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May 01, 2006

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


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 and La Crème Beauty.

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.



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