Queridos, I have an unfortunate and debilitating condition. I will tell you about it if you promise not to laugh. My driver’s license says that I am 4’11”. The reality is even a smidgen shorter. My height prevents me from competing on my favorite TV show of all time, America’s Next Top Model (the minimum height requirement is 5’7″). It prevents me from seeing over the steering wheel when I drive (mostly kidding, but you actually should really try to avoid driving behind me).
When you’re 4’11”, the whole world is a “You must be this tall to ride” sign.
Most of all, my midgetdom places me firmly in the “cute” category. This issue is compounded by the fact that I also look a good three or four years younger than my age (18). Words like “sexy” or “seductive” will never, ever be used to describe me. Do not pass “hot”, do not collect $2,000. I try to compensate for this aspect of being vertically challenged by wearing perfumes with blatantly obvious, impossible-to-miss sex appeal. I need my perfume to say, “It’s okay to be attracted to me! I am above the legal age of consent in all 50 states!”
You may be surprised, but “sexy” perfumes are actually becoming increasingly rare in today’s perfume market. The 1980’s were all about strong, powerful perfumes. They had presence and sex appeal to spare, but they were also so overwhelming that many were banned in workplaces, restaurants and other public places. Opium. Obsession. Giorgio. The 1990’s saw a backlash against these types of perfumes. Women wanted perfumes that smelled fresh, clean, and above all soft. The unisex, citrusy CK One is an enduring example of this genre. Today, in 2010, the “clean” trend remains dominant (although it has some competition from the “overly sweet” trend exemplified by Pink Sugar). The exceedingly airy Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue has been a topseller for 8 years. Unfortunately, too often “clean” becomes “nondescript”. These perfumes certainly have less potential to be offensive than those monsters of the ’80s, but they also have a great deal less personality.
For the next few blog posts, I plan to focus on the few contemporary sexy scents that have survived despite the public demand for something fresher and lighter. My personal favorite in this category is a perfume that never got the memo that the ’80s are over: Prada. Prada was created in 2004 by Carlos Benaim and Max Gavary. Like Thierry Mugler’s Angel, Prada features a very prominent patchouli note. Unlike Angel, however, Prada actually smells good. The patchouli combines with labdanum (a woody, ambery scent) and benzoin (a note that smells like powdery vanilla) to create an utterly intoxicating perfume. It smells delicious, without crossing the line into edible or over-sugared. Prada seems darker and more complex than it actually is (it’s essentially a woody vanilla), forever hinting at new layers that are about to be unveiled.
Prada’s sex appeal is not of the coy, flirtatious Marilyn Monroe variety. As evidenced by the knowing gaze of model Daria Werbowy in the ad, Prada knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s more of a seductress than a flirt, more vampy than wholesome. Prada smirks more than it smiles. If Prada were a person, it would doubtless be Angelina Jolie. Prada and Ms. Jolie are two unconventional beauties who share a hypnotic, slightly dangerous quality. Maybe you’ve been wearing your favorite perfume for years, but Prada will tempt you away faster than you can say “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”. By the vanilla-heavy drydown, Prada becomes soft and comforting, reminiscent of Angelina’s transition from bad-girl to her current Mother Earth phase.
Disclaimer: I bought my beloved bottle of Prada from fragrancenet.