SCENT SEMANTICS 3: LUSCIOUS

Is there anything more luscious than the word LUSCIOUS?

Luscious not only sounds delicious, it literally is

According to the Advanced English Dictionary, luscious is derived from the Middle English word lucius, which is an altered form of licious, short for delicious.

In addition to tasty synonyms like delectable, scrumptious, and yummy, luscious can also refer to someone with “strong sexual appeal.” See also juicy (“juicy barmaid”), red-hot (“red-hot mama”), voluptuous (“a voluptuous woman”), and toothsome (“a toothsome blonde in a tight dress”). 

Ponder with me the ridiculous, gendered examples of “strong sexual appeal” given by the Advanced English Dictionary, developed by the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University and populated using the WordNet lexical database. To be sweet is to be angelic, but to be edible is to be a MILF, working a powerless job that leaves you at the mercy of a leering, hungry public. Skinny, bony wenches need not apply! To be luscious, your [bra]cup must runneth over! Think Jennifer Coolidge (boozy, buxom, blonde), or more tragic figures like Marilyn Monroe (objectified, underestimated, exploited) and Anna Nicole Smith (ridiculed, victimized, shamed).

To be luscious is to be vulnerable, both in terms of food and sex. To inspire that kind of desire is power, but it’s also a liability. It will be difficult for you to survive for long in this world. You are craved, devoured, consumed. Who wants a piece of you? Everyone!

Just like poor, maligned, luscious women everywhere have been targets for vicious trolls,  jealous haters, and cruel egomaniacs, luscious perfumes are also stigmatized. Too easy to like! Too facile! Too basic! Nothing tanks your perfumista cred faster than to admit that 90% of your collection is comprised of gourmands. But it’s all so stupid, you complain to your arch, elegant friend whose collection is 90% chypres — the fragrance family of choice for cool, intellectual, serious collectors. This friend has no sympathy for you, a dismissed puddle of wide-eyed goo next to her polished, pointy boots.

What if I were to propose a perfume that is both luscious and challenging, in a good way? Nothing as ground-breaking as Angel, but one that distinguishes itself from other gourmands by doubling, tripling, QUADRUPLING down on its lusciousness?

Pantheon Roma Trastevere is weaponized pecan pie filling, with nary any dairy to tame its sticky sweetness. Imagine an extreme, super-concentrated version of Angel Muse without the whipped cream, and you begin to get the idea. This perfume is sweet, so sweet that it actually makes my teeth ache a little. Thankfully, it’s balanced by the aroma of roasted chestnuts, which adds a savory dimension to the fragrance that saves it from smothering you in syrup. According to Pantheon Roma’s website, the fragrance is a tribute to Trastevere, a colorful, working-class district known in the 16th Century as “the oven of Rome.” I wouldn’t describe Trastevere, the fragrance as smelling like bread. That being said,  if you could bottle the crusty, lacy caramelized bits that cling to the surface of sugary pastries like palmiers or the ginger pecan tart pictured above, this would be it. 

Full disclosure, my travel spray of Trastevere was a gift from my Perfume Playdate partner in crime, Olya Bar.

Scent Semantics is a monthly perfume blogger collaboration curated by Portia Turbo to bring together six writers from around the world to meditate on a single word, and then write about a fragrance they’ve chosen that best represents it.

Semantics (from Ancient Greek: σημαντικός sēmantikós, “significant”)[a][1] is the study of meaning, reference, or truth. The term can be used to refer to subfields of several distinct disciplines, including philosophy, linguistics and computer science.”

I can’t wait to read everyone else’s takes on Sheila‘s pick this month. Please visit their blogs and subscribe to support (links in menu and below).