AS THE worst economic crisis since the Great Depression broke in 2008, French designer Paco Rabanne released the most inappropriate scent possible: 1 Million, a male perfume in a bottle the shape and colour of a gold bar.
Yet this grossly ill-timed slice of hedonism and opulence wound up being one of the UK’s best-selling men’s scents in recent years, with three bottles selling every five minutes. In short, uncertainty and austerity in the financial world seems to incite the opposite feeling in life’s smellier things, where it’s gold bars all round. Perhaps this is not such a surprise. Michael Donovan, a perfume expert and consultant, says: “Since the banking crisis, both fashion and perfume have been going through a rather opulent phase. It’s not about being flashy or wearing something that overpowers. It is about confidence and exuberance and the statement that we know where we are and how to move forward. That we have the strength and the knowledge necessary for success.” Or, as a Paco Rabanne spokesperson puts it: “A fragrance is always designed to make someone feel special, stronger or more seductive. It was obviously the case with 1 Million.”
Obviously. Tomorrow sees the launch of Rabanne’s female version: Lady Million (pictured), in a multi-angled diamond-shaped bottle meant to express the rich, excessive, passionate and successful lady’s many sides as well as her predilection for, and similarity to, glinting jewels of the finest order. (Fun fact: the model leading the campaign is Dree Hemingway, Ernest’s great-grand daughter).
The crisis is over for now. So, rather than being a symbol of bygone times, a displacement of squashed excess or an expression of wishful thinking, Lady Million actually encapsulates a sentiment of strength and forward movement into a brave new world. It’s not as bolshy or flashy as it looks – it smells of mangos. Also of orange flowers and jasmine.
But Lady Million leads the way in autumn power scents. As we gear up for the profitable stretch leading to Christmas, it’s time to take stock of our perfume wardrobe and inject some “watch out: here I come” feeling into it.
It could even help you in the boardroom. “Scents can be used like armour,” says Donovan. “They can surround you and make you feel strong and conquering. I use them regularly when I have to pitch for new business or have an important presentation to attend.” Donovan favours the aptly named Eau de Gloire by Parfums D’Empire (£82.50/100ml from www.lessenteurs.com) – which he describes as “a day in the olfactory life of Napoleon Bonaparte – it makes you feel rather invincible.” Powerhouse perfumes not only make you feel confident and capable but can also give others confidence in your abilities, maintains Donovan. “Leather, vetiver, labdanum, patchouli and sandalwood, rose and jasmine for men and oud, rose, orange blossom and jasmine for women are forever – no financial hiccup with dent their effectiveness.”
Herald your return to hard work with a scent that will help you strut and engender respect. We’ve chosen four power scents for men and women each; see above. Paco Rabanne’s Lady Million is available in department stores from tomorrow at £45/50ml.
FOR HER | POWERFUL HEROINE
MOMENTOUS BY BOADICEA THE VICTORIOUS
The brand is named after the British Warrior Queen – this one is based on a cactus flower called Queen of the Night and is strident with Egyptian bergamot. £140 for 100ml, Harrods
RM BY RUTH MASTENBROEK
British nose Ruth Mastenbroek’s powerhouse of a modern chypre oozes confidence and states quite clearly that you are a sophisticated woman of the world. Full of exotic citrus, pink pepper, patchouli, jasmine, roses and more. £50/50ml, ww.ruthmastenbroek.com
ORANGE STAR BY TAUER PERFUMES
A truly explosive scent, it imbues you with an intoxicating smell of oranges. People will follow you with their noses and your zingy scent in turn will lift their spirits and yours. £90/100ml, www.lessenteurs.com
SECRET OUD, CARON
This is warm, confident scent contains the most expensive exotica, including saffron and oud. An expensive elixir for the well-heeled and informed-business woman. £135/50mls, Harrods
FOR HIM | CONFIDENT HERO
AVENTUS BY CREED
A celebration of Creed’s 250-year anniversary, this bottle, embossed with an picture of Alexander the Great, is full of the powerful notes of manly oak, strident apples and blackberries, and earthy jasmine. £123/100ml, www.creed
1 MILLION BY PACO RABANNE
Why did this now-iconic scent for men do so well? Masculine spice and leather plus sparkling fresh fruits with blood mandarin, peppermint and amber is part of it. The overall effect is sexy, daring and very, very successful. £48 for 100ml, major department stores.
CUIR BY MONA DI ORIO
Exudes the old-fashioned power associated with the gentleman’s club, imparting a sense of confidence and privilege. Yet it retains a modern edge thanks to a huge kick of coriander. £110/100ml, www.lessenteurs.com
HOMME BY COSTUME NATIONAL
A true classic – full of cloves, bergamot, patchouli and sandalwood. Rich and velvety, it is unmistakably masculine and the scent of a real man, not a boy. £58/50ml, Selfridges