One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shore Thing: L Lempicka


There's no doubt upon encountering a Lolita Lempicka fragrance that this is a woman who sees herself as a capital-r Romantic. Her bottles are dreamy and abstracted. The bottle for her first, eponymous women's fragrance looks like an apple, in lavender glass wrapped with ivy leaves and signed with her name in a loose, girly script. The men's follow-up, Au Masculin, is in that same lavender glass, and looks like a gnarled tree trunk with the name carved into it--you can easily imagine its bearing your initials instead, "SG + LL"--inside a heart.

The scents are equally romanticized, sweet and luscious gourmand scents, both based on ivy leaves, licorice, and vanilla. I find them both a little cloying, as well, but the men's version at least has some drier elements (rum and cedar) to thin out the sugariness.

There's no point in expecting anything shocking from Lempicka; she won't be doing a whip-cracking leather scent or a dry chypre any time soon. After a few of what the industry calls "flankers", new scents leveraged from older ones and capitalizing on their established name (even if they have nothing in common with the originals), she launched her second original women's scent last year, L.

One glance at the bottle would tell you it's another Lempicka scent. Instead of a forest motif, this one has an oceanic theme, to say the least. It's an aquamarine heart embossed with a starfish and draped with a bit of gold fishnet. Attached to this with wire are a tiny glass starfish, a pearly little teardrop of beach glass, and her initial done up in fake rhinestones, all tied to the sprayer cap (itself a triangular chunk of beach glass) with fine rope.

The scent itself isn't especially oceanic, mind you. It's flat-out romantic again, another gourmand oriental, and an extremely nice one at that. This time the star of the show isn't licorice but immortelle, a flower that has a peculiar but pleasant maple-syrup note to it. The scent opens with a brisk shot of orange peel and cinnamon, but it doesn't smell like potpourri or mulled wine, because immediately underneath it is a slosh of vanilla, which will be present throughout the entire scent. There's an element of the top notes that could, if you put your mind to it, suggest seawater, but it certainly isn't an important or dominant note.

The immortelle makes its appearance soon afterwards, and that maple smell--not strong, certainly not like a puddle of syrup--mixes with the vanilla and a very soft, indistinct floral note. It's charming: neither flowery nor cloying, but soothing and sweet. The middle notes begin to fade fairly quickly, in an hour or so, and from then on the scent is a slow gourmand progression towards the base notes of musky wood and still more vanilla.

I like L a lot. The bottle is girly, practically a parody of teen-girl arts-and-crafts romanticism, but the scent itself is unisex and charming.

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