Valentines Day is edging closer and if you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve got you. From last-minute gifts to what to get the sneaker obsessed in your life, The Highsnobiety Gift Guide has gathered the best products from across the internet, so no one will be disappointed when the wrapping comes off.
For better or worse, it looks like the world has begun to collectively uncouple the pagan lovemaking festival known as Valentine’s Day with the multibillion-dollar fragrance industry.
I say for better, because gone is the notion people once had that finding the right Tom Ford scent might turn you into an overnight casanova (cc: Drake). Smelling interesting, sexy, or at the very least decent, is an evergreen ambition, one that we should all aspire to even when it’s not mating season. And that’s the thing about being a good lover: if you’re only your best self for others, anyone can see right through it.
That said, Valentine’s Day is an incredible excuse to indulge in purchasing a fragrance for yourself or your crush. But always remember rule number one: Don’t be corny. As our editor-in-chief explained in his weirdly detailed survey of the niche perfume industry, buying a perfume has always been a minefield of marketing clichés, especially when it comes to deciding what’s “manly” or “sexy.”
So without further adieu, here are some high-quality, nonsense fragrances that will put you and those around you in the mood for love.
One of the newer additions to Comme des Garcons’s catalogue of olfactory creations, Rouge is a scent that really cuts to the heart of what a “sexy” fragrance should be. No, that’s not heavy musks or sweaty flowers (we’ll get to those soon), but spicy top notes that make your hair stand on end like a good ASMR video. Rouge delivers this through the use of pink peppercorns and ginger that tickle the nose upon close examination.
Lets get weird
In a way, this recommendation is a nod to a recently departed fashion GOAT, Mr. Manfred Thierry Mugler. Although the French designer’s maximalism and camp might have very little in common with Fueguia — a brand that I’d describe as The Row of Perfumes — Mugler’s 1992 perfume Angel is credited with popularizing the “gourmand” category of scents that La Cautiva resides in. A gourmand scent is quite literally one that employs edible notes — often vanilla or chocolate — to an effect that is often very divisive. With hits of cassis and vanilla, La Cautiva (“the captive”) is named for a 19th-century painting of a colonial woman being kidnapped by indigenous horsemen. Sounds kinky.
A remixed classic
Speaking of pepper being low key sexy, Byredo takes this gambit even further by employing sichuan pepper as a top note in its Young Rose fragrance. It's an avant garde move that points to a riddle at the heart of Valentine’s Day: clichés are clichés for a reason. Rose is about as on-the-nose as it gets when it comes to matters of courtship, but when placed through a new lens like it is in Young Rose, it becomes refreshing.
The actual classic
Carnal Flower Parfum
Perhaps no fragrance ingredient is associated more with feminine beauty than white flowers such as jasmine, orange blossom, and tuberose. Their scent is almost animalistic, with a sweetness that’s laced with sweaty, hormonal undercurrents. Frederic Malle’s iconic Carnal Flower, which contains all of the aforementioned ingredients but is most associated with its big hit of tuberose, is a scent that can most accurately described as “sexy.” And given the gender fluidity of our times, flower-forward fragrances can be reinvented in more contexts than the “granny perfume” pigeon hole they were once stuck in.
One for all
Speaking fluidity, I’m of the opinion that no perfume house navigates the category of “Unisex Fragrances” better than Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Their Oud, Baccarat, and Aqua Celestia lines all eschew the traditional gender splits in ways that are boisterous and whimsical, rather than middle of the road. Aqua Universalis, however, is its own beast altogether — with a brightness and freshness that transcends all categories altogether. It’s like the fragrance version of one of Robert Ryman’s all-white paintings — blank, but also somehow sublime. If you’re really trying to escape the abject cliches of a moment like Valentine’s Day, this is the one.
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