Britney Spears In Control Curious, Keiko Mecheri Ume, Provocative Woman: One Euphoria Too Many



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

In an ironic twist, a niche perfume I sampled recently turned out to be similar to a mass market release, and a mass market fragrance reminded me of a niche perfume. The niche perfume in question is Keiko Mecheri Umé, which created for me a distinct first impression reminiscent of Calvin Klein Euphoria. Although Umé lacks the patchouli-amber base, the transparent exotic fruity accord resting on velvety woody notes is very much in the spirit of Euphoria. Except that Euphoria is much more appealing to me, especially given its competitive price points.

However, a surprise was awaiting me in a bottle that looked so disconcerting that it was almost impossible to ignore its poisonous pink and jet black hues. In Control Curious is the latest offering by Britney Spears and a limited edition flanker to the first Curious, a fruity-floral composition of magnolia and pear resting on vanilla musk. …

Created by the perfumer Claude Dir, In Control Curious takes the vanilla and sugar paved gourmand road in arriving at a gingerbread house composition not unlike that of Ginestet Botrytis. Dir’s sweetening of the white floral accord with candied fruit and vanilla recalls the manner of rendering floral notes found in Botrytis, a fragrance inspired by the honeyed richness of late harvest wines. Cotinuing along the same candied vein, it can be compared to Escada Collection (and even Calvin Klein Euphoria).

While similarities may exist between Spears and Botrytis, they quickly begin to vanish as In Control Curious develops. The intensity of gourmand notes is never pronounced, but after the first 20 minutes, the composition assumes such a pale character that the obvious “in control” puns are difficult to resist. The drydown of sweet, buttery vanilla musk is like a transparent whisper, and while it is not unpleasant, the memory it leaves is hardly vivid.

Another Euphoria sighting occurred recently at the Elizabeth Arden counter. I reached for the bottle of Provocative Woman that was placed alongside the promotional poster depicting Catherine Zeta-Jones hugging a guy encased in what looked to be a sheet of melting plastic (ok, the advertising concept is “Men will Melt!” and your imagination should fill in the gaps that the Arden Photoshop team could not), and was rewarded with the familiar transparent fruit accord. The lucidity of this exotic vignette is quite pretty, however in a predictably commercial framing of woody amber, the effect loses some of its charm, proving that familiarity breeds contempt afterall.

The notes of Keiko Mecheri Umé are persimmon, peach tree leaves, hints of bergamot and mandarin, Japanese wisteria, peonies and camellia sasanka, South Sea jasmine and Chinese osmanthus, Hinoki wood, Cambodian mahogany and Mousse Poivree. Available from Luckyscent.

In Control Curious includes notes of loquat fruit, midnight orchid, crème brulee, black vanilla bean, tonka crystals, sugared sandalwood, signature musk. This limited edition fragrance is available from Sephora, Nordstrom and other locations where Britney Spears fragrances are sold.

Provocative Woman is composed of chilled quince, water lotus, ginger lily, midnight orchid, papaya blossom, pink freesia, white sand, red amber, Hinoki wood. Available from Dillards and other Elizabeth Arden counters.



  • Victoria O: Keiko Mecheri Ume reminded me of Velvet Rope, only stronger. There are some major fumes arisisng off those opening notes, wow. I’m a big KM fan and have been waiting for the new scents for so long, only to be disappointed. May 1, 2006 at 4:15am Reply

  • Patty: Neither of the new Keikos scents was appealing. Ume has something going on in the top that’s similar to Grenades and Coco Mademoiselle. The other new one is like an inexpensive cologne. May 1, 2006 at 11:30am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, I cannot say that I am a big fan of the line, save for Gourmandises, which I love for its pairing of rose, saffron and woody notes. However, I was particularly disappointed with the newest ones. For niche fragrances, they smelled surprisingly conventional. May 1, 2006 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Marina: I have only tried Euphoria and, a long time ago, Provocative Woman, but I absolutely believe it when you say things smell the same. Everything always reminds me of something else. 🙂 I am especially not surprised to hear that about a Mecheri scent. There are always references to other scents in her fragrances. Of course those are usually Lutens’s fragrances, not Klein’s, but it only shows that Euphoria was good enough to serve as an “inspiration”, to put it diplomatically. May 1, 2006 at 9:33am Reply

  • violetnoir: I agree with Patty: Une and the other new KM were big disappointments.

    Actually, we need more euphoria in this world, but maybe not of the CK type. :):)

    Hugs! May 1, 2006 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Robin: Must drag out my samples of the new KMs, although your review is not encouraging. What did you think of the Mihime? May 1, 2006 at 1:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, yes, you are right. As more time goes on, some trends become dominant. I also know that Euphoria is one of the biggest sellers right now, and I can see why–sexy, polished compositions that does not strive to be daring, yet it is very good for a fragrance of its type. Now, smelling Euphoria in niche fragrances is not what I would like! Where is the cutting edge that the niche should have? May 1, 2006 at 1:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, doing my best! 🙂 May 1, 2006 at 1:52pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Patty, yes, I can see Coco Mlle too, of which Euphoria reminds me of slightly. It has the same amber-patchouli accord paired with fruity notes. In Coco Mlle, there are more floral accents. And I also agree with you that Mihime was not particularly interesting. May 1, 2006 at 1:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R (violetnoir), you are really making me laugh. More euphoria is always a good thing, but more Euphoria can get tiresome. May 1, 2006 at 1:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, Mihime was slightly powdery, floral, not particularly memorable. I really did not care for either one of these two new Keiko Mecheri fragrances. May 1, 2006 at 2:04pm Reply

  • Tania: Victoria, you kill me: “…in a predictably commercial framing of woody amber, the effect loses some of its charm, proving that familiarity breeds contempt after all.”

    HA! May 1, 2006 at 11:12am Reply

  • Karin: So, did you like In control, Curious?

    sign me, curious!

    to me, it smelled a lot like something else, that for the life of me, at this moment, I can’t remember. May 1, 2006 at 6:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Karin, well, as I said in my review, it is not unpleasant, but hardly striking. It is difficult to hate it, especially since it does not last long enough to let one develop a strong opinion one way or another. I think that for many people its lack of lasting power will be a problem. May 1, 2006 at 10:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I agree with you, but pretty packaging is the point I am prepared to debate! 🙂 Overall, the second Curious fragrance is ok–sweet and cute, but it was strangely pale. To begin with, it is not the style of fragrance I find particularly interesting, but it is fun to sample everything anyway. I avoid making prior judgements, but of course, in many cases it is very difficult.

    On the other hand, if you ask me whether I might prefer Britney Spears fragrances to 50% of niche perfumes, I would certainly say Britney Spears. At least, Curious (and its offspring) is not taking itself too seriously and is not asking me to spend $200 per bottle. May 1, 2006 at 10:16pm Reply

  • Karin: On me it was strong and stronger, it never dissipated. I wish it had! May 1, 2006 at 11:24pm Reply

  • Katie: Heh, you’re on a very funny roll in this review!

    Provocative Woman left such a vivid impression on me that I could not tell you even one little half-remembrance of it. Good grief. It was that easily dismissed from memory!

    I’ve got no curiosity about Ms. Spears’ new fragrance. First off, the name “In Control Curious” reads as if someone just randomly strung a few words together hoping that people would assume it made sense, even though it doesn’t. GAH! Second, Curious I think is a fairly accurate representation of Britney: plastic, shallow, and both come in pretty packages that have little of intellectual substance inside. (And I am mincing my words here.) Perhaps I am being unfair, but her first scent was such that I have zero desire to trouble myself with a second. Well, I take that back: you sure had some fun snarking on it, and for that it might be fun 😉 May 1, 2006 at 7:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: This is what happens to me often–if I really hate something, it never leaves me. 🙂 On the other hand, I used to like Dior Addict, but its persistence was more than I could bear. I had to part with my bottle eventually. May 2, 2006 at 12:27am Reply

  • Sonia: Hello Victoria,I have a question for you.
    My daughter is asking for In Control Curious for x-mas..she loves the scent but also wonders about it being a limited edition,now I don’t know much about ‘limited edition’ perfumes…if a perfume is popular,does it ever stay on the market? or return?
    thanks,Sonia November 24, 2006 at 8:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sonia, if the perfume proves to be very popular, I have no doubt that it shall stay on the market. Of course, even if it is discontinued, I am sure more Britney Spears limited editions will appear! 🙂 November 24, 2006 at 10:38pm Reply

  • Sonia: Thanks Victoria for your comment,I take it she did not want to get ‘attach’ and not be able to find it again in the future.:) November 25, 2006 at 8:57am Reply

  • Steph: I rather like Provocative Woman – to my nose, it has a whiff of pencil shavings about it. Certainly not my all-time favourite scent, but still a pleasing occasional wear. August 8, 2013 at 6:45pm Reply

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