Michael Kors Very Hollywood ~ perfume review

Very Hollywood Michael Kors fragrance advert

Very Hollywood is the latest perfume for women from Michael Kors. It's meant to evoke the idea of Hollywood glamour: the bottle (see detail below) recalls the flashbulbs on old-style cameras, and the ad spot features "stars" surrounded by paparazzi on the red carpet. Kors called it the "most glamorous, indulgent scent we’ve ever done".1

Remember Michael by Michael Kors? It came out in 2000, very nearly eons ago in perfume-land, and for awhile it seemed like women everywhere were wearing it. I still smell it on the street occasionally, and I think it's pretty, although as I said when I reviewed it, I prefer to smell it from afar and not on my own person. Anyway, they've updated it several times: there was Michael Sheer, and then Very Michael Kors, and then Michael Kors Very Pretty. I bring this up only because after smelling Very Hollywood, I'm tempted to think the brief called for "a version of Michael that young girls would wear in 2009", since Michael is, after all, not really the sort of perfume young girls go for these days.

Very Hollywood was developed by perfumers Laurent Le Guernec (who created the original Michael) and Pascal Gaurin, and it's considerably more au courant. The opening is bright, fruity, sparkly and pink: if I were writing the ad copy, I'd call it "watery pink champagne accord garnished with berries" (the notes: mandarin, iced bergamot, wet jasmine, ylang-ylang, raspberry, gardenia, orris, creamy amber, soft white moss and vetiver). After that it's watery florals. There's some strong gardenia for a time, but the heart is mostly pale and nondescript, as is the current fashion: it's nothing like the romantic, heavily floral Michael at all.

Very Hollywood Michael Kors perfume bottles and solid perfume ring

I like the far dry down. It's relatively earthy and relatively dry. You will pick up flashes of things vaguely like the listed notes— iris, vetiver, moss. If it were just a bit less pale and a bit less pink, it might qualify as sexy or interesting, but it is pale, and it is pink, and in the end it's still too clean to qualify as sexy.

Say what you will about Michael — Tania Sanchez called it "evil tuberose" and "a hair-singeing horror" in Perfumes: The Guide — but it was a distinctive, memorable scent. Very Hollywood is less so. Kors himself likens Michael to a "the little black dress" and Very Hollywood to "the gold dress",2 but to my nose, Very Hollywood is the more casual, easy-to-wear (and younger) of the two, and it's far less memorable — I predict I will not recognize it if I smell it three weeks from now: there are just too many fruity pinkish vaguely floral scents with pale-ish musky bases out there already. Very Hollywood is well done, and arguably more sophisticated than some other such efforts, but that doesn't seem quite enough. I was interested to read that prestige fragrance launches for women are down some 30% this year — gosh, it sure doesn't seem like it, does it? Maybe the explosion in niche is making up for the loss? Anyway, if it's true, then all I can say is that a 30% drop is not enough: there's still too much new product, and too much of it smells like it's trying to appeal to the same customer.

Michael Kors Very Hollywood is available in 30 ($45), 50 ($65) and 100 ($85) ml Eau de Parfum and 30 ml Parfum ($300). There's also a solid perfume ring ($40) and a scented ink pen ($25), as well as a matching body lotion.

1. via Women's Wear Daily, 4/24/2009.

2. Ibid.

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  1. violetnoir says:

    Yep, you got it, babe–too much new product, attempting to capture that same tired 18 to 34 demographic.

    I don’t think I will be testing Very Hollywood…


    • Robin says:

      R, it is really not a bad scent as these things go, but boy, we really do need less product aimed at the same market.

  2. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Perhaps it was “watery” on purpose so they can amp it up for a “Very Intense Michael” in the not too distant future. :) The possibilities are endless. I’m so bored with watery florals! I love florals that strut around in heels and brazen lipstick, not giggle coyly behind their hand. Off to reassure myself with a dab of Fracas.

    • Robin says:

      You know, it’s watery, but the opening florals are strong: I’d predict the opposite, that they’d do a summer or light version. Young women these days do not like full bodied florals, and so cannot see them amping it up.

      Fracas would be a much better option with a gold dress though!

  3. monstabunny says:

    An ink pen? is this something new I don’t know about it? I mean people aren’t doing a lot of longhand these days. Mostly they’re tapping away on keyboards and phones. Maybe it’s something special for the dog to chew on.

    • Robin says:


    • boojum says:

      I’m having flashbacks to Hello Kitty stationery, scratch-n-sniff stickers, scented crayons….

      • Joe says:

        You know, that was my first, very snarky reaction and I thought of making a snide comment (“you know the quality of anything that comes with a scented pen…”). But then I thought: Well, that could actually be a bit elegant and Old World, you know? If Serge Lutens did it we might be running out to get one. :D

        • Robin says:


        • boojum says:

          LOL…but the funny thing is, I didn’t exactly *mean* it in a snarky way. I loved all those things when I was a kid, I thought they were fun. :)

  4. mals86 says:

    Thanks for the review, Robin. (Boy, you’ve been busy today – lots of new stuff on here!) I think the bottle is kind of cute, but as I expected, there’s nothing either in your review or that list of notes that really grabs me. And Monsta’s right – a scented ink pen??!

    I must in the interest of full disclosure admit that I (shhh!) sort of liked Michael, which I bought a mini of early in my sniffage before discovering the classics. It was only after I smelled Fracas, AG Gardenia Passion, and DSH Tubereuse that Michael began to smell bad to me: empty and chemical, the Tuberose Terminator. Gah. (Now where can I ditch this d**n bottle of Michael??)

    • Robin says:

      Hey, I was just dreaming about a pen with ink scented like Donna Karan Black Cashmere — wouldn’t that be cool? You could always sign checks with it :-)

      But keep the Michael, for old time’s sake, why not? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smelled it on someone else & thought they smelled great.

    • Tama says:

      The romantic in me likes the scented pens – who knows when you might want to write a real love letter?

  5. miss kitty v. says:

    Michael Kors Very Pretty sounds like a grammatically awkward attempt at complimenting himself.

    I should keep my snark down. I really do love him on Project Runway. My favorite thing was when he checked his notes for what he thought of one person’s designs, and he said, “I said it was farty!” Love him, not on board with his frags. (Oh, but interestingly enough for a tuberose hater such as myself, I really didn’t mind Michael. On someone else.)

    • Robin says:

      I really ought to watch PR, but I don’t, so I don’t know much about MK at all….glad to hear he’s fun, at least!

      I think it was really called Very Pretty Michael Kors, not MKVP as I said above, not that that’s any better (?) And this one is officially Very Hollywood Michael Kors.

      • miss kitty v. says:

        Very Pretty Michael Kors is even funnier. :)

        • monstabunny says:

          Especially because he is Not Very Pretty. That would be Very Schlubby Michael.

          • Robin says:

            Really? You know, I don’t even know what he looks like. Will have to Google.

          • miss kitty v. says:

            Oh, poor Michael! Schlubby. :( He does sort of have a Will Ferrel quality about him.

  6. Ojeda says:

    I tried this a few days ago and it was stronger and less sugary than I expected; also that musk drydown had some volume on it. But it was still… really pink, and not in a good way.

    I was one of those girls who wore original Michael A LOT (god I must have reeked) a few years back, and while I’d never wear it now I still think it’s the best of the line. Michael smells like Michael. Every succeeding Michael Kors fragrance, on the other hand, smells like everything else.

    • I too was one of those girls and agree totally in everything you said: the first was the best, and this flanker just seems too pink. And like Robin said, I don’t think I would recognize it if I smelled it in a week.

      • Robin R. says:

        Ditto. Big tester bottle at Holt Renfrew here in Vancouver. Glam bottle. Big display. I’m still too naive to keep my expectations realistic, so I was disappointed. Yep: pink, light, safe, forgettable. Sigh.

        The shock was the scrum of young girls surrounding the Marc Jacobs Lola display right beside the Very Hollywood. That stuff is HOT, boy. And I’m just as indifferent to it as the new MK. I’m really seeing that once a woman gets bitten by the niche bug, it’s game over for 90% of mainstream releases ;-)

        • monstabunny says:

          Lola is all about the bottle – and the Marc Jacobs cachet. The juice is mondo meh.

        • Robin says:

          I really do think Lola is a perfect fit with its intended audience — and way fun bottle, whereas this one doesn’t strike me as nearly so much fun. Plus, this bottle skews a little older, don’t you think? So assuming it’s geared more towards 20-somethings than teens, or however that all shakes out.

          • Robin R. says:

            I dig ya, Robin. Lola just nails it, and Very Hollywood misses the mark. (I must say that even I, in my frumpy oldster-ness, was quite smitten with the Lola bottle and joined the admiring scrum of young twenty-somethings around it. Old enough to be their mother, but what the dilly. ;-)

        • Ojeda says:

          > I’m really seeing that once a woman gets bitten by the niche bug, it’s game over for 90% of mainstream releases ;-)

          Tru dat! Though to be honest I think my niche habit means I just fall for a higher class of marketing B.S. ;) But I don’t hate it, it’s been fun!

    • Robin says:

      Ojeda, I’d agree it’s the best of the line…or at least, of what I’ve smelled. I never got to smell Kors, and I don’t think I ever smelled Michael Sheer either.

  7. Lil says:

    The Michael Kors boutique at my local mall used to aggressively pump Michael into the air just outside the doorway. They stopped, presumably because it kept people from going inside.

    • pyramus says:

      It would probably have kept me from the mall altogether. “Evil tuberose” is exactly right for Michael (and also Versace Blonde, which seemed to have been created in an attempt to out-tuberose the overwhelming Carolina Herrera, with Michael subsequently launched in an attempt to show the both of them who’s boss in the tuberose department). I know some people love it but it always made me recoil in horror.

      • Robin says:

        It really bugs me when it’s on skin, but somehow I love it from 3 feet away!

    • Robin says:

      Whew, that would keep me out of the store.

    • Ojeda says:

      LOL, that’s what got me to try Michael in the first place. I was walking through one of those vast Hong Kong supermalls a few years back, some peppy perfume girl was enthusiastically spraying it around and it got me to stop, smell, and buy on the spot!

      • Robin says:

        There you go…it works!

  8. pyramus says:

    I am genuinely baffled by the corporate decision to market an ounce of perfume but not a quarter-ounce, particularly if the scent skews as young as you say. Are teenagers taking up the elegant ritual of dabbing themselves with perfume rather than applying a couple of quick spritzes of EDP before they dash out the door? I don’t see it. You could sell perfume as a slightly more grown-up thing, but not a whole ounce, not at that price.

    Well, maybe their market research tells them different. I dunno.

    • Robin says:

      It does seem odd, and the price is awfully high for what this scent is — you can buy a perfume masterpiece for $300. Doubt they’re going to distribute it widely though.

  9. Jill says:

    I’m happy to read a review of something that I *don’t* want to try (I’ve really gone over-budget on fragrance lately). In defense of Michael, though, I will say that my sister wears it sometimes and I always think she smells great! But when I spray it on myself, I feel like I’m choking in it.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah, it’s too much for me too, but I like it on others.

    • mals86 says:

      I found it to be one of those “spray and walk through” scents – sprayed directly on skin, it’s very chemical.

      (How can that matter?? Is it just my perception with the sprayed vs dabbed thing? I always hear lots of stories about how something or other is too quiet dabbed, or too blaring sprayed… and I notice that my own dear darling L’arte di Gucci is lovely dabbed, but contains a plasticky note when sprayed. It shouldn’t matter, but somehow it *does.*)

      • Robin says:

        I agree wholeheartedly, it really does matter.

        • Existentialist says:

          I think it must have something to do with aerating the fragrance. I am no chemist, but perhaps the greater exposure to the air as it is sprayed rather than dabbed from a sample tube allows more, or different, chemicals to be smelled? I wish someone like Luca Turin, with a scientific background, would weigh in on this. Or someone who knows why red wine is better decanted, or poured through what I call my “wine spider”. I’ve found that those nice little 1ml samples don’t always give me a true scent picture. They’re kind of like looking at the index print one gets from a photo lab.

          • Robin says:

            Could be aerating it, could be just the greater quantity you get on your skin with a spray, I don’t know. But I’d like to know too.

  10. JeninDC says:

    I tried the original Michael years ago and could barely stand it. However, I have recently been sampling it agan and am really enjoying. It seems to be a tuberose that works for me and my boyfriend really, really likes it. That being said, I’ll sniff this new one but the bottle is so ghastly looking, I think I’ll be biased from the onset.

    • Robin says:

      Might as well give it a shot! I like the original Michael bottle much better though.

  11. Pipeo says:

    I adore the original Michael, but this really doesn’t sound like it’s worth sniffing out from your description.

    I can’t help but think I must have a faulty nose, every single perfume I love is rubbished in The Guide. :-)

    • Robin says:

      Hey, might as well give it a try! And having different tastes doesn’t mean you’ve got a faulty nose :-)

  12. alotofscents says:

    I wear Micheal. I bought a whole bottle just on the description. At first I thought it was very cloying and not enough Moroccan incense in it as it claimed. So I tried experimenting with different samples to layer with it. Then I bought a bunch of Demeter scents, one being Cinnamon Toast, which really brought out the incense. Remember Robin? I even succeeded in rubbing pure cinnamon on my skin and combining it and you chastised me for rubbing it on cause it could cause a skin condition. I was so determined to make it work! Then I found the perfume version and the spicy incense really stands out more and is definitely more lovely.
    I do like his Hawaii scent and Bermuda sounds interesting…lots of white notes.
    Micheal just works on me-once you get past the heady top notes. My sister hated it when I sprayed it on her, but then complimented me on my fragrance a few days later. She couldn’t believe it was the same one she hated.
    Maybe it’s an altruistic perfume that you only wear for others! ;)

    • Robin says:

      No, I’d forgotten but now I remember! I do need to try the parfum one of these days….with some Cinnamon Toast :-)

  13. Joe says:

    I’ve gotta hand it to you for giving it your best and writing a full-length review for launches like this. Much of the product really does beg for four- to five-sentence LT/TS witty zingers, doesn’t it? I mean, not that every review has to be snarky, but I appreciate that you really try to find something there in those vats of pink. And I won’t be totally dismissive … as you and others always point out, some fairly boring stuff can be perfectly *nice* to wear. And I’m sure this will find its audience. The bottles are somewhat cool if nothing else.

    • Robin says:

      You know, I adore reading those witty zingers (and can read them over & over), but hope I can describe something well enough here that someone who might like it would be able to tell from the review. Just a different approach.

      • Robin R. says:

        That’s why NST is my primary go-to for straight-up, no-frills, consistently reliable reviews when I’m really needing to know if a particular scent might be worth pursuing. Not that I don’t adore the subjective, witty-snarky, vastly entertaining reviews elsewhere, but those serve an entirely different purpose: more entertainment value, less But-will-I-actually-LIKE it value. ;-)

    • annemarie says:

      I agree Joe. It’s easy to be critical – anyone can do that. NST reviews always allow space for people who might like the fragrance and that’s why it has such a following.

      It’s very annoying to have something that gives you pleasure dismissed out of hand. SJP’s Lovely is my favourite ‘nice’ fragrance.

    • Robin says:

      Joe, Robin & Annemarie: ya’ll are being very sweet :-)

  14. vickyjane says:

    In the “red carpet” photo, it looks like the perfume bottle is attached to the woman’s wrist by a red leash, kind of like a levitating puppy…

    • Tama says:

      That’s funny!

    • Robin says:

      I didn’t notice that, but you’re right!

  15. megank4 says:

    I absolutely loved Michael. Let’s see, I was about 22 at the time. Then I moved, the bottle wasn’t wrapped very well and it broke, and everything reeked of it, so it rather turned me off the scent.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, that is not a good perfume to douse your stuff with!

  16. lightgreen22 says:

    Its an ok frag, i liked the gardinia but not much more, and why all the berries it just didn’t work it was very very screechy and ill put together

    • Robin says:

      Berries are popular, but screechy rarely is!

  17. lydiadrama says:

    The flacon is fun but the scent is yet more girly-fruit-fade-to-Glade.

    • Robin says:

      Ack! You hated it more than I did :-)

    • laken says:

      fade to glade! I like that. I’ve noticed some like that.

  18. RusticDove says:

    I’ve never been a fan of any of the Kors fragrances, but I have a few items of clothing by him and a couple of the tops are ‘go to’ favorites for me.

    • Robin says:

      I see his clothes at Lord & Taylor, I think? But can’t remember the style.

      • RusticDove says:

        Classic, stylish, understated. Nothing wild or over the top.

  19. Celestia says:

    Back in the day when I used to go to Paris every two years, I met a woman named Gigi. She was just a few years older and she showed me around Paris at night. Being alone there, it was the only chance I got. She always smelled wonderful so I asked her what she was wearing. This was before my hardcore perfumista days but I did know something at that point. She took the giant bottle out of her purse…Carolina Herrera! I had never liked it but on her it smelled great. Sadly, by my next trip, she had passed away!
    Michael was definitely not for me because of the heavy tuberose and gardenia that reminded me of the eighties. His island scents are better as long as there’s no coconut, tiare, plumeria and frangipani.
    Today I had the chance to try Very Hollywood. It did remind me of a very light version of Michael but it’s okay and wearable. The bottle, to my eye, is very pretty. His first bottle was a genius attempt at minimalism.
    I also sampled Lola which I think has a very tacky bottle but was pleasantly surprised that the fragrance recalled old Paris to me. A Scent by Issey Miyake was close by so I tried it too. It was a bit disappointing. I guess I was expecting something iconic like his original.

    • Robin says:

      Nice Paris story, thanks!

      And shame about the Issey Miyake…I was really looking forward to that.

  20. HDS1963 says:

    Hi Robin,

    It’s about time they launched something new for men, I regularly wear Michael for men, which I really love (and so does my gf), so I was wondering if you knew of anything in the pipeline?

    • Robin says:

      It does seem about time. No, don’t know of anything, but I often don’t so that doesn’t mean anything.

  21. Butterscotch says:

    I kind of like it but with michael kor in all his parfum it is always frickin gardinia i like the flower but yeah!

  22. Owen says:

    I think it sounds better without the “very”, just “Hollywood” is fine.

    and if they put eau de parfum into the edt bottles then I’d run out and buy it.

  23. ashley718 says:

    I LOVE this scent for summer. It’s amazing I just bought it today at Sephora!! It is amazing.

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