If Women's Wear Daily is to be believed, Burberry has more Facebook followers than any other luxury brand.1 And I'd guess their fragrance line does quite well, thank you, despite not being the darling of perfumistas everywhere. Body, their latest fragrance and reportedly their biggest launch ever, is sure to sell like gangbusters even if only for the cool bottle design and the image of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley — reportedly the first of a proposed series of bodies— under the Burberry trench in the advertising.
So I'm sure they won't mind if I confess that Burberry Body has not exactly bowled me over. It's better than Burberry London, mind you — I tried to review Burberry London but couldn't think of what to say. It's in keeping with the spirit of Burberry Brit and Burberry The Beat (although I don't like it as well as either, and I'm guessing it isn't geared quite so young): it's cheerful and clean, and it carefully avoids making any big statements. It's supposedly inspired by Britain — eh? — and it's meant to encompass "all the modernity and heritage of this British brand today, reflecting all the facets that make up the Burberry world", if any of that helps you.2
It's either a fruity chypre or a floral woody amber, take your pick (there's nothing chypre-ish about it to me, even in the 'modern chypre' sense). The top notes are loudly FRESH, with a short-lived peach note and a goodly wallop of FRESH, green-tinged freesia on steroids. If you dislike loud synthetic fresh notes as much as I do, the first few minutes of Burberry Body will be like taking a spike to the brain. My advice is to try it on paper, and let it calm a bit before you sniff — I really only smelled the opening twice, after that, I was careful to skip the earliest stage.
The heart is a rose-y blended floral, still very fresh and clean, if perhaps less insistently so than earlier on. There is a slight undertone of "absinthe" — it's really very slight, and it just reads as a green herbal note; you will have to strain hard to notice the anise. The base is a musky woods, slightly warm but more pale than not, with a velvety-soft finish and just a touch of vanilla. It's only mildly sweet in the later stages.
Other than the spiky opening, I found nothing memorable or distinctive about Burberry Body, then again, other than the spiky opening, I found it reasonably wearable too. I'm quite willing to believe Burberry's creative director, Christopher Bailey, when he says they spent years developing it, but if you told me they decanted from the vat marked "rose-y blended floral" and then threw in the screechiest freesia note they could find plus a dollop of absinthe, and then the absinthe got voted down by a focus group so they removed most of it, I'd believe that too.
The lasting power is quite good.
If anyone has tried the Intense version, do comment.3
Burberry Body was developed by perfumer Michel Almairac; the notes include absinthe, peach, freesia, rose absolute, iris, sandalwood, cashmeran, vanilla, amber and musk. It is available in 35, 60 and 85 ml Eau de Parfum ($55-95). The Eau de Parfum Intense is in 60 and 85 ml ($85-115).
1. Women's Wear Daily, 8/18/2011.
2. Quote via Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey, from the press release.
3. I should mention that I liked the Intense version of The Beat much better than the regular, and so I probably should have sought out the Intense version of Body. On the other hand, if they've intensified the fresh notes in the opening, it might well kill me.