When I hear the name of this Lebanese designer, like most people I can only think of a luminous Halle Berry in her Saab-designed dress as she went up to collect her Oscar for her brilliant performance in Monster’s Ball (the magic of the occasion snatched away by what I saw as the possibly tokenistic double-whammy of Denzel getting one too – this year’s theme: African Americans! Next year’s: Gays….!) Somehow to me this diminished the historic nature of her victory, but it was certainly a great platform for Elie Saab, who was caterpulted, at that moment, onto the world fashion stage.
The designer’s perfumed debut was also awarded the fragrance Oscars last year at the annual FIFI awards, for Best Feminine Fragrance, Best Feminine Bottle, and Best Feminine Media Campaign, and it came as no surprise – the scent is as slick, as glitzy, as unchallenging, as the cinematic fare that is routinely awarded Academy Awards at the ceremonies : easily digestible, expertly made and packaged/promoted – a scent, in other words, with a very instant, immediate appeal.
Which is to say that it smells quite lovely, one of those scents you spray on and say ah yes I see: one that is legible, familiar and so obviously destined to be a hit that you might even find yourself starting to applaud Francis Kurkdijan for a job well done.
Essentially an unctuous, honeyed, orange blossom/sweet jasmine scent, brightened with mandarin and spice, the perfume has a sun-kissed carnality, an easy glamour as smooth to the touch as you imagine Halle Berry herself to be. A scent that comes on like a gala: Adult-American, as sexy as the shimmering, gold-flecked body creams used to make starlets like Charlize Theron glow like the statuette: but also fixed as the flashbulbed smiles of the botoxed faithful who pack out the Kodak Theater yearly in the delicious parade of self-congratulation that I would never miss for the world.
This perfume is like a California tattoo, one that remains for hours, radiant, but unchanged, with little development, and none of those strange surprises in store that make great perfumes great.
The base notes of patchouli and cedar are perfectly paired with the top florals, but while ravishing, there is no grace. No time for the perfume to insinuate its way into your consciousness – we need ACTION! LIGHTS! – perfume as instant as the light streaming through the camera shutter.
Le Parfum is gorgeous and lifeless simultaneously, just like those larger-than-life goddesses imprisoned forever on celluloid.
Notes: orange blossom, mandarin, Grandiflorum jasmine, Sambac jasmine, rose honey, cedar, patchouli.