A Mike Nichols Lawrence Turman Production/United Artists

I want to smell like a millionaire

I don’t think it’s too much to ask, really I don’t. The closest I’m going to get to experiencing untold riches is some hapless soul mistaking me for someone who hasn’t lived out of their overdraft for two decades.

You can’t really fake it with clothes. Millionaires, or billionaires if you live somewhere where a one-bedroom flat in a converted abattoir costs £2.3m, dress a certain way and to be honest it’s not a look you’d want to replicate. Money cannot, you see, buy taste, and most people’s idea of a millionaire is not the reality. Sure, they spend a lot on clothes, but when they put them on… well.

Those godawful driving shoes which instantly reject your feet unless you’ve got multiple zero suffixes in the bank, the chinos – always the least flattering cut it’s possible to be without being a marquee or three Rizla glued together – and those jumpers flung nonchalantly over their shoulder, never bobbly because they pay someone minimum wage to deuzz it each night before it’s stowed in their (large, expensive) wardrobe.

Accessories trip you up too. Decent manbags that last more than one summer are about £800, and all rich men wear expensive watches so that other rich men will recognise them and immediately offer them a lucrative business deal, or some kind of freebie that you would give your soul for, right over to Lucifer right this second. Money attracts money.

Cars, too, are a giveaway. Rich people drive either very big ones, which guzzle ozone and pedestrians’ tears like a bout of dutch elm disease, or very tiny ones, which honk down the road right past you, deafening you with the turbo power of a 747 engine.

And yet there is an allure to people thinking you’re rich. Whether you’re an anti-capitalist or not. Money, as we all know, gets you places. And we all want a bit of it, don’t we? People don’t play with you when you’re rich. Doors open wider, the ground beneath your feet becomes more even, cushioned. Your life is permanently Insta-filtered. People smile at you more, are nicer to you – not because they like you, oh no, but because you have resources. One flick of your calf-leather card holder and you can change lives. It’s power, it’s intoxicating. It’s why people swindle, and kill, or go mad from it – the love of the paper, and what it can do for you.

But I don’t want to murder anyone and I certainly don’t want to drive in a noisy, lurid yellow sports car the size of a scrotum but I DO want to smell like I’m the most beautiful, wondrous and powerful being on Earth and for that I turn to fragrance. I want to smell like a benevolent millionaire, at least – one that gives to charity and remembers his roots. I have waxed lyrical about this before, I know, but I see no reason to stop now, and the flimsy glamour that smelling good affords me shows no sign of fading.

The die was cast as a teenager when I was bought my first bottle – my dad actually gave me a spare duty-free YSL he’d picked up on his travels – and an addiction was born. Being told you smell nice is the greatest compliment because, let’s face it, most of us smell like shit a lot of the time. Morning commutes, a workout at the gym, cleaning the house – we’re merely animals after all, and in the summer months all it takes is a bit of exertion to have our friends and lovers backing away from us like we’re Shrek on a hot day in the swamp.

No matter how bad things have got – and they’ve got bad, believe me – I have always tried to scrape enough by to have at least one fragrance on the go. I started low, but keen. In my youth, I’d seek out special offers, deals and price promises, trying out all kinds of amazing scents. At university, the first thing I’d do every term would march into town and blow £40 on an eau de toilette. I’ve squatted in pretty much every perfume house, from Calvin and Clinique, to Givenchy and Guerlain. Chanel has always been a favourite – their fragrances last and heads turn when you pass by wearing them – and I will never forget buying my first bottle: Platinum Egoïste, in 1998. I smelled like a king and strangers asked me what it was, and I would tell them, feeling high on attention. I love Acqua di Parma too, introduced to me by my ex’s dad. Their scents, back then, were heavy, manly, but playful and adventurous. And I still buy fragrances by those two brands.

As regular readers will know, however, in recent years my tastes have become even more decadent. I shock myself, sometimes. I’m lucky that my birthday falls at Christmas and I can usually either rely on someone to treat me or I can save enough gifted money/vouchers to get my ultimate prize: a Tom Ford fragrance from his so-called private collection. Their names are exotic, sounding like passwords for an opulent speakeasy, full of possibility and elegance, or a secret code between two lovers communicating through billets doux. Neroli Portofino. Oud Wood. Rive Ambre. And my favourite of the last few years, Venetian Bergamot. The bottles would stand proudly on my shelf in the bathroom, instantly increasing the value of the place to a degree that would have even the Daily Express sweating.

I have never worn anything – clothing, hairdo, sign saying “kick me” – that got as much attention as my fragrance, and Tom Ford delivers every time. I am the kind of person who thinks they like being the centre of attention until about thirty seconds after it actually happens, but one occasion I am perfectly happy to have all eyes – or all noses, rather – on me is when I’m wrapped in the cloak of Tom Ford’s unmistakable magnetism.

I can never leave Venetian Bergamot behind; I am tied to it as Samson was to his barnet. But to freshen things up, I can often be found at John Lewis liberally spritzing on one of the newest additions, Vanille Fatale, a summery, sweet scent that gives me exactly what I want it to: the mark of a millionaire. And even though I’m not one – I’m both too poor and too considerate of everyone else around me, tbh – I am happy to cosplay for a short while, until the smell of it spirits its way back into the atmosphere where it belongs.

My top “yes I’m a millionaire, what of it” scents:
– Tom Ford Venetian Bergamot (All Beauty seems to be the least expensive place to get it.) Also: Oud Wood, Oud Minerale, Neroli Portofino, Tobacco Vanille, Vanille Fatale.
– Chanel Pour Monsieur (Eau de Parfum is the best.)
– Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza (John Lewis does it cheapest.) Or Quercia, which smells like heaven. Rich heaven.
– Dior Homme Sport (Available anywhere so you might as well go to Selfridges and feel rich.
– YSL L’Homme (John Lewis does a 40ml which is very reasonable.)
– Clinique Chemistry (I got my latest bottle with Boots Advantage Card points when funds were low.)

Enjoy your riches.


Image: Anne Bancroft looking every inch a millionairess in The Graduate

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