The first impression, dispersed in thousands of droplets - the nuzzle works really well - is very aerial. Next enters the jasmine which is sufficiently fruity, sweet and indolic. These attributes however have been made to feel paler. You can recognize the personality traits of the flower, but they are not full-blown and in-your-face as the scent of jasmine on a summer night is wont to be; "exotic" usually means the south and warmth. Warmth amplifies fragrances.
At this point you have to decide whether it is because the fragrance developers were money-pinching or if it is a willed artistic effect? The answer is, it is both. The Halle Berry brand presented Exotic Jasmine as a "floral fougère" for women. They were not therefore obligated to create a sultry composition heavy on an expensive floral ingredient despite the appealing name of the fragrance which recalls some mass-market classics like Jungle Gardenia (1950) or Tea Rose (1975), which based their enduring attraction on a simple solifloral charm, an effective advertizement relying on mother-nature's charisma...
In a fougère, a man's perfume in principle, there is lavender which is going to cool down the composition, you can assume. According to the Société française des parfumeurs - which does not list "floral fougère" in its list of sub-categories for fougères while they propose a "fruity fougère" - a fougère is "This imaginary name which does not claim to represent a fern fragrance, consists of a blend generally made up of lavender, woody, oak moss, coumarin, and bergamot notes" [sic]
For Halle Berry Fragrances, "Halle Berry's Exotic Jasmine fragrance perfectly marries the opposing perfume facets from traditional fougere accord with a feminine blend of florals,"
For this reviewer, what is the most noteworthy feature of the fragrance turns out not to be the floral-fougère aspect, which is toned down, as the very tantalizing musk cocktail the noses included in the perfume.
What you get is a soft and sweet jasmine paired with subliminal hints of aftershave and tobacco blending in an easy-to-wear and seductive skin scent. This is the rub of a fougère perfume on your skin, not a fougère per se. The magic happens above the skin. It smells very good in the air around you. And here I promise I read the following just now as I was looking up the name of the perfumer, David Apel from Symrise, who explained his creative choices for the juice,
“I created a scent that combines two particular intriguing facets of Jasmine that most appeal to me. First, the intoxicating scent of Jasmine in the air, both opulent and transparent at once. Then, the seductive effect of Jasmine on skin, transporting the wearer to a mystical, sensual place.” This duality perfectly captures Halle’s own fascinating combination of classic beauty and smoldering allure."
What is interesting about Exotic Jasmine is its adaptation aspect, to modern times and a particular context. There is an intention to rework the jasmine soliflore theme. A creative constraint might have been Halle's pregnancy. She hints at it when she says, “I’m enjoying such a beautiful, pure moment in my life, Jasmine is such a timeless, beautiful floral note, and I loved the way the perfumer interpreted it as a modern take on a classic ingredient."
Like for Miller Harris Coeur d'Eté, a perfume created while Lyn Harris was pregnant, Exotic Jasmine ends up on a meaningful note of skin, something acceptable to the hyper sensitive nose of a woman expecting a child. This explains also the toned-down aspects of the perfume, which if they will leave big-floral lovers asking for more, might please those who are more after office-friendly scents with a discreet yet undeniable sensual, halo-like aura. That is, if they can overcome the slightly headache-inducing component of the perfume which is there for this reviewer. This is so despite the fact that, yes, the perfume motifs have been refined in a style approximating that of Daniela Andrier's Infusion series for Prada. The jasmine reveals a kindred spirit to the lighter mimosa, a fetish note for Halle Berry whose signature scent originally was Mimosa pour Moi by L'Artisan Parfumeur.
All in all I'd recommend it as a noteworthy skin perfume with a particularly aerial floral component which whispers "modern" rather than shouts it. It's all a behind-the-scenes affair in this case, as is a trademark of perfumery. It reminds you of what the Daily Mail reports about the royal etiquette comparing it to a cool and collected swan gliding gracefully on the surface of a pond while underneath its feet are paddling vigorously and even furiously to create the illusion of grace.
Notes: violet leaf, neroli, airy cyclamen, jasmine sambac, plumeria blossom, fluid hedione, white cedar, soft vetiver, skin musk.
An earlier press release listed the following notes: Wild raspberry, waterlily, an ozonic accord, a fougère accord, violet flowers, mimosa, cedarwood, vanilla bean, mahogany wood and cashmere musk.