Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum : Perfume Review

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Paloma_picasso

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

A woman who wears Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum is most certainly not a wallflower. Even the first impression of this fragrance banishes any thoughts to the contrary. The lemony brightness of hedione and the green richness of the floral accord do not hide the animalic warmth and honeyed patchouli foiling the heart of this distinctive composition. The Paloma Picasso woman is not a delicate waif nor is she an inaccessible ice queen. Mon Parfum is a smoldering beauty, with its masculine touches evoking the olfactory equivalent of a perfectly tailored tuxedo suit rather than a skintight dress. …

Mon Parfum (1984) was created by perfumer Francis Bocris for Paloma Picasso, the jewelry designer and daughter of renowned artist Pablo Picasso. The fragrance not only captures the vivacious and dramatic glamour of its muse, but also the spirit of its time. The ornate and voluptuous composition takes its inspiration from both the classical fruity chypres like Christian Dior Diorella (1972) and warm rose-patchouli blends like Clinique Aromatics Elixir (1972) and Jean Couturier Coriandre (1973.) If the initial impression of Paloma Picasso gives a hint of its ravishing animalic beauty, then as the composition develops and gains in ambery and mossy tones, its seductive quality deepens.

The fragrance manages to retain a marvelous balance between its rich and ornate elements, presenting a strong signature and distinctive character. As a result, while being a true child of the 1980s, Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum does not feel dated. Its luxurious woody base touched with leathery sweetness has just the sensual animalic effect that the lovers of niche perfumery seek out in fragrances like Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit and L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!. Its intriguing interplay between austere dryness and honeyed richness would appeal to women who are tired of the currently fashionable pink and meek perfumes. Although there exist some modern fragrances such as Agent Provocateur, Sisley Soir de Lune and Lalique Perles de Lalique inspired by Paloma Picasso, none match its voluptuous beauty and take-no-prisoners demeanor.

Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum includes notes of bergamot, lemon, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, clove, angelica root, iris, jasmine, lily of the valley, mimosa, coriander, rose, cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, castoreum, vetiver, oakmoss, civet, musk, tobacco. The current version of Mon Parfum does not have the pronounced honeyed animalic touch of the original due to the restrictions on the use of animalic materials such as castoreum. However, the original composition had so much character that even the reformulation was not able to detract too much from its allure. If you are looking for an older bottle, I would highly recommend the splash flacon in white glass (used for the parfum.) The round black bottle in glass is usually used for the Eau de Parfum. Plastic encased flacons are of much more recent vintage. An excellent genealogy of bottles is available from Ventesuroffres (courtesy of Dmitri.)

Paloma Picasso advertisement from Parfum de Pub.

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50 Comments

  • Flora: Oh, I always loved this one although I cannot wear it! It was made for the woman I wish I was and not the one I actually am. I am edging closer to being one who COULD wear it, though at the rate I am going I will be too old by then…

    Still, I admire its bravura, and I always take the opportunity to sniff it when I have the chance.

    Interesting that you should mention Soir de Lune in connection with this – I fell totally in love with that a few months ago, and I can’t get it off my mind. Unfortunately, neither can I afford it at the moment. It does have a depth and power, but it’s softer than the Paloma. More like me I guess, and I believe I could wear it very well. March 28, 2007 at 1:04am Reply

  • Gail S: Oh, I wish you wouldn’t do things like this to me! My sister wore this in the 80’s and I hated it. Hated, hated, hated. Actually, I didn’t like any of the same perfumes she did and thought she had horrible taste. So now here I am becoming all (semi)educated and snobby about perfume and I read this and it sounds soooo good. Guess I’ll have to try it again (but I’m not telling my sister!). March 28, 2007 at 2:11am Reply

  • Leoness: Gail, I think knowing what you like (and don’t like) is what’s important. You don’t have to like this particular perfume (and you don’t have to dislike it, for that matter). Let us know what you think after you give it another try! March 28, 2007 at 3:33am Reply

  • Judith: I adore this–especially in the parfum! In fact, inspired by you, I think I will wear it today! March 28, 2007 at 5:42am Reply

  • Juliette: I tested the original extrait from the glass bottle; the quintessence of the 80’s bad taste in perfume, painfully artificial smelling and headache inducing. I also tested the parfum from the plastic purse version, it was a little bit better, darker, smokier and a nice citrucy opening.
    Except for Nombre Noir, perfumes from the 80’s were the extension of bossy women with strong personalities; wearing Paloma Picasso was like being an overtly confident woman who has too much character wearing a perfume that has too much of that too! March 28, 2007 at 5:48am Reply

  • Dusan: Ooh, I love PP. I remember being absolutely blown away by this dark beauty when my cousin Daniela came back from France in 1984 (I was 7 at the time) to live with us. It had (that is, she had, wearing it) an aura of mystery and subterranean sophistication, and you are right, there is a heft of masculinity in it, not unlike Youth Dew Amber Nude. Thanks for the review, Vika!
    On another note, what do you think about Silver Shadow, Kurkdjian’s work for Davidoff?
    P.S. I’m expecting Chergui to arrive tomorrow 😀 March 28, 2007 at 6:16am Reply

  • Elle: I absolutely adore this scent. I’ve been stalking ebay for some time now for the parfum. I hadn’t thought to make sure it was glass, not plastic – thanks for the info! I really am tired of the “pink and meek perfumes.” Love that description of them. 🙂 March 28, 2007 at 7:34am Reply

  • Marina: Love the scent and your review, as always! I would have ran now to spray Mon Parfum, but I am already reeking of something else 🙂 March 28, 2007 at 8:30am Reply

  • Jennifer: This is the last scent my mother and father picked out for her before she died, I don’t know if I will ever smell the dynamics of this scent without having a lot of emotional pain to go with it. March 28, 2007 at 11:05am Reply

  • Flor: I love this scent and used to wear it more often. It’s a beautiful, dark fragrance and I loved your review. I have the parfum and it is lovely, although very similar to the EDP of yore. I have no idea what the new EDP smells like now. I recently got the stopper loose on my parfum due to a very helpful article on Perfume Posse (hair dryer). Now I can wear it again – happiness! March 28, 2007 at 11:15am Reply

  • Madelyn E: Dear V,
    One day in a New Jersey. Bloomingdale’s in 1964 – a SA gave me a spritz of Paloma Picasso. Near or about 30 seconds later – it was mine – purchased . safely secured in my bag = and mow – in my heart.
    I love this one. It is a gorgeous heady , intoxicating essence of femininity and confidence.
    Thank you for doing this review – as I wore this one onn and off for sine that fateful spring day in 1984.
    BTW, Coriandre, Cliniqur Aromatics ,Diorama = and now Soir de Lune all ggive me that same “scented” rush. March 28, 2007 at 11:24am Reply

  • Robin: I have never tried anything by PP — do any brick n mortar stores in the US carry the line these days? March 28, 2007 at 1:16pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: My mother used to wear this – it’s so rich and distinctive. It reminds me of the original Miss Dior. March 28, 2007 at 1:30pm Reply

  • minette: thanks for reminding me to revisit this – i have the edp in the black plastic-glass combo bottle. it does take some nerve to wear, but i enjoy it. i also like her minotaure and tentations. i thought diorama was from the ’40s – was there a reformulation of it in the ’60s? March 28, 2007 at 2:48pm Reply

  • AHTX: Oh my. You are bolstering my secret affair with those two Great Ladies of the 80’s, Paloma and Coco. I’ve been surprised by my love since the 1980’s were a decade that made me sure I hated all perfume. I sprayed on some Coco a month ago and my knees went weak. It’s too strong for my S.O. but I wear it to bed to please myself, especially when he’s away! It was Columbina’s tribute to PMP that sent me out of the cyberworld and over to the nether world of my local mall (I live in the wrong part of town for perfume–I was the sole shopper). The S.A. said–“This one’s really old.” (Ha! I suppose when you are 22 the mid-80’s seem like a long time ago!)Then and now I thought: Wow. This Perfume with a Capital P. Just snagged a bit of the parfum on Ebay! March 28, 2007 at 3:57pm Reply

  • MJ: Dear Victoria,
    I have been enjoying your reviews for a little over a year now. I always wondered what you would say about Paloma Picasso. In my youth I was lucky (and spendthrift) enough to buy myself a full length black female mink coat. I remember asking the sales person at Marshall Field’s in Chicago if she could recommend a perfume to wear with mink. I’ve never liked sweet frangrances. I bought myseld Paloma a small bottle of the perfume. My husband adored me it the frangrance. It instantly brings back memories of champagne, beautiful clothes, cold winter evenings on the town and sex. March 28, 2007 at 7:37pm Reply

  • Karin: A friend of mine wore it, but her dh didn’t like it. I thought it was quite interesting and unique on her. (She’s the only one I knew who wore it, or the only time I ever smelled it on anyone.) It’s one to wear with a light hand. I don’t know how the perfume compares to the edp.

    Karin
    http://www.savvythinker.com March 28, 2007 at 9:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Flora, it definitely has the bravura. It is rare to find a fragrance these days that truly does. March 29, 2007 at 11:48am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Gail, I try to revisit fragrances that I used to dislike at some point, and in a few cases, I grew to love them. Our tastes change all the time, especially since we try and explore all ranges of scents. Do give it a go! I would love to hear what you think about it now. March 29, 2007 at 12:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Leoness, it is true, but it is always a good idea to challenge oneself a bit. 🙂 March 29, 2007 at 12:04pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, ah, wonderful! I am glad to inspire you. March 29, 2007 at 12:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Juliette, nothing wrong with women who have strong personalities, from what I can tell. March 29, 2007 at 12:14pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, I have not tried Silver Shadow? I am not even sure if it is in the US at this point. I will check. March 29, 2007 at 1:53pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, white glass bottle is what I would recommend above all. The black glass bottle is usually used for the EDP, but it is very good too. The EDT is the later edition. I like it, but I miss the rich animalic accord of the EDP and parfum. March 29, 2007 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Dusan: Ok, but make sure it is the original SS because Davidoff has recently launched a flanker called SS Altitude, which I haven’t tried. Also, you’ll find there are 2 concentrations of SS: EdT and EdP, the latter of which is supposed to be richer, but I never tested it.
    Or I could just send you a sample? 🙂 March 29, 2007 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Juliette: Nothing wrong with women with strong personalities lol
    it ‘s just that PP reminds me of bossy women, “Working girl” of the 80’s when everything was about power statement (today it ‘s media dictatorship of body image obssession, much worse!)
    that said I would definitely recommend PP to women who have no personality and character! March 29, 2007 at 4:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, thank you! It is such a special fragrance. March 29, 2007 at 5:14pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Jennifer, I know that it is difficult to let go of memories associated with scent. I have a few perfumes like this too. March 29, 2007 at 5:15pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Flor, the new EDP is less animalic, a bit plasticky in the base, but overall, it is still very good. I highly recommend trying it. March 29, 2007 at 5:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Madelyn, “It is a gorgeous heady , intoxicating essence of femininity and confidence”–definitely! It is one of the best fragrances from the 1980s. No coincidence that Michael Edwards calls it the perfume legend and devotes a large chapter to it. March 29, 2007 at 5:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I do not believe that I have. I have only seen it in France. March 29, 2007 at 5:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elizabeth, it has that dry chypre quality, but then PP is very ornate. I find it fascinating. March 29, 2007 at 5:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Minette, Minotaure is not my favourite, but I like Tentations. As for Diorama, I think that it was reissued in the 1990s, but originally it was launched in 1949. I was speaking of Diorella above. March 29, 2007 at 5:26pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, I admit that I cannot wear many 1980s classics (Coco is among them, even though I adore it on others). However, the masculine touches of PP make it wearable for me. March 29, 2007 at 5:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: MJ, what a fantastic recollection! Thank you very much for sharing. As someone who lived several years in Chicago where I went to college, I could just imagine the feeling of fur on a cold winter day. 🙂 March 29, 2007 at 5:31pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Karin, a light hand is a must with PP! March 29, 2007 at 5:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dusan, thank you, if it is the original, then I can easily find it. Thank you very much for your recommendation!

    Enjoy Chergui! 🙂 March 29, 2007 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Dusan: No prob, but if you cannot find it or you change your mind, the offer still stands. 🙂
    Chergui’s late 🙁 but it shouldn’t arrive later than Sunday. Thanks for the wish, though 🙂 I’ll let you know when it comes…
    Hugs March 29, 2007 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Divina: Thank you for this review… I have been waiting for it for a looong time, believe it or not. My favorite perfumes are of this sort…I call them “femme fatale” perfumes, and Paloma Picasso is one of my 3 favorites. I wear Paloma Picasso often, but especially before heading to difficult meetings. It accentuates my strength and resolve in those times and makes people all the more aware of them. Thank you! I hope to see more of my favorites reviewed in the future! April 1, 2007 at 5:13am Reply

  • Ivoire: This scent is a staple of my collection – one of the *very* few staples of my collection. I haven’t worn it in ages, but it will always be a part of ME.

    I am rather surprised to see it characterised in such “tough” terms, though… 😉
    A “tailored tuxedo” would never enter my mind. From the first moment I sniffed it (my father bought it for me in the late 80s)I always associated it with vibrant femininity – sexy and bright and humorous and thoroughly modern, yet unmistakably feminine in its allure. Very uplifting and “feel-good” (to me, at least) – and, interestingly, somewhat (very much, in fact) akin to Jean-Louis Scherrer, one of THE uplifting perfumes of all times.

    It has to be worn in very small quantities – but the impression it makes will likely be indelible. April 5, 2007 at 5:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Divina, my pleasure! Femme fatale is just right. I think of Mon Parfum this way too. April 5, 2007 at 7:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ivoire, have you ever seen Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo suits? They are feminine, yet with an edge. Ditto Mon Parfum. And yes, in constrast to what dominates the market now, it is very tough, which is a good thing in my book. April 5, 2007 at 7:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ivoire, have you ever seen Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo suits? They are feminine, yet with an edge. That is what I envision when wearing Mon Parfum. And yes, in constrast to what dominates the market now, it is very tough, which is a good thing in my book. April 5, 2007 at 7:22pm Reply

  • Gaia: I’m terribly late to the party, but I just had to comment. PP was my signature fragrance when I was 19. Back then I tried to have this larger than life persona, and Paloma was just that. I loved it dearly. I finished my last bottle over 15 years ago and haven’t tried it since. I was afraid to even think of this scent, but now I absolutely have to. Thanks for reviewing this and for sending me back to 1989. April 14, 2007 at 12:26am Reply

  • Ivoire: Oh, hello again – I am sorry for being such a tardy correspondent! I never thought there’d be an answer..;)

    Yes, I’ve seen the YSL tux. It’s lovely, though I prefer other YSL creations. (And other designers, for that matter.)
    Anyway, I see your point.

    And now I am off again, to explore some more…
    You have a lovely site! 😉 April 30, 2007 at 6:28pm Reply

  • ken: i liked the edp (interesting animalic chypre) and i subsequently bought the white frosted glass parfum as well. but the parfum made me sneeze and gave me a headache. tread gently on this one…. May 28, 2012 at 3:27am Reply

  • Sarah: I just bought a bottle of Paloma Picasso and as soon as I opened her I was immediately transported back to the 80’s when I wore her for the first time, so many memories; I was in my early 20’s working in the City of London, she makes me think of decadence and glamour, shoulder pads and for me she represents the decade like no other, all in one sniff.

    I read the comments above and the fur, well to me fur doesn’t represent glamour, it’s trashy and tarty and barbaric but the woman that came into the cafe every day and drank coffee and smoked cigarillo’s; wow! What a wonderful memory! It so perfectly sums up PP, I can picture this elegant, exotic beauty, mysterious and chic! What was she doing there everyday, what did she think about, what was her life like, where is she now! So romantic and elegant, I love it!

    Someone else mentions ‘bossy women’ I find that quite offensive, as if women should only be meek and mild!? I think charismatic and individual women is a better fit, she’s no wall flower and that’s why I love PP, she is bold and bright, sultry and seductive, she represents the woman you want to be or maybe already are, as I think this is a scent for women who are confident and don’t follow the crowd! They don’t blend in but don’t scream for attention, they know what they like and they wear her to please themselves not others. I love her animalistic quality, her strength, she’s a leader not a follower and in a decade where there are so many insipid, watery or sickly sweet florals her beauty is even more of a revelation! I am so glad I found her again! She makes me think of beautiful brunettes with red lips, of strength of mind, sophistication and single mindedness, she is a strong scent for strong women and that’s something I applaud November 30, 2012 at 3:55am Reply

  • Sarah: Apologies the comment about the mystery woman was from another site:

    http://yesterdaysperfume.typepad.com/yesterdays_perfume/2010/01/paloma-picasso-mon-parfum-1984.html November 30, 2012 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Poppy: I was reading through the reviews of 5-star perfumes and imagine my surprise to find this long-ago favorite of mine! Shockingly I wore it in high school (I must have fancied myself a very sophisticated teenager). I found a bottle online and ordered it right away – I hope I like it as much now as I did then. I’m sure once I wear it it will bring back some fantastic memories. May 9, 2014 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Kimberly Losch: This has been my signature scent since it came out in 1984. Up until that point, I wore very girlish scents, but the minute I smelled Paloma Picasso, it defined womanhood for me. Over the years, I have tried other fragrances, but I always return to my signature scent! December 19, 2015 at 4:54pm Reply

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