Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (five days away to be exact) and if you’re attached to a significant other you are likely to be thinking about what treats you may have in store for them. Now, don’t you worry, this isn’t yet another gift guide (I’ve done my anti-Valentine’s gift guide already) as they are a dime a dozen these days. No, instead I’ve decided to celebrate the day of St. Valentine by doing something a little bit different this year.
Perfume, like literature and film, is littered with many legendary lovers – iconic pairings that tell the story of true romance. These duos may have been created to market the idea of ‘his ‘n’ hers’ but they also allow a couple to share a fragrant experience by either matching, complimenting or contrasting each other. I’m all for them when done right and with a bit of flair. So, without further ado, here are my picks for perfumery’s most iconic pairings.
Jean Paul Gaultier’s signature fragrances seem like the most obvious choices for a list of iconic fragrant partnerships, not least because they are each housed within the glass body shapes of their respective genders, creating a striking visual image of ‘his ‘n’ hers’. What I find particularly interesting about these two is the fact that, instead of sharing individual notes or ingredients, they are linked by a certain brashness that is powerfully feminine or masculine, depending on which one you are smelling.
For Classique (Jacques Cavallier; 1993), Gaultier presents a familiar fragrant theme, specifically the idea of a makeup powder fragrance displayed through the guise of an unsubtle floral oriental. Le Mâle (Francis Kurkdjian; 1995) does a similar thing, except the popular theme in the masculine is the standardbearer of mens fragrances – the fougére, but where many fougéres evoke the image of a dandyish fop impeccably tailored, Le Mâle is all tight t-shirts, hairless chests and bulging biceps.
If you and your beloved are the unsubtle types who want fragrances that very comfortably sit within their designated genders then Classique and Le Mâle make for a very good pairing. They are modern classics that don’t seem to have aged a jot in the 20 or so years that they’ve been gracing our nostrils, and they’ll paint you and your beau as confident, fun and sexy. Also, the new limited Pirate editions are to die for….
Obviously, not all perfume pairings have been created as ‘his ‘n’ hers’ duos, some just happen to be rather in tune with each other. My favourite serendipitous couple is Guerlain’s Shalimar (Jacques Guerlain; 1925) and Habit Rouge (Jean-Paul Guerlain; 1965). Created with an expansive 40 year age gap between the two (with Habit Rouge being the toy boy), these classic fragrances from the perfume industry’s most venerable house share a signature that is timeless and distinct, and shows that they are both cut from the same cloth.
Shalimar is all about bergamot, iris powder, smoky vanilla and amber. Habit Rouge captures all of this but it makes things a touch more masculine by focusing on a sherbet-like citrus opening and a heart of aged leather. Smelling both, one could easily imagine a glamorous, rich couple who wear these as their signature scents – she in the oriental from 1925 and he in the leather from ’65. They are as loyal to the Guerlains as they are to each other, and whether they are throwing a lavish party at their country pile, or simply trekking the grounds on horseback, they are never without their Shalimar or Habit Rouge, or each other.
Some couples however, were always born to be together, sharing common themes and concepts to create ‘his ‘n’ hers’ fragrances that are so alike they are interchangeable, but also so different in some ways that they contrast each other quite remarkably. My pick for these olfactory twins is none other than Thierry Mugler’s Angel (Olivier Cresp & Yves de Chiris; 1992) and A*Men (Jacques Huclier; 1996). Yes, yes, I know, this will be no surprise from me, seeing as I am a card-carrying member of the Muglerati, but despite this, one cannot deny that these two fragrances are the perfect olfactory lovers.
Angel and A*Men exist in a passionate and glamorous relationship where one is always trying to outdo the other using the only tool they have – noise. The female of the species, Angel, displays chocolate, patchouli, dewberry and vanilla in a unusual balance, being two parts fluffy sweet stuff and three parts great big stonking patchouli. The masculine does all this but throws lavender, mint, tar and coffee at the mix in attempt to reign dominant (to be honest, he should know better going up against our dear Angel), creating something that is definitely along the same lines, but also very different. Both are bold, challenging and fiercely glamorous
Finally there are some couples created in tandem and tailor made to compliment each other. Most of the fragrance couples within the Maison Francis Kurkdjian line could fall into this category, but it is his Pluriel duo that stands out as the most perfectly complimentary. With both fragrances, Kurkdjian aimed to present a timeless fragrant signature with a contemporary twist, resulting in two perfumes that smell completely different in style and theme, but feel as if they convey the same message.
féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel (Francis Kurkdjian; 2014) take two classic genres, the floral chypre for her and the fougére for him, and demonstrate them in Kurkdjian’s radiant and clear style. The feminine is a peachy and powdery floral with chocolate-y patchouli in the base, evoking the image of delicate ballet shoes made from the purest pink satin. The masculine on the other hand adds a rugged topping of spice and woods to the traditionally soapy fougére accord. These are two very different scents that work together as a pair because they each bring something new to the table – they are the beautiful and innovative couple one is always happy to invite for dinner.
Join the Discussion!
What are your favourite perfume pairings?
Image 1 via Wikipedia. Image 2 via perfumery.com & ola.parfums.fr. Image 3 via osmoz.fr. Image 4 via perfumesociety.org & c.mobofree.com. Image 5 via parfumneroli.hu.