Living Lalique is the latest pillar fragrance for women from the Lalique brand. I adore Lalique Encre Noire (the one for men), but by and large the recent feminine fragrances (Amethyst, Encre Noire Pour Elle, Fleur de Cristal, Satine, L'Amour and Azalée) have not interested me, other than the bottles, which are generally every bit as covetable as you'd expect from a company that's in the business, after all, of making pretty glass.
If I had to pick a modern Lalique perfume for women, Living Lalique would be my choice, easily. The "modern powdery iris" was developed by perfumer Richard Ibañez, and it's in a style that ought to be perfect for me. The opening is briefly bright and slightly fruity, then it's hugely peppery, but only for a few seconds, and the lovely little tingle of nutmeg likewise disappears rather quickly (it's easier to catch on paper than on skin; the notes: bergamot, black pepper, nutmeg, iris, tonka bean, vanilla, vetiver, cashmeran and sandalwood). The woody iris is evident from start, and takes center stage once the spicy notes calm. It's soft and quiet and clean, and it stays that way, sweetening only mildly into the dry down, and taking on a light nutty undertone. Iris fiends be warned: it's not an iris bomb by any means, indeed, I would call it a a woody-musky skin scent with a velvety finish.1
The lasting power is good but not fantastic, and it's rather close to the skin after the first hour. To my nose, it's entirely unisex.
Verdict: Living Lalique is well done and easy to wear. It's oodles more sophisticated than most of what you'll find on department store counters, and it isn't massively fruity or massively sweet. Lalique's dedicated website for the fragrance talks about the "urban, contemporary, active life of the Lalique woman", and references New York, Paris and London. Usually when fragrance brands try to channel some amorphous idea of a luxury big city lifestyle2 they end up making something I wouldn't be caught dead wearing in any city, but I would wear Living Lalique anywhere without embarrassment. I feel almost churlish not loving it, but there it is. Lalique also calls it "soaring" and "sumptuous", and soaring and sumptuous are precisely the attributes that I found lacking in Living Lalique. The dry down smells a bit too flat, and like perhaps a greater investment in the raw materials might have made a big difference in the outcome.3 So, like but not love, although I'm very curious about the Extrait version.
The Candy Perfume Boy liked Living Lalique much better than I did; do see his review.
Living Lalique is available in 50 ($125) and 100 ($175) ml Eau de Parfum, or in 120 ml Extrait de Parfum ($1800, or $15,000 for a special presentation bottle with gold leaf).
1. If it helps, Living Lalique's dry down has the same soft-spoken character as Prada Infusion d'Iris, but seems less directly focused on the iris, more on the woody notes. Infusion de Cashmeran, perhaps. The expensive niche version might be Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle.
2. Lalique has outlined their aspirational vision for this woman in some detail, with separate itineraries for each city. In London she shops at Harrods and Fortnum Mason before dining at Sketch and going to the Royal Opera House, and the Lalique Rayons vase shown in what is presumably meant to be her apartment (see image at top) costs $50,000. New York includes breakfast at Balthazar, trips to MOMA and Henri Bendel, etc. and etc. Paris is more of the same.
3. Of course for all I know they spent a fortune on the juice. If so, it's even more disappointing that the dry down is so flat.