It is a given that when it comes to perfumery, sex sells. French niche house Initio, feverishly popular with urban scentholics, business people, the generally frisky, and Youtubers for its well blended, strong, direct, sweet potions, makes the erotic thwack the central conceit of its entire business. With the most extreme of Gallic overstatement in each of its copy descriptions, you might have to start wiping yourself down with an ice cold towel before you even get to the smell: perfumes that will have you gasping for air;the lust so all-asphyxiating you will be scrabbling to loosen your belt from the first inhalatio as your dress falls to the floor or you find your Saks suit being clawed off your back by some ravenous horndog who can’t even wait to get upstairs to your hotel room where the force of the hammer and tong pummelling that will immediately ensue will be enough to nail the bed through the floor and crash down onto an unsuspecting elderly couple happily reading the newspaper in the room below. The perfumes, according to the taglines, are that hot. Fortunately, they are also actually quite good : on the whole: they are sexy, they are unbridled and just get straight to the hook up: $200 scents for the club, the hotel bar, for maximum sillage, seduction, and vitesse.

D happened to be wearing Rehab yesterday, and we soon found ourselves having frenzied sex on the seat at the back of the bus, clothes ripped off, panting and hurling, passengers screaming and children crying as the sirens wailed on the streets outside from the cars of local police who had been called up frantically by appalled local residents just hoping to go shopping for their dinner and not expecting such unforgettable scenes on a rainy Saturday afternoon . Jets of

Rewind. No. We were sitting on the back of the bus : : : : : I was wearing Fleur De Lalita, and D was wearing Rehab, and I was just thoughtfully weighing the brand’s description of the scent with my own actual experience of it:

“Fall for a fragrance. Hard. Like You’d fall in love at first sight: Rehab promises a return to the ecstatic pleasure of perfume. The harmony of its natural raw materials reveals from the perfect combination of bergamot, black pepper, lavender and spices on a bed of sandalwood and musk, building a truly hedonistic formula. Experience the pleasure of smelling something so profoundly, you have the disconcerting feeling you could reach out and touch it. Rehab. Dare to feel the ecstacy’.

Like Miss Diana Ross, I did reach out and touch (but not like that: don’t worry); to bring D’s arm to my nose, where I slightly lowered my viral inhibiting paper mask for a moment to smell the nub of Rehab up close (it is true: the sillage and general impression of this perfume is excellent: balanced and very attractive, in a Histoires De Parfums 1899 Ernest Hemingway kind of way: warm, aromatic, quite come-rest-your-head-on-my-delicious-hairy-chest, but at the same time very normal; gentlemanly, old school, (and certainly not very original). Plus, as with most of the scents I have huffed from this range – wearing a padlocked iron chastity belt so as to resist the possibility of whacking off and abusing myself constantly – I find there is a definite oversaturation of white musk in the end notes, a slightly unintelligent perfume ingredient that I have always personally considered a little tacky.

Absolute aphrodisiac, my favourite of the collection (and one I wish I could pull off, actually) is a perfect, meringue fresh vanilla musk though, with castoreum and white flowers protecting a G spot of leather and amber. Extraordinarily cute, this is a go-for-broke take me with U. Probably most suited to a slinky young woman in night mode, it really does the job as intended: to a lot of people, myself included, being whispered to in the ear by a beautiful someone brushing up close in some AA would doubtlessly prove irresistible.

Psychedelic Love, one of the few overt florals in the range, flirts openly with the link between love as a narcotic and drug use to the point of le overdose :

“The signature of this narcotic bomb lies in three essential ingredients : rose, hedione, and heliotrope. While the hedione activates the brain regions linked to pleasure and the libido, heliotrope goes even further. Equally tender and illicit, this crystalline powder hides its intention well. Beware of its creamy, powdery and floral facets, wavering between vanilla and almond! Used in over doses, heliotropin becomes a psychoactive substance. A forbidden shiver rushes over the skin. …….A substance under strict regulations, its possession is strictly controlled by law, because heliotropin is used for the chemical synthesis of MDA, a prohibited drug and substitute for ecstacy. Confronted with this diabolical indulgence, no one is safe from an olfactory obsession that can soon become a real addiction”…….

Well, what can I say? The scent is quite nice; a ylang ylang/heliotrope/patchouli configuration with kaleidoscopic facets that would make it perfect for a night club scene with Keanu Reeves in John Wick. I must confess to a secret predilection sometimes for these soulless but strangely exhilarating action films or steamy Netflix series with their sex sirens and ironed-hair pleasure pusses; the just-so tailoring, phosphorescent cocktails; hot Ukrainian bodyguards; the little black dresses and pulsating club music; the endless fight scenes and ever increasing body counts (John Wick three was quite exhausting to watch in that regard; so much wasted couture); the internationally agreed upon homogenization of club style, from Delhi to Buenos Aires to Helsinki to Miami: the consensus standards of Tom Ford/ By Kilian glamour ………….the Initio perfumes fit these style diktats like a glove. Direct. Approved. Erotic but classily turned out : sharp and taloned and premeditated as Dior nails.

On me, the morning after wearing Psychedelic Love, and Magnetic Blend 1, having almost been fucked to death at an impromptu orgy that began at an Ofuna shopping centre when I walked into the supermarket wearing the scents on each wrist and was beset by a huddle of shoppers who just couldn’t contain themselves no sorry I mean that I went to bed with one on each wrist for comparison; and while the deliberate bad breath of the Magnetic Blend, a modern twist on the Mouchoir De Monsieur civet contradiction I could imagine having a ‘dangerously attractive’ palette for certain people with little self respect ( …” The ambergris unleashes the animal drives. The scent arouses instincts, causing the abandonment in the surge of pleasures”), when I woke up the next morning, spent and sore as hell, my first thought was: what are those cheap oud chemicals on the back of my hands? And then I remembered what I had ‘done’ the prior evening…..

Most people will probably not be disappointed, however. Potent wood/amber notes are extremely popular; many adore this brand; perfume fora are full of scent wearers obsessed with ‘performance’ and ‘projection’ and potency; for a large swathe of Gucci and Balenciaga’d up consumers, perfume really can be boiled down to sex and bewitched fashion immediacy: they want to walk into that closed off VIP space and pull on the spot, based on their Instagram and cologne alone.

To finish, in case you are getting a little too hot under the collar reading this and are already writhing nude up against the wallpaper completely out of control (all of this, I must admit, to my averagely libidinous self, is so 50 Shades Of Grey: but if you do feel like some extra sauce to continue this very special Super Sexy Sunday please read my piece on sadomaschism): let’s bring things now to a geyser-like climax, screaming until we wake the whole neighbourhood, with the latest addition to Initio’s Chamber of whips, chains, and scented lubes…………..Musk Therapy.

One’s other half has shown a relatively new affiliation with musk scents recently, a trend I am enjoying: mid-toned but aromatically soft musks that give a generous impression, charismatic: and he rather likes this one, praising its skin-right and calming, peachy properties. Like many in the collection, there is definitely a neo-90’s vibe to this perfume, with sweet base accords that put me in mind of perfumes like Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Mâle and Parfums Nikos’ Sculpture. But perhaps I had better leave the last word to Initio: I have my own desires and erotic fantasies, like anybody else, but at this stage, after all these imaginary orgasms, I just can’t keep up any more with their priapic, Gallic, erotomania:

Close your eyes.

Smell and feel a new way of sensations. Experience the power of scent therapy….

Natural white sandalwood blended with an overdose of white and pink musk creates an ultra addictive milky and velvety accord. The white magnolia activates the pleasure receptor while the cassis stimulates the energy, releasing a supplement of eroticism. Musk Therapy, a magical mood enhancer, paves the way to relaxation and a sense of well being. Finally, a delightful alternative to artificial paradises and their illicit substances. ..


Filed under Flowers


  1. Karina

    The words ‘performance’ and ‘projection’ usually have me running in the opposite direction. The added layer of sex sex sex I find doubly off putting. I’ll take a bit of innuendo delivered with intelligence or fleeting but wonderful over this. But then – I’m obviously not the target audience. So each to their own.

    • ALWAYS each to their own, with everything in life, but I still couldn’t resist a bit of a romp in light of their PR extravagance. I also can’t stand ‘projection’ etc – in general it means a perfume with the subtlety of a battering ram

  2. Tora

    I needed a good laugh this morning, and your little back of the bus dalliance had me giggling! All the heaving bosoms and 50 Shades descriptions were so funny! I can’t handle ‘beast mode’ or any modern perfumes that have giant openings that last for 15 minutes and then have a dry down of cheap tawdry synthetic musks. Give me a good vintage any day. Although, this morning I am wearing Solange Cosmic which is so freaking gorgeous, and relatively modern. Have you tried it, Neil?

  3. Robin

    It’s the weirdest thing. All this imagery, those specific “erotic” words, the intensity, create the opposite reaction in me: a profound somnambulance. It’s like the effect of a good ASMR YouTube video. Or maybe 50 Shades with the sound turned down to 2 or 3. It all lulls me to a dreamy half-sleep, completely removed from all the action.

    I can see myself being entertained by samples from the Parfums Initios line, occasionally pleased, occasionally irritated, or just bored.

    I bet you had a blast writing this, N., and that’s the main thing. Fun for us, too.

    • I didn’t actually set out to write something so over the top: I thought I was about to do a regular ‘Musk Therapy’ review ( how you imagine you would react to these is precisely how you would react : Rehab would smell nice on R; I am actually wearing Aphrodisiac now and I was wrong : it does actually suit me – similar to L’Artisan’s lovely and long gone Vanilia; others are too synthetic woods for us): the problem is all in the spiel : I think somnambulance is a genius way of putting it. I mean the actual Initio advert, with all the sexless gaunt giraffes in their fashion gear draped very unnaturally over each other is, for me at least, preposterously unsexy.

    • What I was going to say was as I immersed myself in the Initio ‘world’ I found I couldn’t help sending it up a bit. Well a lot

  4. Hanamini

    This had me in stitches. Have to agree with everyone above. If these products are pictures painted in perfume of the pouting, preening, and pelvic posturing that passes for pleasure in public media lately, then pour me a pitcher of phenylephrine before I pass out. I’m too put off by all this to put out—surely not the effect the perfumers were hoping for! I’d rather read a perfume post!

    • Me too. If this is sex, also count me out.

      I think what they are possibly trying to do though is ‘bringing sexy back’ like Justin Timberlake : ie moving away from perfumer profile/ note fetishization to a sense of ‘proper perfume’ and its erotic heritage. It half works, but like so many niche houses – I feel a bit guilty in pillorizing this one house when SO MUCH linguistic garbage has passed before my eyes these last few years : meaningless drivel that is usually unintentionally hilarious or else incomprehensible : the Italians are quite bad in this regard ( all they need to do is pay for a f******* translator !)

      Then again the tripe they come up with in the first place probably doesn’t merit translating ..

      So glad my book in Italian wasn’t a horror story. Thank my publisher Ippocampo chose someone with real skill !

  5. Good heavens! I need a cold shower after just reading all of that.
    I have previously read some of Initio’s ludicrously eye-roll inducing ad copy and wondered just whom it was intended to appeal to? Anyone under 16 yrs old? Millennial Incels? I can’t imagine whom else would be titillated by the over-the-top attempt at sexiness & illicit drug references.
    I don’t find anything sexy about an overdose of white & pink musks. Sounds like fabric softener to me.
    I think Psychedelic Love is the only fragrance I tried from this brand. Though it promised to produce a “forbidden shiver” akin to the psychoactive drug ectasy, all I got was a boring clone of Hypnotic Poison with maybe a dash of Black Orchid. This entire line seems to be based on crappy dupes of Tom Ford.
    Thank you for the hilarious read. You have brilliantly outcamped Initio’s ridiculous writers.

    • Merci beaucoup : I couldn’t stop myself.

      Another example for thy delectation. Side Effect, a perfectly nice fresh aromatic spice ( tobacco, vanilla, rum, cinnamon), with a slightly appleish fruitiness and vague memories of Paloma Picasso Minotaure : could smell quite affably charming, even sexy on the correct individual, is described thus :

      ‘The fragrance lifts the veil on the unsayable. Deeply buried emotions and passions take over…

      This passionate perfume has the power to plunge its wearer into that altered state where nothing is too daring because there are no risks left”.


  6. Brilliant!!! You had me chuckling with abandon. Do these fragrance companies really think their fragrances encourage people to do these things? I truly wonder?
    I’ve worn gorgeous scents, ones that were truly sultry, without any white musk in the drydown, thank you, and never had anyone say the fragrance had them lose control. A fragrance can only do so much. And…the only white musk scent that was decent was NOA by Cacharel. These people and their press releases, oh my nothing ever changes, except for us becoming more aware of the nonsense.
    I guess I am just too cerebral to have a fragrance knock me to the floor in wild abandon, although I will say Polo original by Ralph Lauren on an especially sexy blonde during the late eighties had me swooning and still does if I smell it. That is not even a sexy fragrance, so there you go.
    I guess it’s just the combination of person and scent that makes the magic happen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s