Shucking Oysters: Aroma Therapy


Shucking Oysters: Aroma Therapy
By Alex Allen

Whenever I encounter someone wearing cologne or perfume, it’s a blast from the past. And it’s never subtle. Those who like to hide themselves under a veil of patchouli or cedarwood seem to have lost their sense of smell and mindfulness. It’s not a veil; it’s a burlap bag. Did you dip yourself in the liquid or did you marinate in it over night?

Today, the world of colognes and perfumes is all about branding yourself. From fuzzy pink, white and gold hues to bold, solid black and gray tones, the receptacles are the most telling. The women’s are usually curvy, sensual, and see-through. In the men’s section, the colognes look like gadgets to grip onto in a manly way. So, where to start?

No matter what your mood, gentlemen, Hugo Boss Elixir Parfum, will cover it. The five stages of man. Need to chop wood and hookup? Fresh and Masculine, is your go-to with an apple, cinnamon, and woods scent. Want to feel like you had a cold morning swim? Fresh and Vigorating, of course, with an apple, madarine, and sandalwood scent. Invited to an art show opening? Fresh and Refined is so your choice, with a scent of apple, cardamon, and vetiver. Or maybe you have a date with the local librarian, then Warm and Sophisticated is the one, with orris, cedarwood, and vegetal leather. And finally, I’ll let you set the tone, Rich and Charismatic, with an incense, vetiver and cedarwood scent and nary a hint of Elon Musk. Vegetal leather? 

Awkwardly named, there’s Invictus Victory Elixir by Paco Rabanne. Like a musical arrangement, the top notes are lavender, cardamom and black pepper; the middle notes, incense and patchouli; and the base notes, vanilla pod and tonka bean. A backstory may help. While recovering in an infirmary, after one leg was amputated, and almost the other, Victorian era British poet William Ernest Henley was moved to write a poem “Invictus.” In a trophy bottle, Invictus is the “place where vibrancy meets muscle, where success meets the quotidian” and where you may get close enough to touch Harry and Meghan. (Maybe this is what Taylor Swift’s boyfriend wore at the Superbowl.) 

If a grenade and the Oscar statuette had sex, Le Male Elixir by Jean Paul Gaultier, would be their love child. The description is as sexually tense as a romance novel: “Radiant at first sight, glowing with masculinity, more fiery than ever. The torso is bursting with muscles, the skin is bathed in copper color by the sinking sun … Finely chiseled grooves stand out on its muscles dipped in gold and merge with the amber stripes of the sailor shirt, which plays with transparency effects in a highly sexy way.” But wait there’s more. “In this breath of fresh air, dashing lavender quickly takes on lusty proportions, enhanced by the balsamic richness of benzoin with syrupy vanilla accents.” Excuse me, while I get some air. 

For women, we have Burberry Her Elixir de Parfum. This bold and sensual fragrance is the latest chapter in the intensifying story of Burberry Her. Are you a free-spirited woman seeking the excitement of your next adventure? Then look no more, Burberry knows who you are: “sensual, irresistible, and not held back by boundaries” and ominously, “possesses an addictive persona.” Her Elixir de Parfum offers “signature fruity gourmand notes alongside a daring burst of dark red berries with jasmine, rounded with sensual and addictive vanilla and amber.” The pink bottle with an opaque finish represents “the intensity of the fragrance inside and its confident and sensual nature.” Be forewarned.

Or perhaps, some women would prefer to smell like a Mojito, with hints of lime, mint and the jasmine-like scent of the Mariposa lily, the national flower of Cuba. Packaged in a yellow and pink ombre glass bottle, Brisa Cubana by Escada, is a new citrus floral fragrance inspired by the “Cuban Breeze” of the butterfly lily. Now, you can smell like a tropical cocktail before someone spills one on you. 

Bored and dissatisfied? In a cherry purple bottle, Party Love Eau de Parfum by Escada, is the one, “where dreams and desires burst into life and an out-of-this-world party with friends is only the beginning.” The fragrance “captures the essence of femininity through an accord of mesmerizing dark cherry and airy whipped cream over a velvety vanilla cupcake. The perfectly scented touch of gourmet sweetness before partying with your girl crew.” Smelling like a cherry cupcake will transport you “into an enchanted realm of joy, dance, and irresistible sweetness”? What happened to Ecstasy?


What is going on here? They’re not fragrances, they’re scented promises. Will every woman wearing a floral scent evoke a sense of grace and tenderness? Will every man come across as sophisticated and confident just because he’s wearing a woody cologne? How about your natural scent? Does it leave a memorable trail wherever you go?