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Fashion: Is it worth it? Animal magic

Want that man? Spend pounds 48 on artificial pheramones, says Susannah Conway, and you might get him
BE AFRAID, be very afraid! The ditsy American TV character Ally McBeal has infected our mass consciousness like nits spreading through a primary school.

The gossip in offices across the land on Thursday mornings focuses on whether ex-boyfriend Billy should leave new wife Georgia for Ally: the single women say yes, the married ones a resounding "no!" And the blokes usually want it both ways.

Single girl characters like Ally and Bridget Jones are highlighting the Nineties career woman's problem: disastrous love-lives. Too much time in the office, not enough on the prowl. So as luck would have it, US beauty company Philosophy have created a timely product to help singletons out there find true romance.

Falling in Love (an expensive pounds 48 for a tiny 4ml) is an odourless liquid containing artificial pheromones to be worn under your own perfume. Pheromones are chemical substances secreted by animals that trigger a response in animals of the same species, and Philosophy claim their pheromones can "help increase your sense of well-being and therefore increase your attractiveness."

So it's a man-magnet, then? Well not exactly, but it sounds like high tech stuff. Susanna Cohen, Junior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire agrees. "The idea that it works on you and makes you feel better is interesting. It's one of the first products made from a new technology. It makes you wonder about what's going to come out in the future."

As a spoken-for woman, I was the "control" for the experiment but my single girlfriend tester was the real McCoy (or is that McBeal?). After a week of wearing Falling in Love under our perfumes, there was no real improvement in either a) her love life or b) my mood. I tested this product during a particularly trying week of flat-hunting, on top of the ravages of chronic PMT. It would have taken an hourly booster jab of Prozac to make me smile, so the little pheromones had their work cut out.

Also, my friend - a realist at heart - didn't expect men to rush up to her declaring their undying love and bombarding her with roses, but she had secretly hoped to feel more self-assured and gorgeous.

Unfortunately, neither my friend nor myself felt any real change. Having said that, I am still resolutely wearing it - Philosophy say it takes from four days to four weeks for Falling in Love to take effect and I've decided to stay for the long haul.

In the meantime, Philosophy have a product that gives more immediate results. In the Buff (pounds 15 for 6 fl oz) is a light body oil that they advise should be rubbed into your skin while reciting self-affirming words of love and thanks for your body. This all sounds frighteningly New Age, but whether you're into the chanting bit or not, the product made my skin smell delicious, feel baby soft and I still had change to buy a bumper box of chocolate mini-rolls. Suffice to say, my sense of well-being has rocketed to supermodel size.

Available from Liberty (0171 734 1234) and Space NK (enquiry line 0870 607 7060)