Lady Gaga Eau de Gaga (2014) {Perfume Review & Musings} {Celebrity Fragrance}


Lady Gaga Eau de Gaga Reviewed by Chantal-Hélène Wagner on .The latest fragrance by Lady Gaga is more Low-Key than expected. Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Lady Gaga's latest Eau de Gaga {also here} begs the question: what is it with celebrity fragrances lately? Many of them seem to want to appear sexless and in order to accomplish this hermaphrodite metamorphosis, they turn to fougère or pseudo-fougère accords - a combination of notes which evokes the atmosphere of an old-fashioned barbershop like the one you may still encounter at La Flamme in Harvard Square...

While Eau de Gaga is given as a woody floral citrus created by perfumer Ursula Wandel of Givaudan, it conveys also this men's toiletry scent we're all familiar with. Feminine celebrity figures have been interested in this gender-bending nuance more recently as has Pharrell Williams with his new GIRL perfume.

The first time I noticed an unadvertised fougère accord in a mass-scale celebrity opus was for Avon Viva by Fergie (2012) which aimed to be about "empowerment" and play "with the masculine and feminine boundaries in a woman." Celeb scents are normally not meant to be too challenging from the outset since they are by essence destined to be as wildly popular as possible, except for some lower-key works more at home in the niche market like Etat Libre d'Orange Like This by Tilda Swinton (2010).

Fougères or virile barbershop sillages are however this paradox: they are both extremely ubiquitous - and even banal - yet rare in a celebrity fragrance bottle for women. Sarah Jessica Parker Covet knowingly broke this unspoken code by proposing a "fougère on estrogen" in 2007.

If Lenthéric Tweed was as early as 1933 a fougère for the gentle sex, these brisk, morning notes have come to be associated with a splash of after-shave in the male face rather than with an undulating siren-like presence. Yet, in the current Zeitgeist where a Conchita Wurst is deemed a consensual TV personality while being against the grain still - with just enough of the underdog flavor to woo millions - you know that an undulating and scintillating lamé can go hand in hand with a heart-shaped beard itself mimicking a five o'clock shadow.

Lady Gaga has amply used drag queen aesthetics for her performance art, so it's no suprise to see her launch a self-conscious perfume about gender code breaking except that it smells as neutral as the odor of a blank white canvas on which anyone can project any kind of gender they want to be in their heads and bodies. This is pure demagogy.

Eau de Gaga is launched in 2014 with the motto published on the Twitter account of Haus Laboratories, the singer's fragrance brand, as "Strong masculine lines meet the sensual curves of a woman." To emphasize the message of gender emancipation, it says that it,

...holds the heart of a white violet; an intoxicating flower that creates a fragrance not bound by gender

To top off this mass de-genderizing operation, Lady Gaga, who I think is good at conceptual art and knows her following, proclaims through her fragrance house mouthpiece that Eau de Gaga "celebrates all sexes," which is going a step further in recognizing how the contemporary discourse and practice of gender have become multi-layered and criss-crossing rather than taboo and marginal. You can only notice that there is more and more creativity in gender definitions and self-definitions in contemporary democratic societies, if not in more authoritarian regimes and communities where you can still get killed for these types of transgressions.

So, how does Eau de Gaga smell in and of itself and outside of more general categories?

To my nose, if it does indeed fulfill its gender-breaking promise, it is however also obviously not "an exploration of luxury and glamour," except at best in an ironic way. The bottle mimics black-tie chic and the codes of sleek, minimalist perfumery which says that the bottle ought to self-efface before the scent itself.

The perfume itself is rather thin with a marked citrusy facet - lime, but it could be any kind of lemon. It is also pretty clean, in a window-cleaning product kind of way. It evokes the phrase "squeaky clean" which unfortunately will tend also to make you think it's an exploration not of luxury and glamour but of efficacious cleaning products and high-rise glass sparkle.

There is some ambergris effect which could be seen as a note of luxury but only if you stretch your imagination as the fragrance feels pretty synthetic in a cheap way, rather than in an interesting way. The only slightly interesting nuance I detect are aromatic, herbal nuances.

Going back to the idea of an exploration of luxury, consider that the composition features an accord of sparkling water which is arguably a luxury item in a world where you still need to build wells for some communitites.

Eau de Gaga ends on a note of Earl Grey tea and so, to some extent, it is also a tea-like fragrance.

The only "exploration of luxury and glamour" I can think of as I smell this rather neutral potion is the discreet scent of crisp bank notes, the ones that are going to pile up thanks to the adoring following of the singer. The lesson offered here is: how to make money with a low cost fragrance which is not luxurious per se, just an exploration of the idea of luxury, you know, yes? You can already foresee it is going to be mostly about the exploration of deluxe sales figures.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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