Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

I might be influenced by the description of Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose noting that Ralf Schwieger’s aim was to create a scent conjuring a woman who is half Gilda, half Silvana Mangano, but every time I put it on I envision Mangano, a sultry voluptuous Italian actress singing “Hay! Tengo ganas de bailar Un nuevo compas…” in her film from 1951 “Anna”. Intended to imitate the old-fashioned scent of lipstick, Lipstick Rose (2000) is indeed a fragrance that makes me want to pull out my tube of Chanel Coco Red. The blend of roses and violets exudes a classic femininity and elegance. It is not a fragrance that is sultry in the sense of Guerlain Nahéma or Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle, however it is unmistakably an alluring scent. It is slightly powdery initially, however the powderiness lightens once vetiver lends its earthy note. Raspberry note is quite obvious in the drydown, and it saturates the base with a sweet glow. Lipstick Rose is hardly a modern take on a rose, however occasionally it strikes me that its vintage image borders on self-conscious.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Drôle de Rose (1996), provides a similar treatment of the rose, ornamenting it with violet and raspberry. Between these two, I would choose Lipstick Rose, because its richness makes the vintage reference quite appealing, whereas in the case of Drôle de Rose, the less voluptuous body leads to an overwhelming powdery sweetness.

Photo: Silvana Mangano (1921-1989), actress of Italy’s neo-realistic period.

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  • parislondres: Hello V! Lovely review but I sadly never quite took to this perfume. It turns incredibly sweet and cloying on me.

    Hope you are well.

    xoxo August 3, 2005 at 5:42am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I already wrote on monday (?) about my feelings concerning Lipstick Rose. I find your description of Lipstick Rose to be very to the point! It´s a fragrance that you can only wear when you´re in a certain mood. I associate it with the younger sister of a femme fatale 😉 August 3, 2005 at 6:24am Reply

  • Victoria: Dear N, it is rather powdery and sweet, which only works for me sporadically. For this reason, it is not a favourite, although I still like it.

    Hope that your day is going well too!

    Dear C, younger sister of a femme fatale is a great description. Last night, I really craved it, but as I told parislondres, it does not happen all that often. August 3, 2005 at 9:30am Reply

  • Tania: It really does bring to mind those old-fashioned lipsticks. Unfortunately, for me, that means it also brings to mind my old childhood aversion to the approaching, fuchsia puckers of countless visiting aunts. It’s another one I appreciate without wanting to wear at all. August 3, 2005 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: T, your comment made me think of something only marginally related. In a Russian/Ukrainian tradition, it is customary to give three kisses on the cheek when either saying hello or good bye. Nowadays, the number of kisses always confuses me, because some friends I have give only one kiss (tend to be Americans) and others (Europeans, South Americans) give two kisses. Still, some just embrace, no kisses on the cheek. I constantly mix up who prefers what. If I give a Russian friend only one kiss, they assume that I am becoming too Americanized. If I give an American friend three kisses, they tend think that it is my ‘exotic’ European side, but it never fails to puzzle them. August 3, 2005 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Laura: Darling V, face it. You are an international enigma. The new Mona Lisa. So get ready for posing (NOT nude!) when you get back.
    L August 3, 2005 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: Dear L, you made me choke on my tea, which was certainly not Mona Lisa-like. I would certainly enjoy posing for an artist of your talent!
    xoxo August 3, 2005 at 1:22pm Reply

  • julien: Hello Dear Victoria.

    If you have had the chance to once smell and test the guerlain Perfume “Les météorites”,taken from the same name of the mark of make up,you will know that Lipstick Rose and the guerlain fragance truly smell the same:make up powder of romantic flowers sophistication…with something i find more lolita and girly in the MALLE scent.
    But it’s always the same image that comes to my mind for both: a beatiful woman in old times,looking herself in the mirror,touching her face with rice perfumed powder,making her own make up…

    I think it is the one which can only be worn by women.

    Don’t you think so?

    Kisses and thanks for the post.

    P.S: i went yesterday to the MALLE boutique rue de grennelle,now i talk a lot with one of the wonderful woman who woks in there( she is more than competent,a truly intelligent and passionning person,gentle and beautiful),and i told her about your blog…
    Yes,i am making some publicity!lol
    Hope lots of people would read you more and more.

    Kisses dear.
    Julien. August 3, 2005 at 6:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: Dear Julien, what a great image! I have some older formulations of Guerlain lipstick, and it definitely smells somewhat like Lipstick Rose–powdery violet and rose. I should to smell my Les Météorites powder again. I never seem to use it these days for some reason.

    I think that Lipstick Rose is rather feminine, but it may be because I envision a very particular image smelling it. Then again in the Middle East, it is common for men to wear rose-based fragrances. All of these divisions are rather arbitrary. For instance, I think that Caron Acaciosa makes a great scent for a man. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate you wanting to spread the word, so to speak. 🙂 It is very nice of you!
    xoxo August 3, 2005 at 7:45pm Reply

  • julien: The pleasure is mine.
    But i didn’t know men in the middle east wear roses’fragances.
    I knew that in orient,people have a truly different conception of perfumes and even men wear strong scents,but what you told me,i didn’t know that.
    Thank you,for the information.
    Kisses. August 4, 2005 at 5:05am Reply

  • Campaspe: Waves, dear! I so seldom disagree with you, but alas, Drole des Roses was an absolute horror to me … cheap, plasticky, like a rose air freshener dangling from a cabbie’s rear-view mirror. I am not a L’Artisan fan but this was one the only one that struck me as poorly composed, just a wretched scent. I was so surprised I even re-visited it, and found I truly cannot abide it. 🙁

    I did quite like Lipstick Rose, on the other hand. I agree that it’s almost affected, if a perfume can have that quality; like someone wearing a vintage hat with a veil to a Film Forum double feature. (did I ever do that? maybe).

    As for the three-kiss thing – that is a Lebanese tradition as well, and I am laughing. I remember you greeting me with the 3-kiss thing once and thinking, “oh, that’s so sweet of her to do it the Lebanese way, in honor of DH.” LOLOL! August 4, 2005 at 12:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: Waving back! I do not care for Drole de Rose because of that thin quality, but I notice some similarities. Lipstick Rose is certainly done much better. I love vintage, as you know, therefore it is definitely very appealing to me.

    LOL! I did not realize that in Lebanon three kiss thing is common too. Well, I suppose, the more kisses the better. 🙂 August 4, 2005 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Anya: I love this fun, girly, playtime scent. It is definitely stylized, old-timey and only slightly vampy. Definitely something a woman would wear to feel playfully seductive, not seriously seductive, IMO. The double powerhouse of rose and violet, in equal strength, is something you rarely see. That lasted about 20-30 minutes on me. The middle raspberry didn’t really emerge — it seemed sort of ambery and sweet on me. The vetiver drydown was obviously synthetic, the babypowder type of vetiver. I find that part boring. More rose! More violet!

    I’m going to mix some violet flower FO I have with a rose extract TBD. I’ll put some more on later and deconstruct the rose to determine the specie, whether it’s an absolute, otto, etc. There’s probably a little synth in there, too, but I’ll have fun with just a rose + violet combo. Thanks for the inspiration, SL, and than you, V., for sharing this decant. September 1, 2005 at 5:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I am glad that you are enjoying it! The top notes are really wonderful, and I would love to try your own perfume using violet and rose. I can only imagine how amazing it might be. Please let me know whether you will figure out the type of rose FM uses. September 1, 2005 at 7:44pm Reply

  • Malle Lipstick Rose EDP Perfume Review | EauMG: […] Bois de Jasmin […] February 14, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

  • Ann Gerard Rose Cut : Perfume Review: […] through its development. Imagine a less serious Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin or a more bookish Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, with similar impressive […] April 21, 2014 at 7:05am Reply

  • Sheila: There is no scent like roses. January 17, 2015 at 9:09pm Reply

  • Marios: Hi Victoria,
    I want to buy for my wife a frederic malle perfume but i dont know which one to choose. i want something truly feminine, alluring and seductive. can you please help me? give me 2-3 to choose, tnx for you help
    Marios October 30, 2015 at 3:53am Reply

  • Pembersih Muka: I love this fun, girly, playtime scent. It is definitely stylized, old-timey and only slightly vampy. Definitely something a woman would wear to feel playfully seductive, not seriously seductive, IMO. The double powerhouse of rose and violet, in equal strength, is something you rarely see. That lasted about 20-30 minutes on me. The middle raspberry didn’t really emerge — it seemed sort of ambery and sweet on me. The vetiver drydown was obviously synthetic, the babypowder type of vetiver. I find that part boring. More rose! More violet! May 16, 2016 at 10:35pm Reply

  • Lee Ann: This will be my new signature scent (in spite of the price tag)! I had a perfume that I absolutely loved, and that I wore for years,
    but Elizabeth Arden changed the formula. I was looking for something similar… I actually googled “perfumes that smell like creamy lipstick,” and “Lipstick Rose” popped up. It’s feminine and rich, and has a bit of a mysterious quality to it in my opinion. Definitely brings back memories, and I am very much into vintage and nostalgia. The scent is velvety, and unusual. Very glad to have found “Lipstick Rose.” i was beginning to think that I was out of luck finding a new sign signature perfume! August 26, 2016 at 9:05pm Reply

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