Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

“If you’re going to be a star, you have to look like a star. I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.” Joan Crawford

Glamour is a particularly aesthetically pleasing form of self-love. A glamorous woman, as Crawford opined, considers herself to be a star and dresses the part. Glamour demands the self-confidence to create a style that says something personal about you, something deeper than “I work in an office” or “I’m getting some tonight”, and to know that others are going to like what you have to say.

The best part about glamour is that it is completely egalitarian. It does not require money (money can actually be detrimental to the creativity that glamour requires) or beauty. Was Crawford beautiful? Not exactly, and certainly not compared to her rival, Bette Davis. But she was glamorous as all hell.

Lipstick, with its sensual feel, its delicate rose scent, has become synonymous with old-school glamour. Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose evokes that sense of glamming yourself up in front of the vanity mirror. Lipstick Rose opens with a huge blast of aldehydes, in a nod to aldehyde-heavy retro classics like Chanel No 5. These aldehydes smell strangely like candle wax (but in a good way). The real star of the show, however, is a gorgeous blend of rose and violet notes that really does smell like a Lancome lipstick.

Lipstick Rose is relatively sweet, and comes on strong. Some will be turned off by its boldness. Others, like myself, will adore its cheerful flamboyance. As far as I’m concerned, Lipstick Rose is the last word in glamorous perfumes.

Disclaimer: I asked for a sample of Lipstick Rose from the Frederic Malle boutique.

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Bond No 9 Broadway Nite

Perfumes with a strong violet note tend to go in one of two directions: powdery, candied violets or green violets. Broadway Nite definitely falls under the second category. It opens green and bracing, which makes the always-pleasing-but-somewhat-cliche violet/rose combination feel new and exciting. Broadway Nite has a sparkling feel that I associate with aldehydes; imagine a bottle of champagne on a Broadway diva’s dressing room table. Eventually Broadway Nite becomes creamier, with vanilla and musk creeping in. If you smell closely, you can detect the scent of the Lancome lipstick (Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose employs the same lovely trick) that the diva applies before she belts her heart out on stage.

Broadway Nite was aptly named- it is undoubtedly the most flamboyant of Maurice Roucel’s creations. Broadway Nite is a Josephine Baker kind of gal, the type to buy her pet cheetah a diamond leash and take it for walks along the Champs-Élysées. She pities those who save false eyelashes and red lipstick for special occasions. I find this kind of high-personality brassiness delightful, but I suppose it could also be considered vulgar in some circles. Broadway Nite reminds me of my best friend’s mother, a former broadway actress and the most fabulous woman I know. I can give it no higher recommendation.

Josephine Baker. Too fierce for words!

Broadway Nite can be found at Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, Bond No 9 boutiques (which are all in New York), and on the Bond No 9 website, http://www.bondno9.com/. It is available for $45 for 7 ml, $140 for 50 ml, and $205 for 100 ml.

Disclaimer: I got a sample of Broadway Nite at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse/Champagne

This is about as good as it gets, in my opinion. Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse was created by Sophia Grojsman in 1993, initially debuting under the name “Champagne”. The Champagne lobby wasn’t really feeling that, so YSL was forced to rechristen this fabulous perfume with a much less attractive name. Champagne is my very favorite drink. I always think of Holly Golightley drinking champagne before breakfast in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, her effervescent charm as intoxicating as those delightful bubbles.

On that note, just to give y’all a quick sense of who I am and what I bring to this site, I will say that while I often mention Marilyn Monroe in reviews, in truth I have much more in common with Audrey Hepburn (or, if you’re a Gossip Girl fan, I’m much more of a Blair than a Serena). Even as a blonde, I wasn’t quite come-hither enough to be a Marilyn. On the other hand, those classic Audrey standbys- pearls, big brown eyes, and wickedly flirtatious banter- have never failed me yet.

Anyway, back to Yvresse! Does Yvresse actually smell like champagne? Not really, although the drydown does smell quite a bit like wine. Rather, Yvresse captures the excitement of champagne, that feeling that you are about to break into giggles. Yvresse opens with glittering aldehydes and a blast of what Robin at Now Smell This identifies at nectarine, which almost feels like the tickle of champagne bubbles. It then becomes lusciously peachy and golden- fans of the juicy peach note in Bond No 9’s Chinatown will love this. There is also a supremely creamy vanilla note that reminded me very much of Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, one of my all-time favorites. The anise note is barely detectable, so don’t let that scare you off.

With basenotes of oakmoss and patchouli, Yvresse definitely falls under the category of chypre. However, the chypre reputation for “difficult” perfumes is all wrong for Yvresse. It is nothing but a delight from start to finish. To me, Yvresse sends a very clear message: “Why yes, I am impossibly glamorous. I probably have a mysterious past and some thoroughly delightful eccentricities.”

Yvresse is no longer sold in U.S. stores, although you can still find it on the Yves Saint Laurent website ($60 for 2 oz). However, it is very widely available at reputable online perfume discounters for around $20 for 2 oz. This is a frankly unbelievable price for such a stunner.

Disclaimer: I swapped for my bottle of Yvresse.

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.


Fragrant Fiction: Perfume as Literature

Happy New Year, queridos! I hope that your New Years involved champagne and was more exciting than mine. I’m not really sure how that’s possible, considering that I went to a “pirate show” with my parents, little brother, grandparents, and cousins. Actually, the six packs on those pirates were so impressive that it might as well have been a Chippendale’s show. And from this point onward, that is how we are going to say that I spent New Year’s Eve.

Oh, Orlando. You can shiver my timbers anytime.

Anyway, y’all, although I know (desperately hope) that in the future there will be more of you, at the present time I have exactly one reader who is not my mother. I love this girl deeply, but it has also come to my attention that she does not wear perfume, and therefore she has trouble relating to many of the perfume related posts. I love perfume. I love the clever tricks that perfumers employ to create new and pleasing combinations of notes; I love the nuances. However, I fully understand that for many people, perfume has no nuances. A perfume either smells good or it doesn’t. It is for my beloved solitary reader that I will try to explain the world of perfume in terms of a field with which most people are much more familiar: literature.

For example, a perfume like Aquolina Pink Sugar is the olfactory equivalent of the Twilight series- insanely popular for absolutely no good reason.

Actually, I just thought of one VERY good reason.

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (both of which have been bestsellers for over five years) have more in common with the Harry Potter series- just as popular, but more deserving of their success.


Oliver Wood, the Gryffindor quidditch coach. The actor who plays him is named Sean Biggerstaff. The joke here should write itself.

Along this vein, there are perfumes such as Robert Piguet Fracas, which has been worn by everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna to Martha Stewart. I can appreciate that Fracas is a great classic, but whenever I try to wear it I get the distinct feeling that I am being mugged by a gardenia. I got a very similar feeling when I had to read Jane Eyre in 10th grade, except instead of a gardenia my mugger was the stupidest book of all time.

Jane, that Mr. Rochester is nothing but trouble! Why don’t you marry that nice cousin of yours? You know, the priest. No? Okay then. Also, what is UP with those BROWS, lady???

Perfumes such as Chanel No. 5 and Guerlain Shalimar can be likened to “The Great Gatsby,” a book that is both widely beloved and a masterpiece (and one of my personal favorites, if you hadn’t figured it out yet). Those “Warm Vanilla Sugar” body splashes you can get at Bath and Body Works correspond to guilty pleasure reading, like trashy romance novels or (in my case) JHU Confessions, the Gossip Girl of Johns Hopkins. It is incredibly sad how addicted I am to this website, but how else would I know whether Hopkins students prefer “an Ugly who’s awesome in bed or a Cutie who’s totally lacking”? (General consensus is the Cutie, if there was ever any doubt in your mind.)

There are books, such as pretty much anything that Allen Ginsberg (author of the incredible but frankly depressing poems “Howl”, “Kaddish”, and many others) ever wrote, which I find fascinating but too disturbing to read all that often. Creed Love in Black is a good perfume match for these kinds of books. It evokes a patch of violets growing in a forest where dark things lurk.

Finally, we have the books that we read over and over again, our favorites, the ones that changed the way we see the world. A few of mine are: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisnernos, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and my absolute favorite of all time, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. These books correspond to the perfumes that we wear every day, with which we and others identify ourselves. Mine are Bond No. 9 New Haarlem and Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose. My hope is that even if perfume plays no role in your life now, reading this blog will help you to see it as a form of art just like a painting or a symphony.

By the way, y’all, I forgot to mention that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has guidelines concerning blogger endorsements. Basically, if a company sends me free samples or pays me money to write a good review, I have to let you know. All of the perfumes that I have reviewed thus far I have either bought from Sephora or tested in stores. But in the immortal words of Biggie, “I gotta let it show, I love the dough”. I am a college student who does not currently have any time to work and therefore has no source of income. If a company did send me free samples or something to review, I would not turn them down. However, I can promise you this: I will never write a review that a product does not deserve. Pink Sugar has no glowing reviews in its future no matter how much money Aquolina tries to throw at me. (Although they’re certainly welcome to try.)