Could the school for seduction spice up YOUR marriage? Meet the wealthy wives attending classes to pep up their relationships
Parfum de Femmes is a private members? club to bolster participants’ sexual confidence – so their husbands don’t stray
Can you be seductive in a cover-all cardie? We are about to find out because the lady wearing a fetching navy one ? not quite a waterfall cardigan, but of that cosy, comfy ilk ? is striding down the room with hers a-swish.
She also has a garter hoiked up over her jeans, and is stopping every so often to wind a length of lace around her neck.
Still, she is wearing skyscraper heels, which means when she pushes her bottom out or when she?s instructed to ?think dirty thoughts?, there is an air of sex goddess. Or at least rookie sex goddess.
The woman beside her has flat tan boots on, though, which poses more of a challenge.
There are 24 women ? all in their 30s and 40s; mostly married and with children ? strutting up and down the function room in this London basement.
This is Parfum de Femmes, the private members? club for discerning (read rich and successful) ladies who meet monthly for an evening class in eroticism.
Parfum de Femmes is basically a school for seduction, where the aim is to bolster participants? sexual confidence so that their husbands don?t stray.
Yes, you read that right.
It was set up by a Frenchwoman called Delphine Long. Delphine ? who is here tonight looking very oh-la-la in a leather dress and stockings with seams running down the back ? used to work as a banker in the city of London, and became something of a confidante to hordes of her male colleagues fleeing to the pub after work to avoid going home ?to marriages that had gone stale?.
Then she married a British man, became a mother herself and faced her own sexual/identity crisis.
?Let?s face it, having kids is a destroyer,? she says, twirling an elegant ankle. ?Bodies change, women stop work and either don?t go back or can?t go back. They slip out of the market ? even with their own husbands.
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?I remember the men telling me: ?All she talks about is nappies.? When I had my kids, all around me were these women who had let themselves go and just weren?t interested in sex any more ? or didn?t seem interested.
?And the men, well, men are like machines, aren?t they? I thought ?Enough!? I don?t actually believe that women don?t want sex any more. I think they just need help, they need confidence. And here they learn that.?
So Delphine quietly suggested to some friends that she was going to hold ?a little soiree? that would be ?very tasteful, not naughty. Well maybe a little bit naughty?.
Teething trouble: Parfum de Femmes members practise seductive glove removal. From left to right: Beatrice Dyson, Carine Malaussena, Kelly Clarkson, Lydia Penuela, Maria Compton and Myriam Armstrong
Order of the garter: The seductive burlesque evening in Clapham ‘instructs’ women how to be sexy
They told their friends, and before you could say ?how much for a riding crop?? she was the proud owner of a business which is bringing the Fifty Shades Of Grey lifestyle to the Yummy Mummy generation.
She gazes proudly at her charges (tonight aged between 33 and 50) who seem to be re-learning how to walk. There is much strutting involved, and much eyebrow movement.
These women meet once a month for ?instruction? in how to be sexy.
Each month there is a different ?topic?. Last month?s lesson was in tantric massage, which proved incredibly popular, and the ladies had been given ?homework? which involved seducing their partners in an unfamiliar setting.
One woman called Joanna sent her husband a message via email and invited him to an erotic experience ? in the spare room.
?I set it all up with candles and everything,? she says. ?He was quite excited.? And it worked?
Glove affair: Myriam Armstrong gets into the spirit of things
?Oh gosh, yes. It was murder on the Egyptian cotton sheets ? the oil, you know ? but it did spice things up. I was a bit worried what my daughter would say if she got up and found us in the spare room surrounded by candles, though!?
This week?s lesson is in the art of burlesque.
The sexpert roped in this week (there is always a sexpert) is called Miranda Llewellyn, a former dancer who runs a business called ?Flirty not Dirty?.
?It?s not about stripping,? she insists as she (literally) kicks off. ?Watch me. I won?t take off a stitch of clothing.?
She doesn?t need to take off her clothes to show her undies. She has a black and scarlet corset on over her top.
Miranda is in her late 50s ? which helped get her the job tonight, explains Delphine: ?My ladies don?t want a 22-year-old with legs up to here showing them how to be sexy, because they can?t relate to it. The message is that it doesn?t matter what age or size you are. It?s about just oozing sex appeal.?
Miranda is a teensy bit terrifying. She keeps yelling ?Showgirl pose, ladies!?, which means the ladies must stop and adopt the sort of stance you usually see only on the red carpet. Think an army of Amanda Holdens, hands on hips, chests thrust heavenward.
?T**s out, ladies ? that?s a technical term,? she barks.
Miranda says being a sexpot is all in the subtlety. She wafts her fingers in the air, then makes them dance up her thigh (which is clad in black leggings, in case you are wondering).
There is more eyebrow arching. And a lot of hair tossing.
?When I say ?show me your earring?, do this,? she instructs, sweeping her hair theatrically to one side.
Then it?s legwork. The ladies sit in a row and kick high. It?s the Can-Can (except some clearly can?t, and collapse in giggles).
Miranda soon has them on their feet again. ?Showgirl! Remember ladies!? and then it is on to another apparent seduction essential ? the lost art of removing long gloves with one?s teeth.
?Did you all bring your gloves, ladies?? she asks. A voice comes from the back, ?Will mittens do??
Gloves are nibbled, yanked, gnawed, then hurled theatrically in the air. The process is repeated because Miranda does not think the ?de-gloving? (another technical term, apparently) is erotic enough. ?Think dirty thoughts, ladies,? she insists.
It?s all quite a hoot. Get twenty-odd ladies out for the night, add a glass of wine and you are pretty much guaranteed a fun evening.
But paying £20 a throw to learn to be sexy? Seriously?
These are women from the Cosmopolitan generation, not the Fifties. Do they really need help in the bedroom department?
Each month there is a different ?topic? and women must practise their homework before returning to class
The evening involves eyebrow arching, glove removal and legwork – all taught by a ‘sexpert’
And if they are here out of genuine fear their husbands will stray, don?t they need new husbands?
?I?m not just here for my husband, I?m here for me, too,? says Aurelie Cellier, 38, the owner of the tan boots.
?When you have been married for a while (she has three kids, aged 12, nine and seven) things do slide a bit. Sex just drops down the agenda. When I heard about this, I thought ?Why not?? I thought it would be fun, and it is. And my husband was quite encouraging, funnily enough.?
Now you might think getting a room full of supposedly sexually repressed ladies to talk about their sex lives would be difficult. Not a bit of it. These ladies fall over themselves to talk about what goes on in their bedroom.
One admits she and her husband have sex four times a week, despite being married for 20 years. Quite why she is here is unclear. Surely she should be at home resting?
The other extreme is represented too. ?In my marriage, I once went for three-and-a-half years without having sex at all,? says Maria Compton, a very pretty 33-year-old. This gets an equally jaw-dropping response from the others, who ask a collective: ?Why??
?I don?t know. He just stopped wanting it. It was horrible. I felt fat, ugly, rejected, all those things. It?s why the marriage ended.
The evening is described as ‘very tasteful, not naughty – well maybe a little bit naughty?
This week?s lesson is in the art of burlesque, but the expert says being a sexpot is all in the subtlety
?His name was Christopher, by the way. You can write that. Now I am with someone else, and the sex is very good and I want to keep it that way.?
Mostly, their sex stories are pretty hum-drum. Sometimes it is good; sometimes it doesn?t happen for a while. Sometimes they can?t wait for their husbands to get home; sometimes ? says one ? ?you never want to be in bed with them again?.
Miriam Armstrong, 43, doesn?t look like the sort of woman who needs any help in summoning up sex appeal. She is utterly stunning, with the elegant looks of a model and a size 8 figure to match. Yet she insists that ?it all requires work?.
?My partner and I have just started a have-sex-every-day-for-a-month challenge? she says, to cheers from the group. Miriam gets the gold star for tonight.
Will the women actually be rushing home to re-enact what they have learned tonight, though?
?I think my husband is probably expecting a show tonight,? says a 41-year-old mum called Nadia.
?Will I do all that? Probably not. He might laugh his head off. But I will probably incorporate bits of it.?
The women get into the spirit using their gloves to stroke a pose (left) and to dance (right)
Before they go, most head into a little back room where ?merchandise? is for sale.
Funny how empowering women always seems to involve getting them to spend £20 on nipple tassels, and particularly tiny lingerie.
?It?s mostly French brands, so some of my British clients find the sizes a little on the small side, so maybe best for them to avoid the structured pieces,? says Delphine, which roughly translates as we Brits are too fat for this sort of sauciness.
There is something for everyone, though.
On a shop dummy there is also a curious item ? a choker and a spangly chain which goes around the waist, both linked by a bejewelled string which runs down the body (?between the breasts? explains Delphine).
?You could wear it to dinner,? she adds. Well, yes, if you wanted to be arrested.
?I mean under maybe a suit. So that you can just see the neck underneath the jacket. It would be, you know, suggestive.?
Ditto the handcuffs from which the chain can be detached, leaving just bracelets around the wrist ? ?you can wear them anywhere, and give your husband a thrill when he realises what they are.?
What?s missing from this evening, of course, is the men.
Some of the husbands and partners are still at work, quite a few are abroad on business, and the rest are at home with the kids. Shouldn?t they be, well, here, too?
?Maybe the men need their own club,? suggests Aurelie, to screams of delight. You would never get a bunch of men learning to walk seductively, or how to remove their boxers in one nifty move.
?Well they should,? says Maria. ?I would like mine to learn how to be James Bond.?