Portrait Of A Lady – Frederic Malle

Portrait Of A Lady

Mint, geranium, clove, rose – it all comes racing out in the opening of Portrait Of A Lady. A vegetal greenery quickly gives way to a potpourri style dusty rose and a huge incense. It’s extravagant and opulent, constantly morphing on my skin with each note desperately trying to lead.
A medicinal oud sits quietly underneath but for some reason my nose runs straight to it – and for a second, the clove/vegetal/oud combination reminds me of a much more floral, and wearable version of Shiso by Aftelier. This association disappears quickly though as Portrait Of A Lady continues to find a comfortable arrangement to settle in.

The rose/geranium duo dominate, the geranium constantly providing an unexpectedly masculine, herbal edge to the rose. Little specks of sour berries come to the surface that I mistake simply for the geranium, but their tart, red colour are unmistakable. The berries however are not strong enough to stay around for long.
As the geranium settles a touch, the rose reminds me a little of the drydown of Une Rose, heavily fragrant and bone dry. Some culinary spices of bay, clove, cinnamon, pepper – add texture and heat to contrast with the cooling effect of the herbal notes atop the rose.

A patchouli creeps in underneath the incense, going unnoticed for a little while until it all falls into place that Portrait Of A Lady is going to lead to a rose/patchouli drydown – I’d say predictable, but that would be unfair – it’s incense and herbal inclusions took me down an unexpected little route for a second.

As it finally settles into it’s relatively linear drydown – I unfortunately grow a bit tired of it :( Not because it’s loud or cloying or whatever, it is none of that. Instead it falls flat on my skin – not completely, I still get the tickle of pepper like it’s just been sprayed (the incense?), and a bit of dust from the rose flying off my skin in a high pitch. What I don’t like however is the cedar/amber/musky drydown – maybe it’s because this tiring accord has been so desperately overused these last few years and now that I’ve finally got around to this review I’m tired of it. Whatever it is – I find it almost a let down to what came before, and have always wondered what it was in this drydown that annoyed me… well, after a few good wearings I discovered this was it (ambroxan? norlimbanol?). It dehydrates the rose and the cool herbal accords so quickly that I feel like I need to crack out a chapstick just to get through the drydown.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t nice – it’s still a harmonious balance of gorgeous, classical notes – the rose, patchouli and incense still leading. The oud and culinary spices give a traditional Arabic undercurrent without smelling soiled or overly intense – a beautiful oriental inclusion. But this annoying woody/amber grinds on me, in a synthetic translucency that feels like a complete waste of space. The clean musk further bulks out the base, making it throw itself off my skin in a laundry-esque fuzz. A subtle, sweet vanilla/wood underneath turns my frown upside-down for a few minutes, before the aromachemical overload comes in and fingerbangs my nostrils into submission.
I give in – you were never for me Portrait Of A Lady, but I know on the right person you smell absolutely beautiful.

Portrait Of A Lady 50ml Frederic Malle – £135 http://shop.lessenteurs.com

About these ads
Tagged , , , ,

16 thoughts on “Portrait Of A Lady – Frederic Malle

  1. We went out to one of our local favorite restaurants last night after a day of running errands. I probably should have taken a shower, but I threw on some comfy clothes and spritzed myself heavily with Portrait of a Lady. I was in heaven. it’s strong, it’s distinctive and it’s beefy rose at its best. Funny, I have been craving this alot as of late. Give it another try, at the right time it will fit perfectly.

    • I will keep trying my sample! I have worn it a lot though and have tested it a lot. I can appreciate how big and grand and rich it is – but I just don’t think it’s my taste.
      I find it very simplistic, but loud and nicely balanced.
      But yeh, the drydown grinds on me, and everyone seems to say it’s the best part.
      I’m sure it smells great on you though Steve :) I’d love to smell it on someone else.

  2. Portrait of a Lady is my all time favorite perfume, though I can’t wear it everywhere because the spillage is huge. I revel in the dry down. As cheesy as it is, I like the rose patch combo. In fact, I’ve rarely ever met one I didn’t like. Sorry it didn’t work out for you!

    • I have heard a couple people give it the Number 1 spot. I’m envious that you guys have found THE ONE.
      It’s not cheesy to like it, I like a rose patch too, but I’m just not sure if I like wearing it :(

  3. Undina says:

    PoaL is one of my don’t-ever-want-to-be-without scents.Every time I wear it I think how gorgeous it is. Though I’m with Madperfumista: I can’t wear it just because, it has to be a place appropriate to the power of this perfume.

    • So much love for this one!
      I can imagine if it works with you it’s one of those ones that can only be worn when the time is right – I have ones like that myself, it makes it all the better when you get to wear it.
      Thanks for reading Undina.

  4. poodle says:

    This was the most expensive sample I’ve purchased and I got it because I too wanted to smell something everyone else was swooning over. Sadly, no swooning for me. It was nice enough but not anything I want a bottle of. Maybe like the Scented Hound said I need to try it again at a later date.

    • Ahh I’m glad I’m not the only one!
      Be sure to try it again, I’ve worn it quite a lot but, still I’m not convinced.
      Nice enough is how I’d describe it too. I can totally see how grand it is and how wonderful it could work on someone, for me though, it doesn’t fit :(

  5. lucasai says:

    I shall sample it soon

  6. I love Portrait of a Lady, but I have to admit that it was actually the rich body butter that I love more than the EDP. It just gets right down to the incense, which is my favorite part.

  7. sasha says:

    I absolutely love this one, but it is sort of bonkers. I think if it as my Mrs. Havisham perfume. If I were a crazy old victorian spinster rattling around in my dusty falling to the floor mansion wearing a wedding gown from decades earlier – this is what I would smell like!

    • You know what that description is perfect! The dust and the aged smell are a huge part of the appeal to this I think – still, it’s not for me, but smelling it on someone I imagine it to be gorgeous! :D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 232 other followers

%d bloggers like this: