John Galliano's follow-up act to John Galliano EDP (2008) and EDT is his new Parlez-Moi d'Amour skewed towards the younger segment of the consumer market. It was created with perfumer Aliénor Massenet. While the debut Galliano fragrance had personal whimsy injected into it such as the scent of hot irons, a sense of genuine nostalgia for the haute couture workshops, the Parlez-Moi d'Amour scent feels like the considerate study of marketing data. Knowing that Massenet is a visual perfumer and that Galliano loves purple, there is still an aesthetic statement of sorts to be found in the dark purple palette of the scent. The bottle reveals a good dose of fantasy having been shaped in the likenesss of a flowery stamped letter. What does "Parlez-Moi d'Amour" mean? It means something like, speak to me of love, whisper to me of love, make me think of love, make me love love. In French culture, the echoes of the song sung by Lucienne Boyer and more famously still by Edith Piaf conjure up the retro vibrations of a bastringue. Taylor Momsen is John Galliano's muse in the attempt to corner a segment of the youth market. He may have liked something about her. She has cultivated the looks of an updated absinthe drinker for the 21st century resembling more and more her own wasted and suffering ghost. The route to perdition really stops at the surface of things because the jus itself - as a perfume blogger I cannot totally ignore the contents of even the cutest bottle on earth - professes not much more but a deep love for blueberries. The conceptually feeble attempt at offering a blueberry twist on the musky-floral for young women in age to date is noteworthy for its commercialism. What can we say besides the fact that indeed here is a very nice, headspace-like blueberry accord? We'll try nevertheless...
Fragrance notes: bergamot, ginger, sambac jasmine, lavender oil, Turkish rose, Indonesian pathcouli, cypress leaves.
Galliano said that he wanted to recreate the unforgettable essence of youth and freshness. It is his attempt to bottle the scent of a first love and offer it to the new generation. In the era of fast sms and internet chats, he wanted also to go back to the audacity of expressing one's feelings in a letter.
Parlez-Moi d'Amour opens on a tart blueberry and Concord grape accord lying on a soft bed of white musks, which feels like it was dressed up with a slim downy comforter. The perfume makes use, unabashedly, of a very cheap-smelling white musk accord which feels both hard and bored, a little bit like the smoky-greasy eye makeup sported by Taylor Momsem feels like an over application of khol due to a child's crazy boring afternoon of ideleness translated into giant black doodles around the eyes. After this hard-rock white musk passage made of all the contemporary noises and dissonances of an angry youth caught between the dull rumble of washing machines and the dreams of a bigger life beat on electric guitars, the perfume continues to smell cheap, but rounder and more appeased. A dash of fruity almond soften things. It is hard nevertheless to go past this feeling of a white-musk road block, which might just as well have been made of cheap concrete. Does it evoke anything interesting like a post-modern desolate landscape of harsh, gutsy realities transferred to the perfume medium? No. It still feels like they put too much cheap white musk in the bottle to please the most brainless teenage crowds they could imagine. Is it a hook? Is it a motif? It feels more like a vulgar populist hook as after a while Parlez-Moi d'Amour goes back to the standards of decent perfumery by cultivating an orb-like arcature. The dissonance becomes more interesting because subtler. Finally, the fragrance manages to smell of something that was worth trying to bottle. It is a slightly off-beat bluekberry-rose-musk accord which offers a different tonality. The blueberry note dares being a bit overripe, the white amber and vanilla tone down the harshness of the white musks. It ends up smelling quite perfect for the teenage crowd which both likes to play it safe and feel they are being a little dangerous and daring. Parlez-Moi d'Amour is Goth and rosy at the same time. Like Taylor Momsen's persona it betrays a love of dark makeup and atmosphere tempered by the sight of inoffensive, child-like fruit-smelling cheeks.
To be fair, and where musky blueberry accords are concerned, inspired by L'Artisan Parfumeur Mûre et Musc (Blackberry and Musk), it smells great. I would go as far as saying that there is a certain delicacy to the floral and green blueberry accord, but that it remains to be draped in more sophisticated guise. The drydown smells more like blueberries on warm waffles. In a context where white musk based perfumes have become more artistic and elaborate, this one feels like the trailing end of the noisy white-musk perfume indebted to the body splash. The cypress note which was reportedly used for a rock 'n roll touch lends a discreet foresty touch but to the nose, it feels like the blunt edge of unrefined white musks is enough to convey a bit of a punk attitude. The perfume is on the linear side, visibly taking inspiration from the scent of toiletry products and perfume oils. When encountered in an Olay shower product, it smells like a treat. When experienced in a Galliano, higher-end product, it feels like it is not really worh the detour nor the price, except if you like the bottle, the ad, Taylor Momsen, rosy-hued blueberries, white musk, all packaged into one convenient product.