Giorgio Armani Prive La Femme Bleue : Perfume Review

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Femmebleu

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

It has been a while since any fragrance from the Armani Privé collection captured my attention. Although many perfumes in the range are elegant and well-crafted, the inflated price makes them much less attractive to me. The only exception so far has been Bois d’Encens, a striking incense and cedarwood composition that intriguingly managed to convey the serene darkness of incense, while suggesting a glamorous aura. La Femme Bleue has been my latest surprise. Although iris has been a heavily used theme among recent niche launches—from Tom Ford Violet Blonde to Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Cheri, La Femme Bleue presents it in an unusual manner. It pairs the cool vegetal austerity of iris with the gourmand sweetness of chocolate and the somber darkness of incense, all the while retaining an uplifting sensation.

La Femme Bleue was created by perfumer Serge Majoullier who is particularly known for his work on Hermès Calèche. The reformulated version of this great Guy Robert classic called Calèche Soie de Parfum is Majoullier’s work. La Femme Bleue is not Calèche, even though it shares with it a dominant iris note, but the elegant character of this Armani fragrance hints at the same tradition that gave rise to Calèche. Although heavily embroidered with gourmand notes such as almond scented resins, chocolate and vanilla, La Femme Bleue does not degenerate into yet another “lollipop” composition. It retains a sophisticated presence from the cool floral top notes to the velvety oriental base.

The fragrance opens up on a bright accord of green citrus and violet petals, which almost immediately begin to darken as the hum of incense grows stronger. The interplay of incense and the rooty richness of iris is fascinating, and although La Femme Bleue is not the first composition to rely on this pairing, it manages to make it quite wearable. As the gourmand notes enter the chorus, the fragrance recalls the opulent warmth of Guerlain Iris Ganache. However, while Iris Ganache is heavy and dense, the olfactory equivalent of triple chocolate cake, La Femme Bleue is much more of a delicate confection. The incense tones down the sweetness of chocolate and remains a constant presence as the composition dries down.

The main drawback of La Femme Bleue is its current limited edition status, with reportedly only 1000 bottles available. The price of over $400 is another significant deterrent. This, of course, does not change the fact that the fragrance is well-crafted and harmonious, with an excellent sillage. It simply makes me irritated that yet another interesting composition will live only for a few months, while scores of nondescript copycats will persist in clogging the perfume counters.

Giorgio Armani La Femme Bleue includes notes of iris, chocolate and vanilla. It is available at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks5thAvenue and Selfridges in the UK. 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

Sample: my own acquisition

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11 Comments

  • Erin T: The price point of the Armani Privés has always irritated me, and now the limited edition thing bothers me more still! I know what you mean about the main line and Bois D’Encens, too — though I also like Christine Nagel’s Ambre Soie, which I bought in the refill – which of course, they do no longer make any longer, which is another thing to be annoyed by. I wish I had bought Bois D’Encens at the same time. The slightly cheaper Privé Eaux line also has one or two gems. I’ve always wanted to buy Rose Alexandrie.

    This one does sound interesting, but I’ll likely never get to try it because of the price point. September 8, 2011 at 10:33am Reply

  • Victoria: Erin, I also wish I bought Bois d’Encens a few years ago. I only have a large decant, which I use sparingly. Even though incense is almost a cliche for niche lines, Bois d’Encens is still my incense gold standard. September 8, 2011 at 11:21am Reply

  • silverdust: As a full-blown perfumista on a budget, I had the good fortune to get the name of http://www.theperfumedcourt.com as an outlet to try a sample of all of these types of pricey fragrances. They have Bois d’Encens, and I’d expect they’d get La Femme Bleue soon. September 8, 2011 at 11:45am Reply

  • Emma: Nothing to do with the review of this perfume but according to the site Not So Sexy, Giorgio Armani fragrances are rated the most chemically toxic on the market. Something to take in consideration… September 8, 2011 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: Since you have been exploring more organic and natural lines, which are your favorites among skincare and fragrance? September 8, 2011 at 2:44pm Reply

  • Emma: As you know, the choice of organic fragrances is very limited for now. I wish the niche market would develop more organic scents.
    I tried Aften, 100% natural scents, thought they were nice but more reminiscent of essential oils than true perfumery. I also tried Memoire Liquide which was introduced to me at Henri Bendel as an all natural organic line except that it’s not 100% natural, they use synthetic blends. They had their own Poivre which I tried first, reminded me of the reformulation of Caron Poivre, a pale spicy rose which rendition on the skin is very flat.
    I like Honore des Pres Vamp NY, Heart les Carottes and Love Coco. Vamp is a great multifaceted carefree, fun and sweet tuberose yet not overly girly, amazing sillage.
    Out of the three Heart les Carottes is the most whimsical but in a good way, it’s the joyful earthy iris sister of Lutens Iris Silver Mist. Love Coco has to be the best coconut fragrance on the market, however one has to be into coconut, I enjoy wearing my samples but not sure I’d buy a bottle. These three fragrances feel like true perfumes in their execution.

    The best all natural shampoos/conditioners are Rahua and Ctonics Passion (the latter is sold out everywhere due to raving reviews but can still be ordered online at Ctonics).
    Dr Hauschka is a classic favorite of mine for skincare, however I just discovered Absolution line at Bloomingdale’s in NY (they’re also online), great skinline Ecocert certified. I’m waiting for the release of their Rich Day Cream for dry skin in November. September 8, 2011 at 6:08pm Reply

  • Olfactoria: It is extremely irritating that beautiful, well-made perfumes are marketed as super-luxury items for a select few with enough cash if not necessarily appreciation, while the “stupid masses” are being fed with CK Shock and cohorts. Sigh.
    Loved the review, although it can only lead to heartache… 🙂 September 9, 2011 at 5:24am Reply

  • chayaruchama: I smelled this about a month ago, and was taken by its beauty-
    And taken aback by the price point.
    Much as I love it, I won’t be buying it… September 9, 2011 at 7:31am Reply

  • Suzanna: I agree with Olfactoria. It increasingly seems that we are inhabiting a perfume netherworld where we are expected to fall in line with the force-feeding of mall frags and fall away from the niche/boutique with its shocking stickers. A comparison between prices, let’s say from five years and now, is alarming. Take Carnal Flower as an example! Did it not use to retail for around $180.00 for the 100 ML? And I think I’ve mentioned Acqua di Parma Profumo as another example.

    My interest ends with the dollar sign. September 9, 2011 at 9:41am Reply

  • Samarkand: I tried it today and found the iris-encens opening very beautiful but unfortunately the drydown is very similar to Bois d’argent, at least on my skin. It is the second time I smell a perfume inspired by Bois d’Argent, the first one being Bois d’iris (Van Cleef) – even the name has a similar inspiration… September 9, 2011 at 2:55pm Reply

  • Bee: I’m a bit late here, but I just wanted to say that I smell only apricot (jam) in the drydown September 14, 2011 at 1:06pm Reply

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