James and Mark and the Giant Peach: Badgley Mischka Perfume (And a Prize Draw!)
“Designer” fragrances are ubiquitous these days, but how many of them really make a definitive statement about the aesthetic of the house they represent? So many of them seem like afterthoughts – oh wait, I guess we need a fragrance, let’s get somebody to throw a fruity-floral together, maybe with a little white musk and some pink pepper and slap our label on it – that I have become quite skeptical of the fragrance releases from even the higher-end fashion labels. Of course there are many good ones too, and one of them is the wonderful Badgley Mischka by the Firmenich perfumer Richard Herpin (Usher She, Bond No. 9 Coney Island, Judith Leiber Night), released in 2006 as the debut fragrance from the successful design team of Mark Badgley and James Mischka, creators of many a red carpet sensation (and my own favorite Oscar gown of all time) and it’s exactly right for what they do so well. To be honest, I would probably not have even known enough to try it had it not been for the rave review by Tania Sanchez in the book Perfumes: The Guide in which five stars are awarded, since it is not readily available in stores in my area, although it is at virtually all the online discounters, having been supplanted by the 2009 follow up Badgley Mischka Couture. My gold standard for fruity chypres is Jean Patou’s masterpiece Colony, so as you may imagine, I have not found many other candidates to replace that discontinued gem. If you love a good fruity scent, the Badgley Mischka should be on your shortlist to try.
I think this may be the most intensely fruity perfume I have ever smelled; when it first hit my nose I could hardly believe how beautiful it was, an alpenglow cloud of the most luscious abstract fantasy fruits, ripe and glistening at their absolute peak just before they become overripe, yet also with a distinctive puckery tang, the kind of sensation that comes with the first bite of fruits like peaches, mangoes and pineapples. If you have ever been in a peach orchard on a hot day with the fallen ones beginning to ferment, coupled with the heady fragrance and velvety skins of the blushing beauties still on the tree waiting to be plucked, you will have some idea of the effect, but it is not really the scent of any one fruit; it is the Platonic ideal of fruit, a hologram of every pleasing facet of fruity aromas imaginable and to me it’s one of those universally appealing things – after all, do you know anyone who hates fruit? Yet its genius quality is that it’s not at all sugary or too sweet and I would even hesitate to call it a gourmand. Eventually it is revealed as a chypre, but not for a good long time. One expects such a symphonic top note to be fleeting; how could something so magically juicy last very long? Yet last it does, impressively in the Eau de Parfum and impossibly so in the Parfum. (If this were a real chypre with labdanum and oakmoss instead of a “modern” chypre, it would be pretty close to perfect.)
My first experience of this fragrance was with a bottle of EDP I found online for a ridiculously low price. I fell in love with it right away, but as Ms. Sanchez rightly noted, the drydown is a little bit sketchy. So I went in search of the Parfum, and when it arrived I found that it fulfilled the promise of the EDP very well; it’s richer and denser and the “top” notes last so long that they become the heart. Only after several hours does the refined chypre base come into its own. I have no idea how this fruity longevity was achieved but it’s a tour de force by the perfumer and I would give the Parfum five stars myself, and four for the EDP. The listed notes are Peach, Cassis, Sueded Musks, Peony, Jasmine, Amber, Red Berries, Sandalwood, Caramel, Osmanthus and Patchouli. I can’t really smell much patchouli until well into the drydown, and I was surprised to see caramel in there, since it is not “foody” to me, so don’t let the notes scare you off.
I am offering a ¼ ounce (7.5 ml) mini of Badgley Mischka pure Parfum, sealed in the box, to a U.S. reader only. Please indicate in the comments if you would like to be entered, and tell us what your own favorite fruity perfumes are – I am always looking for more suggestions!
Disclosure: The prize draw bottle is from my own collection.
Image credit: The official Badgley Mischka 2006 Collector’s Edition Barbie© Doll (yes really!) via Polyvore.com, original source unknown.