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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vero Profumo Kiki: Not Your Grandmother's Lavender

By Donna

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

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Blogger carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Kiki is one of the few lavender-centered scents that don't actually feel specifically masculine (Patou's Moment Suprême being the template here rather than Jicky), certainly because of that specific lavender's richness, as you note. I'm looking forward to trying out the new eau de parfum Vero is launching, because as you say, the parfum can be a bit of a commitment in the daytime!

2:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Veroushka said...

I would love to try this, it sounds like something I'd be mad for. Alas, it's out of my price range. With my luck, if I did get my hands on a sample I'd fall madly in love and have to sell my body and/or soul to buy a bottle. ;)

2:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Zazie said...

I immediately loved Kiki: it melted effortlessy into my skin. I didn't feel like the perfume itself was wrong with my jeans and t-shirt, but very comforting, however it was very committing for the price point: so no bottle for me.
If I understood correctly, now the pure perfume will have a lower price (will have to check out how much lower!), and the edp will also allow a more affordable alternative. unfortunately, as much as I loved ALL Vero Kern's extraits, I positively hated the new edps: the passion fruit was very present on my skin, and I am not into smelling like a fruit basket, unfortunately!
As the mot d'ordre of many new and hyped niche releases is fruit, my wallet is feeling a great relief!
But I do hope one day I will have Kiki extrait on my shelf!

4:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

It's tres sexy, isn't it? I love Vero's fragrances and enjoyed your review, Donna.

6:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you sell your soul for perfume? I might get further than my own bank account allows..though there might be a long line up for that!

10:11 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

This is a gorgeous lavender, I agree. I kind of like that it's an "event" fragrance.

11:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Ooh... I love lavender and now I desperately want to try this. Even though I have a couple hundred other samples begging for my attention. It sounds lovely though - even if I might need a whole new lifestyle that would enable me to wear it. I can just picture myself swanning about in an opera house...

12:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Denyse, I totally agree - it definitely has more of a Jean Patou vibe, which is always a good thing in my book!

I look forward to testing the EDP of all the Vero scents as soon as I can.

1:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Daniele, it's out of mine too, but I am so happy to have the chance to test it! As a general rule lavender scents are not at the very top of my must-have list, but I will make exceptions for everything. :-)

1:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Zazie, I am so sorry the EDP versions did not work for you. I just happen to be a huge fan of passion fruit in all its forms, so I can't wait to try them!

I really love a good fruity perfume. Jean Patou Colony, Molinard Nirmala as noted in this post, L'Artisan Mure et Musc, the original formula of Prescriptives' Calyx, and my all-time long lost favorite, a Jean Laporte mango fragrance that I wish I had bought a case of when it existed are all in my personal pantheon of greats. However, I am not a fan of the mainstream fruity-floral concoctions that are all sugared up and cheapened with too many synthetic ingredients. A fruit-based scent has to be really good to get my vote.

1:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thank you Suzanne! I am looking forward to trying Rubj and Onda now. I am thinking that Rubj and I will be soul mates after seeing the list of what is in it. :-D

1:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Ferdie - yes, you do! ;-)

1:57 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Cheryl, if I knew someone who would be willing to pay for mine, I would seriously consider it. I have a short list of perfumes that would be worth the exchange, and Kiki is on it.

1:59 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Tom, I wish I had more of the kind of "events" that Kiki is suited for in my life!

2:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Cynthia, if you are a big lavender fan this is a must! Luckyscent does have samples, if you are willing to spend $6 for a .7 ml vial. You only need a little bit to make an impression!

2:03 PM EDT  
Anonymous Marian said...

Lusty, luxurious lavender seems like an oxymoron but Kiki is definitely both! It is my favorite lavender perfume- in fact it's the only lavender perfume that I truly love.
I can't wait to hear what you think of Onda and Rubj, Donna. I really hope you won't like them as much as Kiki or I'll somehow have to put a lock on my checking account!

9:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Oh, how I adore Kiki...I balk at the FB, and so I have subsisted on LS samples for a long time. Thankfully, one spray lasts all day, and as you say, it's quite strong! If it's true that the perfume will go down in price once the EDP is released, I may have to cave and buy a FB.

11:59 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Marian, I don't even dare to try the other two now! I will have to sell an organ or two I guess...

I never thought I would find a lavender scent for women with the kind of sex appeal Kiki has - who knew!

1:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Elizabeth, I can't wait to find out if that's true!

LOL, my word verification is "rationin" - as in, I will be rationin' my Kiki sample until I win the lottery! :-D

1:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous lavender said...

Cute lavender color.

1:53 PM EDT  

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