I never use two at the same time. I like to change, because if you don’t change, you don’t smell it anymore. I love Dior Gris Montaigne; it’s very good. It’s almost purple, a great scent for men. And recently, I discovered Byredo Bal d’Afrique and Ombre Mercure.1
That's Karl Lagerfeld, talking about perfume on the occasion of the launch of his latest him & her fragrance duo, developed under new licensing arrangements with InterParfums. Clearly the man has good taste in perfume, and presumably he has the wherewithal to hire the right sort of people to develop a hit fragrance, but so far, he hasn't managed to produce a lasting classic under his own name: all of his earlier perfumes, under licenses with Coty and Elizabeth Arden, are off the market.
In stark contrast to the rather low-key launches of his last two releases, under Coty (the Karl Lagerfeld Kapsule trio and Karleidoscope, neither of which made much of a ripple in the market), the advance hype for the new fragrances was ferocious, and if you missed all the frenzy over #karlparfums on Twitter, fear not, you can still get an emotiKarl app for your phone, should you care to include emoticons of Karl's gloved hand, or the fragrance bottles, or Choupette's face, in your texts.2
I have not yet smelled the men's fragrance,3 but I think I can safely say that the women's is not likely to make the history books. It's meant to be a green floral, with lemon, peach, rose, magnolia, plumeria, musk and ambery woods. It starts out a little loud, with a slightly screechy mix of sweet fruits and sharp citrus, and calms quickly into a full-bodied blended floral, heavy on the rose, with the plumeria adding a bit of an exotic touch. The magnolia is noticeable, but not for long, and there is, perhaps, a tinge or two of green. It's far from skanky, but it's not as aggressively clean and fresh as many of its contemporaries on the counter at Macy's, and in that sense it's somewhat more conservatively feminine (and less youthful) than you might have expected from the official description, which echoes all the usual PR tropes about 'edgy' and 'rock and roll'.4
Should you dislike it, fear not, the 'full-bodied' part doesn't last for long: Karl Lagerfeld Eau de Parfum fades to bland in nearly record time. After about 45 minutes, it's a vague woody musk with the remnants of a few "flowers". It smells like what might be the lingering remains of yesterday's perfume, but that little bit, surprisingly, lingers on for another four or five hours before fading away to nothing.
Verdict: Karl Lagerfeld Eau de Parfum is perfectly wearable, not particularly interesting, not particularly memorable, not particularly fun — it's possibly even more uninspiring than Prada Candy Florale. It's not likely any great investment was made in the materials; if it was, the money appears to have gone to waste. To quote Karl, "When beauty is standard, it is boring."5
Karl Lagerfeld Eau de Parfum was developed by perfumers Serge Majoullier and Christine Nagel. It is available in 25, 45 ($65) and 85 ($85) ml, and in a 10 ml rollerball ($25).
1. Via Karl Lagerfeld Smells Like "Fresh, Ironed Linen" at Elle.
2. Choupette is his cat, and it is a mark of the fawning attention Lagerfeld receives in the press that even I know the name of his cat. And that Choupette has two personal maids and her own iPad.
3. The concise opinion of @fragrantreviews at Twitter: "Karl Lagerfeld for Him: A bland fougère consisting of top notes of 'blah', heart notes of 'yawn' and an intense blast of 'meh' in the base *". And their take on the women's: "Karl Lagerfeld for Her: A passable floriental in the same vein as Guerlain’s L’Insta… *snore* Oh, sorry, I fell asleep for a moment there **."
4. The description at Harrods: "Karl Lagerfeld’s two new fragrances echo his edgy style, whilst conveying sophisticated elegance and classicism with a bold, modern twist. Together, the duo form a rock and roll story of desire, of irresistible magnetism conveyed by their unique scent. "
5. Again via Karl Lagerfeld Smells Like "Fresh, Ironed Linen", at Elle.