The sense of smell had been underestimated through time, that we often forget that it helps form our memories. Scents help us remember a moment, a person or even a place. Much more, scents help form a big factor of culture. It talks of the vanity of mankind through time. Through the importance of scents, we see the evolution of perfume from being used as part of ritual, to today's time as part of a person’s beauty kit.
The Egyptians, Greeks and Persians first used perfumes for religious ceremonies more often than as a cosmetic tool. In time, the use of it changed, and perfume soon became a product of trade, in addition to being used for self-grooming. Centuries later, people started doing more with perfumes, inspiring and prompting more perfume experts to create different scents.
However, today, these scents bore a different connotation. Perhaps, the most powerful memory that scents bring us is one of the most natural acts in the world - sex. Perfumes have always been able to trigger this need within us. One sniff can put us in heat, and make us attracted to another person wearing that smell. Our sense of smell has such strong effects regardless of the time of the day and often, regardless of the place. The power of scents has never changed that sometimes, a whiff of a scent brings back a heated moment, awakening the most carnal need of mankind.
Perfume had always had incredible powers. It tells a story, a need, and a desire with just one smell. This had been evident through the perfumes that have tried to find the perfect scent for sex, eroticism and desire. Let’s walk down memory lane and see which fragrances have been invented through the years to connote sex.
Shalimar was created in 1921 by the House of Guerlain, with the intention of making it smell like a mistress. In his own words, "Perfume should smell like the underside of my mistress”. Shalimar was inspired by perhaps one of the greatest love story of all time, that of the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal.
Tabu was launched in 1932 when Dana Company’s Jean Carles created a perfume that will make you impossible to forget. It was said that Carles was instructed to make a scent that a prostitute can wear, and voila, Tabu was created. Tabu was able to provide the perfect scent to symbolise all things forbidden. It mixed the scents of rose, orange blossom, jasmine, vetiver sensuous oak moss, amber and musk. Creating a mixture of allure and seduction, it teases, intrigues and haunts the senses.
In 1947, Bandit came to the market. It was created by a lesbian perfumer and formal model, Germaine Cellier. The smell of models changing their underwear in the Robert Piguet fashion show caught her attention and it became the inspiration of the perfume. Now, that scent of women changing their panties is a scent made for men.
In 1977, Opium was launched by Yves Saint Laurent. It caused a lot of controversy during its time, which spiked protest from Chinese Americans that were offended by the name. However, that did very little to change the demand for such a scent. People wanted the spicy, lingering scent that Opium provided - a scent that screamed sex, drug and glamour.
When Obsession came out in 1985, it became synonymous with eroticism as soon as its publicity materials were launched. Its commercials were rather bold and promiscuous, just like the life of Calvin Klein. Obsession provided the scent that best symbolised society's obsession with work and love.
In the same year Christian Dior launched a fragrance that was so distinct during that time. Poison was like an explosion of the smell of a grape gum - it was heavy, yes, but still mutable. Due to its scent, it grabs attention once the wearer walks in the room. Poison provided the best combination of sex and danger a fragrance could possibly provide.