Friday, July 13, 2012

Parfums Lingerie: Scents as Delicate & Alluring as Feminine Underpinnings

An angel lay on the mattress and spoke of history and death
With perfume on her lingerie and whiskey on her breath 
~"Resurrection" by Ray Wylie Hubbard

Though not a technical term in perfumery jargon, contrary to for instance "animalic scents" or "soapy scents", there really isn't there a more to the point reference to what certain fragrances evoke: the delicate lace of a sexy ivory basque worn with silken garters, the smoothness of pink satin tap pants with matching camisole on spaghetti straps,  retro merry widows in black, or chiffon baby dolls puffing under heaving bosoms...the whole accessorized with pearls and marabou-trimmed slippers with a heel!

Kirsten Dunst seriously glam-ed up!

"Parfums lingerie", a self-coined term, therefore denotes in my mind a category of fragrances that exude romanticism, with a wink of eroticism, drawing as they do from the rich pool of traditional feminine accouterments (including cosmetics) and at the same time a sense of insouciance and nonchalance like the very vest pin-ups images has taught us to expect. Fun as the lingerie is to wear and fantasize, alone or with the company of a loved one, these perfumes are even more fun to don! You don't have to eschew your feminist ideas one iota, as perfume is such an insubstantial entity with no visual cues to not get attached to excessive baggage, and you can wear them in public without blushing a single bit. But the wondrous, stimulating effect of knowing you're wearing a "parfum lingerie" underneath it all very much resembles the tangible frisson of wearing exquisite underwear under your prim clothes.

You can of course turn to established lingerie brands offering their own fragrant interpretations: Agent Provocateur has the killer sexy Agent Provocateur chypre fragrance which is naughtier than whatever I had in mind (but really fabulous too!) Chantal Thomass, Fifi Chachnil or Sonia Rykiel who know a thing or two about intimate apparel all have their own perfumes out in the market (Love many of them personally, especially Rykiel's Woman, Not for Men and Fifi by Chachnil). Or we have Josie Natori suggesting her Natori Eau de Parfum, a most agreeable floriental with an ambery, soft-spoken background of powder and wood. But there's no need to pigeon-hole. Let's be creative, shall we?

Classifying "parfums lingerie" we come across several common traits in their technical make-up. These are usually fragrances with demure and elegant floral notes of a retro vibe, such as violet and rose, a romantic combination that also brings to mind cosmetics. But in parfums lingerie the effect isn't waxy or sticky (such as in F.Malle's Lipstick Rose for instance, the reference for lipstick scents) but rather airy, like a chiffon camisole that doesn't stick to the body, with an added soupçon of defiance and more emphasis on the violet and the ionones than on the rose. 
Rice-powder is a retro reference that can't but bring to mind glamour images of yore when actresses and opera divas were shown in front of their over-lit mirrors applying face and décolleté powder with fat, goose down puffs in pastel colors, dressed in silky robes. The fragrances that exude this powdery heaven are more delicate than the typical "powdery perfume" with orris notes combined with a little white floral (such as jasmine), a hint of vanilla and sometimes an actual rice whiff.

 Last but not least, whisper soft musks carefully poised between "clean musk" and "dirty musk" (none of the piercing laundry detergent type, nor the Lutens Musks Koublai Khan skank); sometimes with a heavier leaning into one or the other direction yet never overdoing it. These musks can employ the added softness of white flowers, tactile woods and a little billowy vanilla. These scents can play the seductive game of acting like virtual lingerie...even when you're wearing none!

Here is my selection of "parfums lingerie". I love wearing some of them when the mood strikes. All the while imagining myself a more alluring subject than I am...

Violet-laced Scent Underpinnings
Love, Chloé by Chloé
Drôle de Rose by L'Artisan Parfumeur
Météorites by Guerlain
Flower by Kenzo
Balenciaga Paris L'Essence by Balenciaga
Violet Blonde by Tom Ford
Violette Precieuse by Caron

Musky Charmeuses
Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker
Noa by Cacharel
Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens
Bois et Musc by Serge Lutens
Narciso for Her Eau de toilette by Narciso Rodriguez

Rice & Powdery Chiffon Scents
Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan
Kenzoki Rice Steam Sensual by Kenzo
Sophistique by Mark
Sake and Rice by Fresh

Which are your own favorite "lingerie fragrances"? Let me know in the comments.

pics via Pinterest.com/hercourt originally uploaded from freshpair.com, suicideblonde.tumblr.comphotoshootbloger.blogspot.com.au

bottle pics via girlwiththecuriousnose.blogspot.comshoppingheavendotnet.blogspot.com


  1. Hah, apparently I wear an absurd amount of musky lingerie scents (I have worn/wear three scents off your list). As for what epitomizes lingerie scents in my mind: most definitely Fifi Chachnil, Frederic Malle's Une Rose, Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum, and Kenzo Amour Le Parfum. For a cheapie but a goodie I also rather enjoy the lotion BBW's Velvet Tuberose.

  2. Jen,

    how utterly delightful to see you BACK!! How are you? Missed your blogging and you lovely comments.

    It's very funny you saying that. Love musky lingerie scents too (and everything musky really), but agree with amny of your other choices (indeed the Fifi is in my wardrobe indeed and at one time owned the Kenzo Amour, but the bottle broke and never replenished...)

    Isn't the Keiko rather too much though for this sort of purpose? Perhaps if one can strategically apply like one is keen to do with Angel? You know, applying with a single Q-tip! ;-)
    Velvet Tuberose sounds really tactile....nice name! Haven't tried, should note it down.

  3. I meant "many" above, naturally...typos, bane of my (fast paced) existence.

  4. Strategic application indeed with the Loukhoum, in this case don't even spray, just wipe the nozzle on your wrist and stomach, I find that works and gives you a nice smoky powder quality but not overwhelming. Mind you now that I think it of it becomes more of my own personal lingerie scent considering I don't think I ever had partner who thought that scent was all that amazing.

    As for the long time no see, getting a master's can take up a great deal of time, and then suddenly finding yourself needing a break from perfume to explore the world a bit more for sensory explorations, and then well suddenly finding myself once again wanting to talk about it.

  5. Jen,

    I'm all for fantasy, so your tip is welcome!

    Oh, good for you! Congratulations and GREAT to see you again. :-)
    Hope we exchange comments and you write when you feel like it to share.

  6. brie21:51

    Oh, it was so nice to see mention of Cacharel's little sleeper "Noa'. The funny thing is I always saw Noa as more of an office scent and even had a hard time smelling it on my skin. i did, however, go through about 7 bottles for it always garnered me compliments (even from young children) and seemed quite non-offensive. I am going to have to revisit with a different mind set,however. I guess I could see it as a "lingerie" scent.

  7. brie21:53

    OOPs forgot to say- yes to cashmere mist-definitely one of my favorite "lingerie' scents!

  8. Holly00:46

    Yours has become the only fragrance blog I read and creative posts like this are the reason. What an interesting concept! I am falling in love with Balanciaga Paris and I've realized upon reading your post that it has the "parfums lingerie" effect on how it makes me feel when wearing it.

  9. Miss Heliotrope02:25

    Not lingerie as such, but more clean warm pjs & a cosy bed (& several books) yet more stylish than that sounds - Chanel's Jersey, which is much sweeter than I usually go for (am rather fond of lavender though). I managed to smell it & then left my sample in the store - warm, cosy, but a lot more together than such things imply...

  10. annemariec02:31

    Oh Chanel's No19 Poudre. It got some terrible reviews last year but to me it is a lovely ethereal silk shift of a scent. Not very long lasting, but I imagine that it would hard to balance longevity with wispy delicacy. You are right about lingerie scents - they have to be airy. I do admit that Poudre's musks are a bit clean and bright. That's the bit I would change if I could.

    I've worn SJP's Lovely as a summer bedtime scent for years.

  11. Natalie05:32

    This is my first time to comment here, even though I thoroughly enjoy reading this blog. One of my favorite boudoir or lingerie scents is Rosewater from Crabtree and Evelyn. I use the lotion and dab a little on my chest and pulse points and enjoy little puffs of delicate rose scent all day. Makes me feel so feminine.

  12. Anonymous07:53

    What a lovely read, this morning. Cashmere Mist, yes, and in very small amounts, Hypnotic Poison which is so comforting and snuggly for night time. That's not really lingerie scent in the way you describe, however...I put soap bars in my underwear drawers, and end up with an amalgamous dry rose effect!

  13. Brie,

    oh goodie, love to see people sharing the love of some underrated things, such as Noa. And so many bottles, that means something. I found it to be complimented too when worn. It's a sleeper hit.

    Noa's definitely good for the office too (because it's subtle, soft and doesn't intrude, ever), though it has an intimacy that is both wide-eyed innocent and a little bit sensuous at the same time. Hence my inclusion in this category!
    I know you will wear it with even more personal pleasure from now on! ;-)

  14. brie,

    and glad we agree on the CM! It's rather fluffy and if one is gentle with the sprayer it can be intimate, like drawing something out of the underpinnings drawer....

  15. Holly,

    you make me blush, thanks for the vote of confidence. :-)

    It's a rather different take, I admit, where nuance rather than character defines or breaks the mood.
    Balenciaga has stricken gold with their two releases so far; everything from bottle, print presentation and smell hit the right spot. Enjoy! (it's also a great everyday scent as it fits so many occasions like a trusty pair of panties and brassiere that makes you feel like a million bucks)

  16. C,

    that's a way I hadn't thought of it. I only cursory tested it last year and then forgot about it. I should revisit at some point, for fairness's sake.

  17. AMC,

    oh don't worry. We haven't butchered it here. :-)
    It's fetching in its own way, but the name (no.19) irrevocably makes it be compared to the supra-elegant antecedant. That's its misfortune. Do wear it if it suits you, as I'm sure it's well received by everyone coming into contact with its "aura" (some perfumes are better from a little distance, this is one I believe). Perhaps wear it on sweaty days; sometimes that makes the trick.

    I personally think the perfect musk base for this sort of effect is the one in Lovely and Narciso (love both): they're a tiny bit dirty, but not too much. And there are all kinds of uplifting, pretty effects going on top that you just can't have seedy thoughts when smelling them. Yet subconsciously you know you're smelling a real human being underneath. ;-)

  18. Natalie,

    welcome and don't be shy! Thanks for your kind compliment.

    That sounds absolutely as what I had in mind. A little rose intimacy is very feminine! I haven't tested the Rosewater, but the name is very fetching! (love having actual rosewater at hand for caring for my skin at home). Noting down to try first chance I get.
    Thanks again!

  19. Anon,

    thanks and glad you enjoyed the post!

    Sounds good, a dry rose effect (as opposed to the stale bathroom freshener one) is always welcome! Putting soap in the linen is an old but perfect tip (I was also taught by my mother to put soap in the furs closet, which keeps the mustiness at bay).
    Love Hypnotic Poison in small doses in the evening (the EDT, which is less olfactory-nerve shattering), though, yes, naughtier and more fetish than a simple "lingerie scent". That rubber bottle they did for the parfum said it all...

  20. I don't use any of them, but I find the term "Lingerie fragrance" quite useful when trying to describe my impressions. Along with violet powdery and musky I would add a sense of silky, shining texture (probably due to some aldehydic intervention.

  21. Idomeneus,

    I should devise a new category for masculine fragrances too! (not necessarily a boxers/briefs one, LOL)

    Glad the term resonates with you and yes, you are right, some aldehydes have a soapy-powdery effect that is dry and airy enough to register.


  22. Two scents I consider ”lingerie” are ELDO Vraie Blonde, and Sonoma Scent Studio's Wood Violet. Both sexy and powdery. Vraie has the ”white suede bustier” feel, with a bit if pouty ripe peach. Wood Violet had a light musk and violety combo that whispers ”cotton voile, eyelet-timmed, English country nightie - a la Vict. Secret circa 1994.” Demure and sexy!

  23. Two scents I consider ”lingerie” are ELDO Vraie Blonde, and Sonoma Scent Studio's Wood Violet. Both sexy and powdery. Vraie has the ”white suede bustier” feel, with a bit if pouty ripe peach. Wood Violet had a light musk and violety combo that whispers ”cotton voile, eyelet-timmed, English country nightie - a la Vict. Secret circa 1994.” Demure and sexy!

  24. Two scents I consider ”lingerie” are ELDO Vraie Blonde, and Sonoma Scent Studio's Wood Violet. Both sexy and powdery. Vraie has the ”white suede bustier” feel, with a bit if pouty ripe peach. Wood Violet had a light musk and violety combo that whispers ”cotton voile, eyelet-timmed, English country nightie - a la Vict. Secret circa 1994.” Demure and sexy!

  25. Two scents I consider ”lingerie” are ELDO Vraie Blonde, and Sonoma Scent Studio's Wood Violet. Both sexy and powdery. Vraie has the ”white suede bustier” feel, with a bit if pouty ripe peach. Wood Violet had a light musk and violety combo that whispers ”cotton voile, eyelet-timmed, English country nightie - a la Vict. Secret circa 1994.” Demure and sexy!

  26. Merlin12:49

    I would add, maybe, Basier du vole (Cartier) and Delices de Fleurs (a sugared violet and rose by Loccitaine). Both quite demure!

  27. Annina,

    great suggestions, you describe them wonderfully. Thanks for commenting!

  28. Merlin,

    oh I love the Cartier, haven't tried L'occitane but noting down to. Thanks for the suggestion!

  29. Anonymous16:24

    Hi E!

    Out of my whole collection, ELDO Putain des Palaces is the one I would call my lingerie scent.

    Rose absolute, violet, leather, lily of the valley, mandarin, ginger, rice powder, amber and animalic notes.

    From your list, I love Love, Chloe and SL's Clair de Musc.

    Adding one more... Bill Blass Nude.

    I am in the process of reading and catching up with your blog. I missed it. :)


  30. dawn,

    hi there honey, how's everything? Happy to see you here. Hope you enjoy catching up :-)

    Good choice, missed that when grouping.
    And love the Nude by Bill Blass. Is it still the same though? I remember it had an aldehydic top and was seamless overall.

  31. For me it´s Malle´s Une Fleur de Cassie. There is totally something "underwear", it´s soft and powdery and little bit naughty, there is a little bit panties on it.

  32. Anna,

    LOVE that one. It's more than a bit naughty, to me. It's soiled panties, not a fresh pair (which is good)
    Thanks for the excellent addition! :-)

  33. Ladies please, There is no better fragrance or aroma in the universe than a freshly showered Woman, create that smell in a bottle & you'd be a God, (tho he created it first) ....


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