Monday, November 20, 2006

Maquillage: the sweet scent of makeup

It’s always so gratifying to get samples from less known perfumers who put their heart into their perfume instead of marketing analysis and assorted research and development findings. Such is the case with Maquillage, the very likeable scent by amateur perfumer Armando Martinez. Over the few months I have been writing my blog, people have been asking me to review perfumes for their reading enjoyment, reviews that maybe they wouldn't see in any other perfume blog in some cases as the perfumes were not known and the sources were obscure and did not list notes. It has been my joy and pride to do so for them. This however is not such a case. In fact I was the one who asked tentatively if I could sample this perfume when I heard about it and Armando obligingly sent a sample along.

Armando has been dabbling with oils and essences and some synthetic aromatic materials as a hobby for a long time, being interested in the magical world of perfume for years. The scented memories of his life have been fodder for his experiments and his love for the vintage masterpieces of yesterday such as My Sin, Scandal, Tabac Blond or Shocking de Schiaparelli has not been eclipsed by his ardent love for all things nouveau niche such as Lutens’ Ambre Sultan, Chergui or Bond no.9 New Haarlem.

His fragrance for women was baptized Maquillage from the French word for makeup and is redolent of his love for perfume in general. In an early first effort that was a homage to Jean Paul Gaultier's Classique, sweet scent of femininty trapped in the torso bottle that has in turn been inspired in looks by Shocking, Armando has captured the essence of a lady’s makeup paraphernalia and more prominently the aroma of face powder and satin cream lipstick in old bullet-style packaging. Oh, so elegant and glamorous, the times of bygones brought back with a nonchalant flick of the puff.

As I picked up the little bottle with the clear and oily liquid sample of the perfume my mind strayed into the avenue of a reminiscence of my own. I thought about the glamour of my grandmother’s trousse de toilette, all gold gilded bottles, often brought back from Paris. This was one hell of a glamorous grandma who used to order her clothes to the best tailors in town and her evening gowns to French ateliers, lavishing Madame Rochas and Miss Dior parfum with elegant gusto on her unstoppable person.

Maquillage would fit such a person. It begins its soft glamorous and nostalgic journey on a very soft, citrusy, bright and lightly sweet rose and honey note that is soon aligned to the candied scent of violet. Such a combination has a very feminine and cuddly smell, redolent of the mood that L’artisan’s Drole de Rose recalls. Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose is another rose-violet combo that could be referenced, and yet, Maquillage is not as sweet neither is it as penetrating making it infinitely more wearable in my opinion (because I prefer more subtle florals); although its great flaw is the lack of staying power compared with the monstrous tenacity of Lipstick Rose. The fact that Maquillage has a slightly oily texture indicates that it is not a lack of the proper aromatic materials, as I generally perceive this as a good sign, but maybe a matter of dilution which needs to be lower.
The drydown phase after about 20 minutes on my skin is a very soft musky powdery affair of the amorous pairing of iris and musk of a synthetic nature that warms up the whole, making it soft and pretty, with the merest touch of vanillic nature, just enough to render it charming and winsome.

The official notes are: lemon, lime, linden, honey, peach, rose, jasmine, violet, musk, iris, vanilla.

For a first foray into perfume, Maquillage is a very nice composition that would certainly benefit from an eau de parfum concentration. I think there is the promise of a bright future ahead of Armando Martinez if he wants to pursue it!

You can ask info and order samples of Maquillage directly from Armando by emailing at or on the First in Fragrance/ Aus Liebe zum Duft site.

Photo by Spyros Panayiotopoulos (courtesy of eikastikon)

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