Kylie Minogue Couture was launched in 2009 and is the singer's fifth feminine fragrance. She more recently turned to masculine inspiration for a cologne called Inverse. I was asked to give my opinion on some scents for a magazine and so decided to write a full-fledged review on the blog of this one since I had enough notes and had not reviewed it in the past.
Celebrity fragrances suffer from many preconceived opinions and stereotypes. They are easily targeted and ridiculed. Like those figures at the fair that you see kids throw little rice sacks at to make them tumble, celebs seem sometimes to be handsomely payed just to channel the pent-up frustrations and need for derivatives of the crowds and in the meantime avoid a social revolution. For this reason alone, their existence is justified and productive. People tend too often to view only the lucrative aspects of the celebrity-fragrance game but really think about the social coping mechanisms they help set. People can reaffirm their collective purported values by spitting on Paris Hilton and lavishing adulation on the nice celebs...which are??? Wait, let me pause to help clarify the fuzziness of the universe which is in dire need of some clear landmarks. I'll pick Tilda Swinton and her upcoming fragrance: she is not exactly nice but she is interesting at least. Oh no wait, there is Queen Latifah who is nice: you could really tell people wanted to love her fragrance in advance. Fortunately, her jus was up to snuff...
I continue to be intrigued by the idea that a perfume can a priori be a repository for the moral makeup of a person, its virtues and vices (sorry, I am still under the visual influence of a vintage Adrian ad I saw for two Sinner and Saint perfumes which neatly divides up the problem.) There are probably more misunderstandings than illuminations, but the quest continues.
With Couture by Kylie Minogue, the fragrance will probably not be a letdown to her fans. To me, it captures one of her most visible attributes, her sexy animalic persona which appears as a building block of her showmanship. Although I have to add that I feel more the workmanship and presence of perfumer Alexandra Kosinski of Givaudan attempting to sketch a reasonably convincing extension of Kylie Minogue's personality, than I am struck by a new, idiosyncratic language and the intrusion of someone - the singer - thinking outside of the perfumer's box. But sexy Kylie was bottled in part and the perfume is on the qualitative side.
Couture opens with a particularly tart and fresh green violet-leaf called "vintage violet" and a fruity cherry-berry accord. It all slowly quiets down while the warmth of the musky--vanillic-ambery-woody base notes peaks through and the musky facet becomes more centrally defined "musk ribbons". The composition was clearly designed to kill with a stiletto in hand and to make the jus signal "sexy." The approach is a bit raw in style yet still lady-like in attitude, but barely: the musk note here is hyper-realistic in its first phase of development smelling like the headspace capture of the clean and spicy sweat of a woman who doesn't bother to use deodorant but for the lingering cleanliness of her morning shower which fast evaporates throughout the day to let the scent of her skin come through, unadulterated.
The perfume next develops a more blended-in and perfume-coded accord of the by now classical pairing, blackberry-and-musk, made popular since Mûre et Musc by l'Artisan Parfumeur (1978). Perfumer Alexandra Kosinski added for good measure the accord of a nocturnal carnal and tropical flower letting out the sensual sigh of its man-trap indoles slightly redolent of ripened cheese, as they should be when a flower means business and does not just wants to sit pretty.
If we are to play an identification game between the celebrity and her perfume, I would say that Couture conveys rather well the natural, at times panther-like sexiness of Kylie Minogue. The scent is a subtle and professionally-made floral and musky concoction with a purposeful primitive, pheromonone-like vibe inserted seemingly to serve those women who are in the dating game who would want, for example, to make a marked physical impression on a first date which might transmute into a one-night stand, if you insist. But it might also be - since this is perfume - just for those women who want to imagine they are a little dangerous and seductive.
To me, Couture is more generally a sophisticated off shoot of the 1970s musk-oil concept in its clean and white incarnation previously refined by Jean-François Laporte with Mûre et Musc by L'Artisan Parfumeur in 1978. Here there is an added layer of exotic passion flower and night blooming jasmine which feels a little feverish like Ava Gardner dancing in Night of the Iguana. The sweet musky floral that is Couture experiences the twist of heaving tropical blooms in the middle of the night whispering sweet nothings to potential mates.
I wager also that Kylie Minogue is considered to be one of the nice celebs - cancer struggle, big smile and energy and all - and that she will not be taking automatically one for the team like the more, the more, the more...I don't know what.. Amy Winehouse, Paris Hilton, or Victoria Beckham?