In Paris I’ve been lucky to see some of the PR material perfume houses send out. Wow. Marc Jacobs Decadence’s press materials came in a gold-edged black folder designed to look like a purse, complete with tassel and gold chain handle. Chanel Jersey’s press packet was a hand-bound paper booklet with mounted vintage photos, envelopes inserted to open and explore, and close-ups of materials — all on thick, luxurious paper.
Miu Miu’s press materials are especially impressive. Prada sent out a finely made flat box slickly papered in Miu Miu’s signature red and quilted baby blue. The box opens to a sheaf of hard cardboard placards with gold edges and artful images of actress Stacy Martin working Miu Miu’s youthful jolie laide charm. The perfume bottle is darling, and it feels heavy and solid in the hand. On seeing the package, my first thought was: Wow, this is gorgeous. Second thought: This must have cost a fortune, possibly more than the perfume did. Third thought: Great, but what’s the fragrance like?
Perfumer Daniela Andrier developed Miu Miu. Its notes include lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, green notes, and akigala wood©. (I’ve put the copyright sign next to akigala wood, because that’s the way it’s written in the press materials.) Akigala wood© is a new Givaudan fragrance material described as “powerfully peppery” and “evoking patchouli.”
On my skin, Miu Miu almost immediately falls into two layers. On top is a pale floral in which no one note dominates. It’s aldehydic, wan, and vaguely watery. The second layer is a blast of barely woody pepper. That’s it. A whole bunch of freshly ground pepper — enough to nearly bury the fragrance’s floral component. Miu Miu comes together and quiets down after half an hour to smell like skin splashed with pepper-spiked facial toner.
Miu Miu stumps me. I don’t see how it reflects the brand’s kooky retro-modern vibe. Also, I don’t know much about making or professionally evaluating perfume, but I am an expert perfume consumer, and to me Miu Miu feels surprisingly clumsy and not particularly friendly — but not strange enough to be alluring.
Then again, while I might find Miu Miu to be meh meh, it has its advantages. Once Miu Miu’s pepper is under control, the fragrance is quiet and vaguely clean. It breaks the mold of the typical department store fragrance targeted toward young women by not being fruity or sweet, or straining to be sexy. In other words, it’s easy on the people surrounding the Miu Miu wearer.
If you were to create a fragrance for Miu Miu, what would you do? What kind of perfume would mirror Miu Miu’s brand and appeal to young women?
Miu Miu is available in 30 ml, 50 ml ($86) and 100 ml ($116) Eau de Parfum. In the US, it will be exclusive to Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for the rest of the year.