If anybody within the world of perfume knows how to do sexy, it’s Agent Provocateur. In fashion, they make luxurious lingerie that is fearless, fun and full of colour. Their perfumes however, are an ode to old-school glamour. The original Agent Provocateur Eau de Parfum, for example, is a powdery rose Oriental that speaks of silk-clad boudoirs, and their Maitresse is a glamour puss floral that brings to mind, well, those silk-clad boudoirs again. So yes, if Agent Provocateur know how to do one thing – that thing is ‘sexy’.
Their latest fragrance is called ‘Fatale’ and comes with the tagline “flirt with danger” and therefore positions itself as the brand’s most daring, and erotic fragrance to date. Or does it? Well I guess that depends entirely on what your idea of sexy is and when sniffing Fatale, I find myself thinking that it errs on the side of fun as opposed to something that could be considered as provocative. This may be no femme fatale of a fragrance, but it is an incredibly enjoyable interpretation of a popular signature. Let’s take a closer look…
Top: Madagascan Pink Pepper, Exotic Blackcurrant and Succulent Mango Nectar
Heart: Velvet Gardenia, Indonesian Patchouli and Royal Orris Absolute
Base: Vanilla Orchid, Chocolate Gourmand, Sultry Skin Musk and Spanish Labdanum
How Does it Smell?
Fatale opens with a very modern blast of fruit and spice. The tartness of sour blackcurrant meets fizzling black pepper and the juicy feel of mango to create a multi-faceted and voluptuous opening that is very much in keeping with the jeweled feel of the fragrance’s flacon. With time, the cacophony of noise in the top notes settle, making way for a soft blanket of bergamot to move into the foray and tame those big and boisterous notes.
The central core of Fatale is the blend of fruit, flowers and patchouli. This style of fragrance is often referred to as a ‘Fruitchouli’ (a catchy portmanteau of ‘fruit’ and ‘patchouli’ – let’s see how many times I can use that word in this piece) and was kick-started by the birth of Thierry Mugler’s Angel in 1992 – a fragrance that is easily still the best example of the style to this date. Fatale may not live up to the boldness of Angel, but it does fare very well for a Fruitchouli, capturing the right balance between the stickiness of fruit and the earthy, and almost chocolate-y feel of patchouli.
What really helps Fatale stand out from the crowd though, is a generous sprinkling of iris powder. The finely milled texture of the iris provides a soft contrast to the angular quality of the Fruitchouli accord and injects a cosmetic-like feel that leads one to imagine a glamorous dressing table packed with potions, perfumes and powders. The execution isn’t quite ‘mature’ though and instead of being sexy it comes across as frivolous and full of fun – almost as if it’s the fragrant equivalent of a teen raiding her mother’s make up stash, of haphazardly-applied lipstick and an overuse of blusher.
Fatale is proof that Agent Provocateur is moving into the mainstream with their fragrant offerings, and it really isn’t quite as daring, or unusual as their older fragrances. But whilst it is über commercial, it isn’t dull or completely reminiscent of everything else that is out there. In fact, the sticky, powdery feel that it exudes is quite playful and seems like a collision of the old (face powder, Orientals of yesteryear) and the new (all of that Fruitchouli) that really works quite well.