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I'm a perfume collector and own a number of miniatures from presitigious French glasswear and perfumer maker Lalique founded in 1885 by jeweller and ceramist René Lalique who then went on to design perfume bottles for Coty and the rest is history.
The luminous, dark red box hides a lovely, oval-shaped bottle decorated with the engraving of two faces kissing. This art-deco and baroque design is a nod to antique perfume holders and for me has a turn-of-the-century aura.
Top notes: blackcurrant, gardenia, violet
Le Baiser 'The Kiss' surprises me with its total absence of fresh or tart notes as it opens quite dense laden with a heavy, sugary violet that's soon joined by an animalic, dirty white floral undertone. The heaviness as well as the sweetness are partly coming from the syrupy blackcurrant and no matter how sparingly I apply, it's always heavy and sugary sweet and stays so until the middle notes kick in.
Heart notes: jasmine, pepper, rose
About half an hour in, the tropical and moist smelling gardenia is still leading the scene with the sweet, heavy-ish and powdery violet. The violet is accompanied by a green and bitter facet that feels as if the whole violet got unrooted with the dirt included, reminiscent of the somewhat skanky dirtiness of white florals. With the gardenia losing its hold and the delicate jammy rose sadly drowning in the heavy, powdery and now increasingly peppery jumble, the strong, powdery and somewhat bitter violet just keeps going.
Pepper can give some fragrances character and it does lend Le Baiser a vintage vibe that I normally like however here in this combination it just doesn't work. I realise the earthy and dirty feel of the fragarnce comes from the obstrusive aroma of pepper. It could work well in subtle doses, however, Lalique seems to have decided to turn this potentially delicately spiced floral into an agressive pepper monster. Most of the time the perfume behaves well and I love catching its warm, rich and suave floral heart. Other times the pepper that slips in and out of the sillage from time to time kicks in at times when you least expect it.
Base notes: amber, musk, sandalwood, vanilla
My favourite phase must be the drydown with its markedly sandalwoody and somewhat bitter vanillic edge. The emphasis is mainly on bitter and woody that at last isn't offending, shame it now only lingers close to the skin and has barely any sillage at all. The pepper still clinging onto the sandalwood the final accord has a bitterness and relatively little sweetness to it at first that later mellows out though never quite completely disappears. Le Baiser's longevity is excellent, overall noticeable for up to 12 hours and its drydown is still detectable on my skin the next day.
Despite the somewhat cloying sweetness in the beginning the bitterness moves along the fragrance from almost top to finish. Le Baiser is an unusual, bittersweet romantic juice with a pronounced opulent and woody character. It has a strong presence so more fitting to evening-wear than as an everday, casual fragrance.
The invasive pepper ruined the composition for me but this might be my sensitivity to this powerful note. I cannot fault it for longevity and projection and is something that's better applied sparingly. From the unusual composition and blending of notes I can see it as a love or hate 'fume, I advise you test it before making a blind purchase.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Less readily available at retailers in the UK, the best prices can be had on Amazon.co.uk, galaxyperfume.co.uk around the £24.80 mark / 50ml Eau de Parfum or a slightly less £23.20 / 30 ml Eau de Toilette version
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