Paco Rabanne Black XS For Her ~ perfume review

Paco Rabanne Black XS Pour Elle fragrance

One of the things that became clear to me as I worked on the recent 100 Fragrances Every Perfumista Should Try article was just how many perfume brands are entirely off my radar. It has been some time since I could claim to own anything that might be called a "working memory", so I keep notes on every fragrance I test whether I mention the scent here or not. Under Paco Rabanne there is: nada.

I suppose I ought to start with a Paco Rabanne classic (surely I must have smelled Calandre at some point in my life?) but instead I'm starting with the latest release: Black XS For Her, the follow up to 2005's Black XS For Him. If you couldn't tell from the ad visual that Black XS For Her was intended for a young audience, the tag line "for trendy girls and rebel princesses" might clue you in.

Black XS For Her was developed by perfumers Emilie Coppermann and Mark Buxton; the notes include tamarind blossom, pink peppercorns, cranberry, hellebore rose, black violet, cacao flower, massoia wood, patchouli and vanilla. The tamarind and cranberry provide a nice tartness to the top notes, but Black XS For Her starts out sweet and full, and it pretty much stays that way. The heart smells like flowers liberally sweetened with vanilla cream (and a smidgen of chocolate); the dry down is dark ambery-musky woods, squeaky-clean patchouli and more of the vanilla, very smooth and creamy, but with a bit of a spicy bite.

The whole thing is too sweet for my tastes — I liked it considerably better layered over Black XS For Him, although the sillage of the two sprayed together is potent — and I'm thinking I might not have liked to try it in hot weather, but in December, it has a nice warmth and depth to it, and it has something else missing from so many "rebel princess" fragrances: personality. Something about Black XS (it might have been nothing more than the patchouli and the chains around model Bianca Balti's neck) reminded me of Diesel Fuel For Life, so I sprayed that on too. After a half an hour, Diesel Fuel For Life smells pleasant but faceless, like one too many focus groups had their say in the matter. Black XS For Her fairly sizzles in comparison.

Paco Rabanne Black XS For Her is available in 30, 50 and 80 ml Eau de Toilette and in Spray Deodorant, Shower Gel and Body Lotion. It has launched overseas (where it is Black XS Pour Elle), but does not officially reach the United States until next year.

Side note: In partnership with Sidaction, Paco Rabanne has joined the fight against AIDS with the Black XS AIDS Fund Raising project.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Did see it at this side of the Ocean. Am going to try it asap!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps you'll love it :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm waaay past the point of wanting to be a rebel anything, least of all a princess. It just sounds like so much work. I will put a word in here for Calandre, however. It was one of the first samples I purchased from what was at the time Fragrant Fripperies, and I still dab on my sample from time to time – I remember it from the 70s. It's definitely worth a sniff, imho, nicely green and woody. Thanks for the review as always, R :).

  4. Anonymous says:

    Calandre is a classic, and I'm sort of shocked to see I haven't smelled it recently — but still have a feeling I just must have smelled it somewhere, sometime. I'll see if I can't find a tester, thanks!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Will give it a try on paper first..when I read the words 'vanilla' and 'creamy' then I just know it is not meant te be for me. The same when there are 'too many' roses. That fragrance of Paul Smith was good in comparison with Elle YSL, but still to rosy and too sweet.

    My preference is changing a lot lately, even Acqua di Roma by Laura Biagiotti which I purchased only a year ago seems to have too much of something.

    I am smitten with Terre d'Hermes. TdH is almost a comfort scent and I could wear it at a n y time, even! when having a headache or feeling nausea. And then I know a fragrance is really right.

  6. Anonymous says:

    IMO the male model in the Black XS for Men ads is much better looking than this girl. :D

    Seriously…anything by Marc Buxton intrigues me. I'll sniff it next time I'm in a department store!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Agree on Marc Buxton. This is a thoroughly mainstream (and young) fragrance, but they've done a nice job w/ it. And — agree on the model!!!

  8. ratana1 says:

    This perfume lingered on the skin for ages…love it…

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