Magnifique is the latest fragrance for women from Lancôme, and it launches this month under the tag line "You are unique; you are Magnifique". The celebrity spokesperson is Anne Hathaway; the perfumers are Olivier Cresp and Jacques Cavallier; the spicy woody scent is intended as "an olfactive interpretation of red".
I will start by admitting that I'm not a huge fan of the Lancôme fragrance line. Offhand, I can't think of a single scent in their current range that I've any interest in wearing other than the lovely Mille et Une Roses, and I'm not even sure that is still being sold. Hypnôse, their last major launch for women, did not appeal to me at all. The name Magnifique — am I the only one who thinks of mascara or a hair care product when I hear Magnifique? And who finds "You are unique; you are Magnifique" downright cheesy?
Still, anything that continues the current "woods for women" trend is welcome, and the notes (saffron essence, cumin, Bulgarian rose, Mai de Grasse rose, jasmine, sandalwood, nagarmota and vetiver) sounded intriguing. A quick sniff on a card a few weeks ago was interesting, and impressed me much more than the Ralph Lauren Notorious which I was trying at the same time.
Magnifique starts with your standard sharp citrus opening, and the spices take a few minutes to warm up. When they do, they're nicely dirty — the cumin is not overdone, but it adds a bit of an edgy undertone to the rose-y floral notes. The dry down adds more dirt, quite literally: it smells like warm earth* and spiced ambery-musky woods. The whole thing is wrapped in a guazy veil of vanillic sweetness, again, not overdone, with just the teensiest hint of powder. It doesn't smell candied, and it's somewhat dark; I'd think it would wear better in fall or winter than in the heat of summer.
It isn't skanky, exactly, and niche-hound perfumistas might not be impressed, but to my nose it is pretty daring for a mainstream department store cosmetic brand, and considerably more so than some of the other feminine wood scents we've seen lately, like Estee Lauder's Sensuous, Bvlgari Jasmin Noir or David Yurman. I find it sexier than any of those, and to my mind, it would have been a better fit with the ad images for Notorious than the Notorious juice turned out to be. That said, I don't entirely love it and I'm not sure I could say exactly why, and the two early reviews at MakeupAlley are less than positive.
The lasting power is very good, but the spice notes fade after a couple of hours and then I find it a bit too bland.
Lancôme Magnifique is available in 30, 50 and 75 ml Eau de Parfum and in matching body products. It will reportedly be exclusive to Bloomingdales through August.
* I should add that a very kind person sent me a sample of nagarmota (see cypriol in the Glossary). It isn't exactly like vetiver, but it's pretty darned close: it's very dry and earthy-rooty. Some descriptions note that it has undertones of frankincense and cinnamon, and I can vouch for the frankincense part if not the cinnamon (although Magnifique smells vaguely of cinnamon). A perfumer could no doubt tell cypriol and vetiver apart, but even after wearing them together for several days in a row, I'm pretty sure I'd fail to pick out which was which in a blind smell test.