‘Please see my review of Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb‘ — this is how I originally started my post on the newest Lancôme perfume La Vie Est Belle. This big Lancôme launch takes a lesson from its flop Magnifique and does everything by the book: a fetching package (check), something pink (check) and a safe, easy to like perfume (check). It’s even better if you tag on a well-known spokesperson (check, Julia Roberts looks gorgeous in the ads).
While my initial reaction was to dismiss La Vie Est Belle as another copycat, after wearing it for the past couple of weeks I’m not so sure what I think. The citrusy top notes laced with tangy raspberries were facile, but addictive, while the gourmand drydown tempered by earthy iris was surprisingly mellow. I readied myself for another cheap fruit compote, but I discovered a trendy and likable perfume. I would have had an easier time making up my mind if it smelled cheap, but it doesn’t.
The idea behind La Vie Est Belle is not new as both Jessica and Denyse pointed out in their reviews. It’s the same fruity patchouli twist, and it will be instantly recognizable. What makes La Vie Est Belle more appealing to me than Flowerbomb is that it’s less sweet and more understated, as far as it can be possible within this genre. The freshness of orange blossom, the tartness of citrus and the chill of iris succeed at reducing the cloying sweetness at various stages of this perfume.
In French La Vie Est Belle means “life is beautiful,” but this Lancôme perfume is just pretty. It also makes me feel deeply ambivalent. La Vie Est Belle smiles happily and she’s eager to make you laugh as well. She’s not a femme fatale that requires a long courtship and loads of patience, but she’s not a teenager snapping bubblegum in your face. If you want a fruity patchouli and can’t stand the volume of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, it would be a good choice.
On the other hand, it’s a typical un-classic perfume that the fragrance market churns out by the hundreds today. It’s so familiar and easy that it’s liable to become boring. Truly excellent fragrances reveal something new with each encounter, while La Vie Est Belle’s plot can be memorized very quickly.
In the end, I worry that I’m ready to dismiss La Vie Est Belle because it’s predictable. But as someone who has 5 nearly identical orange blossom colognes in my perfume wardrobe, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I just want a pleasant scent, not a perfume epiphany. I love opera, but I’ll happily listen to pop music, and as much as I adore three course meals at nice restaurants, a paper cone of fries with mayonnaise is a delicious treat. I won’t even say that I feel guilty about it. La Vie Est Belle certainly deserves a try, if only because familiar things can sometimes be comforting.
Lancôme La Vie Est Belle includes notes of Florentine Iris pallida, iris aldehyde, jasmine sambac, black currant, pear Tunisian orange blossom, Indonesian patchouli, vanilla, tonka bean, and praline. Available widely from Lancôme counters.
Sample: my own acquisition