Lady Gaga Fame ~ perfume review

Lady Gaga Fame, 2 page advert

[Note: regular readers of Now Smell This, at least, those that don't skip all the celebrity perfume reviews, have already read this story so many times that a summary should suffice: Fame is exactly what any long-time watcher of the celebrity fragrance market would have expected it to be: a sweetish fruity floral of no particular distinction. Still, it's wearable enough, and even after spraying it on paper, I was willing to try it on skin, which is more than I can say for Selena Gomez Eau de Parfum.]

As I've said here before, I am missing some portion of the gene for true fandom.1 There are famous people whose work I enjoy and whose careers I follow with some interest, but I'm not interested in meeting any of them, I don't much care about their private lives, and I certainly would not buy a perfume just because some famous person's name was on it. Maybe because of that, or maybe because I'm rarely more than vaguely familiar with the celebrities who land perfume contracts, I look on the celebrity fragrance market with an attitude somewhere between bemusement and detachment.

Based on my experience as a fragrance consumer, I've come to the conclusion that famous people aren't any more likely to launch wonderful perfumes than anybody else. Based on my experience as a fragrance blogger, I'll add that many celebrities clearly lack the facility (or the power, or the interest) to make the sorts of licensing and development arrangements that might result in a superior product (and some of them don't even manage passable). As I've also said before, celebrity perfumes are not generally any worse than other perfumes at the same price point and geared towards the same market — most reasonably priced, widely-distributed perfumes aimed at young people (which is what your average celebrity fragrance is) are not all that good. Very few of them live up to their advertising, and the number of truly stellar celebrity efforts can easily be counted without using up all of your fingers.

This month's big money2 launch is Fame, the debut fragrance from pop star Lady Gaga. Her license went to Coty Beauty, the Coty division that also does fragrances for Beyonce Knowles, Celine Dion, David Beckham, Faith Hill, Halle Berry, Kate Moss, Kylie Minogue, etc. and etc.3  Fame launched with the usual promises, along with a few that weren't so usual. It would be edgy, of course (that Lady Gaga is widely perceived as edgy is apparent even if all you know is what you've gleaned from a few whacked out images from fashion blogs / tabloids plus the 90 minute Lady Gaga episode of Glee, and it probably goes without saying that my familiarity with Lady Gaga does not go much further than that). Lady Gaga said it would smell like blood and semen, but that was early on; later, she mostly backtracked, noting only that it would smell like an expensive hooker. Coty said Fame would "surpass all norms and standards in the fragrance industry with its innovative technology" because of the now-famous black juice that sprays clear,4 and that...

It’s unique because it’s not pyramidal with a top, middle and bottom note. It has a trampoline structure — notes are rising at different rates that are quite random. Some accords will come out if you rub it, other accords will come out later. It has random propulsion and doesn’t have a classic linear drydown. We call it push-pull, and it will smell different on different people. There is a different volatility for different notes, and they’re of differing strengths. They work together harmoniously, but then they undergo metamorphosis on the skin, so you’re constantly surprised.5

Got that? Now, here is what I can tell you about Lady Gaga Fame:

Fame is not edgy. I don't think anybody is going to smell Fame and think, wow, this is what I'll wear next time I'm walking through an airport in my undies whilst flipping the bird at the paparazzi or wearing a dress (and matching shoes) made of fresh meat. If you smelled it blind, you'd recognize Fame right away as a reasonably priced modern fruity floral6 from Macy's, slightly more grown-up than the average. Did Lady Gaga's fan base want a fragrance as edgy as the advertising for Fame?7 Not likely.

Fame does not smell like an expensive hooker. Fame smells like a modern fruity floral from Macy's.

Fame does not smell like blood or semen. Nor are they included in the notes, which turned out to be saffron, apricot, belladonna, tiger orchid, jasmine, honey and incense.

The carded samples come in an opaque vial. In other words, I cannot verify that it is black liquid that sprays clear. In the interest of research, I should have dragged myself off to the mall to find a tester, but I just couldn't build up the momentum. I did check out the reviews at Sephora, and customers there have reported that Fame is in fact a black fluid that sprays clear. I cannot see why anybody wants a black fluid that sprays clear, but given the fuss that Coty is making over this feature, I can only assume that many people do.

I was not constantly surprised while wearing Fame. The "trampoline structure" and "random propulsion" just didn't happen for me, or maybe the structure was too unique and complicated for me to discern. They did warn that Fame would smell different on different people, though — on me, it just smelled like the usual progression of a standard-issue modern fruity floral from Macy's, and it went right on smelling like that every time I wore it. The opening smells like apricot jam + grape Kool-Aid, the heart is your standard nondescript "flowers" with a pinch of spice and the dry down is a heavy, rather bland, dark-ish woody musk with a smidgen of incense and a velvety finish. Traces of the apricot jam do linger into the far dry down — maybe that is the push-pull feature?

Fame could be worse, but it could also be a lot better. I didn't expect Fame to smell sophisticated or expensive or risky. But I did expect some spark of life, some element of fun, whether it be a bright and lively sort of fun (Britney Spears Fantasy, Jennifer Lopez Miami Glow) or a warm and sexy sort of fun (Jessica Simpson Fancy Nights, Halle by Halle Berry, Queen by Queen Latifah) or a sugar bomb kind of fun (Jessica Simpson Fancy, With Love Hilary Duff) or a weird kind of fun (Sarah Jessica Parker Covet) or, if all else failed, maybe just a hilariously vile kind of fun (Paris Hilton Heiress).8 Fame just doesn't have enough personality to compete with those fragrances, although if forced to pick, I might have to take it over Heiress.

Her fans would appear to adore it. Fame is obviously not being marketed to perfumistas, and if the few reviews I watched on YouTube are any indication, it was not a disappointment to its target market. It is too soon to say how well it will sell, of course. Early reviews on MakeupAlley are mixed; it's getting better ratings on Sephora.

The more I wore Fame, the more I came to think of it as a chillingly apt commentary on the nature of fame and the celebrity-fan relationship. But surely I have gone on too long already — let's save that discussion for the flanker, shall we? Now taking votes on the name of the first flanker! I'm hoping for an ephemeral boozy citrus called Fame: Your 15 Minutes.

Lady Gaga Fame, 1 page advert

Lady Gaga Fame was developed by perfumers Richard Herpin, Honorine Blanc and Nathalie Lorson. It is available in the “Ultimate Masterpiece” 100 ml version with metal cap ($79) and in 30 ($42) and 50 ($55) ml Eau de Parfum. There is also be a 10 ml rollerball ($19).

1. Although I admit there was a day when I fully expected to marry Bobby Sherman when I grew up, and I would have taken David Cassidy as a second-best consolation prize. If you have no idea who those people are, you probably know way more about Lady Gaga than I do.

2. Women's Wear Daily estimates that Coty will spend $30 million on promotion and advertising in the first year. Via "A New Spin on Lady Gaga's Fame", 7/13/2012

3. The less widely distributed Coty Prestige division develops fragrances for celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker; careful watchers will have noticed that some of the Coty Prestige names, Jennifer Lopez being the most obvious, have slipped into "direct-to-mass-market" status. And hey, what happened to the Harajuku Lovers line, anyway?

4. Via Prnewswire; and see also here.

5. Via Women's Wear Daily, 7/13/2012.

6. Coty is calling it a fruity floral, so we'll go with that, but I would have pegged it as a fruity musk or a fruity floriental.

7. If you missed the videos that have been released so far, see here and here and here.

8. I stole the phrase "hilariously vile" from Luca Turin, who used it in Perfumes: The Guide. I am pretty sure that I have used it elsewhere on this site and attributed it to Tania Sanchez, his co-author. Sorry!

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  1. JolieFleurs says:

    I sniffed this form one of those magazine adverts and was surprised to find that it reminded me of Victoria, the original scent by Victoria’s Secret.

    I really loved that one back in the day, and am now contemplating trying Fame on skin, if I can work up the motivation to hunt it down at a counter somewhere.

    Is this the same woman who had herself carried in to one of the awards show in an egg?

    • Robin says:

      Keeping my fingers crossed for you — always heard that Victoria was a great scent.

    • yes, this is egg-woman.

    • pigoletto says:

      I haven’t sniffed Fame but I loved and wore Victoria back in the day – up until about 1999? when I think they pretty much started to stop selling it. I don’t remember any fruit coming to mind, or any distinct florals for that matter, in Victoria – I guess I would have described it as a powdery oriental, sort of what I’d have imagined a vintage boudoir to smell like – an actual boudoir, not the Westwood scent. Maybe more like a more voluptuous Shalimar.

    • JoElla says:

      You have just given me a valid reason to sniff this. I loved Victoria and would love something like it again.

  2. pyramus says:

    “There is a different volatility for different notes, and they’re of differing strengths”?

    That describes every single scent ever composed in the entire history of perfumery. What a load of rubbish. What they call “trampoline” I call “careless slopping of things into a vat”. (I admit to not having smelled it, mind you.)

    I am inclined to like Gaga: I enjoy a half-dozen or so of her songs, and her épater-le-bourgeoisie act is kind of fun. But this does not sound promising. I don’t know why I was expecting better from her, but I was.

    • Robin says:

      It’s pretty funny. I esp. loved the part about rubbing it…clearly, they’ve never tried rubbing any of their other fragrances.

      I wasn’t surprised it wasn’t a masterpiece, but I am pretty surprised at the lack of fun. Maybe they figure that black juice that sprays clear is enough fun to go around.

      • Stevan says:

        Very busy day for fragrances today. 6 demo’s pushing lady gaga, 0 bottles sold, not being well received. It’ll be big for Christmas to give as a gift, but people aren’t lining up buy it.

        • Robin says:

          Interesting. It’s selling somewhere — it supposedly had a stellar first week.

  3. artdecades says:

    “Fruity floral from Macy’s” and “apricot jam + grape KoolAid” were true of my experience with it as well. Maybe we are the same person.

    Its a shame it sprays on clear. I thought they were at least going to follow Boudicca’s Wode and have it spray on black and fade to clear.

    • Robin says:

      And put it in a paint can like Wode! That would have been far more fun.

      (and if you figure out whether or not we’re the same person, do let me know!)

      • austenfan says:

        This made me giggle!

      • artdecades says:

        I will keep you abreast of the situation

  4. jonr951 says:

    What a great read. Thanks Robin! I happen to enjoy all 9 of the celeb scents you mentioned above far more than Fame. Which isn’t absolutely terrible in my book. It’s fine and I guess that’s all it needed to be right? Haha. Fame is like the grape version of the peach Beyonce Heat. Haha. I’ll gladly take a bottle for my bday but that’s all I’ll ever need of it. I can’t think of any fun flanker names for this one! Dang it! : (

    • Robin says:

      I would agree it’s not absolutely terrible — BUT, it remains to be seen whether it will get repeat purchases. It’s going to have to really sell like gangbusters in order not to be a disappointment given the investment.

      And Baby Phat Fabulosity! Another grape KoolAid special. Or is it Kool-Aid? Need to go look it up & fix it if it’s wrong…

      • Robin says:

        It’s Kool-Aid!

        • jonr951 says:

          Lol @ “grape Kool-Aid special”!!!

          • Robin says:

            And almost forgot Britney’s Midnight Fantasy, which also featured grape Kool-Aid and which most people liked much better than I did — I thought it was a real dud.

        • jonr951 says:

          Oh believe me, I LOVE & ADORE Britney and even I thought Midnight was a complete dud. Still do! It’s too bad most of the young ladies in my life LOVE it and I’ve had to gift it a million times and counting! : /

  5. sweetgrass says:

    I tried Fame at Sephora a week or so ago just out of curiosity. It’s not bad.. but it isn’t that interesting either. The black juice is kind of a neat trick, I guess, though as an “innovation” it’s both not really that innovative and pretty pointless. And the “trampoline” thing makes absolutely no sense at all. That’s just marketing nonsense that could describe every perfume ever. Different notes have different volatilites.. ya don’t say.

    This perfume strikes me as being kind of like how I’ve felt about her persona/aesthetic vs. her actual music. It’s just avant-garde-ish (sort-of) packaging around pretty mainstream contents.

    • Robin says:

      The thing about her persona/aesthetic vs. her actual music — I can see that being useful & entertaining for a performer, and it’s certainly no different from someone like Madonna (or even the sort of theatrics people come to expect from many bands, even bands w/ truly great music), but I have no sense of whether or not she’s actually a good musician (I haven’t heard much of her music and it’s not the kind of music I like anyway).

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Oh Sweetgrass, that’s a great observation! Yes! Unusual (but not TOO crazy) packaging and normal product!!!! My students insisted that I educate myself about Lady Gaga a few years ago, and I was really surprised how predictable her music was given her image. It does sound like this perfume follows that pattern to a T!

  6. OMG Robin ! I literally laughed out loud ! I couldn’t have said it better, myself. From the first syllable to the last word, I completely identify, and agree. You made my day ! Ha !

  7. Perfume Sniffer says:

    ((big sigh))

    call me crazy, but I truly expected more from Ms. Gaga. I sniffed this at Macy’s the other day and could not believe how ordinary and BORING it is! I mean, really, this is Gaga’s scent?? I actually did expect something a little edgy. And it is So Not Edgy.

    • Robin says:

      I said here, twice, that it would probably be strawberry sorbet + pink pepper, and I kind of wish it had been — would have probably been more fun than this, although I suppose it wouldn’t be a good fit w/ the black juice.

  8. mals86 says:


    (SO, so glad I wasn’t sipping anything when I got here. Thanks.)

    I may actually go smell this when I get the opportunity. I sort of like apricot jam. And I admit to sort of liking fruity florals, if they’re not frooty. Or stoopid. Wearing the first Ines de la Fressange today, as a matter of fact.)

    • pyramus says:

      I think the problem most of us have is that 1) the huge majority of scents released in the last decade or so, perhaps longer, have been fruity florals, and 2) most of them aren’t any good anyway.

      There’s nothing wrong with a well-composed fruity floral: to name two, Dalissime is enchanting, and Badgley Mischka is outstandingly gorgeous. They are emphatically not frooty.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Mitsouko is a “fruity floral”. Fruity-florals just need a good shot of oakmoss.

        • Robin says:

          Well, in all fairness, it’s a fruity chypre, and IIRC, Badgley Mischka is either a modern chypre or an oriental. Then again, as I said above, I wouldn’t call Fame a fruity floral either.

    • Robin says:

      I like many fruity florals, but readily admit that many (not all!) of them are niche & cost way more than this. Still, not at all kidding when I say that I like all of the celeb scents I listed above — not love, but like. Ok, other than Heiress, but I really do have a soft spot for Heiress.

      • Robin says:

        And have to add, since I could not find a way to fit it into the article, that my very first thought on smelling Fame was – “Come back Britney, I’m sorry for everything I said”.

        • jonr951 says:

          Ok, an even BIGGER LOL at “Come back Britney, I’m sorry for everything I said”! HILARIOUS!!!

          • Robin says:

            I would bet, seriously, that more care & effort were put into developing the juice for Curious & Fantasy than was put into the juice for this. Or there was just better creative direction. Hard to escape the feeling that the lion’s share of the effort here went into the technical aspects of the black juice.

        • Lys says:


          • Robin says:

            Poor Britney!

          • Robin says:

            Oh, and must add that she is one of the only celebrities that inspired people to register for user accounts here in order to defend her from all the haters when I’d review her scents. We’ll see if Gaga inspires the same devotion.

        • jonr951 says:

          You tell it like it is Robin! I LOVE it! Yeah I still love me some Fantasy, probably always will, and Curious is just fine. I spray Curious on my sheets, furniture and other such things in my room more than I do on myself. I really don’t enjoy on me one bit. Oh well.

          And I had no idea about fans rising up against the “haters” on nst! LOL! I’ve loved and enjoyed every single one of your reviews of Britney’s fragrances. I often read them again and again till this day. Keep doing what you’re doing Robin because it is absolutely working!

          I will say that I’m scared for you with this Gaga one. Her “little monsters” are very, I guess, “passionate” about her! Good luck! Hahahahaha! : )

          • Robin says:

            Most of the comments didn’t get pass the moderation because they were mean to other commenters. But I don’t really expect any trouble….I think the audience for this fragrance is probably watching YouTube reviews rather than reading blogs like this one.

            and thank you, you’re very kind :-)

        • YellowLantern says:

          Hahahahaha! That line pretty much tells me everything I need to know.

          Oh god, did you ever think there’d come a day when you’d think that?

          • Robin says:

            In an ideal world, we’d revisit every review 5 years later. It’s amazing how good some scents look from that perspective, and how others no longer seem to be all that & a bag of chips.

    • Dilana says:

      I have only smelled a magazine strip and it smelled way to fruit candyish to me. On the other hand, I feel that way about nearly all sweet perfumes.

      BUT if you really want to go into an Apricot Jam direction, try Daim Blond, it smells like a really fine home made apricot jam, mixed with too much cognac and unfortunately spilled onto a black leather skirt.

      • Robin says:

        Good call!

      • mals86 says:

        Daim Blonde did not impress me. Can’t remember why, though. I wanted more leather, maybe (?).

  9. RusticDove says:

    Robin, this may just be my favorite review of yours! Well, it’s difficult to say *ever*, but it’s up there. Tell me, did you roll your eyes a lot while sampling this fragrance and reading the ridiculous marketing claims?! ;-)

    • Robin says:

      You know, I rolled my eyes at some of the press stuff from Coty, but that was a while ago. Coty also said it “wasn’t commercial” — you could write a couple paragraphs on that alone, and then you could write a couple more about “Haus Laboratories” — I was a bit taken aback to see how many consumers really believe this stuff was concocted at a lab at a place called “Haus Laboratories” in Paris.

      When I got the scent, I really didn’t roll my eyes — I was just bummed. I am not kidding when I say I expected Fame to be WAY more fun that it was. I didn’t think it would be edgy, or at all my sort of fragrance, but this stuff just sits there, leaden, and does nothing.

      And thank you, that’s sweet.

  10. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Great review! Brilliant writing. And I particularly loved this: “I’m hoping for an ephemeral boozy citrus called Fame: Your 15 Minutes.”

  11. rlsk says:

    I actually like the smell of the Fame bath soap more than I do the perfume.

    • Robin says:

      And that black soap looks very cool, at least in pictures.

  12. Perfumista8 says:

    Spot on review. I didn’t expect much from this but I at least expected it to be dark, or even bizarre. I’m not a fan of L.Gaga and I guess I’ve made incorrect assumptions about what her fans would enjoy.
    Has anyone tried the perfume based on the True Blood series? I wonder if that’s nothing like what i’d expect as well

  13. DameEmma says:

    Clearly, Robin, you are insufficiently sophisticated to appreciate this masterpiece. Proof? SHAUN was the Cassidy to die for. LOL.

    • Robin says:

      I’m sure you’re right, BUT, clearly you are too young to remember that there was a time BEFORE Shaun, when only DAVID was out there in the public eye.

      (actually I’m not sure about that, but it’s how I remember it: Shaun got famous later, after I’d grown out of Tiger Beat)

      • annemarie says:

        Yep, I remember Shaun’s fame trailing several years behind that of David. I came into my teen, boy-watching stage, poster-buying phase between their moments of fame, meaning that David was too ‘old’ for me and Shaun too ‘young’. :) Also, I love the Bay City Rollers much more.

      • Rappleyea says:

        David Cassidy is one of the many celebs who buy racehorses at the Keeneland Sales…. who I *never* recognize! Sam Shepherd is another. These guys just don’t look the same in person. The crew makes fun of me. :-)

        • Robin says:

          David also did not age so well.

          • Rappleyea says:

            Without air-brushing, they all look like normal people!

  14. Lys says:

    I can report that I encountered Fame the day after its launch in my Sephora in the following manner, starting with my approach to the bottle up front:

    SA #1: That’s Fame. We just got it in. It uses “push-pull” technology. It’s an entirely new innovation.
    Me: Can I get a sample?
    SA #1: I work for Lancome, let me get someone.
    Me: You’re the Lancome rep but you know all about the Lady Gaga.
    SA#1: We just had the training.

    SA#2: That’s Fame. It’s new. It uses “push-pull” technology. It’s a new innovation.
    Me: Do you think I can get a sample made up?
    SA#2: I work for the company, so I can’t make one, but they should received carded samples. Let me get someone.

    SA#3: Here you are. It uses “push-pull” technology.
    Me: I heard about that.
    SA#3: It’s revolutionary. When you wear it, it smells one way in the morning, like something different in the afternoon and then it changes in the evening.

    I detect a theme!

    • OhLily says:

      Dr. Dolittle? ;)

    • Warum says:

      Lys, this is really funny!
      You made my day. I will definitely remember “push-pull technology”, LOL!

    • Robin says:

      I did not verify, but my memory is that every press piece I read talked about the color first, the push pull second, and the smell third. In all fairness, that’s how mainstream fragrance development usually works — 9 times out of 10 they come up with the concept & the bottle first, then they worry about finding a juice to match.

  15. Joanne says:

    Fabulous piece of commentary! Just fabulous!! I was with you the entire way, laughing aloud and, once or twice, I fear I may have snorted. (But don’t tell–I blamed it on the faulty chair)

  16. lenika says:

    It was hilarious! Robin, thank you for the laugh :)

  17. Queen_Cupcake says:

    Fa. Fa. Fa. Fa. Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa Fa. Fa. Fa. Fa. FASHION!

    • Robin says:

      Ok, that must be some sort of Gaga reference?

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Makes me think David Bowie . . . (but I admit, I don’t know Gaga’s stuff too well).

  18. OhLily says:

    I’m still gigglesnorting at “Come back Britney, I’m sorry for everything I said”! Too funny!

    • Robin says:

      (I really did think Midnight Fantasy was awful, but after all these years, the original Fantasy seems better all the time)

  19. dominika says:

    Your review is the only good thing to come out of this perfume. So funny :)

    • Robin says:

      Ha, Coty will make a bazillionty dollars, and so will Lady Gaga, and all sort of PR people & SAs & so on & so forth. Free world commerce, onwards & upwards ;-)

  20. Vincent says:

    I will try it just cause of belladonna + honey + incense and of course, cause of the color of the juice! Hope it’s not carcinogenic.

    • Robin says:

      Do try it! All fragrance is probably carcinogenic, that’s how I look at it.

  21. FragrantWitch says:

    Brilliant review, Robin! I did think that this would be at least intwresting to sniff but it sounds as if it is a total letdown. I think I would have probably liked a fragrance that went with the dark advertising. Same with Illamasqua Freak- you’d expect that Illamasqua would know how to make a freaky fragrance given how avant-garde and wildly creative some of their cosmetic campaigns are but, nope, they don’t. Alas.

    • Robin says:

      Illamasqua Freak was a total let down for me too, even though I don’t know that much about that company either. Just the name & the bottle led me to expect way more.

  22. Warum says:

    Whoa, I guess I am going to make a goof out of myself telling that I am actually pretty darn impressed by black liquid that sprays clear?? I will surely try it out just for that reason! THAT sounds like fun. Sorry the scent was not.

    Disclaimer: I must add that I am not a target age group, so the goof about being excited about the liquid is entirely mine :)

    • Robin says:

      Not at ALL — everybody is interested in different things and has their own opinions, and I have no problem with that. You know, watching the YouTube video reviews of this, I kept thinking how easy it would be to spoof their adoration, and how easy it would be for a Gaga fan to spoof the niggling concerns of aging perfumistas. What do they care if the smell is innovative, after all? It’s not what they’re paying for.

  23. austenfan says:

    I had never heard of Gaga till I saw her name mentioned on this and other blogs.
    A fun review of what seems a very bland scent.

    • Robin says:

      Wow, your rock is even better constructed than mine!

      • austenfan says:

        The size of Mt.Everest for some things, especially pop music.

  24. RavynG says:

    MANGOES AND SUNFLOWERS. that is all.

  25. MrsRabbit says:

    I just sniffed it from the Ulta advert that came today — very fruity to me..

    these youngsters trying to out “edgy” each other..its tiresome.

    The ads however are great…The little creepy crawley guys imply that Fame is a nuisance..and nothing more. Sounds like the juice lived up to the intention..

    Crafting a scent? Tiresome….like Fame.

    • Robin says:

      I think the top visual is just brilliant — I meant to talk more about the ads but ran out of space. I’ve been less impressed with the videos, but part of that is that 3 teasers is too many for any perfume video, IMHO, although they’re all doing it now.

  26. hajusuuri says:

    I got a sample of this from Sephora this past Sunday, more out of curiosity as to the color of the decanted perfume since it is supposed to turn clear when exposed to air. The liquid in my spray sample was dirty water gray, kind of like the color of the water used to clean a brush that was dipped in black watercolor; I couldn’t tell if the perfume inside the original bottle was ink black or lighter.

    I will try my sample this weekend. It smelled OK on paper.

    • Robin says:

      Interesting! When you think of it, very few of the perfumes we wear are clear. I should try spraying Fame on white cloth, wonder what I’d get.

      • hajusuuri says:

        It sprayed on clear on the white cardboard Sephora uses as test strips.

        i forgot to mention that this review was one of my favorites!

        • Robin says:

          Oh, I should hope it didn’t stain paper — they MUST have tested that, right?

          And thanks.

  27. annemarie says:

    Wasn’t there some other fragrance that starts out blue or purple or something in the bottle, and then sprays clear? A Lolita Lempicka? Or maybe I’m making that up.

    I’m wearing Rochas Femme today and every time I saw ‘Fame’ in your review I read it as ‘Femme’. Many moments of confused disappointment ensued.

    I enjoyed your opening meditation on celebrity fragrances.I’m sure you are right: Fame is not marketed to us so let’s not get to hot under the collar about it. It could be reaching people who never normally wear perfume at all, adn if they love it, that’s great.

    In the count of truly stellar celebrity fragrances, I’d devote one finger to SJP’s Lovely. I know Covet also has many fans in the perfume community.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, Boudicca Wode!

      Lovely was really well done — way, way better than most — but I just didn’t like it. It was sad, though, to watch the trajectory that started with Lovely and ended with SJP NYC.

    • deannadares says:

      I adore Lovely! And I didn’t even know it was the perfume I had read about in The Perfect Scent when I walked by a fragrance counter and thought: What is that gorgeous smell?!! It stood out among all the other celeb frags to me, and a friend had nearly the exact same experience. I think SJP did an excellent job with that perfume (haven’t liked her others much, but must smell Covet now :)

      • annemarie says:

        Have a feeling that Covet may be d/c, but you can probably still pick it up somewhere. It’s quite different to Lovely. Yes, I think Lovely is very well done and could almost be a contender for ‘classic’ status among celebrity scents, along with maybe JoLo’s original fragrance, and one or two of Elizabeth Taylor’s.

        • Robin says:

          Pretty sure that’s right, they axed it…I’m guessing they probably never made a second batch.

  28. Aparatchick says:

    Bobby Sherman! You’d have had to fight me for him, Robin. ;-) I remember cutting out a record* of his from the back of a cereal box and playing it over and over. Good times!

    I actually enjoy Lady Gaga much to the bemusement of my teenage niece and nephew, and I find I like the ads for this; too bad the actual perfume isn’t better.

    * I used the phrase “like a broken record” the other day and got a blank stare, so for those who don’t know, records were disc-shaped piece of vinyl that one played on a record-player (I’ll leave to your imagination how they sounded when made out of cardboard cereal boxes). For amusement, people would play them at speeds other than the one they were designed for. And sometimes backward, which is how we knew Paul was dead. Yes, it was a simpler time.

    • MrsRabbit says:

      Haha!! I remember that record from the cereal box!

    • Robin says:

      And I’ll be darned if I can remember a single thing about him, but hey, I remember those records!! And look at this:

      I adored Here Comes The Brides, and can’t remember a darned thing about the show either.

      • Aparatchick says:

        Living in Seattle, as I did at the time, I can tell you that we thought the theme song was hilarious: “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle” was often sung in my house as: “The bluest skies you’ve NEVER seen are in Seattle…..”

        • Robin says:

          Oh, that *is* funny! Can’t remember it raining on Here Comes The Brides.

      • MrsRabbit says:

        omg I still get a little flutter when I see his cute face!!

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Oh no! No “broken record!”? I used the phrase “like the pot and the kettle” and had to explain to my students last spring. What’s worse, they accused me of being racist (semi-joking) when I said the whole phrase! Ha!

      • Joanne says:

        That’s the kind of misunderstanding that worries me. Seriously.

    • Dilana says:

      And someone came up with the idea of playing a record backwards and fowards and at different speeds was reallt fun, particularily if another person talked really fast at a syncopated beat at the same. And Rap was born.

      I though the song “Sugar Sugar” was written so it could be a cut out record from Sugar Pops cereal.

  29. alyssa says:

    This review was a classic, Robin. (And also, “Come back, Britney…”) I was very sleepy from working all day when I cruised over here and am now completely refreshed. Your point about fun is such a good one. Market testing crushes the fun out of everything. It’s just not possible from a huge company like Coty, maybe.

    I adore the ad, though. Jess did a fantastic post tracing its influences (ie, where they stole everything):

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, A, and thank you for linking to Jessica’s great article, I should have remembered to do that in mine. I will warn (or tempt!) people that it’s NSFW.

      I don’t know about the fun part vis a vis Coty…I really do think the other scents I listed above were fun, and a reasonable percentage were by Coty. Almost think that the bigger the celebrity name, the less room there is to maneuver, because so much is riding on the outcome. AND, think Covet was a costly mistake that they probably don’t want to repeat. Remember all that stuff in The Perfect Scent — people warning SJP about how her fans might not follow her where she wanted to go w/ the perfume? Turns out it’s true. If you want to do just as you like, you have to do something like Tilda Swinton’s Like This — small scale, small payoff. Which is likewise an apt commentary on fame :-)

      • alyssa says:

        Have a feeling I just got the post that will go with the flanker… :-)

        • Robin says:

          Yeah, now I’ll have to come up with something else.

      • deannadares says:

        Robin, that whole post was just genius (the repetition of the Macy’s dig was especially delicious :) and you make a great point about the Tilda Swinton (which I haven’t smelled yet but must do soon). It must be hard to “guide” celebs, especially someone with the track record of SJP, but I think she’s also allowed a few misses as she’s trying hard to simply be herself vs. a manufactured Hollywood-bot. And how do I get this juicy insider information? Intuition, Perez and People magazine lol

        • Robin says:

          Tilda Swinton’s is weird — not everyone will love it! But it’s worth trying, and it’s interesting even if you don’t like it.

  30. smartylicious says:

    With Love Hilary Duff is a sugar bomb? I kindly disagree :)

    • Robin says:

      Will admit only the opening is over the top sweet, and actually most of the fragrances I listed were sweet, so hard to categorize them all properly by the sort of fun! I did think it was a fun scent. How would you tag it?

  31. chrisskins says:

    I have a flanker idea. Release the week (or day) before Mother’s Day. “Fam,” so the Little Monsters don’t have to think too hard about what to get their dead-eyed, exhausted moms.

  32. Tama says:

    Great review, Robin. I tried this yesterday and thought about the same. I had thought about picking it up for the bottle, or the novelty, but it is certainly not urgent and there are other things way ahead of it. While I was out, I also tested Tresor on a whim and will be revisiting that one asap.

    I do have a few celeb scents in my collection – Hillary Duff, Covet, Midnight Fantasy, G of the Sea (the Harajukus seem to have run their course), just as I have other mainstream perfumes I enjoy. I will seldom buy a perfume solely because of the celebrity, but it could happen.

    • Robin says:

      The HL line seemed to disappear all at once instead of a slow fizzle. Shame, I did love those bottles — wish I had a G of the Sea, or that Super G.

      • I keep seeing both of those at TJ Maxx – worth a shot!

        • Robin says:

          Seriously? There’s one near me, in a shopping center I have to visit today anyway. I will take a quick peek.

          • Hope you find them! They were there around mid-July!

  33. poodle says:

    Great review. It’s just another fruity floral and in the not so distant future it will be at TJ Maxx for a fraction of the price next to the other celebrity fruit juices.

  34. bluegardenia says:

    This stuff is just gross. I swear it turned my stomach! Smelled like fake jam and cheap patchouli to me…disgusting. Lady gaga and her perfume can’t go away fast enough for me!

    • Robin says:

      Sounds like you liked it even less than I did.

      • bluegardenia says:

        My taste in scents is admittedly so limited and specific, that’s not a surprise! I probably shouldn’t have even bothered to smell it but i was walking by a sephora window and got curious :)

  35. solanace says:

    The black juice, the ad picture… It seems aimed t 12 years olds! Could at least have a cannabis note.

    • Robin says:

      I know what you mean, but I think they’re going slightly older than that — at least, it smells it. I would have guessed something around 18-25.

  36. lucasai says:

    Didn’t try it yet but I didn’t expect any fireworks from the very beginning when I read first news on Gaga perfume. It will be released here in September. Maybe I’ll give it a sniff when I’ll return to Poznań in October.

    • Robin says:

      It’s interesting how many people expected fireworks. Hope springs eternal!

  37. Luccia says:

    I will go out on a limb and say it is sure to win multiple awards in many categories at the next Fifi Awards evening, because 30 million dollars is 30 million dollars. A good number of people are making a real living from this bash. I wish the visuals and the perfumes would make more of a match in perfume ads in general, it seems like the more sophisticated visuals are too often undermined by the nice girl perfumes and the perfumes are so misrepresented by the divergent visuals and presentation. Black liquid in a spikey jar that is a bland fruity floral? What do you call that — cognitive dissonance or something? Makes me nervous to even think about it.

    • Robin says:

      Possible, but wondering if that’s the biggest investment this year? I really don’t know. Lancome must be paying dearly to promote La Vie Est Belle — I doubt Julia Roberts was cheap.

  38. Rappleyea says:

    I only had time to take a quick look at the headline yesterday as I was the only one in the office. I couldn’t wait to get back to it when I saw the scent. I knew it would be great and you didn’t disappoint! This review belongs in the NST Hall of Fame! Classic Robin writing!

  39. What a great way to start my Friday morning! Great review Robin! The references to Bobby Sherman & David Cassidy made me smile so much even though they were a slight bit before my time. I was a Bay City Roller fan girl myself…I wonder what their perfume would smell lile…fruit & wool in a tartan bottle? The only reason I know about Lady Gaga is because of my kids, (sigh). I may get my daughter the soap because I think she’d like the way it looks. Good to know the juice won’t be too sophisticated for her ;-)

    • Dilana says:

      I was not a Bay City Rollers fan, but fruit and wool scents in a tartan bottle, that would be something work sniffing.
      I wouldn’t minded if LadyGaga had gone the Madonna route and “mainstreamed” a niche scent. (Madonna mainstreamed Fracas, by taming it, Fraca may not be exactly niche, but was not on too many Macy’s counters).
      I guess, in a sense she mainstreamed the concept of Wode (whose blue tint was intended to represent some celtic or scottish warrior queen). But I think each of us could imagine some notes or niche idea more suitable to Gaga’s over the top costumes (See this month’s Vogue for a picture of her in the most gorgeous ridiculously overscaled hat).
      She could, for instance have gone for an “absinth” and rose; or an orange and tobacco. Indeed given that “beef” dress, why not a little overripe tuberrose>
      But Robin, you’re right. In the end, the point of massive fame is that it generally ends up as massive main streaming.
      Gaga’s elaborate costumes, and “shocking image” is tamed by tihe other part of her public persona- the Lady who did a family special thanking the nuns from her old high school for teaching her well and promoting moral values like not being a bully, and sings about her grandtather’s love for her grandmother, and military service during WWII. (Yes, Edge of Glory is about her Grandfather as a WWII pilot looking forward to returning to his girl back home).
      So Fame may have the usual “shocking” perfume ands featuring “tasteful nudity” * and a black bottle, but according to my magazine stripping and every review, it comes down to a sweet safe scent.
      Moms can buy it for their daughters (or at least cart the kids to the mall and then reminding the kidsthat even Lady Gaga wants them to be nice to classmates and respect the nuns.

      * Here those men climbing all over the nude Lady Gaga, remind me more of ants than some kind of fan, or anything sexual.. Maybe the Men/Ants think Fame smells like Kool Aid too.

    • Robin says:

      My son mostly skipped the whole teeny-bopper pop music phase entirely, and now he’s listening to music I already knew, like Green Day, and a few things I hate (which is what he’s supposed to do, right?) like Linkin Park.

  40. Tara says:

    I too was in love with Bobby Sherman. I had his posters all over my walls. (WOW how old are we?) Whatever happened to him? Didn’t David Cassidy do decades of the “David and the Technicolor Dream Coat” national tour or something like that?

    Robin you review of Lady Gaga Fame is terrific….Thanks

    • Robin says:

      We are very very old, nearly ancient!!

      And WHAT, did he? You mean Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat? That’s another flashback to the past…

      • Rappleyea says:

        You all only get one “very”, not two! You get two “very, very’s” before old when you had Beatles and Rolling Stone posters!

        • Robin says:

          Ha, true enough! Have to tell you a story (and sorry if I’ve already posted this, can’t remember because I’m so OLD): awhile back, my son got very angry with me and went up to his room and blasted Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence. When he was calmer, I had to sit him down and explain that it just would not do, that if he wanted to send me a message, he had to find his OWN angry teenager music, presumably music that would annoy me rather than music that I’d been singing along to since I was 5 years old. :-)

          • lenika says:


          • Rappleyea says:

            Great story!! And if you’ve already told it, I don’t remember because I’m ancient!! :-D

      • Tara says:

        I just checked…Bobby Sherman is 69 years old now…UGH

        • Robin says:

          Holy toledo. I guess I should have known I was too young for him ;-)

    • Dilana says:

      I think it was Donny Osmond who did the endless tours of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat. David Cassidy appeared on Broadway in some pseudo Victorian murder mystery where he played twin brothers and had lots of ultra quick costume changes. (If I sound snide, let me say someone who had free tickets took me to see it, and it was a lot of fun).
      David Cassidy also has had a number of shows in Las Vegas.
      I have no idea of Sean’s career after he got too old for Tiger Beat. Maybe he invested his earnings and lived happily, privately ever after.

      • Tara says:

        I think Donny and David were both on Broadway in the 80s…here is a quote from wikipedia..

        Cassidy has performed in musical theatre. In 1981, he toured in a revival of a pre-Broadway production of Little Johnny Jones, a show originally produced in 1904 with music, lyrics, and book by George M. Cohan. (The show is excerpted in the biographic film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), when James Cagney sings Give My Regards to Broadway and The Yankee Doodle Boy.) However, Cassidy received negative reviews, and he had been replaced by another former teen idol, Donny Osmond,[17] by the time the show reached Broadway.[18] Cassidy, in turn, was himself a replacement for the lead in the original 1982 Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

        1982…wow that was a long time ago!!

    • AnnS says:

      I was totally in love with Parker Stevenson… Ah, sighs***

      • Tara says:

        Wasn’t he married to Kirstie Alley?

  41. CM says:

    I think GaGa was really interested in creating a perfume that would would be controversial and shocking and unusual – this based on her early comments about it smelling like blood and semen. Then, I’m sure, in the interest of creating something that would actually sell, a fruity floral was created instead. When you think about it, the perfume is just like GaGa herself – visually appealing (weird bottle), unusual (trampoline effect), and shocking (black juice). But what you get is a typical scent (just like a pop song) – that might be slightly better than most, but it’s still a pop song that is crafted to appeal to millions of adoring fans. Is GaGa shocking? Visually she is avant garde… but she still sings pop songs.

    • Robin says:

      All of that is true, except it turned out, IMHO, slightly worse than most instead of slightly better than most.

      And you *can* do avant garde pop, right? At least, that’s how I think of people like David Bowie. I don’t know enough about Gaga to say anything about her music, though!

      • CM says:

        I don’t really consider David Bowie a pop star – most of his work fits better in the Rock-n-Roll or Alternative category, but I do concede the point – Gaga is Avant Garde, as is Madonna, and Katy Perry. I’m not a Gaga fan, nor am I a fan of pop music. However, these artist are the definition of Avant Garde: Innovative and Experimental while still appealing to the masses (pop).

        • Robin says:

          I am not knowledgeable enough on this subject — don’t know Katy Perry, didn’t think of Madonna as at all avant garde when I was younger and she was just starting to become a big name, but maybe she was and I didn’t notice, literally! I mostly thought of her like many people now do about Gaga, from what I can see — much ado about nothing. To the extent that she was an influence, I would have thought her influence was more along the lines of how to build a persona (and a business) than along the lines of anything having to do with music. But as I said, this is not my area of expertise by any means.

          • CM says:

            I think you are spot on with your assessment. Madonna and Gaga are brilliant business women creating a personna and appealing to the masses.

          • austenfan says:

            I agree wholeheartedly with your Madonna assessment. I have just never been able to see what the fuss was about with her. I didn’t dislike her music, it was just so bland.

  42. CM says:

    And, as a flanker to the flanker, when your 15 minutes have run their course, let’s offer up Comeback. Comeback is a perfume stripped down to it’s gritty core. Top notes of sugared fruits are sure to please, and the long lasting soft woodsy based comprised of IsoSuper ensures that this scent will linger far longer than you really want it to.

  43. Celestia says:

    Flanker: Fame Whore

    • Robin says:

      HA — that won’t fly at Coty, but it works!

  44. AnnS says:

    Robin, this review is perfectly arch for a Friday! Yeow!!! I don’t have any problems with Lady Gaga as a performer – she’s this generation’s Madonna and Prince all rolled up into one. I think the ad copy for Fame is hilarious given how tame and common is the juice.

    It makes me wonder about being edgy in fragrance in a broader sense – recently I tried the Shalimar Initial and also the current Vol de Nuit extrait. Both of which, disappointingly, smell like their parent (no surprise) but have, for me, this horribly unfortunate “modern” note that I will only describe as plastic skunk butt. B/c that’s what it smells like to me. It must be the modern equivalent for using civet? Anyway, if you want skank, there is plenty of that out there in much more demure packaging. Even YSL Parisienne is more risque with all that plasticky stuff (bordering on plastic skunk butt…) I was kind of expecting Lady Gaga to really go for it and provide even the most modest training wheels for scent evolution for all her follwers – maybe it would be their opportunity to delve into the wonders of the nose. But no. That’s disappointing to me. If I want to smell like a lady of the night, I’ll not wear my deoderant, and get out my Bal a Versailles, or Tocade, or wear the horrible, ruined modern iteration of Vol de Nuit extrait, and get all skunked up.

    • Robin says:

      I liked Parisienne…it had some spunk. Not at all sure if it sold & suspect it didn’t. But some little touch like Parisienne’s vinyl — something small, not so much so as to make it hard to wear — that would have served Gaga well, and helped her image, IMHO, although arguably it would not have served Coty so well as Gaga, and that’s the problem w/ the whole way that fragrances are developed & marketed. If I were Gaga, and had an image like that to protect, I’d rather go for a middle ground, and sell a bit less but surprise a bit more.

  45. Omega says:

    I thought of the Kool-Aid man when I sniffed it..

    OH YEAH!

    or OH NO..depending on. ugh. another tweenkie sweetbomb

    • Robin says:

      It’s definitely got a Kool-Aid vibe in the opening.

  46. Lovetosmell says:

    This is my favorite fragrance.I wear it every day and my husband loves this fragrance.I wish it could last longer but I don’t mind spraying more on.I love the soap every thing about this fragrance is just spot on.The best fragrance I have tried in a long time.

    • Robin says:

      That’s great! Does the soap smell just like the fragrance?

    • Owen says:

      I’m also one of the few people who really like Fame. I love Lady Gaga and I think her perfume did a better job than most celebrity scents.

      it has a kind of set scent that is there the whole way though, but it changes slightly on my skin, so I believe that there isn’t a pyramid order to the notes.

      and I too wish that it would last longer on the skin.

  47. longlegs2 says:

    I have a sample of this and I am wearing it today and its OK, but so not what I was hoping for, and it dissappears really fast.(Is this a statement on Fame?) I sprayed four litttle squirts this morning around 7AM, and lost the scent around 9…sprayed again after lunch-12:30PM, can just barely smell it now… even if I hoover my arm-2:30PM. I have found this with many new fragrances, including the 3 latest Chanels. I don’t know if they are using something that my poor 50 year old nose can’t smell, or if I’m losing it. I received several samples at the mall, Givency Dahlia Noir…soft, pretty, then…nothing…could not smell it after about 1 hour. Pleasures eau fraiche…meh, OK …a little better as far as lasting. Michael Kors Rose Gold…that lasted the longest, and I liked it the least, of course.

    • Robin says:

      It may well be that you are anosmic to one or more of the modern musks…it’s certainly not unusual.

  48. Katrina says:

    It could be a little less sweet but I still love it! Nice work Gaga.

    • Robin says:

      Nice to see fans showing up, thanks Katrina!

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