This Is What Happens When You Wear Semen-Scented Perfume
MiN, a boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, bills itself as a “haute parfumerie and artelier,” which is French for “store that sells expensive things.” It caters to people willing to pay $350 for 12 milliliters of liquid—mainly this means celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, who reportedly comes here for a jasmine, leather, and tobacco amalgam. That sounds like it’d smell like the torn cigarettes at the bottom of my backpack, but then again, I know nothing about perfume.
Though I don’t understand it, the people who work there are really, really good at what they do. Olya, a sales associate I met on a recent trip to MiN, realized she had an uncanny ability to identify scents at an early age—she remembers getting an “almost drunken” feeling from a jasmine bush at her parents’ house when she was growing up in Moscow.
I wanted to find out how it would feel to smell like a famous person—to have a “signature scent” selected especially for me—so I had Olya help me pick out an array of fragrances to try at home, in order to see which one agreed most with my body chemistry. Apparently, good perfume is supposed to react constantly with the wearer’s body and shift subtly depending on temperature and diet. She gave me a quick questionnaire before matching me up with some options that might fit my lifestyle. Handing over the vials, she told me she used the characteristics “boozy” and “masculine.” Thanks, Olya.
She has a much, much better sense of smell than I do, which became very obvious when I couldn’t tell the difference between any of the perfumes she let me sample. So I went back to MiN in search of some more… distinctive scents. Olya gave me a leathery-smelling perfume that’s made from a beaver’s anal secretion (Casotreum, which beavers use to mark their territory, is used in strawberry flavoring and in perfumes by Chanel, Lancome, and Givenchy), but I had my eye on another bottle: Secretions Magnifique, a synthetic concoction that’s supposed to—supposed to—smell like a combination of semen, blood, and breast milk. It’s $88, and even Olya has a little trouble justifying why anyone would want it. “I don’t think it’s for everyone,” she said. “It’s very primal.” When customers want to test it out, she has to take it outside the store to spray it. “I feel like humans always get attracted to things that are unclear unknown or even repulsive,” she said.
Long story short, I wore it for five days.