I ripped open a package from UPS thinking it was a book I’d been waiting for, and it turned out to be a promo bag for the clothing store Bebe’s new fragrance, which is called … wait for it … Bebe. This is apparently the third iteration of their Bebe scent. On some other day I’ll do my long-promised post on It Crawled From the Mailbox (aka how I get some of my review samples from people paid to shill them) but let’s stay on track right now, and for the record, I have no idea how/why Bebe found me. I think at the top all perfume companies are now owned by the same corporate giant — Monsanto, maybe. I took a long look at the black Bebe bag, which features … a photo of a really young-looking stripper, I guess, her nether regions blocked from view by the perfume bottle. Inside was a pink powderpuff, a DVD (which I can’t figure out how to open the files of, so here’s a small, different, somewhat NSFW pic), and a little black cardboard box adorned with the same photo that rattled because it contains candy. No, really.
At that point Diva and Enigma, my teens who are obviously way closer to the target demographic than I am, were already fighting over the contents while we argued about how you actually pronounce “Bebe.” Meanwhile I continued to look in vain for what I hoped would be an actual sample of the fragrance, which doesn’t seem totally unreasonable if I’m going to review it, does it? And there it was, albeit in one of those single-use foil-sealed gauze wipe-on things. Note to PR people: look, you succeeded! You made it on the Posse! And btw I really wish you’d send a small glass sample vial of the fragrance so I can try it more than once. Notes for Bebe, which is labeled an oriental and which they describe as a blend of florals and musks, are mango, sweet pea, tuberose, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, musk and cedar.
It’s not much of a riddle, but I’ll ask anyway: what do you think my expectations were for this scent? Do you think they were low? How low? Can you drop it to the floor? Can I remind you their PR kit included actual candy? Can I mention that there is also a teabag-like infuser for a drinks recipe called the “bebe-tini” which calls for vodka? So the marketers are aiming for the over-21 crowd, and I guess that’s fair, more or less, if they want to pretend but YO FIFTEEN YEAR OLDS ARE SHOPPING IN BEBE TOO. Enough with the PR kits that include both candy and a vodka recipe. Shall I mention here that when I pass Bebe in the mall, I think of it mentally as that slutty store? And that’s saying something. (In case you are not, or do not own, a teenage girl: Bebe sells mall clothing and accessories for hookers, and the high school girls who want to dress like them.) Diva is counting the days until she can find something from that store that I’d let her wear in public other than a purse.
Anyway I unwrapped my scent wipe and applied it liberally to myself and Diva – hey, live large, people! – and thus we get to the punch line, which is: okay, I didn’t drop to my knees moaning in ecstasy, but I would totally wear this. It’s super peppery on me, and quite musky, surprisingly un-sweet, with a big drip of a liquidy jammy thing like the death knell in Poison (which you know I love.) You know what it smells like? It smells like a sick three-way between Poison (the cough syrup), the peppery bits of Sonia Rykiel For Women, and the weirdly masculine parts of Euphoria. It smells pretty commercial – I mean, I don’t think I’d have mistaken it for the new Malle – but I’m kind of loving it. It is so resolutely not candy on me.
And here’s the rest of the punchline, because guess who the perfumer is? Francis Kurkdjian!! Yes, it’s true! Now, that doesn’t guarantee success, but in this case I have to say I feel the perfumer both fulfilled the brand requirements and exceeded my wildest expectations. It falls apart after an hour or so, but the drydown’s not bad, just pepper-musky, and Diva described it as “sexy without being slutty.” I’d describe it a little differently; to me it’s a third-base-behind-the-bleachers type of fragrance (or, again, if you just want to smell like you might be that girl). I mean, the message is pretty clear.
On the other hand … fine, maybe I’m overthinking this, but at one point I realized part of what works with Bebe is: it smells like one of your sexy-girl scents (Addict, Euphoria) as if you were smelling it on the skin and clothing of the slightly sweaty boy you were making out with. Get it? You’re smelling your scent as it rubbed off on him. Come on, how great is that? For a minute I felt like I was behind the bleachers all over again, not that I am suggesting I was ever that girl.