This Perfume Smells Like Semen, Blood & Breast Milk

Smell is an often-neglected sense: always losing the big headlines to the “glamour senses” of sight and hearing. Yet it can be a powerful one: scent can transport us to other times and places, working with our memory to bring vividly to life occasions in life when a particular aroma was present.

So the business of fragrance is the business of finding the most evocative scents possible – those smells that rouse us to recall exciting or pleasurable sensations. So you can see what perfume company Etat Libre d’Orange was going for when it decided to put out Secretions Magnifiques – a fragrance that claims to call to mind “the pinnacle of sexual pleasure”.

Secretions Magnifiques is not a new sensation: it launched in 2006 with the promise that its scent was “as real as an olfactory coitus that sends one into raptures”. But it remains a much-discussed and debated perfume, mainly because people don’t seem to agree on whether it achieves its aim or not – or whether its aim is a good one to achieve anyway.

Secretions Magnifiques, you see, supposedly blends the smell of semen, sweat, blood and breast milk into a heady mix to drive the nose and the carnal senses wild. At first glance, that sounds…kind of disgusting. At second glance, too. But those who’ve sampled Secretions Magnifiques don’t necessarily come away disgusted – in fact, those who have really strong negative reactions to the perfume tend to be those who were told beforehand of what it was supposed to smell like, rather than those going in “blind”, who tend to report a quite-nice scent with vaguely sensual undertones, but no particular impression of being mid-coitus.

Then again, it’s all in the nose of the beholder. To be sure of how Secretions Magnifiques works its magic, you’d best pick up a bottle yourself.