Portrait of a Lady – Frédéric Malle (Editions de Parfums)

If you were ever to tell me I’d be wearing a scent called Portrait of a Lady one day you’d be totally right. If you were to say, that I’d enjoy a rose, musk, patchouli and frankincense blend, however, I’d likely ask if you were smoking any of it. 

Last summer, I attended a very special destination birthday party in Sonoma. That evening, as I regarded the wineries at sunset, the very chic birthday girl walked in radiating I probably asked what she was wearing before wishing her Happy Birthday. I know, you had to be there.

One of the best dinners celebrating Jayne and Sharyn.
One of the best dinners celebrating Jayne and Sharyn.

Then I had a mild panic attack. I have heard so many stories about people who don’t reveal their fragrance. Maybe they’ve seen ‘Single White Female’ too many times? Thankfully, my friend Jayne was happy to share. I got the 411 and knew immediately the MSRP will be around there as well. #FML

I am still not over this dinner.
I am still not over this dinner.

When I hear Frédéric Malle, I immediately think Barneys. The luxury genius he created by commissioning the top noses of the world for his collaboration sums up the ‘no compromises’ cliché. Malle’s Editions de Parfums consists of 21 unique fragrances geared towards men, women or both. Hashtag Jackpot. Literally.

The beauty floor at Barneys is a wonderful place to be. Don’t ever go there when you’re on a budget, however, nor if you’re just trying to tame your spending habits. That’s fruitless. Me, I *live* for their beauty events and the generous sample filled bags. Even if I need absolutely nothing, somehow the creative displays persuade me it’s the perfect time to buy a candle. Anything. My downstairs neighbor, Trish, and I used to take the 6 uptown (J.Lo style cause don’t be fooled by the rocks that I’ve got) and make an afternoon of it. Good times.

I can find their level of luxury borderline intimidating. Frédéric Malle transports you to another place with his clear, booth-like fragrance chambers and ceiling activated fans that enable even the curious to experience his complex scents. Very ‘The Jetsons’. But, don’t request an increase in the fan speed nor whether they’ll blow a few singles for you to catch while you’re in there. They won’t think it’s funny.

It is rare for me to enjoy such a heavy scent year round. I usually group my choices by season: Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir for Winter, Bond No. 9 Scent of Peace for Spring, Hermès Jour d’Hermès for Summer, and Bond No. 9 Highline again for Fall. So, that’s sounding like my responses to some cheap personality quiz. I’m not that square, I swear.

My Lady.
My Lady.

Portrait of a Lady may be named after a novel by Henry James from 1881 but it’s one of the most modern scents I have ever come across. The perfumer behind this particular scent is Dominique Ropion. On me, Lady is rich, warm and amazingly complex and dries down to a fruity incense with just a hint of patchouli.

I was once told that if you can smell a fragrance on yourself, it’s not for you and I tend to agree. Hence, this little trick: spray once and walk right into the scent. I never know what I have on until someone asks me about it. I grant you I feel a tad awkward when a cab driver inquires and I have to say Portrait of a Lady. But, then I whip out my YSL Touche Éclat and just touch up to make the whole story plausible.

You can skip the last line because no matter what you do you cannot unsee it.

Portrait of a Lady retails for $340 (100ml). You live once. Get your bottle here!


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