Review: "Fame", by Lady Gaga

 I have to admit to being very intrigued by the marketing blurb and advert for Lady Gaga’s new perfume. As an artist she goes out of her way to accentuate the different, the new, and the eccentric- so the decision to launch a perfume range seemed odd, bearing in mind that it is a step taken by countless celebrities before.

It is, in essence, the actions of a conformist. Profitable actions no doubt, as she is somewhat of an icon, but I can’t help wondering whether the perfume itself will actually prove to be anything more than the often run of the mill, fruity syrup churned out by the likes of, to name no names, Selena Gomez and Jennifer Lopez…

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In short, will Lady Gaga’s new perfume “Fame” turn out to be a grand marketing exercise (It is an industry where more money is usually spent on marketing than the juice in the bottle, after all) or will it surprise us with a bit more ingenuity and punch?

The official description of the perfume on the box certainly doesn’t disappoint-“Tears of Belladonna, crushed heart of tiger orchidea, with a black veil of incense, pulverized apricot, and, the combinative essences of saffron and honey drops.” does sound like something Lady Gaga herself might well have dreamed up; it is captivating, rather fascinating, albeit rather vague. Does anybody actually know what crushed Belladonna smells like? (As far as I was aware, just sort of herbacious; but I may stand corrected…) She could also be punning on the Italian word for Belladonna, which means beautiful woman, and comes from the old and very dangerous practice of using Belladonna to widen the pupils…Which definitely adds to the dangerous allure of “Fame” but is again a very abstract concept- so technically could smell like whatever they felt like putting in.

Another clue to the possible character of “Fame” comes from Lady Gaga herself, who described the perfume as smelling like an “expensive hooker”…

The following quote taken from the Daily Mail shows you a little bit more about where she is trying to go with this perfume: “It was taken out of my own blood sample, so it’s a sense of having me on your skin. I wanted to extract sort of the feeling and sense of blood and semen from molecular structures, so that’s where [the rumors] came from. That is in the perfume, but it doesn’t smell like that. Actually, the perfume smells like an expensive hooker.”

Oh dear, the plot thickens. I for one detect notoriety for notorieties sake; and I don’t particularly want to smell like a hooker, not even an expensive one. Hmmn…However, we have to remember that Lady Gaga has a certain target audience to court, and from what I have heard of her she seems pretty savvy, all credit to her; so perhaps we shouldn’t have expected any less!

Belladonna Tears aside, as I haven’t the faintest what they are supposed to smell like, does the perfume actually, really contain blood and semen aromas? I personally suspect that a slight metallic tang is as far as they will go with this, the project is managed after all by the now unashamedly mainstream Coty (the giants behind numerous other celebrity fragrances such as Britney Spears, Fantasy, and Paris Hilton, Heiress)

It’s time for the sniff test!

Well, I like it. I do like it.

However I wouldn’t call it the next big thing that is going to reform the perfume industry forever…It’s an assured and modern fruity floral. To be fair, it’s not the syrupy juice we have come to expect from celebrities, it does have a deeper and richer character than many.

It has long lasting power, and I’m not sure about the unique “push-pull” structure of the perfume talked about by the designers at Coty, but in good old fashioned perfume lingo it has an enduring dry down. The apricot sticks around, and changes and melds well with the other elements. Oh and the perfume has good sillage, just for good measure!

The dry down doesn’t have the complexity of “Opium”, for example, but there is something very pleasant and incense-y about it all, which does conjure up a feeling of mystery and dark seduction…

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In short, it’s subtle, and it’s on the whole a crowd pleaser (let’s be honest there’s only a very small and select section of society who truly wish to smell like blood and semen) - and it does tend towards the Dior “Poison” end of the perfume spectrum, albeit not being so revolutionary and in your face; so it does deliver to some degree on its slightly poisonous and edgy promise.

Personally I would have liked a bit more controversy, maybe even a splash of blood…But this is just my morbid curiosity speaking and I doubt it would have boosted Lady Gaga’s admirable bank balance all that much.

Actual Notes found in perfume: This is always pretty subjective, but I would go with saffron, apricot, belladonna, tiger orchid, jasmine, honey and incense, with perhaps, if I wasn’t imagining it, a very slight metallic, musky tang!

Notably, the perfume is black and it sprays clear, which is quite innovative- so they get house points for that…

Bottle wise, I confess I love it. It reminds me of some kind of Alien/Mandragore hybrid- a dark, cold, poisonous yet charismatic egg; from which who knows what manner of creature will hatch. The golden spiky claw of the thing who spawned this egg almost appears to grip it protectively- perhaps it doesn’t want to let go, perhaps it is snatching it away from us and taking it to safety?

Is this then, fame? Who knows…Though I suspect Lady Gaga has more idea than most.

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