Elizabeth Taylor Passion ~ fragrance review

Elizabeth Taylor Passion

Here we have it, folks, the first celebrity fragrance: Elizabeth Taylor Passion. That’s right. In 1987, Elizabeth Taylor was the first big name, besides a couturier, to brand a perfume. And she went big. Unlike some celebrities who curiously say, “I don’t really like perfume, but I like this one” about their eponymous “clean smelling” scents, Taylor put together a glamorous whopper of a perfume.1

Passion’s notes include gardenia, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, amber musk, patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood, incense, and moss. In 1988, the fragrance won a FiFi as the Women’s Fragrance of the Year, Nouveau Niche (Fendi won Fragrance of the Year, Luxe).

Jan Moran in Fabulous Fragrances quotes Taylor as saying about Passion, “It has a scent of mystery, slightly effusive, kind of smoky and sweet.” As to why she named the fragrance Passion…

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Elizabeth Taylor Forever Elizabeth ~ fragrance review

Elizabeth Taylor Forever Elizabeth advert

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…

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Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls ~ fragrance review

Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls

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…

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