Forever in love with being in love.
Are there any depictions of love more romantic, more dizzying and more over-the-top than the ones that exist in the fragrance world? Perhaps only Disney films and romcoms come in as close seconds to the perfume industry, which has long been determined to capture that “drunk in love” feeling in a bottle, sweeping us off our feet with grand declarations of love in both the descriptions of fragrance notes and in ad campaigns. The beauty industry may just be the most hopeless romantic there ever was.
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Take, for example, Missing Person, the first fragrance launch from Phlur last year. The scent sold out upon its release, thanks to viral TikToks claiming it smells like someone you love. Indeed, the description on the Phlur website reads: “If nude were a perfume, this is it. Missing Person is pure, provocative and undeniably familiar.” #PerfumeTok creator @paulreactss says in his video, “It could literally make me emotional. This is what love smells like. To me, it smells like when my partner [and I] first met.” This spring, Phlur released its best-selling scent in a candle, calling it “a delicate, yet addictive fragrance that evokes the lingering smell of your lover’s scent.”
Luxury fragrance brand Killian Paris is perhaps most well-known for its Love, Don’t Be Shy fragrance — otherwise known as Rihanna’s favourite perfume. (In case you didn’t know, the A-lister famously smells heavenly.) Its description reads: “First love’s innocence makes itself known with juicy honeysuckle and plush rose softly caressed by the sweetness of luscious marshmallow sugar accord, satisfying the craving pang of new love.” Earlier this year, the brand released Can’t Stop Loving You, described as “a true love declaration, a perfume celebrating love. Can’t Stop Loving You is a narcotic floral fragrance that puts peace in danger.” Oof. Be still, my heart. The list goes on and on: What Would Love Do? by Lush (a personal favourite, which has sadly been discontinued in North America), Chloé’s Love Story, Tory Burch Love Relentlessly, Dior J’Adore.
So what’s with perfumery’s obsession with love? Well, it actually comes down to science. Smells are processed by the brain’s olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to the parts of our brain that process memory and emotion. It’s why a sniff of a certain fragrance can immediately send you on a sudden trip down memory lane (whether you consider yourself a hopeless romantic or not). It’s also why love and scents can’t be separated — they’re chemically intertwined.
But it’s not just fragrances. The makeup industry is head-over-heels in love (and lust), too. Think of iconic products like Nars’ Orgasm and Too Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara. More recently, Rituel de Fille’s Love Spell (fun fact: this is the exact product used on Riley Keough’s eyelids in Daisy Jones & The Six), Pat McGrath’s Love at First Blush and Love and Lust Duo of glosses, and Charlotte Tilbury’s Look of Love collection, prove that the beauty industry’s obsession with looking, feeling and smelling in love is no short-term fling.
Earlier this year, Byredo launched its first-ever makeup collection, under the creative direction of the brand’s newly appointed creative image and makeup Pprtner, renowned makeup artist Lucia Pica. The collection is called First Emotions, and is inspired by “that first being in love state,” explains Pica on the brand’s site. “It’s enigmatic […], a reflection of how the body feels things before they are comprehended in the brain. There are the different tonalities of love; the different facets — erotic, sincere, unconditional, even unrequited.” Featuring a limited-edition eyeshadow palette, kajal pencil, mascara and two lipsticks, which are available at Holt Renfrew, the collection is said to reflect “the many shades of falling, and being, in love. The highs and lows, bright spots and dark moments, and all of the flurry of emotions that come with falling in love.”
Above all else, First Emotions is a makeup collection for the hopeless romantic. “You kiss and everything becomes a bit more colourful,” Pica told CR Fashion Book about the collection launch.