"Her nature had, in her conceit, a certain garden-like quality, a suggestion of perfume and murmuring boughs, of shady bowers and lengthening vistas, which made her feel that introspection was, after all, an exercise in the open air, and that a visit to the recesses of one's spirit was harmless when one returned from it with a lapful of roses." Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
This quote from the novel that inspired this perfume describes it perfectly. Isabelle Archer, the prototypical Sagittarius, is willful, proud, intellectual, adventurous, lucky and drawn to the exotic. This perfume smells like what she would wear, confident projection, rich with Turkish rose absolute, a heart of dark patchouli, smelling of spice and incense, and admirably tenacious.
Since my husband wears Geranium Pour Monsieur, every time I spoke to a Frederic Malle associate, I was urged to try this. Like the heroine herself, I resisted the obvious best choice until the very end. On paper, it just didn't do anything for me. I knew so many men wore it, that I didn't even want to try it on. It sounded like some old drag queen, campy (camphoraceous), throaty and LOUD. But when I finally tried it on, I was pleasantly surprised to find my skin showed a strong raspberry note with a dry dusty leather, the golden glow of rose without being grandma rose, and a realistic impression of incense like classic agarbatti. Although so many people wear this perfume, I feel like it is my own, and I will finally get a full bottle. I love Dominic Ropion's work for this line, including Une Fleur de Cassie and the new Cologne Indelible, so it makes sense I would finally come around to this scent.
Portrait of a lady is one of those fragrances that starts up really good with lots of layers and many different notes that they blended together very well but unfortunately drys down to a much simpler scent and finally goes into a boring and many times has done before, earthy patchouli and rose combo!
The opening of this fragrance which in my opinion is the best part of it is a beautiful combination of patchouli, some floral notes, a mellow fruity scent in the background and some sweetness.
Patchouli gives the scent a bitter herbal, slightly green and soft earthy aura.
The floral part that obviously is because of rose is not rosy that much at the start! it has surrounded with different notes that they overpower over the rose and it can't not shine at the start that much!
There is a soft fruity scent completely in the background which can not be identified what it is (because it's so light) and a soft sweetness again in the background.
In the mid the fruity note is gone while patchouli and rose get stronger and at the same time some spices kick in.
In this part patchouli is sharper, more earthy along with sweeter and kind of jammy rose which is nice and a little bit of spice to add sharper edge to the scent.
The opening was really good but mid is something that I've smelled before and not that exciting!
In the base I can smell a strong and very earthy patchouli and sweet rose hand to hand till the end. something that is standard for many fragrances nowadays with oud, rose and patchouli in it. after a few minutes oud is gone and only thing that remains is sweet rose and earthy patchouli!
Same thing here only with different opening!
It's a nice scent but it doesn't worth that price tag at all!
Actually I like the name of the fragrance better than the smell! it's more elegant and sophisticated!
Projection is strong and longevity is something between 8-10 hours on the skin.
I imagine there is not one perfume I would (likely) not adore that is designed & manufactured by Frederic Malle. I'm on another quest to expand my limited "signature" and "go to" fragrances, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur and Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile (to name my favorite two). I like incense, I like vintage rose, I like musk, I like patchouli; however as I've often noted, I do not like solo scents or linear fragrances one little bit. I prefer dark, moody, complex fragrances with a few precious notes that play on my skin and favor my nose (and others' noses, especially my husband's).
IMHO, this potion is about as perfect as the above mentioned notes can get. Definitely the Holy Grail of a rose-incense-patchouli-wood-musk fragrance. Diamond flame said it well: a lush rose opening obscured in a cloud of incense and smoke with an under current of black currants.
Lush, luxurious, rich, enigmatic, fragrant, delightful, passionate, complex, sexy. What more can I say??? Like all FM perfumes, silage is divine and longevity is great.
I LOVE this stuff! So why am I having trouble justifying $395.00 for a 3.5 ml flacon? I'll make it last, I swear I will!! Ugggghhhh...seems like such an indulgence. One of my VERY FEW vices...expensive niche perfumes.
I am going to try Ex Idolo "Thirty-Three" before I purchase this fragrance. Thirty-three has recently been compared by some as a "less expensive" PoaL. Waiting for my sample to arrive. I'll be pleasantly surprised if it does; however, I sincerely doubt anything compares to this divine delight. Seems to me NOTHING can hold a candle to this stuff.
Thanks, Frederic Malle.
Let’s start with the name. “Portrait of A Lady” has to be the most outrageous fragrance misnomer since Exceptional launched its non-descript and deadly dull eponymous sports fragrance for men in 2008. If ever a fragrance broadcast “UNISEX” on application, this is it. Heck, had Malle offered it as say, “Black Stallion,” it might have done well as a masculine. First the porn star-worthy “Thunderwood,” now this…someone needs to talk to marketing.
Portrait of a Lady actually launches on a searing black pepper note that gives Marc Jacobs’s Bang a run for its money. Following soon after are a dark, dry rose, oudh, and a camphoraceous (rather than earthy/sweaty) patchouli note, all supported by a rather stark and austere foundation of wood and frankincense. I see a conceptual relationship between Portrait of a Lady and the peppery-woody-incense rose of Caron’s Parfum Sacré, but the Malle is far less plush and comfortable. There are also parallels with some of the Montale oudh scents, including Black Aoud, which shares also leans on rose, oudh, and patchouli, and with Juliet Has a Gun’s softer and more recent Lady Vengeance.
Portrait of a Lady’s somewhat surprising drydown distinguishes it from any of these predecessors. Rather than the expected balsamic woody-oriental base notes, Portrait of a Lady settles on a relatively hard-edged, dry accord of oudh, woods, and a proudly synthetic-smelling clean musk vaguely reminds me of Malle’s Geranium pour Monsieur. (Also by Ropion.) My only complaint, based on a single wearing, is that like Geranium pour Monsieur, Portrait of a Lady segues into its drydown early and abruptly. I would enjoy the scent more if the rose, oudh, pepper, and patchouli accord of the middle section lasted for more than a half an hour. When I can manage them, additional wearings may yield a different experience. Even so, I consider Portrait of a Lady well worth trying – for ladies and gentlemen alike!
No rose by any other name is beautifully haunting and longing like Portrait of a Lady. Am still debating whether i as a grown man can confidently pull it off though.....