Bvlgari Pour Femme

Bvlgari pour Femme is one of the very few florals in my perfume collection. It was created in 1994 by perfumer Sophia Grojsman, who is famous for her roses. For about a week now, I’ve been in the mood to wear pearls. I’ve been wearing them everywhere- to sleep, to lunch, to frat parties (where they are more than a little out of place). So when I walked into Sephora today, subconsciously I must have been searching for a perfume with that elegant, luminous aura that pearls always project. Bvlgari pour Femme opens with a light, sparkling rose very similar to that found in the lovely, popular-for-a-reason Stella McCartney Stella. At this point, pour Femme is more like a diamond than pearls. But soon an (unlisted) violet note joins in, creating a creamy effect that actually smells like a Lancome lipstick. The drydown is pure rose.

Lancome is my mother’s favorite brand, so I personally  find this smell to be beautifully evocative. Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose has that same genius violet-rose combination, and I would not hesitate to recommend Bvlgari as a reasonably priced alternative to Lipstick Rose lovers like myself. pour Femme is a bit thinner, but that is to be expected, what with the $50 price difference and all. On that note, pour Femme is available at Sephora, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman. It is White Patchouli-expensive at $65 for one ounce, $92 for 1.7 ounces, and $132 for 3.4 ounces. But trust, y’all, the people in your life will be much, much happier if you choose pour Femme over White Patchouli.

One of the reasons that I own so few florals is that I have difficulty with their lack of sex appeal. Like a string of pearls, pour Femme is more lovely than it is sexy. It is glamorous, but in a wholesome way. Bvlgari pour Femme is the kind of perfume that could class up even the notoriously tawdry Kate Moss.

Well, almost.

Lolita Lempicka, L de Lolita Lempicka

If you were to ask me what the holiest site in Israel is, I wouldn’t respond with “The Western Wall” or “The Dome of the Rock”. Every woman knows that the most sacred place in our tiny, beloved country is the Michal Negrin store. Michal Negrin is primarily a jewelry store chain (although it seems to be expanding into the lifestyle business, with everything from clothing to wallpaper). The general theme appears to be wistful, old-fashioned pictures of women bedazzled by colorful rhinestones. It’s all very over the top, but somehow manages to stay on the right side of kitsch. I once spent a full hour there agonizing over whether I should buy the green version of the following 400 shekel ($100) decorative elephant. My best friend wisely dragged me away, but damned if I don’t miss that stupid elephant.

If the Michal Negrin store had a perfume line, it would undoubtedly be something like the Lolita Lempicka brand. Lolita Lempicka, with its stunning glass bottles and consistently interesting scents,  is somewhat of an oddity in the mainstream perfume world. Today I’ll be reviewing the original Lolita Lempicka, which was released in 1997 (which is freaking ancient in perfume years), and the newer L de Lolita Lempicka.

First up, Lolita Lempicka. In the wake of Angel, which was released in 1992, hundreds of copycats flooded the market, hoping to capitalize on Angel’s monstrous success. Lolita Lempicka has often been accused of being such a knockoff. I personally see no resemblance, although like Angel, Lolita seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it fragrance. I was solidly in the “hate” camp for many years. I thought it was the most disgusting thing I’d ever smelled. It was insanely sweet and smelled just like licorice (my least favorite note). I was legitimately puzzled as to how that gorgeous apple-shaped bottle could house such a revolting smell.

I finally retried it last weekend and am frankly feeling a little foolish. Lolita Lempicka is delicious and delicately pretty. It smells like sweet pastry dough and cherries. It is still very sweet, but when comparing it to L by Lolita Lempicka for this review, I was shocked to discover that Lolita Lempicka is actually less sweet and considerably softer. Luca Turin, a famous perfume critic, gave Lolita Lempicka one of his very rare five-star ratings in his “Perfumes: The Guide”. He declared it “the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses.” As a lifelong four-eyes, I agree wholeheartedly. According to Basenotes, the notes are ivy, anise seed, violet, amarise, licorice, amarena, vetiver, tonka, vanilla and musk.

Unlike its predecessor, L de Lolita Lempicka gave me no trouble whatsoever. Created in 2006 by perfumer Maurice Roucel, L is imminently lovable. It begins with citrus and cinnamon, much like Maurice Roucel’s other masterpiece, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. L is far softer than Musc Ravageur, and for the most part smells much like freshly baked Snickerdoodle cookies. L would be rather generic, albeit delicious, if it were not for a curious salty note lurking in the background. That saltiness can be attributed to the immortelle flower, a note rarely seen in perfumery.

L is not quite as intellectual as her older sister, but she’s quite a crowd pleaser. My friends often ask to borrow perfume from me before we go out. They don’t want my Prada or Classique (“too heavy”) and they certainly don’t want my Yvresse or Chinatown. Inevitably they reach for the sweet, irresistible L.

Lolita Lempicka has a new scent, Si Lolita, which was released in France last summer but has no U.S. release date beyond “2010”. However, it has been getting very good reviews on other perfume blogs such as Perfume Posse, and the bottle is nothing short of stunning. I eagerly await its arrival.

Disclaimer: I own bottles of Lolita Lempicka and L de Lolita Lempicka, both purchased at Sephora.

Sexy Times, Part 4: Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

My mother, a glamorous attorney and gifted writer, gave me a copy of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when I was fifteen. It has been my unrivaled favorite ever since. Fitzgerald is a legend here in Baltimore, second only to Edgar Allen Poe. “I belong here,” Fitzgerald wrote, “where everything is civilized and gay and rotted and polite.” Fitzgerald wrote his final novel here, Tender Is The Night, an overtly autobiographical account of a woman whose mental instability and infidelity destroy her husband. I live across the street from the building where Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived while Zelda was being treated for schizophrenia at the Johns Hopkins hospital. Whenever I pass by, I wonder how they lived, how he looked at her. Was there still love in his eyes, or was he as devastatingly cold as the Baltimore winters?

Fitzgerald never tackled the subject of perfume in his writing, but I have always found the fourth fragrance in our sexy series, Musc Ravageur, to be bizarrely evocative of Gatsby. Upon meeting Tom Buchanan’s mistress, Nick says, “There was an immediately perceptible vitality about her, as if the nerves of her body were continually smouldering.” From the moment it leaves the bottle, Musc Ravageur is scorchingly sexy. It opens with a blast of cinnamon, then briefly lightens up once the citrusy bergamot note appears. From here Musc Ravageur ventures into very strange territory, taking on a metallic smell that is apparently caused by the lavender note. For about 15 minutes, it truly smells like cool, gleaming metal. This stage recalls Gatsby’s description of Daisy Buchanan’s legendary voice: “Her voice is full of money.” You really can smell the coins and their sweet, hypnotic melody.

After the lavender fades, Musc Ravageur is all powder and spice, vanilla and amber. Musc Ravageur is a woman with hair the color of a chocolate bar, her dark, knowing eyes made even darker by khol. Her lipstick matches the color of the ruby teardrops that hang from her ears. She has a devastating smile. Musc Ravageur is an unparalleled seductress, but that curious metallic note, the “deathless song” of Daisy’s voice, makes it much, much more.

Now, the Frederic Malle line is not cheap. Musc Ravageur is actually one of their most inexpensive fragrances, at $140 for 50 ml and $210 for 100 ml. The Malle line is also difficult to find in the United States. You can buy the Malles on the Barney’s New York website, but if you want to try them before dropping a Benjamin or two, they are only available at Barney’s New York (but only the ones that are actually in New York) and the Frederic Malle store (also only in New York). If the price and inaccessibility don’t appeal to you, I suggest one of my personal favorites, the closely related L de Lolita Lempicka. L and Musc Ravageur were created by the same perfumer, the very talented Maurice Roucel, and share many characteristics. L is not quite as rich as Musc Ravageur, and is softer and more snuggly than “ravageur”. L is $69 for 50 ml at Sephora, but can be found for much cheaper online.

Disclaimer: Frederic Malle used to have a program where you would fill out an online survey, and they would send you three free samples. The samples are still free, but now you have to pay for shipping. I received my sample of Musc Ravageur through this program.