A bizarre perfume that smells like semen was inspired by the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, the maker has revealed.
Etat Libre d’Organge’s first perfume, which also has aromas of blood, sweat and saliva, launched around a decade ago.
Secretions Magnifiques received a dismal response but has gained huge popularity as people buy it out of curiosity.
In reviews, customers have described the smell as being like ‘an ill toddler’, ‘indescribably skanky’ and ‘salty’.
Now, its creator Etienne de Swardt has explained his thought process behind the individual scent.
He wanted to replicate the fear of engaging in sex at a time when he was ‘worried’ about AIDS.
The AIDS and HIV epidemic raged through the world in the 1980s, killing thousands of people at a time when little was understood about it.
In an interview with Vice, Mr de Swardt said: ‘When I was a young teen I was worried about the AIDS crisis.
‘[Secretions Magnifiques] is very connected to the eighties and to the viral risk. I thought about doing a perfume that would smell exactly like the situation, where, you don’t know if you’re going for it, or if you’re protecting yourself from what you want.
‘You are at the point between pornography and romanticism. You are lost between attraction and repulsion. It is a very dual perfume.’
HIV, the virus which causes AIDS, is carried in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk.
Having unprotected sex or sharing drug injection equipment increases the risk of contracting HIV.
In the 1980s and early 90s, most people with HIV were eventually diagnosed with AIDS, which is a collection of illnesses that make the immune system weak.
The first cases were identified in the US in 1981, but it was mistakenly labelled as ‘Gay-Related Immune Deficiency’ (GRID).
The stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS made the epidemic substantially worse for the gay community.
Anyone can get HIV if they have unprotected sex, but gay men are one of the highest risk groups, the NHS states.
HIV affects millions of people globally but has been in decline since the epidemic in the 1980s.
In total, approximately 77million people have become infected with HIV and 35million people have died of AIDs worldwide since the 1980s, including millions in Africa, according to charities.
Based in Paris, Mr de Swardt has created a collection of 34 scents since founding Etat Libre d’Orange in 2006.
He describes the process of creating their perfumes, which include the most recent called ‘I am Trash’, as ‘radical’.
He said: ‘We go beyond the taboo. We make radical creations. We make declarations of independence.’
None of the fragrances will reach quite the controversy as Secretions Magnifiques, or ‘Magnificent Secretions’ as it translates in English.
It sells for €90 (£80 or $101), and is described on the website as: ‘The masculine tension, all in acute notes, releases its adrenaline discharge in a cascade of aldehydes.’
The perfume is designed to smell like sex – but it is not clear exactly how it is made.
The companies fragrances are made at Givaudan and Mane laboratories, two internationally renowned perfume laboratories which use ‘natural, raw ingredients to create scents’, according to Vice.
They describe the smell of Secretions Magnifiques as ‘bodily, coppery and complex’, one of the more forgiving of reviews.
On, Fragrantica, a website which replicated an encyclopedia of perfumes, a buyer recently likened the smell to, ‘an ill toddler with a crusty nose that has two thick neon green candles of snot’.
Another described how the perfume’s scent changed over the course of the day. She said: ‘I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this.
‘Fast forward to approx 23hrs after application, I just stepped out a very hot shower and suddenly caught a whiff of something funky in the steamy air.
‘I put my nose to my wrist – and I actually gagged; It was similar to the smell before, but now… just indescribably skanky.’
Another reviewer said she scrubbed her skin with nail polish remover because the odour lingered for so long.