I’ve been really spoiled when it comes to Vero.Profumo fragrances as I’ve been lucky enough to try the Eau de Parfums and the Extraits side by side. This has been a wonderful excerise in learning more about Vero Kern’s development of the perfumes and how she has subtly altered and lightened the Eaux, without changing their essential characters.
‘Onda’ I found to be two very different facets of the same sexually suggestive jewel. The Eau de Parfum was light, sun drenched, lazy sex in the afternoon, the extrait was more about the animal attraction between two people late at night. A difficult and fascinating perfume, I knew when I reviewed it that although it intrigued me and educated me, it would not be a scent that I would put on my skin very often. ‘Mito’ is another that I found to be quite an experience, so green with zest that it almost fizzes, with a salt tang and a heady presence that was just a little too loud for me to wear comfortably. ‘Rubj’ I am saving for a day when I feel resilient because I have a suspicion that it too will give me a run for my money. But ‘Kiki’? Well, let me tell you about it….
Named after the vivacious and iconic woman that began her life as Alice Prin, then later reinvented herself as Kiki, the queen of Montparnasse. She was an artist’s model, singer, and painter who has become synonymous with the liberated social scene of 1920’s Paris. If you have ever seen a photograph of her your will see instantly why she was so much loved and emulated. She had such a face! Not beautiful by today’s airbrushed western standards, but so striking and with the dramatic hairstyle and makeup of the era it is easy to understand why everyone either wanted to paint her, photograph her, or quite simply be her. She spent most of the 1920’s as a dear companion of the artist Man Ray, as well as being a successful artist in her own right. She was known for being continually optimistic and free-spirited and is regarded as one of the first truly independent women.
Just to look at Kiki de Montparnasse, you can see the confidence twinkling in her eyes and a smile continually twitching at her lips. She just looks like she always had fun, unadulterated, uninhibited fun. Have you ever had a friend like that? I have, and she has never failed to pull me out of whatever bad mood I may be lurking in. It is also clear from reading about her that Kiki was an intelligent, creative woman who was successful and pioneering in her day.
Funny, exuberant, creative, intelligent and darn gorgeous to boot. Wouldn’t we all like to be a little more like that? Well when I wear ‘Kiki’ I feel capable of being anyone I want to be…
As with all Vero.Profumo fragrances, the combination of notes are bizarre yet wonderful. They are perfumes which are also quite difficult to deconstruct as the notes all swell together and swirl about in a superbly seamless way. In ‘Kiki EdP’ the first impression is of a puff of sweet floral, which quickly forms itself into a Pom Pom of lavender, fluffy, light and slightly dry. The lavender does a lovely little dance through dry, fresh, sweet and soapy before being swept into a wave of juicy passion fruit, a delightful confection of tiny purple flower heads and black gooey seeds floating in sticky sweet nectar. In ‘Onda EdP’ I found the passionfruit to be slightly too bodily, but here it is fruity and sweet and sits so perfectly next to the lavender that I marvel at Vero Kern’s ingenious mind.
I really love lavender, but too much of it, especially in perfume, is an immediate turn off for me. I find it to be quite a medicinal scent, I use it in a medicinal way, so in perfumery it tends not to push any of the right buttons. In Kiki, however, the lavender is dressed in such a way as to make all it’s other qualities really shine. ‘Kiki’s caramel note is quite pronounced on my skin and I adore it because it balances everything out perfectly. The lavender isn’t allowed to become too dry and sharp, instead staying in that wonderful, fluffy, floral, slightly green form that it has when it’s just bloomed. The passionfruit keeps on the right side of sweet and juicy, never slipping into that overripe fetidness that I disliked in ‘Onda’. The caramel is smooth and golden and mouthwateringly good, just totally delicious.
Once the caramel has fully developed the fruity juices subside a little and the perfume starts to take on a slightly drier quality, although I find it to be more of a sweet powdery dryness rather than the sharp dryness of lavender. I am reminded of toffee Bon Bons, rolled in lavender sugar and served in a finely patterned china bowl. ‘Kiki EdP’ again causes me to contradict myself as I never normally enjoy overly powdered scents, but I truly love this. It is delicate yet bold, flirty yet passionate, intentionally frivolous and wickedly fun. My only sadness is that the EdP doesn’t last on my skin. 3 hours and it’s gone, leaving behind only the faded scraps of it’s beautiful party dress. Thank god for the Extrait…..
Unlike ‘Onda’, I didn’t find ‘Kiki Extrait’ to be a darker face of it’s EdP sister. It is essentially the same, except that I found the fruitiness replaced far sooner with the luxurious caramel. I wonder if maybe the Extrait doesn’t have passionfruit at all and the fruitiness this time comes more from bergamot and geranium. The lavender still has that wonderful light sweetness that I find so special and all is smothered in delicious caramel. The development of ‘Kiki’ is much more languid and rich in the extrait and it has an impressive longevity, lasting all day and into the evening, albeit a close skin scent by the time the sun set. I spritzed some on a scarf too, now that the weather is turning, and that scarf is still humming ‘Kiki’s song, days later.
I don’t think I have found a perfume thus far that has quite as much fun as ‘Kiki’ seems to have, whilst also retaining it’s elegance and poise. I do like a sweet gourmand but often find them to be a bit silly and young. I live in a university city and it seems that every female student is wearing Prada ‘Candy’ at the moment. I am bored to tears with it. ‘Kiki’ is like the infinitely more worldly wise and sophisticated older sister, who is capable of having way more fun and not having to be dragged from the floor of the club when it closes. ‘Kiki’ arrives in style, charms everyone in the room with her wit and her wicked smile, sets the dance floor alight then retreats to the balcony to talk art and culture, while the young ones stumble drunkenly into eachother in the sickly sweet gloom.
‘Kiki’ is a queen. She will whisk you up into happiness and set you down again wrapped in caramel kisses and dusted with lavender confetti. I wish I had known this perfume when I got married. I would have worn it. It is pure happiness in a bottle for me. ‘Kiki’ je t’aime.