Love in Black is the latest perfume creation for women from the house of Creed founded in 1760 in England and relocated to Paris in 1854. If the scent is already out in the French capital city, it will be introduced in the US only later in September 2008.
The name is like an echo and a reverse image of Love in White launched in 2005, a fragrance with a bridal theme. Like its predecessor and many other Creed perfumes, it wishes to be a reference to a patrician world of wealth and privilege. Also like several other Creed fragrances, it is inspired by the memories and image of an iconic woman. This time Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is the muse to perfumiers Olivier and Erwin Creed like Grace Kelly was for Fleurissimo and Audrey Hepburn for Spring Flower. The composition itself is described as a "violet oriental;" it evolves as a fresh and woody violet then iris scent developing within the elegant range of the colors black to pastel mauve.
There are women who stand as collective references even to those who do not necessarily follow them. Some of them epitomize a near-saintly virtue often referred to in an understated fashion as "grace under pressure". In an alliance of feminine charm, inward and outward elegance, and steely strength they seem to be composed of a special essence.
To explain her own personal forbearance in the face of adversity, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said that she could not but act the way she did thinking about her forebear General Lee. The quality that was striking in her from my general perception of her image was her stoicism and something else about her that made her appear to be immutable, unruffled. When Jackie Onassis died in 1994, I had precisely started to feel her disappearance from the public scene asking myself randomly one day what had become of her not having heard of her or seen her pictures in the press for a while. There are such synchronicities of consciousness, I find, and celebrities thus populate more or less unconsciously the social imagination. Then, the news came in quickly to answer this question and we all learned that she had died at a relatively young age, in her sixties, from cancer. It was like a public confession of vulnerability. She who had to overcome daunting challenges such as the loss of children, the assassination of her husband, and more, was not meant to live on a tranquil life, but had somehow finally ceded under the pressure of life, prematurely...
Those who have known her well, or at least have read her biographies report that her calm demeanor and her legendary poise hid a more emotional personality. She is reported to have said,
"Whenever I was upset by something in the papers, Jack always told me to be more tolerant, like a horse flicking away flies in the summer."
"Even though people may be well known, they hold in their hearts the emotions of a simple person for the moments that are the most important of those we know on earth: birth, marriage and death."
In all of these three venues, her lot, of her own admission, was to experience both great joys and great tragedies.
She also apparently had a good sense of humor,
"A newspaper reported that I spent $30,000 a year buying Paris clothes and that women hate me for it. I couldn't spend that much unless I wore sable underwear."
Choosing a black color theme for a fragrance dedicated to Jackie Kennedy Onassis is appropriate to confer it elegance, inescapably that not only of a sophisticated woman who wore so well minimalist little black dresses, but also for the image of a Sicilian widow she projected as she appeared to the public eye at John F. Kennedy's funeral with her long black veil covering her face and descending below her waist. According to the Creed press release, it is also an attempt to capture her presence as a dark-haired brunette and "onyx-eyed beauty".
The dominant violet and iris olfactory theme is more mysterious as a main choice for the composition although each note is explained in the press release as holding biographical meaning,
"The top note of Love In Black is night-blooming wildflowers of the Greek isles, where she wed Aristotle Onassis and violet from Italy, where Mrs. Onassis later visited. It includes Virginia cedar from the countryside Mrs. Onassis loved and where she was a top equestrian, often in a black velvet riding cap.
The heart note is iris from Florence, a city Mrs. Onassis loved; clove and Tonkin musk.
The base is blackcurrant from Bourgogne in her beloved France (the home of her ancestors) plus Bulgarian rose."
It is common to associate strength in women with a floral such as tuberose; violet and iris can be refined but tend to be perceived as being softer and more romantic. They nevertheless help set up a patrician atmosphere as violet has been, at least since the 15th century, a floral scent favored by the social elite for its delicate aroma. Iris is closely associated with the aroma of violet and is also very elegant with its attenuated tones. Finally, the mauve hues played out by the perfume seem to offer an interpretation of Jackie O's life as that of an ever demi-deuil symbolized by the slightly wistful yet stylish colorings of the composition.
Love in Black
Love in Black at first might fool you into instinctively thinking you are dealing with a traditional violet soliflore but then shows that it rather wishes to be an updated violet and iris fragrance offering a clean, minimalist, and fresh take on a flower that can be easily be done and re-done to death in the classical floral manner.
The scent is more elegant and retrained than romantic and sentimental. It also plays to contemporary tastes with its gourmand touch; here the oriental aspect of the composition is made to veer in the direction of gustatory notes. The woods and leafy green notes darken the composition while aldehydes, citruses and fresh florals introduce a lift but also a freshness that is also very modern-taste.
The perfume opens on a transient outburst of dark and fresh violets then perceptibly glides into an iris accord. Since these two florals are closely associated naturally, yet distinct, but often rendered in an indistinct manner in sloppier or more abstract perfumery, the passage from a well-defined violet stage to another clear iris one is to be appreciated technically; it is not easy apparently to play on cousin nuances. It reveals a deliberate attempt on the part of the perfumiers to stick with the mauve atmosphere. The violet is fresh and purple while the iris is hazy, soft, doughy rather than powdery, and grey and mauve, evoking a pastel effect and the half-transparency of a palely colored veil. Of course given the dedication, it irresistibly evokes the color of half-mourning, but it is also buttressed with silent strong woods evoking Jackie Kennedy's tenacity.
The iris accord, which is overdosed, is made to feel subtly gourmand. It smells of vanilla, almond, citrus with a marzipan and almond dragée nuances and hints of hazelnut, pralines, peanuts and lemon meringue. It could be a refined thousand-floral delicacy gourmand spread experienced on a tartine. The iris note texturally speaking feels like a "nappage", a pâtisserie liquid topping. At the same time, the perfume gains in freshness mid-course, a sophisticated perversion of the natural course of perfume notes evaporation as they are normally the most volatile. After the dark, more muted beginnings, it actually becomes sunnier. Nevertheless, the dark connotations remain as stylistic contrast with a deepening of the woody, resinous (amber), and leathery tonalities. The ambery nuance contains the scent of melted beeswax. The iris takes on a raw-dough, even bread-y flavor showcasing natural olfactory shadings.
Love In Black should please and interest connoisseurs and lovers of violet and iris perfumes who can appreciate a discreet gourmand whimsy. It is a soft suede-like and woody violet and iris fragrance, which elegantly combines depth and freshness. The structure I interpret as being rather linear and minimalist, in a well-tailored sense. The perfume lasts full-strength for a few hours then lets a lingering simple trail of violet on your skin into the next day.
"Love In Black debuts in September at Neiman Marcus (www.neimanmarcus.com or 1-800-937-9146), Bergdorf Goodman (www.bergdorfgoodman.com or 1-888-774-2424) and the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in Manhattan."
A 1 oz. bottle is priced at $ 130, a 2.5 oz one at $230 and a 8.4 oz flacon at $ 350.
Some information and picture of bottle via Creed press release