Dear Scent Diary,
There are enough rose fragrances I dislike that if sniffed in a row, one would conclude that I have a hate on for rose. Which is what I honestly thought for a while. But I’ve discovered that there are also enough rose fragrances I absolutely love that if sniffed in a row, you’d come away thinking that I’m a huge fan of rose. Tricky business this rose note.
One of the perfumes I place firmly in the ‘love’ column is Agent Provocateur’s first and signature scent, Agent Provocateur. I don’t live in a country where the brand actively advertises, so I had no preconceived notions when I took my first sniff. I believe I vaguely knew it was a lingerie company, maybe “Victoria’s Secret-ish” is what I’d probably have told you.
Agent Provocateur starts with a blast of dark, deep, oily rose, almost black, that second by second gets sweeter and more tangy as it dries. This is not a sheer fragrance – it is a potent and strong, take-no-prisoners type of scent. I expect this kind of quality from Amouage and Serge Lutens, but not from a mass lingerie brand, so it had my attention right away.
As it dries down, the rose melds with saffron and cedar to give it a more abstract, aromatic impression that’s deep, dense and gorgeous. It throws like crazy and I find the projected scent a bit cleaner than what you smell up close. Still, the waft is dark and aromatic with all the notes creating a cedary, mentholated rose feeling. That aromatic quality of the silage gives it a freshness that keeps the scent from being too heavy. A beautiful evening fragrance for me.
When I sat down to start writing about Agent Provocateur, I acquainted myself with the brand’s imagery. Um, whoa! Coupled with the brand’s blatant, ornately sexual aesthetic, the perfume takes on a sultry, bad ass sexiness. Before I associated the scent with french maid ‘playsuits’ and disco pasties, I would have compared it to such sophisticated fragrances as Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady. Now, what? Portrait of a Lady of the Evening?
Since scent is blind, I’ll go with my initial impression. It’s a high quality, dark, aromatic rose fragrance with a wonderful sillage and incredible longevity. If you prefer your roses soft, simple or fresh, you won’t like Agent Provocateur. If you like them edgy, dark and sultry, you can join me in the ‘love it’ corner, prudishly trying to forget it’s associated with the image above.