I like Betsey Johnson a lot, I think her style is fun (although she’s maybe a little bit of a wack-job), and I really wanted to like her new fragrance. And I guess I did, sort of.
First off, there´s that bottle – which is bright and brash and very Betsey-ish. Like some of Betsey´s designs, the bottle is a triumph of fabulousless over utility – the top half of the bottle is almost too big to hold and spray one-handed.
I´ve seen this fragrance described several times as a fruity floriental, which didn´t give me tons of hope, even if it´s from Betsey. But she did come through to some degree – it´s a fruity-floriental I actually like. Notes are: pear, tangerine, grapefruit, currants, freesia, muguet, cedar, sandalwood, amber, musk. It is sweet but not insipidly so; I found myself being charmed by the opening fruit notes, which are tangy and “girly” with a nudge-and-wink, rather than something that smells like it came in one of my daughter´s birthday goody bags.
The drydown gets much better – there´s enough of a musk/sandalwood base in there that I wonder how the fragrance will fare with those who want their fruity-florals unadulterated and headache-sweet. My guess is that this base is just enough over the line to discourage them.
Based on first sniff, would I buy it? No. But I´d wear it if someone gave it to me. And I think this is potentially a fragrance like Insolence that grows on me over time. I did try Insolence again, on the same trip, and if I didn´t find the opening and that bottle so off-putting I´d own the damn thing already, because the drydown is beautiful.
On the other hand, I won´t be wearing F by Ferragamo, even if you gave it to me. Both times I sampled it the SAs pointed out enthusiastically – look! – it´s shaped like a shoe, isn´t that cute?!? But I can´t suss out the shoe resemblance no matter how hard I squint at the bottle. Here’s a photo. I’m a bonehead. You explain it to me. Anyway, each time the SA and I were too busy trying to figure out how you actually make it work – if you aim the nozzle at the two straps, the spray hits those straps coming out of the atomizer; how´s that for design brilliance? If you turn the nozzle the opposite way, the straps are in the way of your hand so you need two hands to spray it. Which works out okay with the SA standing there to help, but since my lady-in-waiting seems to be on permanent vacation I’d need a third arm. The only way to make it work is to twist the sprayer sideways, which just seems weird. (Okay, I understand perfumers are ever more desperate to make their scents stand out in a crowd, but does anyone ever try to see whether the bottle design works?)
I can´t find any notes at all, but to me it´s just another fruity-floral, with an opening that´s tart, like grapefruit (the first 30 seconds are the best part, so enjoy them). After 10 minutes on my skin it´s a thin, sharp mess that would have been a scrubber if its wan presence had ever mustered the energy to get up off the couch and claw at me. But it didn´t. It just picked at its cuticles, sulked and slunk off without my noticing. And good riddance.
Finally, there’s Desperate Houswives Forbidden Fruit. Hey, I like cheap trash as much as the next person, and I was expecting something gloriously over-the-top — in-your-face sexy and/or dirty. I mean, don’t the ladies on Wisteria Lane make you think of Fifi Chachnil? But this. I’m not even going to look for the notes. It’s an insipid fruity-floral that makes Vera Wang Princess look good by comparison, and how low is that bar? The opening notes reminded me faintly of Kate Spade’s LOTV flower-bomb (remember that one? I loved that one, but I guess nobody else did, because she pulled the plug quietly last year, I think) but it morphed immediately into a floral … thing that smelled cheap and mean and plastic, like sniffing scented rubber toys at Wal-Mart, with a bitter rubbing-alcohol-and-eraser drydown. Those vixens wouldn’t be caught dead in this crap. Ugh.