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Fragrance: A Love Letter to Yourself

By Wendy Rodewald-Sulz / February 12, 2015

We’re often trained to think of fragrance as a gift item, something a significant other bestows upon us. I’d like you to smell this way, the gift says. With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, you can bet a lot of bottles of perfume are being rung up at beauty counters right now.
But I think fragrance is a terrible present. It’s like buying someone else a bathing suit. How do you know it will fit them? Or whether they’d feel sexier in a bikini or a maillot?
Instead, I think of scent as something selfish. I, as the wearer, am the primary audience. Even the clingiest significant other won’t be in close enough range all day to experience the notes as they unfold. Sure, others can smell a perfume on you (and some fragrances with serious sillage are designed for this very purpose) but it’s you who has to live with its signature on your pulse points. So why let another person choose?
On that note (ha), allow me to recommend that you indulge yourself with something completely romantic in the spirit of the upcoming holiday. Two new releases happen to make perfect candidates. Rose Privée, the latest offering from L’Artisan Parfumeur, is an ode to Rose du Mai — the iconic flower native to Grasse that only blooms during the month of May. It’s so prized that its extract wholesales for $15,000 euros per kilo. The indie perfume house’s relatively small runs allow them to use the real deal extract, which gets a bit of a masculine treatment thanks to the chypre notes (a common them in men’s cologne) that round out the scent. There’s also carnation, magnolia, lilac, basil, violet leaves, patchouli and hay, which come together to evoke the French countryside. (It doesn't hit stores until May, but February 14 always struck me as an arbitrary date, anyway.)
Another new fragrance, Chloé’s latest eau de parfum, Love Story, is inspired by the “love lock” — the padlocks that lovers attach to a fence or gate (or, most famously, to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris) to symbolize their everlasting romance. In the fragrance, orange blossom, jasmine stephanotis, and cedar wood mingle to create a scent that’s feminine, fresh and seductive but neither overtly sexy nor saccharine. Kind of like the Chloé woman herself, as embodied by actress Clémence Poesy in the campaign.
But why stop with these two? There are infinite blotters to be sniffed, so make it a date. Treat yourself to a scent you can fall in love with — and ask the object of your affection for chocolate instead.