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segunda-feira, 14 de março de 2016

Gender Bender: Lalique Le Parfum (2005)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

This is another in a series of fragrance reviews that asks, “How does fragrance transcend gender?” Leave a comment below for your chance to receive a sample of the current Lalique Le Parfum, shipped anywhere in the world, free!
Hello and welcome to “Gender Bender (click me to read others in this series)”, an exploration of aroma, gender and scented freedom. Though by no means do I personally prescribe to fragrance having a gender, sociocultural stereotypes about masculinity and femininity often prevail at the fragrance counters and are viewed as important distinctions for many fragrance fans. Join me as I explore some of my favorite aromas in my quest to challenge marketing rhetoric and address the question, “How does fragrance transcend gender?”
Summary: Lalique's Le Parfum's blend of vanilla and almond is an affordable, unisex masterpiece in a stunning bottle.
PerfumerDominique Ropion
Try this if you like: Non-foody vanilla and almond scents; aromatic pipe tobacco; subtle yet sweet, long-lasting gourmands; a kick of pink pepper; and as one reviewer suggested, a bit of booze: "There is no alcohol notes in it, but I swear I can smell something boozy, dark rum maybe? It...adds that extra something to the vanilla andtonka bean base."
Reminds me of: Though none of these are exactly like Le Parfum, they all share a similar, overall sweetness and depth: Joop Le BainDior Homme Intense, DiorHypnotic Poison, L'Erbolario Meharees, Lanvin Avant Garde, Givenchy Pi, GivenchyOblique Rewind, Escada Collection, Kenzo Amour, and Lalique pour Homme (original, Le Lion).
In terms of music, every time I wear this I'm reminded of Debussy's "Pour le Egyptienne":
Pros & Cons: While some may find the composition slightly old-fashioned or retro - as one reviewer wrote "It turned really... I don't know which note it is exactly, but it's too oriental for me. Smells like an old lady's perfume" - others will undoubtedly appreciate the richness of this composition, as another reviewer noted "It's totally NOT old fashioned! Very warm vanilla scent with a hint of spices, bay leaf and pepper. Really sexy, really 'expensive smell' perfume."
Though the advertising wants us to examine this aroma as the scent of a woman, a number of reviewers have discussed its spiciness as "masculine". For example
"I found the opening had a bit of a mediciny masculine smell with a tinge of Vicks Vapor Rub whistling by my nose which must have been due to the bay note. The fragrance was more spicy and this time the musk was not as evident and vanilla did finally peek it's head out."
"it's seductive in an elegant way, i am a guy and i wear it and believe me even heterosexual guys give compliments on the way i smell ;) sexy and elegant."
"I think this fragrance is totally unisex. The sillage and longevity are strong but not overpowering. I definitely recommend it if you love hot spicy scents."
Though the vanilla and almond blend is not as gourmand as Dior's buttercream-like Hypnotic Poison, the aroma is indeed sweet. A guest reviewer explained, "Extravagant Vanilla-Oriental with glamorous touch. Very sophisticated, leaving a warm and slightly powdery impression. But you need to have a sweet-tooth (or is it a sweet-nose for the perfume-lover?) to fall into love with this heavy and special fragrance."
The fragrance is a bit puzzling to wear as it starts off strong and quickly quiets on the skin, only to re-appear later. Great longevity, curious sillage.
Notes: Top notes are west indian bay, bergamot and pink pepper; middle notes are jasmine, heliotrope and almond; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli and vanilla.
Designer’s Description: “LALIQUE LE PARFUM, An unforgettable oriental olfactive trail for an initiated woman, who is caring and charming." Lalique.com
Number of times tested: 100+ over the last 10 years.
Number of sprays applied for this review: 1 spray to the back of my wrist from a bottle I purchased online in 2016.
Fragrance strength: Eau de Parfum
Development: (Linear / Average / Complex): Le Parfum opens with a honeyed cherry tobacco accord which is mysterious because neither of those notes are present; this is likely due to the brilliant blend of vanilla, almond and tonka with a touch of bay and patchouli. The opening is sweet though not creamy, but rather just a tad spicy with pink pepper; I usually don't do well with that note but am just fine with it here...in fact I wouldn't have recognized it if I hadn't read the list of notes. Jasmine and patchouli are both nearly imperceptible to me here and truly the entire aroma smells like a vanilla liqueur/cordial or extract. I'm surprised there is no musk here as I often detect it in the drydown.
Longevity: (Short / Average / Long-lasting) Although the fragrance does in fact seem to disappear after the first hour, I can still detect it as many as 8 hours later.
Sillage: (A Little / Average / A Lot) Le Parfum is an oddity in that it starts with a bang but then quickly softens to a whisper, only to re-appear a good 5-6 hours later.
Note about the packaging: The deco-inspired square glass bottle has changed once so far: Original incarnations only sported the brand name "Lalique" across the front while newer bottles also include "Le Parfum" just under the brand name. A scarlet red tassel adorns the neck of the sprayer while the smaller, square, black lucite cap portrays Lalique's "Masque de Femme" - "The Masque de Femme panel created by René Lalique in 1935 to adorn a fountain embodies the imaginative power of its creator who was fascinated by women and nature. Both classic and avant-garde, this piece of art reveals the face of a mysterious woman with delicate features, surrounded by aquatic fauna.Lalique.com
The bottle is housed in a simple, deco-inspired, red and black paper box.
The pure parfum (.25 oz) has been released in a smaller version of the EDP with the Masque de Femme on the front of the bottle and dangling from the (black) tassel. There was also a limited edition version, seen below, in scarlet red.
Where can I buy it? Find it online for as little as $35-40 USD for a 100ml EDP tester.
The Bottom Line: The first time I sampled Le Parfum, I found it to be far too rich and too sweet and was immediately reminded of scents such as Davidoff's Silver Shadow, Mauboussin pour Femme, Kenzo Jungle (Elephant) and Arpege pour Homme. The second time I sampled it, I was surprised by its subtlety. For a good few months I pondered if the formulation had radically changed.
The third time I tested it, I doused myself in the scent and couldn't shake off the resemblance to two of my other favorite vanillas - Joop Le Bain and Givenchy Pi. I'm a sucker for a strong, oriental vanilla; add a dash of almond (which can often lend a cherry tone) and I'm usually smitten.
Lalique fragrances are a mixed bag for me. I love the original pour Homme (again, wonderful vanilla!) but really was not moved by anything else from the line. I fell in love with Eau de Lalique's unique departure from the typical "eau" composition and then again with Encre Noir. The newer Les Compositions and La Collection aromas offer a wealth of beauty that I just can't afford and so haven't really engaged with yet.
I'm now on my second bottle of Le Parfum and wore it to a party yesterday. Halfway through the day I mourned the disappearance of Le Parfum and cursed its disappointing longevity; when I got home at the end of the day, I was again greeted by Le Parfum and reminded that it never really disappears. What is this? Do I become anosmic to something in the composition? With such a sweet beginning, one might imagine this as a cold weather scent yet warmth also seems to bring Le Parfum to life.
One Fragrantica member hit the nail right on the head when writing "Lalique is not complex or mysterious or "brave" in its concept or composition. There is little scent-evolution & no crazy combination of notes are used. There are no gimmicks, quirks or cleverly concealed olfactory twists & turns. Yet, I am in love with this cool-weather beauty!" I couldn't agree more.

Have you experienced Lalique Le Parfum? What are your thoughts or gendered associations with vanilla-based aromas? Are they necessarily feminine or masculine in your own culture? What creates those associations for you?
Leave a comment below by 4/1/16 for your chance to receive a sample of the current Lalique Le Parfum, shipped anywhere in the world, free! The winner will be chosen by the author and notified by Fragrantica private message.

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