How girly can you go? It’s a question unique to each wearer of perfume. Some of us are comfortable with the uber feminine, and some of us are not. The girly perfume to me isn’t even a matter of sexuality, it’s a matter of celebrating your feminine side. Some people can do that joyfully. The girly frag is made for them.
Perhaps it’s as well to say at the beginning that the girly frag is likely also to be the sweet fragrance, but here I part company from those who say that girly frags need have no personality or quality other than their candy tonality, their giggles, and the pink which seems to be their birth right. You can be girly and interesting, even defiant, consider Taylor Swift’s spurning of Spotify for instance. Is she girly with a backbone?
Main stream perfumery produces a lot of these fragrances, but one of the best of them is Vivienne Westwood’s Boudoir from 1998. Boudoir is one of those peculiar perfumes that seem to strike individual noses differently, but all commenters latch on to the one common theme here, femininity. Some smell soap, others tobacco, some sweat, and others only get powder. I thought that Boudoir was primarily a powdery floral and so was surprised to see Fragrantica list this one as a floral chypre!
The effect of all the hyacinth in the beginning of Boudoir is to give it a touch of innocence, but the heart of Boudoir is sweet with a deistinct note of viburnum, the old snow ball bush, and the dry down is a diaphanous powder similar to the one you smelled when you opened your Mom’s compact as a kid. This powder, and the boudoir of this VW fragrance is virtual. You tour a room upholstered in white satin, with kicked off mules on the floor. There’s an invisible makeup table crowded with lipstick tubes, and creams and powder puffs, all tussling for their place not only on the table but on the skin of this boudoir’s occupant, who turns out to be …you.
This slightly slutty quality of Boudoir’s is not at all a bad thing, it’s what grounds this fragrance and gives Boudoir a sense of humor. If Boudoir doesn’t take itself seriously though, then Maria Candida Gentile’s scent Hanbury does, and very well. Here you have a sophisticated garden centric version of the girly frag. This has a strong citrus beginning but the mid section of Hanbury is all about the calycanthus, or Sweet Bush. The result is that Hanbury has a bubblegum like scent which is typical of calycanthus. You can try to ignore this facet if you like, but it’s part of the effect of this citrus floral, and makes of Hanbury a light feminine scent, ideal as a clever high end version of the girly frag.
Can the girly survive winter? Absolutely. Christian Lacroix’s Tumulte is my suggestion for the girly frag in cold weather. This floral oriental from 2005 is a mixture that dances on the edge of being what French perfumers call a soup, that is a botched formula with too many elements. However, unexpectedly Tumulte pulls itself together in such a way that the second act is better than the first. Extremely sweet in flight , so that you’re certain you made a mistake spritzing, Tumulte progresses from an opening that features heliotrope and freesia, to a second half that is dominated by a rose seemingly spun out of sugar, although the notes list iris and a dry down of tonka beans.
I was introduced to Tumulte by Meg of Parfumieren, the late and lamented blog, and she told me to wait that the perfume would be more comprehensible in its later stages. She was right, and what’s more the candied formula is also intelligent. This should probably surprise no one since it’s the work of Francoise Caron who also composed Hermes Eau d’Orange Verte and Aqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile. Anyway no matter what your expectations, Tumulte manages to confound them and then you find you miss the scent. rather the way Spotify misses Taylor I guess.
What are your favorite girly perfumes?