If it’s true that it is love that makes the world go round, what then empowers love?
A key question with St Valentine’s Day imminent. February 14th is said to be the date on which the birds choose their mates. We think especially of doves, those affectionate little creatures that pair for life and were said by the ancients to draw the chariot of Aphrodite across the heavens.
Any one of a million sparks may ignite love; but on the evidence of the animal kingdom we can see the importance of scent and the sense of smell. This is what lies at the heart of the matter. Smell is the sense that keeps life going: denoting in animals a readiness to trust and cohabit, to mate and reproduce and nurture. We human animals have refined the process but you need only observe the courtship of the birds in early spring - their bowing, curtsying and offering of gifts to see the resemblance to our own romantic rituals.
A person’s fragrance is so intimate, so powerful. It attracts, it bonds, it creates an immortal memory whether it be a natural exudation or is applied from a bottle. The scent becomes the quintessence of the beloved; the lover’s unique avatar. The fragrance lingers and survives loss, partings and even death. Like a great love, the perfume is for ever.
Les Senteurs must then be a temple of love, a treasury of memories and a repository of spells! We are also a library of romances. Love is nourished by scent; love also feeds creation.
There are so many legendary perfumes inspired by tales of love: the old vintage Guerlain greats were famous for them. Remember the women immortalised in Jicky, Mitsouko, Shalimar and Nahema? The great House of Caron was born from the partnership - professional & amorous - of the founder Ernest Daltroff and the dark myopic girl he met on the stairs, Felicie Vanpouille. He created the now-legendary scents and she, a poor seamstress, flowered into a publicist and designer of genius. They adored one another: but it was an anguished love for Daltroff could not - or would not - commit to marriage. Yet their romance continued despite Felicie becoming the bride of another; and after Daltroff‘s death she became the vigilant keeper of the Caron flame for another three decades.
At Les Senteurs we also celebrate a modern house inspired by a grand passion ALTAIA: A Long Time Ago In Argentina. Twenty years ago Sebastian Alvarez Murena & Marina Sersale met and fell in love in Italy; then discovered that their great great grandfathers had known one another in South America a century and a half before. Scents like By Any Other Name, Tuberose in Blue and Wonder of You have the fragility of dreams and nostalgia as they recall incidents and icons of their creators’ lives and heritage.
Marina and Sebastian created their first brand Eau d’Italie to showcase another kind of love: a devotion to beautiful Italy in all her moods of romance. Rosa Greta is a floral poem celebrating the gardens of Ravello where Greta Garbo once enjoyed a few weeks of stolen bliss with her English lover Leopold Stokowski.
We celebrate so many kinds of love at Les Senteurs. All human - and divine - life is here. The love of cats in gorgeous Bengal Rouge; the passion of Zeus, King of the Gods, for the Trojan shepherd Ganymede; the love of Isis, Mistress of Magic for the murdered Osiris. One of Malle’s most iconic scents is the bewitching Carnal Flower, partially inspired by the 70’s erotic movie Carnal Knowledge and its star, Candice Bergen.
Like a true French Lover Frederic Malle is a specialist in celebrating romance and desire in his editions de Parfums. He has a great belief in how each individual’s temperament sensuel influences the choice of scent. Malle’s Musc Ravageur was probably his first succes de scandale which redefined the animalic aphrodisiac magic of musk for the 21st century. Then there are the great red rose scents - Une Rose, Lipstick Rose and Portrait of a Lady.
No doubt the most romantic tale in Malle’s collection is Le Parfum de Therese. This glorious shimmering chypre was created back in the 1950s for Therese Roudnitska, wife and mother of perfumers. For 40 years, this lovely scent was for Therese alone - the most precious and intimate gift from her husband Edmond. Then, as a widow, Therese decided to share the formula with the world - a monument to her husband’s genius and his love.
Creed have supplied perfumes to lovers - many of them royal - for over 250 years. Probably the most celebrated is Fleurissimo, that rich soft creamy velvet scent of white flowers and ambergris that celebrates the beauty and grace of Grace Kelly as she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1957.
Or there’s the blatant and rather glorious Prends-Moi. With its 'red satin lipstick accord' this is sex with a sense of humour. As is Love and Crime, a deliciously voluptuous creamy aphrodisiac. This seductive jeu d’esprit celebrates both the sensuality of shared food and the ingenuity of an inspired woman madly in love.
Other enamoured ladies will find that the twin stars of Ganymede and B683 shine the luminous light of love on the men in their lives and hearts. Both present an impeccable masculine style: the seductiveness of a gentleman blessed with an easy effortless elegance. Or your taste may be for a man of more farouche appeal: Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis.