So, Burberry as a fragrance house, yay or meh or nay? I've been mostly in the meh camp. The original Burberry Brit was a fun, pear-based fruity floral before pear became so annoyingly ubiquitous, and although it wasn't my thing, I thought a couple of the flankers (particularly Brit Red and Brit Gold) were pretty good. The Beat was ok, although I thought the limited edition Beat Elixir version was so much better that I didn't see why it wasn't released as the "main" fragrance (it's the only Burberry fragrance I own, and I still wear it from time to time). I did not much care for Burberry London, and ditto for Burberry Body.
All of which might explain why I did not have especially high hopes for Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her. It didn't help that Kevin was not enthralled with the men's version (I didn't get around to smelling it, but we agree more often than not). And the rock music inspiration / backstory, hey, that's getting a little old, isn't it?1 The Beat hardly lived up to its 'edgy, carnal, slightly wild' musical inspirations, and I rather doubted Brit Rhythm for Her would live up to this number, from the capsule fashion collection Burberry launched in conjunction with the fragrance:
The jacket, by the way, is $4995, and there are also shoes, jeans, handbags, sunglasses and whatnot, many of them with fewer studs and a smaller price tag. The Brit Rhythm advertising, meanwhile, featuring Suki Waterhouse, is curiously unmusical (see the commercial here) — it seems to be about being a star more than about rock music.
But the Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her fragrance was a pleasant surprise. No, it's not edgy, and no, it's not what I'd pick to live up to the jacket, but that's business as usual, right? If you want an edgy fragrance, you're not likely to find it from a designer brand promising an edgy fragrance — the brand's description of Brit Rhythm as having "a rock ’n’ roll edge" with "powdery softness" is accurate mostly about the latter part, the powdery softness. It's a very soft, powdery, 'veil of scent' sort of thing, à la Cartier Baiser Volé, Prada Infusion d'Iris, Lolita Lempicka L'Eau en Blanc, & etc. & etc., although it's warmer than most, and here, the theme is lavender. Sort of. Nathalie Cetto, one of the two perfumes who developed Brit Rhythm (the other was Antoine Maisondieu), noted that:
We are very proud — this is the first feminine fragrance created around lavender. English lavender is more aromatic [than French], and it was important for us to have an English ingredient.
Fine,2 but in case you're either afraid of lavender, or a huge lavender freak, do be aware that it's a very modern, completely de-clawed lavender, with absolutely nothing sharp or spiky about it (it's almost certainly a molecular fraction). Brit Rhythm is bright, citrus-y, and mildly fruity at the start, with plenty (and then some) of pink pepper. The floral notes are vague and easy, the lavender is mild and quiet, like a lavender soap, and the whole thing is laid over a middling-dark bed of powdery, slightly earthy iris and musky woods (the notes: English lavender, pink pepper, neroli, orris, blackberry leaves, orange blossom, petalia (peony), vetiver, musks and woods).
Verdict: I like Brit Rhythm. It's just warm enough to stand up nicely to cold weather. It's not too young or too pinkified or too silly: right there, it's likely to be better than half the new releases this year. Still, I wish they'd given it a little more oomph — just a little more bite to the lavender, maybe, or a stronger orange blossom note, or both? As it is, it's nice enough to wear, but a wee bit too bland to inspire love or loyalty, especially given the multitude of perfumes in this style on the market right now. A darker, more intense flanker would be welcome, although the way things are going lately we're more likely to get a green-hued Brit Rhythm L'Eau.
Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her is available in 30, 50 ($70) and 90 ($90) ml Eau de Toilette, and in matching body products including 50 ml Hair Mist ($40).
1. Burberry designer Christopher Bailey says that Brit Rhythm “is aiming to capture the emotion, excitement and attitude attached to live music. It’s really that kind of adrenaline feeling that you get from music. The effect of hairs rising on the back of your neck. The moment where you are anticipating your favorite band coming on, or when you are listening to a beautiful piece. It’s a sexy fragrance because I think there is a sexiness to that kind of rock ’n’ roll world.” Women's Wear Daily, 12/20/2013.
2. Although if you'd like a reminder of a few of the feminine lavenders that preceded this one, see the comments to the fragrance announcement.