Until Elizabeth Taylor Forever Elizabeth, my experience with the House of Taylor was limited to White Diamonds’s grande dame aldehydic floral and Black Pearls’s delightfully trashy peach and black patent leather. Given these extremes, what could Forever Elizabeth smell like? A delicate composition of violets, jasmine and musk, that’s what.
If White Diamonds, Black Pearls and Forever Elizabeth were at a party, White Diamonds would be sitting on the couch while suitors brought her snacks, unaware that the ingénue would morph into a diva before the night was over. Black Pearls would be adjusting her corset and practicing a bump-and-grind in front of the mirror in preparation for a show later that night. Forever Elizabeth, though, would be in the corner, writing poetry, lost in her own world…
For Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls Eau de Parfum, it’s almost as if the Liz Taylor perfume team set out to make a fragrance that was the complete opposite of White Diamonds. First, of course, the name. What could be more removed from a white diamond than a black pearl? Then the fragrance itself. White Diamonds is a grand, soapy, white floral with a clean, dignified, and innocent air. Black Pearls is something else altogether.
“Well, if we really want to distinguish it from White Diamonds, we’ll need fruit,” a marketing person must have said.
“How about peach? You know, voluptuous, like Ms. Taylor herself. We can add a spot of bergamot to keep it from being too sweet,” the perfume executive said.
“What else? What else will set it apart from White Diamonds?”
“Maybe vanilla? We can make it an oriental. Wait! I know — how about leather? A whopping leather note? There’s nothing innocent and ladylike about that.” And so, in 1996, Black Pearls was born. At least, in my imagination that’s how it happened. And that’s how it smells…
It’s disconcerting to consider Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, a perfume supposed to represent the actress. After all, which Liz are we talking about? The ingénue of National Velvet? The tempestuous, alcohol-sodden seductress of Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Senator’s wife, depressed and overweight? Or maybe the laid-back Mrs. Fortensky?
I knew White Diamonds was wildly popular, but I expected it earned its sales among soap-opera-watching, chain-smoking elderly ladies. I figured it would smell of sharp aldehydes, cheap white flowers, and rubbing alcohol. Boy was I wrong. White Diamonds Eau de Toilette is a gentle white floral chypre with a soft, clean feel. Spring-sweet and soapy fresh. Classic, really. I’m hooked.
It seems crazy, but when Parfums International launched White Diamonds in the fall of 1991, it was the first time a celebrity had released a second feminine fragrance. Elizabeth Taylor Passion for Women (1987) and Passion for Men had already hit the market…