Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Agent Provocateur, a spicy oriental rose, aimed and succeeded at conveying the same dramatic sensuality as its parent British lingerie brand. Its pairing of dark, chocolate redolent patchouli, orange tinged coriander, and honeyed roses is voluptuous, decadent and heady. On the other hand, an austere undercurrent of dry woods and mosses creates a memorable tension and an interesting interplay of cool and hot within the composition. Next to such a bombshell, other Agent Provocateur fragrances—Strip, Maîtresse, Eau Emotionnelle—seem pale and listless. L’Agent, unfortunately, does no better. It is merely a pleasant tuberose and incense twist on the idea of Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois.
Created by perfumer Christian Provenzano, the same nose who is responsible for the original Agent Provocateur (2000), L’Agent possesses the same dark moodiness as its predecessor. This character trait is perhaps the only one that ties two fragrances together. While L’Agent is marketed as a flanker (sequel) to Agent Provocateur, it is a completely new fragrance. It opens up on a bright green rose note, amplified by geranium and bright citrus. The violet tinged woods that give it a strong resemblance to Féminité du Bois unfold soon thereafter, with plum and apricot notes playing up their dark sweetness.
A strong feature of L’Agent is its rich white floral accord, which is built around jasmine and tuberose, with a hint of orange blossom. However, the drydown of the composition is mostly comprised of woods and amber. A cool twist of myrrh lends a pleasant buttery richness, while the cocktail of musks drapes the base notes in a soft, velvety veil. Despite the initial richness, L’Agent is surprisingly mild tempered, with the late drydown being disappointingly pale. While I like the opening stages of this fragrance, like many modern fragrances, it lacks an interesting and memorable drydown. Once the melody of spice and flowers vanishes, it is nothing more than a familiar tune of pale musks and sharp woods.
Agent Provocateur L’Agent includes notes of geranium, rose, jasmine, tuberose, osmanthus, davana, pink pepper, ylang ylang, rosewood, angelica, patchouli, sandalwood, amber, tonka beans, labdanum, myrrh, incense and musk. L’Agent is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum. It can be found online at Beauty.com, Nellbutler as well as from Agent Provocateur boutiques.
Sample: my own acquisition
Photo credit: Elle Espana (Spain) editorial inspired by Catherine Deneuve’s Belle de Jour, September 2009 by Mario Sierra, from idsetters.