Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose Fragrance Review

"Lipstick Rose" is, in it's austerity, possibly the prettiest name in the galaxy of fragrance. Modest and evoking all the coquetry and playfulness of a pinup. I heard of this scent on its release, far before I became interested in "smelling" at all, and it was so out of my reach and yet so bloody magnetic to me, I haven't forgotten it ever since.

The descriptions you'll have read: "a powdery, violet-scented tube of lipstick", "almost a novelty scent (...) To use Andy Warhol's words, this is "a deeply superficial" perfume", "theatre, backstage, lots of powder, excitement"

So a few months ago, one gray ol' day I come across the words again "Lipstick Rose", and it turns out I'm living in London and the possibility of testing it is a reality. So dressed up in my favourite posh girl attire I head out, get to the shop, refuse the paper slip and spray some juice on my wrist directly.

BANG. I get slapped on the face by a cloud of chalky violets. Immediately, I felt cheated on, and all that I had read about this character broke down to reveal an artifice that I really did not approve of. It was cheap, it was insolent, it broke my heart.

Rule #1: Don't get close to Lipstick Rose, she bites.

Now, I am rather obstinate and when I get my eye on something, I am inflexible! Not content with being let down, I went right back the next day and sprayed it on again. That is when I decided I didn't care for it. I forgot about it at that point, and instead of burying my nose into my wrist, I lived with it that evening- and that is when it started doing its magic, colouring the world around me and building the fantasy that I had read about. And it was wonderful

Of all the fragrances I have experienced, Lipstick Rose is different. You will not like it if you smell it up close. You will abhor it, you'll choke on it. I feel I'm being simple if I say that it's the silage that touches me -it's not that- it's that for some reason, this doesn't develop any flavour until it's floating around you. Once it's there, I've caught whiffs of all the different notes and pink visions it contains, but on my wrist I've seen nothing.

So what is it? It is a waxy, violet-flavoured lipstick on a desk with loose powders and pink roses. It is not dainty; it is modern, quite warhol-esque, and it is unnerving. This is one that I admire and respect, and need to be dressed for (and my clothes will smell of it for days).

There's a lot of wax and a lot of powder, I love both, I can never get enough wax! It is also independent and will not become a skin scent a couple of hours later- it is what it is, it's not so much a part of your body, as a part of your costume. And that's why it's a "tricky" one for me. A high dose of this one when you're not in the mood is disastrous, (I would say the same of any vibrant violet fragrance), I wear it with constraint and it would bother me if others didn't. Sometimes a sniff out of the bottle is enough.

Truly genius though.


If you found Lipstick Rose very, very strong-minded, Drole de Rose by L'Artisan is a similar, softer take on powdery rose and violets. It starts green and powdery, but the dry down is almost identical, just a lot more timid.