern romantic fragrance immediately wraps around you and makes you feel loved.” That’s not to say that there can’t be an element of sex appeal in today’s perfumes, but the overriding theme according to Caplan is ‘self-love’.
“Fragrance has the ability to create a memory or trigger a special experience in your past,” she continues. “It can even be about dreaming of romance.” This is the approach the world’s best master perfumers take when composing great scents. They know how to blend and bring out the best of each ingredient to create this cocooning effect of flowers, spices and warm woods.
Scent Lodge asked Melanie to share seven of her very favourite modern romantic scents. These are fragrances that a ultra-special boasting the highest quality ingredients, masterful blending and create an ambiance of romance.
“When I mention the idea of romantic fragrances, my clients immediately think of roses. But, I like to start with magnolia, one of the oldest flowers on the planet. Did you know the magnolia tree has been found in fossils dating back 36 million to 58 million years? Scientists believe that the Ice Age destroyed the magnolias throughout Europe, although the ones in Asia and the Americas survived.” She says what makes the blooms so precious is they only appear for 3 or 4 days a year. “Many call magnolia the symbol of eternal love.”
Perfumers like to incorporate magnolia into fragrances as the blooms have a citrus-like or lemony aroma that blends beautifully with other floral notes like jasmine, tuberose and rose.
“Bvlgari’s Le Gemme Desiria is a wonderous floral rose-themed fragrance for her that combines rose petals with magnolia.” She says it was inspired by purple jade, a rare gemstone that is said to represent scintillating grace and seduction. “This is one fragrance every scent enthusiast needs to smell. It really is that special.”
The fragrance notes include: mandarin essence from Italy, ambrette seeds absolute, magnolia flower essence, jasmin absolute from Egypt, Indian tuberose absolute, rose petals, moss accord, musk and ambergris accord. Made it Italy
“Rose is the number one ingredient used in perfumery today,” says Caplan. But the modern take on rose is a far cry from the rose scents your grandmother loved. Today’s rose notes are fresher, lighter and sparkling. “I absolutely love how rose notes are used in Atkinsons’ Rose In Wonderland. The fragrance was inspired by Alice In Wonderland and the idea of peering through the looking glass.”
This contemporary British-themed rose fragrance for her pairs the floral elegance of rose absolute with an earthy undertone – reflecting the experience of walking through a rose garden after a rain.
The fragrance boasts notes of rose dew, black currant bud, geranium, rose centifolia absolute, vetiver and crystal amber.
“There is something incredibly romantic about Oscar de la Renta’s gowns. Here’s a fashion label that appreciates femininity and elegance.” Long beloved for its elaborate wedding gowns, even the ready-to-wear collections incorporate floral accents and prints – especially pink roses. This is translated into an olfactory experience through Bella Rosa, a refined chypre-floral fragrance for herwith notes of pink rose, freesia, mandarin orange, pink pepper, jasmin, orris, patchouli, amber and sandalwood. Master perfumer Harry Fremont took inspiration from the breathtakingly beautiful gowns handcrafted by the New York-based fashion label. Oscar himself was an avid gardener and this is literally an homage to him. “The pink pepper note is particularly nice here – it smells like fresh, juicy red berries.”
When it comes to men’s fragrances, there is one that the majority of her clients adore the minute they smell it. “Everyone loves Gyan,” she says enthusiastically. “It’s that rare fragrance that perfectly balances every ingredient – from the refreshing bergamot citrus to the rich jasmine to the mysterious Oriental incense.” The woody-oriental fragrance for him was inspired by the rare blue sapphire gemstone said to represent spirituality and knowledge. It is even said to enhance insight and confidence to its wearer. Imagine a fragrance that blends bergamot essence, orange from Sicily, jasmine sambac, Sichuan pepper, Heart of patchouli from Indonesia, cedarwood and Oriental incense. It’s a rare fragrance gem worth trying.
While Bright Crystal, Eros and Dylan Turquoise get most of the attention in the Versace fragrance portfolio, Crystal Noir deserves some attention. It’s an Oriental-floral scent for her composed by perfumer Antoine Lie who blends notes of pepper, ginger, cardamom, coconut, gardenia, orange blossom, peony, sandalwood, musk and amber to brilliant effect. “I find myself going back to this scent again and again. It truly is a sensual and warm fragrance.” The star ingredient is gardenia which offers a luminous, sensual and creamy aroma (reproduced using ‘headspace technology’). Amber and musk add a sense of mystery to the composition.
Donatella describes it as ‘sensual and delicate.’
Anyone who has binge-watched Sex and the City or any of its imitators will recognize the name Jimmy Choo. The London-based luxury shoe label was founded in 1996 by shoemaker Jimmy Choo with socialite Tamara Mellon and Choo’s niece Sandra Choi. The sky-high stilettos were an instant hit with the likes of Diana, Princess of Wales amongst other celebrities. Sarah Jessica Parker was such a fan she built an episode during season 3 of SATC whereby she loses a Jimmy Choo shoe while running to catch the Staten Island Ferry. The company is owned today by Capri Holdings, the same firm that owns Michael Kors Holdings.
Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum is remarkably sexy. It’s a chypre-fruity fragrance created by the supremely-talented perfumer Olivier Polge in 2011 to reflect the style and glamour of the famous stiletto shoes. The seductive composition is a modern chypre with green top notes, tiger orchid, sweet toffee caramel and Indonesian patchouli. The bottle was inspired by Murano glass and was meant to look desirable sitting on your nightstand or vanity. Of all the fragrances by luxury designer shoe brands, this one comes closest to capturing the spirit and style of the fashion.
German fashion designer Philipp Plein is known for his flashy streetwear and Swarovski crystal skull sculptures that stand front- and-centre in his boutiques around the globe. His over-the-top fashion shows have incorporated Mad Max-style trucks that spout fire, gold-plated helicopters and even a private fighter jet. So it was no surprise that Plein would enter the fragrance market with a big splash. And what a splash it is! No Limits, a modern woody-leathery-scent composed by perfumer Alberto Morillas is a triumph. “I’m instantly attracted to a men’s scent with a leathery-smoky character,” says Caplan. Morillas balances notes of leather, dark chocolate, bergamot citrus, cinnamon, cedar, Bourbon vanilla, amber, ginger, patchouli and star anise perfectly. “It’s incredible!”
Each one of these scents contains the highest quality ingredients and it shows. You’ll feel loved the minute you inhale – and that is what a romantic fragrance should do.