SCHEIßE : FAME by LADY GAGA – a Tokyo story, August 2012












‘Ceci est la formule de Fame……composée d’abricots pulverisés: coeurs ecrasés d’orchidées tigre… de larmes de belladonne………’



Dense, treacley substances ooze down over alien-sized apricots on borosilicate glass.

White, ghostly orchids beckon like witchcraft….


‘Black, like the soul of fame, but invisible, once airborne…..




Semi-naked, faceless technicians pour smoking black liquids into the test tubes for Lady Gaga’s perfume, at the ‘Haus Laboratories, in Paris…’







A dark, Baudelairean cry of lust…Les Fleurs du Mal Bouteillées; the souls of orchids bottled in an oneirically alchemic process.

Technology (‘la premiere eau de parfum noire’) meets poetry.

That’s what Gaga and her cronies would have us believe, at least, taking advantage of her Little Monsters’ probable ignorance of all things perfumed, and deluging our souls with so much desire for this covetable mirage that our puny little hearts beat for it.










I happen to be one of these sad acolytes. Having resisted the whole Poker Face Moment, happily smug in my knowledge that Our Lady was a fake, I ignored her until  I was pressed into listening to Speechless, with its aching 70’s nostalgia, then – good God – Bad Romance, which to me is one of the most blisteringly brilliant songs of the last ten years – an exultant piece of dance pop that sends the spirits soaring (at karaoke it can border on a religious experience) – and by then I was hooked. (Telephone! the perfect amalgamation of sound and vision! Beyoncé in the Kill Bill video! What could possibly be so nothing and everything at one and the same time? What FUN….) then, most recently, of course, the Born This Way album which has truly been a joy these last two years, songs like Scheiße having some of the most ecstatic hooks I have ever heard: the woman has absolutely nailed the pop song +  art of wily visual manipulation.



There are plenty of people I know who think Ms Germanotta IS a fake; all is just hype, momentary fashion collaborative genius with her partner in crime Nicola Formichetti. She simply sunk her fangs into the zeitgeist and kept them there….

I do not agree: I feel she is real: I know it. But a performer is not a perfumer, and I was embarrassingly naïve to imagine there could be a palpable connection between the singer and her scent, even as she claims it ‘comes from her blood’. The deliciously fictitious ‘laboratory’ (which I fear some poor fools will literally think is where and how this perfume is made – this is very good marketing…) shows those bare-chested, anonymous men at that phantasmagorical, Poe-like assembly line, but the reality behind the masks is a faceless line-up of Coty business executives and their unprecedented push of global promotion for a scent that is nothing without its campaign.







I had to get my paws on a bottle.

Until then I could not know for sure if the perfume was as shit as I secretly feared it could be. But I couldn’t do that because I was working – and hundreds, possibly even thousands of Tokyo fans had already overrun the Tokyu Plaza building in Omotesando, the day the fragrance was launched – exclusively, in the whole world, in just that one place – TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE ( I live just an hour away), and I was terrified it might have sold out.  My better half Duncan went on my behalf, on a mission to the edge of glory, to get that scent and bring it home to me….

















The vicarious pleasure of knowing he was there in that diamond-faceted building was as sweltering as the temperature outside; surreptitious phone messages between us as the photographs flooded into my iPhone:



– You got it?

– You got a bottle?







– Really?!








– What’s it like?!!!!





…………….er, it’s a standard fruity floral ……




– Nothing special? Nothing at all?



………not really..




– But what about the saffron? WHAT ABOUT THE  PULVERIZED APRICOTS?



…….didn’t really get any of that.



–  Nothing?

















SURELY HE WAS WRONG. I was excited anyway, imagining that there might have been something in the ‘multi-tiered’ fragrance that Duncan had perhaps missed on just one cursory sniff; perhaps the ‘push and pull technology, by which the ingredients are mixed to highlight different aspects of each fragrant note at the same time, without any hierarchy’ had not allowed some of these precious notes to present themselves at that moment (isn’t self-delusion beautiful…?)




Perhaps he had only smelled the ‘honey drops’ and ‘light floral accord of Sambac jasmine and Tiger Orchid’, and not the incense and poisonous Belladonna said to lurk down beneath…I would draw them out when I got back home……..















The saffron/peach/jasmine/incense idea has been done beautifully, and very strangely, by Pierre Montale in his obscure but gorgeous Velvet Flowers, which I think is a very original scent and wear occasionally in summer. The overdose of saffron in that perfume creates a hot, undulating sand veil of sensuality, and as I walked up the hill, singing Lady Gaga and anticipating something of the sort, blocking Duncan’s words from my head, I thought there must be something of that perfume in it……it might be a bit like the Montale.














I got home.



I rushed into the kitchen.




There was the bag, designed with the black latex ad, and inside was the box. Lady Gaga Fame Black Fluid.












I tore it open, clutched the alien egg bottle, sweat streaming down my body from the heat of the journey back home, and sprayed that black liquid onto my arm.






























I know this!


I know this smell already.

Surely. Those sweet, cloying American notes; that candy-cane peach, those cheap, synthetic ‘flowers’…what is it what is it?












Britney Spears! Yes, it’s Britney revisited, made even more sugared; a cough-sputtering so-so Sambac and imaginary ‘orchid’ (you will find no mangled tiger orchid hearts, I promise you): just the same old same old same old…



Wait: the saffron…it must be there. Where is it where is it…

if I REALLY concentrate, yes, perhaps there somewhere in the background.

But incense?

No. And who knows what belladonna smells like except dead poets like Keats?



Just no.







NO!! I bellowed.









And then heartfelt thanks to Duncan for sensibly buying the smallest 30ml bottle when I had said I wanted the so-called Masterpiece 100ml. He knew it was shit and had rightly stuck right by his instincts.





But wait.





Surely Gaga, who initially was said to be doing a cover of Etat Libre d’Orange’s shocking Secrétions Magnifiques (see my review), with its repellent notes of blood, sweat and sperm, would have brought out something different, original, shocking?


Could the supreme visualist be so lacking in that other, equally important sense? Or was she in fact barely involved in the ‘creative’ process at all?




I sprayed the room, I sprayed my arms; yes, I suppose it does just about add up to something; a Vanderbilt or Loulou for the 2010s, a fully formed perfume, just about, though mentioning those two sweet classics in the same sentence as this Black Swan-masquerading toilet duck feels almost blasphemous…





Fame doesn’t smell bad, it might even smell cute.

But it doesn’t have one ounce of originality, and the gaping void between style and substance has never been so mammoth.

In fact, it verges on genius, plugging up the lack of knowledge and self-confidence the general public has about scent with visual ploys and word-tricks that work beautifully.


We are beguiled by the lie, sold solely on the image: what we stupidly believe is a poisonous flower dripping honey and black magic, is a sweet, nasty nothing.


Like those ‘pulverized apricots’ I am crushed.


Filed under Apricot, Flowers, Fruit

45 responses to “SCHEIßE : FAME by LADY GAGA – a Tokyo story, August 2012

  1. chrysanthemummum

    You are too funny, Neil!
    Sorry to hear that the Gaga perfume was a bit of a let down. May I suggest Avon’s Pretty Peach range?

  2. Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok


    Do you hear that? It is the sound of my crushed dreams.

    (Wonderfully written by the way!)

    • ginzaintherain

      Thank you, though I wish I could have been ranting positively about something wonderful instead! I keep hoping that I am somehow wrong. If you smell it and like it, please sway me. It does smell okish in a way, although I did a blind test on a Japanese friend (which one is Madonna, which Gaga, and then made her try a vintage Sisley Eau du Soir for good measure – which she fell head over heels for…) When told that the cheap candy muck on her wrist was Fame, she was flabbergasted, as she expected something at least different, or strange, or SOMETHING. nope.

      But I am very much looking forward to hearing what other people think about it. I really love Lady Gaga so the whole issue is very complicated!
      Had to tell the truth though…

  3. Juju

    Hilarious. Chuckling chuckllng chuckle … x

  4. ginzaintherain

    Glad you thought so. I presume you have smelled this cack, Juju?

  5. Cath

    I love this review. It is so brilliantly funny. The Black Swan-masquerading toilet duck!! LOL!!!
    I love Lady Gaga and her music too, I was intrigued by her perfume, but you convinced me not to go looking for it.

  6. On the celebrity perfume front – with the exception of Madonna, I tend to avoid them like the plague – (have not yet tried La Gaga but will) – but yesterday, on a whim, I bought without having tested it, Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers Love from that tat-trippers paradise TK Max. Eagerly opening the cellophane and box, I was overjoyed to find a petit-geantesse of a plastic Japanese doll perched cheekily on a small cylindrical glass disc of scent. The object instantly recalled seaside souvenirs; the ribbed glass plinth of sparkly scent evoking the art-deco 1930s seafront hotels of Morecambe and tap-dancing promenade performers (a la lady in the opening of Wish You Were Here – that bittersweet, hilarious and tragic tale made utterly adorable by Emily Lloyd). The scent itself was suitably peppery and flash-in-the-pan. A brief whirl of something indefinably sweet and watermelon, but quickly souring to a bitter gin and lemon and a chestnutty salty musk. Sweet, in its own world, lace-petticoated, whispy, ditzy, sharp and with quiet secrets. A bright and breezey upfront scent worn by the kind of girl that, yes, would cycle along the prom with her yellow windmill whirring,

  7. serafinarose

    I’ll try the others too. Been wearing the Lovers Love in the last couple of days. It’s quite cheerful and focusing with just a hint if shrug and ‘whatever’ going on. Was reading thst the dolls are based on Stefani’s backing dancers! Lovers love is the ‘boyish’ but sweet and simple one who apparently likes Madonna! Fun range – bit like the Spice Girls!

  8. Think I’ll try the Music (pear sweetness) one next. Did the Spice Girls ever launch a perfume?

    • ginzaintherain

      Lord let’s hope not

      • serafinarose

        Was thinking the same! Thank god. Could you imagine it? though Gwen gals and their lovely perfume bottle avatars evoked the cheery five a little. Guess it would have been a little early – the celebrity perfume thing seems to be a Millenial Noughties thing… Or is it?

      • ginzaintherain

        totally, and totally crap, but then gwen stefani isn’t crap in my book ( both d and i adored both her solo albums ) so it doesn’t surprise me that her scents have something appealing in them

  9. Agreed. She’s one of the few singers from that mid-noughties era that stood out for me too. I really like her vids. I hadn’t realised she’d launched the perfume range till I bought the Harajuku – it’s been sitting there getting dusty on the same shelf the last three times I’ve been in the shop, so I just bought it on impulse. But it totally has something of her in it. Funny how things connect up.

  10. Though got a bit of a soft spot for Christina Aguilera too. Fab energy, and again, cute music vids. Haven’t tried her perfume though.

    • ginzaintherain

      Ugh : her VOICE though! The most unsubtle instrument ever to ‘grace’ the charts…like a power drill to the brain..
      (like her attitude though)

      • serafinarose

        Oh no! Her voice is great! Listen to her singing live – watch her face and body- she’s totally connected to her voice in a genuine way. I think the poor lass has actually suffered somewhat from massive over-production. But she’s riding a visual wave which works and does it well.

      • ginzaintherain

        She has an incredible voice; it is just a voice I DETEST

      • serafinarose

        A mon Avis! But yep, Gwen is different.

    • serafinarose

      All little manifestations of the great Madonna-Cher Kali-goddess-shiva DIVINE POP PLASTIC QUEEN matriarchy. The two great Bourgeoisian (as in Lou B) spider mamans towering on long spindly legs above it all.

  11. She’s certainly a reference point for the younger ones – Katy Perry et al…and yes, I can see her making a transcendent leap and something shifting…I think you may be right. Time will tell.

  12. ginzaintherain

    I can’t have Perry and Stefania Germanotta in the same sentence. Erase!

    • But the link’s there…she’s emulating her….canna be denied…moi, I am not a fan (though gender-intrigued by her latest music vid and ‘I’m wide awake’ or whatever ditty that Emily plays non-stop)….I only observe a trend

  13. ninakane1

    I do not endorse Ms Cherry Chapstick’s contribution to pop on the whole moi-meme…

  14. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    On the subject of ‘celebrities’, I thought it might be interesting to read the two Italian-American rivals in blonde proximity…..

  15. I always loved this post …that conversation between you and Duncan and the gallant gesture on his behalf to get this fragrance for you (funny, I thought I had left a comment when I read it the first time?). And curious, how did you get the computer to spell “merde” so accurately in German?

    Hysterically fantastic as always, N!!!

  16. Wonderful piece of writing, as always. I would love for you to do an update to your witchy posts, about newer frags that are genuinely profoundly dark. If there are any.
    The next fruityfloralsomething that comes labeled “Black” or “Noir” or “Black Noir” (no kidding) should be dumped in the nearest harbor by roving bands of disguised perfumisti.

  17. Dearest Ginza
    I have never taken to the charms of Baroness Gaga…. no, none of it.
    Have simply never found the music pliable enough, the image and the attitude plausible.
    And yet, such is the skill of your writing I still felt a pang of pain when the inevitable was revealed.
    I’m so sorry it was that awful.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  18. ojaddicte

    “…Black-swan masquerading toilet duck” has to be one of the best descriptions E-VAH! Thank you.

  19. I actually said Aghhh! after your description of sweet. 🙂 You’re very good at making us go through your experience with you.

  20. Brilliant writing and great (layout) visual timing. I loved it. (the story not the perfume.) When I first saw a bottle of Fame in Macy’s I was about to pick it up to inspect the bottle when one of the little monsters rushed up to the counter, screamed and shoved me out of his way. He then proceeded to douse himself in the juice and his resulting public orgasm sent me to the nearest emergency exit. Marketing works!

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