DSquared2 Potion for Woman : Perfume Review

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The idea of a love potion can be traced back to antiquity, and excavations at Roman and Greek sites reveal various artifacts that were used to charm, sway and spellbind. Today we still yearn for a potion that would make us more beautiful, more alluring. So, Dsquared2, a fashion house often described as having “va-va-voom sex appeal,” decided to cater to our ‘earnings’ and offer its own version of a love filter. Potion for Woman is the feminine counterpart to last year’s Potion for Men, and is described as seductive and sultry.

The disconnect between the promise and the execution is evident in the crass marketing image. Who on earth decided that this visual conveys anything sexy or alluring? When I’m not distracted by the hairy arm in the foreground, I’m baffled by the drunken look on the model’s face. She looks more like a victim than a temptress.

But taking the marketing image apart may be a cheap shot–how many excellent and original campaigns can you point to in recent history, so let’s instead see what the perfume offers. And it offers a fruity floral swirl anchored by patchouli and white musk.  It’s far from a femme fatale fragrance as its name might suggest; Potion smells like a girl next door who reads  Seventeen and dreams of being a model. In fact, if you’ve visited your nearest mall, you’ve seen this girl and smelled a perfume reminiscent of Potion on her.

Trendy and commercial are the best ways I can describe Potion, which starts on a lighthearted, sparkling accord of tart berries and orange. Later, a creamy layer of vanilla, amber and musk warms up the composition. The earthy bite of patchouli paired with the candy-like sweetness gives Potion the unmistakable commercial gourmand accent. But overall, Potion reminds me of a thinner Chanel Allure.

If you like Dsquared2’s sexy lace dresses, it will feel too tame. If you want a coquettish fruity floral, why not pick Cacharel Amor Amor? If you prefer something more voluptuous and like your fragrances  sweet, why not go for Allure or Guerlain L’Instant?

The engraved glass bottle is inspired by antique perfume vials, and while the look is very modern and sleek, the attention to detail is impressive. Clearly, DSquared2 put most of its efforts into the packaging, rather than the fragrance.

DSquared2 Potion for Woman includes notes bergamot, violet, blackberry, rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, rhubarb, black and white musk, black amber, patchouli and vanilla. It is available in 30ml, 50ml and 100 ml Eau de Parfum, from major retailers.

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54 Comments

  • eminere: Did anyone else take one look at the visual and thought “Tom Ford”? From the female model reclining with a man hovering near her, to the fluted translucent bottle, it all looks very derivative. October 1, 2012 at 7:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I can definitely see that! The bottle is very nicely done though. Modern, streamlined, but very interesting. October 1, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

  • Anne: It’s totally Tom Ford! Sorry to hear that the womens perfume is bland. I love their men’s version on my DH. October 1, 2012 at 7:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I liked the men’s version too, so I thought that the women’s version would be at least as interesting. October 1, 2012 at 10:43am Reply

  • Cristina: That, 50 shades, Twilight ….here’s a trend for women to be sexual prey while wearing fruity patchoulis. October 1, 2012 at 8:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Argh, don’t even mention 50 Shades! I think that I’ve seen that book in just about every single language. I even tried opening it at the bookstore and reading a few pages and I just couldn’t stomach it. October 1, 2012 at 10:44am Reply

      • Cristina: Ay , sorry. There’s a nice review of 50 at Uh Opinions which makes it clear how and why it is trash. You might enjoy that. October 1, 2012 at 11:01am Reply

        • Victoria: Just read it! Thank you for mentioning the review, Cristina. It was so spot on. October 1, 2012 at 2:31pm Reply

      • Daisy: I agree! I downloaded a sample onto my kindle to see what the buzz was about and wasn’t able to make it through the sample. I have no problem with erotica, but I do have a problem with badly-written literature! October 1, 2012 at 11:07am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, that was my problem with it in the end. It was just impossible to read past the first couple of pages. October 1, 2012 at 2:30pm Reply

        • silverdust: One of the more on-target reviews I read was by a career social worker who lifted the veil. She contends it’s child-porn, plain and simple. For example, the girl (allegedly college aged) doesn’t know how to use a computer.

          The older man has to “teach” her everything. Then there’s his instruction to the girl to “make like it’s a popsicle.”

          After this particular review, I felt like I needed a shower, and I thankfully hadn’t even read it! October 1, 2012 at 7:56pm Reply

          • Victoria: The fact that this book is so popular still baffles me. October 2, 2012 at 7:41am Reply

      • Pamela: I agree, a few pages in the store and back on the shelf it went. Not good writing.

        Yes, too bad about that arm in the photo. It just doesn’t work. October 1, 2012 at 2:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: There are some other elements of this photo that look just so wrong. The only good thing about it I can say is that the model has lovely hair! :) October 1, 2012 at 2:34pm Reply

          • Cristina: This is the Sensuous model with too many drinks in a Las Vegas hotel. October 1, 2012 at 4:43pm Reply

            • Victoria: So true! Intoxicated by something far more mundane than a love potion. ;) October 1, 2012 at 5:06pm Reply

  • Nicola: I agree about the ad. A most off putting visual. What a shame about the perfume too! I really liked the men’s version of last year and sometimes sneak spritzes from the local department store tester at lunchtime. Didn’t LT once say (about fruitchoulis) that this style was on its way out? Sadly I think he was mistaken. October 1, 2012 at 8:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I so wish that this trend were over, Nicola! The entire city of Paris is saturated through and through with fruitchoulis. I don’t even mind Angel, but most variations on its theme are far too sweet for my tastes. October 1, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

  • Marc: Crass is right! The same applies to most Tom Ford ads, IMHO. Too bad the perfume isn’t at least provocative. I liked Potion for Men, even though I didn’t have any high expectations. Sounds like they went all the way commercial on this one. October 1, 2012 at 9:06am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, Marc. I’m not a huge fan of Tom Ford ads. October 1, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

  • Barbara: V, so do you like Allure? I can’t believe that I still haven’t smelled it. October 1, 2012 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I like it more than Coco Mademoiselle, but Allure feels too one-dimensional to me to be interesting. I prefer its older sister, Christian Dior Dune, which is more nuanced and multifaceted. October 1, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

  • Elena: Ah, but isn’t being a vapid receptacle what every woman aspires to? You’d think that feminism never happened. It’s unfortunate that this kind of ad is absolutely the norm in beauty advertisement. Attractiveness=weak and submissive, I guess. Ugh. October 1, 2012 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s probably why this ad really annoyed me. And also because it’s so different from the perfume and the message Potion tries to convey. October 1, 2012 at 10:49am Reply

  • Daisy: That poor model in the ad. She looks like she is about to be crushed by one of those cavemen from the Geico commercials!

    Disappointing juice is always really disappointing. Even more so if it sells well :-/ October 1, 2012 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: :) They both must be uncomfortable.

      Potion checks all the boxes for a good performer–nice bottle, safe juice. The fragrance isn’t bad, but it really isn’t all that distinctive. And certainly no femme fatale! October 1, 2012 at 10:51am Reply

  • Austenfan: I think the muscular arm is the best part of the ad,which all in all really isn’t to my tastes. I agree that it is similar to the Tom Ford ads
    (which I don’t like either).
    I can’t help but compare it to the gorgeous photo that accompanied the review of Paris that Susannah did. Advertising with class that was. October 1, 2012 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I was thinking of that ad as well when I was writing! It’s my favorite Paris ad and one of my favorites perfume advertising images ever. October 1, 2012 at 2:35pm Reply

  • Bee: I really liked the men’s version of Potion and was seriously thinking of buying it but waited to see what the female version was about. What a disappointment! I do not see any relationship at all. It would have been a better move just to fill the “masculine” version in the new bottle, only a few die-hard perfumistas would have noticed anyway. So: note to myself put the masculine version back on the wish list, this new one is nearly forgotten already. October 1, 2012 at 11:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I also think that the masculine version of Potion can be easily worn by a woman. It’s layered, complex and striking. Not sure why they went so tame for this launch. October 1, 2012 at 2:37pm Reply

  • cryptic: I came across this photo recently and found it incredibly touching and romantic. I’d love to see this sort of thing used in perfume advertising but it will never happen.

    http://corinneg93.edublogs.org/files/2011/05/old-couple-1tuo02g.jpg October 1, 2012 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is just wonderful! What a lovely, tender image that says so much more than the usual “woman in ecstasy” perfume ad. October 1, 2012 at 2:40pm Reply

  • annemariec: ‘Cater to our earnings': oh very good. That starts my day off with a chuckle.

    Dear me, I do dislike Allure. It’s the Chanel I love to hate. October 1, 2012 at 5:54pm Reply

    • Austenfan: Me too, and I adore Dune! October 1, 2012 at 6:01pm Reply

      • annemariec: Yep, me too! October 1, 2012 at 7:00pm Reply

      • Victoria: That’s what happens when the vanilla is used with a heavy hand. I think that it is one of the main differences, and also Allure isn’t transparent at all. October 2, 2012 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t hate Allure, but it feels so blunt and heavy that it is almost unwearable. Dune is a shimmering, multifaceted scent by contrast. October 2, 2012 at 7:45am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Very astute of you, Victoria, to draw a correlation between insipid, “fruity floral” fragances (ugh, ugh, ugh!) and inspid, suburban Mommy smut. To define callowness, inexperience, passivity and tentativeness as the apex of female sexuality is trivializing and objectifying. The inexperienced female is alluring to the insecure because she has no basis for comparison, no criteria for judgement, and is unassertive (like that dish rag of a girl in the book) and therefore not threatening. Really empowered female sexuality is threatening because it is judgemental (“no; you’re not the best lover I’ve ever had, I actually know the difference”), demanding and difficult. It is the dfifference between knowing what you want and expeding to be satisfied, and the willingness to be used as the object of someone else’s pleasure.Anthroplogically speaking, it’s edifying and horrifying to observe how much energy is expended in cultures around the world to tame, suppress, even eradicate female sexuality (female circumcision, anyone? Chadors?) and how much our allegedly “enlightened” stuggles to infantalize it. Ever try any of the Victoria’s Secret perfumes? They all smell like penny candy, creating a creepy Lolita effect- dress like a slut; smell like grade school. I am constanly dismayed by perfumes that try to market themselves as sexy and alluring and then turn out to smell like something I would have liked in 8th grade, which believe me was not the zenith of my sexuality. (I am still waiting to get there actually).

    S&M and the rest of the dark paraphilias are all dramatizations of guilt about sex- “Sex is dirty and sinful, so I must punish you for arousing these feeling in me” or “Sex is dirty and sinful and I really shouldn’t have these feelings, so I must be punished for feeling aroused.” Scratch a serious perv and you will find someone who grew up with very repressive and negative messages about sex and the body. The more liberal your upbringing, the more vanilla your sex life apparently- you just don’t have so many psycho dramas that you need to pack tack along for the proceedings.

    Fascinating how perfume opens the door to so many larger sociological, political and philosphical issues! As you can probably guess, I won’t be wearing DSquared! October 1, 2012 at 5:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was just so surprised to see so many disconnects in this whole presentation–the marketing promise, the image, the bottle, the scent.

      And not that I look for some deep meaning in the perfume ads, but this one really felt well… even more contrived! October 2, 2012 at 7:49am Reply

    • Elena: I agree with you almost completely, Lynn, but your comment about suburban Mommies rubbed me the wrong way. Undoubtedly it is very popular in the suburbs, but certainly not only there! I happen to be, amongst other things, a suburban mom and I think 50 Shades is revolting. Did you read How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran? I bet you’d like it. October 2, 2012 at 9:57am Reply

  • Amer: That bad eh?
    Shame. The masculin was quite unisex in my opinion, they could have left it there. October 2, 2012 at 1:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, Amer! It was definitely appropriate for both men and women and very nicely done. October 2, 2012 at 7:47am Reply

      • Amer: I am guessing there is a very small public for unisex fragrances amongst the mainstream consumers. Most people like to be reassured that their purchase is sex-appropriate. This is why many essentially unisex fragrances get labels that to us might seem arbitrary. This one was an EdP and quite sweet on top of everything else.
        Have you noticed that in most Sephoras the Hermes colognes and jardins series can only be found in the feminine section? October 2, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

        • Victoria: People need guidelines in order to navigate the counter, and I guess this is what the gender identification does. I also noticed that Hermes colognes are only sold in the feminine section, as if they determined that most of their clients are women.
          For a unisex fragrance to work, it really needs to have a clear message of it being androgynous. Like CKOne. October 3, 2012 at 4:11am Reply

  • HB: Great comments to read on this – the ad is, well, odd. I’m a fan of Dsquared clothing, even if just for the way they push boundaries or embrace a little wearable experimentation. The ad has nothing to do with the brand, in my opinion – it seems so slapdash and just lazy marketing. As for the fragrance, it sounds as though I’m not missing anything? I did go and read the Dune review and think that is definitely one to get on my list for sooner than later. When it was launched I recall liking it on a test strip but I was deep into a signature fragrance then and not a very big experimenter. Now all I have to do is crawl out of this 10 Corso Como wormhole that seems to have pulled me in… October 3, 2012 at 12:03am Reply

    • Victoria: I also like this brand for its fashions, which is why the lack of experimentation with their feminine perfume comes as a disappointment. Slapdash is the best way to describe it.

      Definitely give Dune another try! It is one of the best Dior perfumes (and considering the poor reformulation of their classics, it is right now probably the best). October 3, 2012 at 4:14am Reply

      • Ann-Sofie: I love Dune! It was actually you, Victoria who made me try it, reading your compelling review. Sniffing it, it was so very familiar and yet strange and unknown. Difficult to describe, but Dune invoked the feeling of an awkward kind of homecoming. It is mute and strange and absolutely beautiful. October 3, 2012 at 2:01pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m so happy that you’ve discovered Dune! It’s such a jewel, a fragrance that I enjoy from top to bottom. And just like a precious gem, it has so many facets.
          I know exactly what you mean–Dune smelled familiar to me the first time I’ve tried it.  October 3, 2012 at 3:08pm Reply

          • Daisy: I love Dune too! Can you believe that was my first perfume? I was 14 and staying with a French host family for the summer. My first time in Europe, my first time away from home. At the end of my stay, my host mother took me to a perfume shop to pick out my first perfume because I was old enough to have one.

            And what did I pick? DUNE — which is so appropriate for a 14 year old ;-)

            And when I got home my mother promptly confiscated it saying that it was too big for barely teen.

            So what did I do the next year in France (I went back to the same host family). I brought home ANGEL — which my mother did not confiscate, but I did not wear either because that really was way to big for me.

            Ah. Youth! :-) October 3, 2012 at 3:23pm Reply

            • Victoria: You were always a renegade, Daisy! Renegade with a great taste, I should add. :)
              You know what I picked as a 14 year old? Poison! My mom said, “absolutely no,” and made me settle for Tendre Poison, which I never grew to like. So, I love your story, and I can relate to it. October 4, 2012 at 4:00am Reply

              • Daisy: That is awesome. I was juggling between Dune and Poison too!

                I’m sorry that your mom made you settle. If I ever have a daughter, I am going to let her be as stinky as she wants to be.

                Unless it’s Axe body spray.

                ;-) October 4, 2012 at 10:36pm Reply

                • Victoria: Ha ha! Even you have some limits. :) October 5, 2012 at 2:46am Reply

  • Ann-Sofie: Thanks Victoria and all commentators for emphasising the perfume ad theme. As much as perfumes is the blood of my heart, I equally hate perfume ads. Mainly (there are exceptions of course), they are ridicilous, insipid, blunt and sometimes even offensive. DScuared is one among many perfect example of this production of representations one could not label other than simpleton caveman westernised taliban nightmares. Aghh, they give me brainburn. October 3, 2012 at 1:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ann-Sofie, that’s just it, you’ve described the majority of perfume ads. They are so banal and dull that I can’t even begin to analyze them. I usually try not to pay attention, but this one is really such a perfect example of the trend you’ve described that I couldn’t resist skewering it. October 3, 2012 at 3:13pm Reply

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