The Scent Critic is still having a thrifty phase. (Please note: this is because I am poised to review a £12,000 scent, so am trying to introduce a bit of yin-and-yang balance on the pricing front.) At £20, Hervé Leger Femme is around half the price of many fragrances out there, and about a fifth of most niche scents. (And one-six-hundredth the price of the treat I have in store for you in a few days’ time.) So: is this a case of getting what you pay for…?
Actually, the Hervé Leger is rather lovely, in a safe sort of way. Soft, rounded, somewhat cloud-like when it’s melded into the skin. (Hence the choice of some wonderfully nostalgic coloured cotton balls to photograph it against, which will shortly be gifted to The Scent Critic’s best friend, who was recently lamenting how hard it was to find them nowadays…)
This scent definitely doesn’t have the va-va-voom of an actual Hervé Leger dress – the curve-clinging ‘bandage-style’ frocks that made him a supermodel favourite – and made his name. (A name he is not, due to business woes, allowed to use any more, and which has now been licensed to Avon, the brand behind this scent.) But it’s uber-pretty: a veil of balanced flowery and woodsy notes, with not a discordant or harsh note in there.
Bury your nose in your skin, and you may encounter a trace of baby powder about it. A sherbet breath on a spring breeze – not candied, but with just a hint of ‘fizziness’ on the nostrils. The notes don’t swagger in like a catwalk model, if you ask me (despite a promise that it will ‘make an unforgettable statement, whether walking the red carpet or painting the town red’, as Avon’s blurb insists). They settle gently down, like a debutante on Regency chair: elegant, a little conventional, and very dainty.
Personally, I get a distant echo of lily of the valley in the first whoosh, as well as the petal-soft magnolia note that makes this vaguely reminiscent of one of Estée Lauder’s gauzy florals. (Maybe that slight similarity’s down to the pink grapefruit, too, which Lauder’s in-house perfumer Karyn Koury is rather fond of.) There’s a puff of Moroccan orange flower – again, a whisper, rather than the full-on sensual orange flower exoticism of, say, the divine Tom Ford Neroli Portofiino (which FYI is soon to come out in one of the most divine body collections that the Scent Critic has ever slathered onto her thirsty limbs…)
In its even mellower dry-down, I’m liking the sweet benzoin elements here, and – toujours – the vanilla. There’s a pencil-shaving-y hint of cedar, too, and on the skin after a few hours it remains sweetly woodsy and – well, very nice. Now, maybe ‘nice’ isn’t enough to push your buttons, perfume-wise. But compared to some very ‘nasty’ bargain-basement smells out there, this pale pink ‘juice’ is definitely wearable. (Especially by someone too shy to wear a statement scent – to an interview, a first day at work, or on a tender first date, if such a thing still exists. The almost pocket-money price of this makes that quite viable, too.)
The Scent Critic very much likes the bottle bottle – much, much chicer than a lot of what’s out there at the pricy end of the scent scale: embossed ‘bandage-style’ glass, as a nod to those famous body-conscious frocks which poor Monsieur Leger isn’t allowed to design under the Leger name any more. (Jeez, the fashion world is cruel. He’s now known as Hervé Leroux, while Hervé Leger designs are created by Max Azria.)
I suspect that if Hervé – a truly charming, gentle and soft-spoken chap who I had the pleasure of interviewing in Paris once – still had the rights to his name, any signature fragrance he’d personally worked on would have captured Naomi Campbell’s exoticism, Linda Evangelista’s glamour and Cindy Crawford’s energy. This doesn’t, but it has its own virtues.
Inexpensive, yes. Cheap? That’s something entirely different. And it definitely doesn’t apply, here.