Perfume Notes: Top: golden Tequila accord, Italian bergamot, Mediterranean mandarin; mid notes: Baie rose, jasmine noir, cognac, Moroccan coriander; base notes: Indonesian patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla absolute, tonka absolute, Egyptian incense, sexy musk.
Queen by Queen Latifah is the hip-hop singer and actress's debut perfume with a launch scheduled for August 2009. The perfume was made to reflect her love for "golden tonalities, smooth textures, and a certain fondness for exotic flavors", all of which can be felt in the final jus. In fact, the code name for the perfume while it was still in its development stages was "Pure Gold", an indication that semantics played a role in this case to help anchor the inspiration for the fragrance. About Queen the perfume, Latifah said,
"For me, beauty really does start on the inside. It's like a state of mind, a state of love if you will. I see fragrance as just a natural expression of this state of love. Scent expresses a woman's confidence and sensuality; it's how she embraces her body, her mind and her strength."
Queen Latifah has recently come into the open to magazine Essence about the secret she had been withholding about her past as a sexually molested child by a teenager who had been entrusted with her care. It makes it all the more powerful a statement.
Queen which comes with the tag line "Love steps out first" is a distinctive oriental gourmand with a deep skin-scent finish and a surprisingly rather expensive-smelling sillage. Parlux who developed the fragrance prefer to dub it for their part a "warm, sexy, golden oriental."...
The perfume holds kinship ties to the dark tropical atmosphere and mould cheese indoles of Tom Ford Black Orchid, to the more mature-than-average exotic fruits and woods concoction of Hilary Duff but also to M by Mariah Carey with its sophisticated gourmand roasted marshmallow accord and Baby Phat Golden Goddess with its champagne-and-incense accord. Despite all these perceptible affinities, Queen does not feel derivative. Rather, it takes some characteristic elements of these perfumes and transmogrifies them into something personal both in the fragrance's structure of ever-deepening movement of unfolding which seems to translate well the concept of "Beauty from within" dear to Queen Latifah, which she made a point of symbolizing with a puffed heart on the bottle as if it were emerging from the depths of the ruby-red flacon. Red is the chosen color because it is "the color of sexiness and love."
The perfume develops personal touches and its own atmosphere thanks also to the gustatory nuances of a Golden-Tequila accord echoed by a Cognac one and certain richness of the ingredients (vanilla absolute, tonka absolute, deep buried florals). Recipes of Golden Tequilas I looked up vary. They can be composed of blue agava juice, sometimes and other say characteristically, mixed with caramel and aged in oak casks for up to four years or on the contrary non-aged. The Queen creators in any case specified that they were not interested in a literal Golden Tequila rendition but in drawing inspiration from it to offer an aged Tequila feel. And there is caramel, with a particular nuance that is neither Scottish toffee nor Dulce di Leche.
I cannot help but be struck by the number of celebrity and non-celebrity perfumes alike incorporating an after-hours accord, from cocktails to wine to champagne to anything that can be found in the mixologist's handbook really. I see this wide-ranging movement of exploration as very typical of perfumery creation which tends to explore series under the same heading: florals A, B, C, D etc. Drinks A, B, C, D.
It also has to do with the model of the menu. A perfumer will relish the fact that a note has never been done before. Let's! It is like saying that we've had this dish yesterday, let's do something different for tomorrow's meal. It is a convenient way of enriching the palette without having to do too much conceptual rethinking. And perfumers anyway have to contend with unforeseen technical difficulties for the simplest of their ideas. To be fair, the variational aspect of perfumery creation also corresponds to a search for sensual pleasures. Perfumes are not necessarily intellectual. Perfume can just be an inspiration meant to prolong and explore a sensation added onto a well-rounded menu destined to chime the days. It makes me think of that French cookbook where all three meals for 365 days are laid out in advance for you. No repetition allowed, just variations.
How it Smells
Queen initially is sweet, fruity, fleshy and incense-y with a slightly overripe, rotten quality that approaches the sensation of dark tropical omen found in Black Orchid but less film-noir and more beautiful brown skin nurtured by tropical sunlight. There is an optimistic feel about the fragrance.
When a perfume makes you think of words like overripe and rotting, for those who might be a bit taken aback by such reverse compliments, it just means that the perfume composition is exploring the limits of olfactory pleasure and pain while hopefully - and indeed it does so here - resorting to artful skills to remain pleasurable while suggesting at the same the anticipation, never attained, of foulness. It makes the blend smell more interesting as this is one way to avoid being called pretty. The "cheesy" effect is due to the presence of indoles found in cheese, especially prominent in blue-veined cheese, Indole and skatole (3-methylindole) which make them taste a bit like meat stock or even meat or mushroom. They are flavorful and when judiciously dosed, they add intrigue to a perfume to use a more romantic language amidst the unleashed fumes of kitchen talk. But that's reality.
Queen smells of fully mature and firm rather than juicy mangoes. The scent teeters on the edge of candied but without falling into the crystal sugar bin or the cane syrup bowl. Latifah said that she did not want the perfume to be too sweet.
The fruity accord deepens to an amber-y, cheesy tequila impression where the coconut is more unsweetened tofu, with a welcome nuance of blandness, than sweet syrup. The perfume deepens and deepens as if casting off layers of frills and clothing to get closer to the naked skin.
The booziness in the
perfume is akin to the sensation of natural alcohol obtained from
fermentation as if you were walking by ripe durians on a market stall
and catching their effluvia for a brief moment. The coconut treatment
is deeper than usual, more complex with a continuing cheese-like,
indolic nuance. It makes one think both of Black Orchid and of a more
mature Hilary Duff perfume with its exotic fruit (rambutan, pineapple)
and woods accord. At the same time, the composition is different, going
in another direction.
A hushed down and almost compact creamy quality appears, evoking solid coconut cream, with a bland caramel-y aspect. It is as if all the usual sweet references had been expurgated of their overly indulgent aspects and made more grown-up.
As the scent progresses the incense wakes up again but finer this time, sifted through a muslin scarf. All the previous threads, the fruits, the cheese-y indoles, continue to be weaved. One can appreciate what seems to be the ever-deepening movement of the scent. At one point, it takes on a more scented-candle-like nuance - also an effect that was sought after in Hilary Duff - that is a tad more common to my nose and borderline Yankee Christmas-candle-shop even but it manages to find its balance after all thanks to the velvety, deep tropical fruits exhaling mysterious notes. Here one can sense that the perfume will fly better on some persons than others. It smells of roasted pineapple with their skins still on and coconut rinds on a pit fire (incense) and of a deep throaty tequila. It's great. After all these tours and detours the drydown settles down to a more linear mode. From up close it smells like a warm muted musky and amber-y skin scent with deep notes. From a distance, it wafts back towards you with the personality of a somewhat expensive perfume, something you did not suspect upon close inhalation.Queen Latifah managed to do what she intended to do. Queen feels neither too young nor too old. It feels mature, being both laid-back, optimistic, and sophisticated. I can foresee that her constituency will swoon over the perfume and more indifferent people will probably appreciate its dressy and non-nonsense square sexy quality (the square bottle is meant to embody feminine strength). I would say that Queen is a perfume that you can put on, enjoy up close a bit in the beginning for some of its peps, sunshine vitamins and languorous tropical sensuality then forget while you get busy about. It will impress you from time to time by letting you know it is still weaving its olfactory tapestry around you and for others to appreciate as well. It seems to have been designed to be at once a for-you-and-for-them scent by drawing a well-delineated circle around you called sensuality, self-respect and respect of others, with a certain idea of class with its intent to smell expensive.