I occasionally have a week when I just can't keep up mentally with all the new fragrance releases, or I'm running short on time and haven't ordered any samples or visited any stores lately. This was one of those weeks. However, I did share a much-needed coffee catch-up with an old friend, and she surprised me by handing me a little bag of Frédéric Malle samples that she said she longer needed (!). This serendipitous gift seemed like an opportunity for my next review topic, especially when I realized that a few fragrances in the range are still relative strangers to me.
Spritzing on some Outrageous, described as "a cocktail of clean sex appeal" with notes of bergamot, tangerine, green apple, cinnamon, musk and ambroxan, I realized that I've never really spent time with this scent before. It was developed for Malle's Editions des Parfums by perfumer Sophia Grojsman and was originally released in 2007 as an exclusive to Barneys Co-Op, the younger, edgier spin-off of upscale department store Barneys New York. It was then called Outrageous! (with exclamation point, shown above left) and had special, snazzy blue-and-orange packaging.
Why didn't I give Outrageous a serious try when I received samples as frequent gifts-with-purchases at Barneys? Well, I was already in love with Malle's Lipstick Rose, Iris Poudre, and L'Eau d'Hiver, after all. But Outrageous has come my way yet again, now wearing Editions des Parfums' standard black-and-white uniform (shown above right, without the exclamation point), and I've finally focused on it. And my timing is good: this is an ideal fragrance for a heat wave. It starts off with a sharp lime note (apparently the caipirinha cocktail was an inspiration here) that almost makes my mouth water. On my skin, this fruity component seems to fade out quickly but then returns at intervals.
The rest of Outrageous, between and beneath the citrus notes, is a very contemporary and intriguing take on sheer musk. It reminds me of fresh laundry — it smells clean but warm, with a hit of aldehydic "steam." What could be better than the suggestion of a cool lime-spiked cocktail and newly laundered sheets on a muggy afternoon when what I want most is a drink followed by a nap?
Outrageous has moderate sillage and persistence, with lots of ambroxan in its base. I like Victoria's definition (on Bois de Jasmin) of ambroxan as "a musky-ambery aroma material with a creamy, woody facet," and it definitely applies well here. Outrageous's dry down is definitely woody-musky, in a glowing, easy-to-wear (and gender-neutral) way. The fresh-laundry concept lives on in scents like Maison Martin Margiela Lazy Sunday Morning and most of the Clean line, and ambrox has showed up far and wide (Escentric Molecules' Escentric 2 is one successful example), but Outrageous did both trends early and did them well.
So why, in my years of shopping and sampling at Frédéric Malle, haven't I ever gravitated towards Outrageous(!)? I suppose it just isn't as much "my style" as some of the line's other offerings — it's not plushly classical like Iris Poudre or whimsically nostalgic like Lipstick Rose. Harder-edged and proudly synthetic, even lightly ironic, it feels like a work of olfactory Pop Art — with a name that would fit a comic-strip speech bubble (especially with its original, ebullient punctuation). But this has been an atypical week for me, in many ways (not to mention a very hot one), and Outrageous fits my current mood.
The quick poll: have you recently revisited any fragrances that didn't win you over when you first encountered them? Feel free to share in the comments!
Frédéric Malle Outrageous Eau de Parfum is available in 100 ml ($160) and in a 10 ml travel spray ($35). The special limited edition shown above center is $160 for 100 ml at Barneys.