It’s interesting to see how trends in perfumery evolve over the years. Perfumery is a kissing cousin to the fashion industry and much like the clothes one wears, our fragrances reflect not only our personality but also the times in which we live. Take a look back to the 1980s for example, a time where everything was big; the hair, the shoulders, the make up and the wealth. The scents of this time, the great big floral bombs of Poison and spice weaponry of Opium, are equally as gargantuan as the decade they call home. The trends of today tread a more gourmand path, where the fruits and flowers are all dusted in light pink sugar. It’s a candy lovers paradise out there.
In 2012, Lancôme launched La Vie Est Belle, a sugary treat that merged fruit, flowers and gourmand notes with a hefty dose of iris to make the whole thing smell luxurious. It was entirely on trend, but what set the Lancôme apart from its contemporaries was a sense of luxury and maturity that hinted at an experience that was a bit more up market, and a whole lot more decadent. For 2015 Lancôme are obviously feeling that more luxury is required in the modern gourmand market and they are now treating us to La Vie Est Belle Intense which, as you may have guessed is a more concentrated and well, ‘intense’ version of the original. In essence, Intense takes all that is good about La Vie Est Belle and simply gives us more of it. Let’s take a sniff…
Transversal Notes: Iris and ‘Fine Delicacies Accord’
Top Notes: Pear, Bergamot, Pink Pepper and Blackcurrant Bud
Heart Notes: Orange Flower, Jasmine Sambac, Tuberose and Hazelnut Accord
Base Notes: Iris, Tonka, Patchouli and Gourmand Accord
How Does it Smell?
La Vie Est Belle Intense starts out jammy, juicy and joyfully delicious. The top notes are a sparkling cocktail of fruits, with the lively and bright tones of pear and bergamot contrasted by the warm, plummy notes of blackcurrant. Despite its deep, jam-like vibe, the fragrance doesn’t feel sticky or cloying, instead it presents a sweet, fruity quality that is rich and shiny, but without any hint of indigestion.
The real good stuff happens in the heart, where La Vie Est Belle Intense is two-parts modern gourmand and one-part old school powdery floral. There’s a strong candy-floss note that hints at toasted sugar (most likely ethyl maltol – you’ll know it from Flowerbomb and Angel et al) flavoured with delicate rose water. Contrasting this monolith of sugar is a generous helping of orris, which brings a finely-milled, powdery texture and just a touch of earth to the proceedings. What one gets is a more luxurious and serious take on the modern gourmand trend.
In the base, all of that fluffy sweetness is backed up by a solid foundation of patchouli and cedar wood. The base isn’t so solid and sharp that it feels blocky and masculine, instead it provides a further sense of contrast. Here, the sweetness is tempered and tamed, allowing the deeper and darker tone of patchouli to come through. The patchouli acts as a gauze – it’s an ingredient that accents others, giving them lift and volume, but also cutting straight through their plusher parts. Its use here allows the whole thing to be less one style and creates an entirely diffusive aura that radiates with intense power throughout the day (and long into the night).
Life is Beautiful, say Lancôme and with La Vie Est Belle Intense they offer a free-spirited affair that practically gorges on all that is enjoyable and lush in life. This is a fragrance that flirts with excess, with diamonds and candy floss dreams, but it does so in a tasteful and almost classical way. La Vie Est Belle Intense exists at the intersection between the old and the new, mixing the modern sugar-soaked gourmand with a traditional powdery floral. The result? A delectable treat that says to heck with discipline, let’s go for pure, unadulterated enjoyment. After all, when life is so short, why not enjoy all of that beauty?