Vero Profumo Kiki: Not Your Grandmother's Lavender
One of the most admired independent perfumers working today is Vero Kern, and I have been hearing about how wonderful her perfumes are for a long time now. A generous perfume lover sent me a sample of Vero Profumo's Kiki Parfum (2007) a while ago, but I was almost afraid to open it; what if I really loved it and found myself craving it when it's so very costly? ($185 for 7.5 ml /$305 for 15 ml of the good stuff at Luckyscent – somebody is buying it because it was on back order the last time I checked.) Or worse, what if I hated it and did not understand why everyone else thought it was wonderful? I finally decided that no matter what I thought of it, I had to take the bull by the horns and open the vial, thinking that the list of notes - lavender, fruits, caramel and musk is all we are told about - would mean something along the lines of one of Montale's more regrettable non-oud adventures in Candyland or maybe even a bit of sticky-sweet Comptoir Sud Pacifique. I am happy to report that I was wrong.
I was immediately struck by both the intensity and the quality of the lavender opening. It is not the clean, innocent laundry-drying-on-the-line kind of lavender at all. It is a deep and sophisticated French type, powerful and majestic. If you have ever smelled several of the different kinds of lavender plants side by side, you know that they vary greatly in character. Some of the coarser types are not well suited to fine perfumery, as they are just too strong, and they overpower any delicate ingredient that gets in their way. While this is big, it's not rough at all. What I really want to know is exactly which variety it is so I can grow it in my own garden! I could wander around and pretend I am in Provence.
After that initial wave, the fruits started in, and very pleasing fruits they are, rich ripe berries from a sun-dappled forest, as tempting as can be. At this point it began to remind me very much of my beloved Nirmala by Molinard, which I hold up as one of the best fruity scents ever made. Kiki has a similar succulence, though the lavender still has enough presence to keep it from being a photo-realistic gourmand, even after the creamy, dreamy caramel notes begin to blend in with the fruits. You may think it would get too sweet at this point; yes, it is very sweet, but so delicious that even diehard gourmand haters must cave in and admit that it's really great. The base is said to be musk, but it is most certainly not the “clean” white or so-called crystal musk that is usually seen in modern perfumes. I don't know what type you would call it exactly, but it smells like something that belongs in a great old classic Guerlain perfume or the like, and it's wonderful, warm and inviting and very sexy on the skin. Everything in it seems to mesh together perfectly, and if you thought that lavender and caramel together in a perfume would be a bad joke, then you thought wrong. I know I did.
When I first tried this perfume, I wore it during the day and I felt quite overdressed. I think it would be better as an evening fragrance, as it is very romantic and has a lot of throw – too much sillage for most workplaces, I should think, unless you happen to work in an opera house. I enjoy wearing luxurious perfumes for everyday activities most of the time, but this just feels too special for throwing on casually with jeans and a T-shirt. It needs to be appreciated close up, and preferably while in an intimate setting such as dinner by candlelight with someone you like a lot. It's the kind of fragrance that beckons your lover to move closer and press his (or her) nose into your neck and tell you just how delectable you smell. Kiki is marketed as a feminine fragrance, but the lavender could make it work for men too. If a man wore it around me, he would be wise to watch his neck, because I would be very likely to nuzzle it with only the slightest provocation.
Image credit: “Lavender Fairy” desktop wallpaper from wallpapersfreedownload.info