Portrait of a Lady fragrance notes

    • Rose Essence, Blackcurrant, Raspberry, Cinnamon, Clove, Rose Absolute, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Incense, Ambroxan, White Musk Cocktail

Latest Reviews of Portrait of a Lady

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Regal and brutal in equal measure, Portrait of a Lady is the kind of fragrance best suited to boardroom intimidation than it is to personal enjoyment. I only ever call upon it when suiting up for battle – it is my own pocket Iron Lady, complete with the bouffant hair and 1980s power suits. Crushing, smothering belly rolls of the ashiest incense this side of Tobacco Oud crowd in on the pulpy raspberry rose, the neon green flicker of camphor or eucalyptus acting as a warning light. A sober, dry patchouli hulks in the background, somewhat discreetly at first until you take a second look and realize just how massive it is.

Portrait of a Lady is less of a fragrance than it is a behemoth – an institution. These days, the rose is a little less brilliant than before, so some of that ‘red jewel glittering against a grey fog of ash’ effect is lost. But it is still an impressive perfume and still eminently suited to business of turning you into a walking weapon of mass destruction. I respect its power more than I like it, but I will never be without a little vial of it, like a flick knife tucked inside my knickers.
10th November 2023
I don't think anyone can deny this is a beautiful perfume - it all goes down to whether you want to smell like a rose. I, personally, do not.

Halfway through development an incensy-oud tries to poke through the rose. Perhaps a touch of patchouli and a boatload of musks.

Impressive, huge, flamboyant, not for me.
19th November 2022

Piggybacking on timothybcats assessment - it’s impactful, and ponderous. I’m not much for floral fragrances for women and have a deep roundness for patchouli so this struck a chord. I will be buying a bottle once I sell enough plasma.
14th September 2022
A beautiful rose with berries and soft, spiced incense.

On me, Portrait of a Lady (PoaL) has moderate longevity, moderate sillage, and becomes a skin scent within four hours.

I love wearing rose fragrances. Rose of No Man’s Land by Byredo is my default option, I like wearing Young Rose by Byredo, and I finished three tins of Montale’s Black Aoud in its golden/not chemically era.

PoaL is very nice, but I would recommend either of the Byredo’s over it.

PoaL opens with a lovely rose and berry accord, which I could happily sniff all day. Within half an hour a soft, spiced incense emerges, and this accord plays nicely with the rose and berries for about two hours. At about the three hour mark it is like these two accords tire each other out and the entire fragrance gently goes to sleep on top of a hint of musk and amber.

The entire affair is very pretty, but I expect more than this from a fragrance with this pedigree and price.
15th August 2022
Portrait of a Lady is a development of the rose-violet bouquet, which appeared more than a century ago, and reached its peak in 1983 with Sophia Grojsman’s Paris. PoaL is also a rose bouquet - but it's another sort entirely.

It does away with the violets and replaces them with dark patchouli.
To this it adds rose - from two different distillations; one of Turkish Damascena from an old copper still; the other is the same oil - redistilled, and lighter fractions are extracted to bolster the rose to a whopping 10% of the formula!

This is livened with a breath of incense, rounded off with red fruits, and spiced with clove and cinnamon. Amber is present in the base to offset the musk and sweeten the dryness.

The difference between the old style and the new is startling; where Paris is a punkette in a pink fluffy jumper, PoaL is her mother in a tailored chypre suit.

It's not a loud perfume as such - but you cannot fail to notice when you wear it...
Personally I find it too much, the sort of thing that’d -Wear You- given half the chance...
15th April 2022
This is truly impactful as a fragrance experience for me, which I realize sounds melodramatic. I've never had a fragrance display this kind of behavior. It wafted unexpectedly, even as I was sedentary, as a breezy scent of a garden. It rotated and flowed showing different facets as it did so: rose, incense, raspberry, subtle wood like church pew. I can only describe it as...sentient.

It didn't really project after the first few hours, but those four notes settled down and married. The staying power was about 9 hours even after it clung close to the skin.

I'm not sure if this behavior is something Ropion could have knowingly composed, but if this was how the plan was executed he's a genius. Regardless of intention this is a true masterpiece.
24th February 2022
Show all 80 Reviews of Portrait of a Lady by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle