Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Prada Candy: fragrance review

It's been called "Werther's Original in a bottle". It's been called "Infusion de benjoin". It's been called "a vat of Polish fudge made of condensed milk" or "cajeta". To my mind, it's neither, though I can see where the assessments are coming from. Prada Candy is simply the most unexpected launch of this autumn coming from the most blasé designer brand. I defy anyone to smell it and come up with a definitive verdict in less than a week's testing. It just keeps you guessing, is this for real? 

There's something inherently sophisticated about the Prada fragrance line (the apotheosis being L'Eau Ambrée; in contrast some of the Infusions are limp-wristed to me) and though at first glance ~or rather, sniff~ that's not apparent in Candy, in the end you realize that it could have been Pink Sugar, but it's not. It resembles the best-selling Aquolina scent in some respects; the strawberry-flavoured caramel being melted in a hot plastic cup, at some intergalaxial fun fair where waitresses are clad in A-line skirts embossed with lip prints in pastel hues. That doesn't mean that Candy is not a departure for the brand; something by  that name in a pop canister resembling a pink-edged coffee press is meant to be sweet and teeny-bopper and not coming out of the mind of Miuccia with her Communism background, right? Is catering to lower instincts like hunger and lust an opium for the people?

But there's thankfully a certain comfort factor about the new Prada fragrance instead of just dessert sweet, thanks to the deft of hand of perfumer Daniela Andrier; it's a complex gourmand oriental with a balsamic, drizzling, sexy background that holds it from becoming a total "teenagers-don't-know-any-better" mess. I'm not entirely convinced it's the best fit the brand could come up with (and it's not "me", which might be influencing me), but it's got a certain pull-in factor despite the identity crisis (Watching the commercial with Léa Seydoux I don't know if I'm supposed to laugh or hide my eyes out of shame on the protagonists' behalf). In short, Prada Candy is that confusing phenomenon: a fragrance that doesn't fit with Prada's image (much like L'Artisan's original Vanilia with its "simplistic" ice-cream cone scent was incongruous with the hippy, boho style of the rest of the brand), but somehow manages to appeal all the same.Of course one could argue that Prada might slap their label over a bottle of water and it would still sell like hot bread. True.

The composition features elegant musks up top with the intense flavour of milky, creamy caramel mixed in, some of the caramelic accents reminding me of the upper edges of lavender's spectrum. That caramelic note takes almost licorice & tonka facets, complex, abstract, like a passing kinship with the original Lolita Lempicka perfume. There is benzoin resin in the lower range of notes (much like in their best-selling Infusion d'Iris scent), purported to be as much as 12% of the formula -which I find hard to totally believe as benzoin is a known sensitizer- that creates a moiré effect between cozy and powdery. Benzoin naturally possesses facets like copal, a smell between medicinal and sweet, with earthier components (Smell Guerlain Bois d'Arménie which is full of it) . This characterises the drydown (i.e.the final phase of persistence) of Prada Candy on the skin after the first half hour following spritzing. The musky "dirty diapers" note, like baby urine, creates a background of soft suede and darkness reminiscent of a lot of vintage fragrances (it's the sexy note in Shalimar). A sneaky wink. And this is exactly why Candy is not dumping the brand or just aiming at a younger demographic, as one would be quick to cauterize at first "reading" of this launch.
The sillage is nice and cozy and the lasting power very satisfactory, after a while it becomes a skin scent.
I don't think I will be buying a full bottle, but I will tuck in  many samples in my bag for when I want to (contendedly) get down and silly. Nothing wrong with that!

Prada Candy is available at Eau de Parfum concentration at major department stores, starting from £40 for 30ml/1oz. and online (check the selection of discount fragrances for even better deals)
ETA: A new flanker, Candy L'Eau, a lighter interpretation, is introduced in spring 2013. 

Photo of dulce de leche via pinterest.com


  1. Marie Anne17:44

    Sounds yummy and sexy too! Thanks for the insightful review.

  2. Capucine20:21

    Your favourite Prada is mine as well... and think get the point on the incongrous, thanks to your careful, detailed explanation.
    I guess sometimes is all about give the market what the market wants, right?

  3. Thank you MarieAnne! It's a sneaky thing, it's very foody and at the same time, I like it. (odd for me)

  4. Capucine,

    ah......good to know we share the same taste! That would make the reviews more useful to you.

    if you ask me, I believe Prada wanted to offer something they hadn't done before and something that was missing from the line (a gourmand), while at the same time they wanted to do it right instead of gauche and vulgar. I think they succeeded. It's surprisingly nice.

  5. Eva H.20:58

    Sadly, this turned out to be rather unremarkable on my skin. It´s a nice scent but didn´t wow me.
    I like the bottle design but the spot is disturbing and, IMO, not fitting for the fragrance (you´d expect something a little more cheeky than cozy Candy).

  6. Eva,

    ooops, we can't all like it, I guess. That's all right, there are plenty of sweet things to choose from anyway, some are sophisticated enough (btw, if you like benzoin, do give Bois d'Armenie a try)
    You bring an excellent point to the table: Yes, seeing the commercial one expects something cheeky, say something smelling like the original Lolita Lempicka, for instance. Candy is tamer.

  7. Anonymous05:24

    who is the female model in the commercial??

  8. Anon,

    it's Léa Seydoux (a French actress, might have seen her in the latest Mission Impossible too)

  9. Good evening, Perfumeshrine! I think I found a replasement for Armani Sensi in this fragrance. Actually - I first learned what benzoin smelled like from Sensi - and that's when I realized that I really like this note. Sensi was sweet and cozy, it was the perfect winter-cashemire shawl - not quite gourmand but pleasently vanillic scent. Perfection. And it was a biege juise in an elegant simple bottle... Ohhh. Why is it gone?

    Well... today I tried Candy for the fist time after hearing that it has the overdoze of benzoin. While it's not Sensi, it clearly reminds me of it. The benzoin note from Sensi is recognizable. The packaging and the name aren't that elegant though.

    But it's the closest thing to Sensi I could find. Maybe Andrier smelled Sensi at some point and even liked it? I want to believe that)

    1. Anonymous13:30

      You are spot on with being the Sensi replacement. I still have a tiny dab left of Tyne sensi, that I haven't used because it's gone forever... or so it would seem. However, I'm convinced that Prada now has the formula, and we have Sensi back. I sprayed it, and it literally took me a week to figure out why it was so familiar... and then, it hit me. It smells EXACTLY like sensi. Sensi has been, and will always be my favorite scent. I will be purchasing a bottle a month, so I have enough until the day I die.

  10. De Merveilles,

    what an interesting comment! I hadn't made the connection despite knowing and liking Sensi (but not owning a bottle nevertheless). Sensi was indeed as you say, perhaps rather less sweet than Candy (which even by its very name evokes sweets). It's a mystery why it was discontinued; it had everything going for it.

  11. Anonymous11:47

    Έλενα, συγχαρητήρια για το πολύ ενδιαφέρον κομμάτι, είμαι μεγάλη θαυμάστριά σου:) Όταν δοκίμασα το Candy μετά από τα πρώτα 30 με 40 λεπτά μου φάνηκε πολύ παρεμφερές με το Infusion d'Iris, χαίρομαι που διαβάζω ότι δεν είμαι η μόνη!
    Συνέχισε να μας χαρίζεις τις γνώσεις σου!
    Μαρία από UK

    Elena, congrats on the very interesting post, I read it with great pleasure as always (I'm a big fan!) When I tried Candy I found it very similar to Infusion d'Iris after the first 30-40 min, I'm glad I'm not the only one!
    Keep the very informative posts coming:)
    Maria from the UK

  12. Maria/Μαρία,

    σ'ευχαριστώ θερμά για τα καλά σου λόγια και για την υποστήριξη! Ιδιαίτερα μιας και είσαι στο UK και εγώ πίσω στην Ελλαδίτσα μας :-)

    Πράγματι, δεν έχεις καθόλου μα καθόλου άδικο. Έχουν κοινά στοιχεία (to Id'I δεν το βρίσκω και τόσο πολύ προς ίριδα μεριά, εξ'άλλου, κι ας το έχει στο όνομα).
    Παρεπιπτόντως, αν δεν το έχεις διαβάσει, ρίξε μια ματιά εδώ.

    Και πάλι ευχαριστώ για την ανάγνωση και για το σχόλιο!

  13. Anonymous14:11

    Ευχαριστώ πολύ για το λινκ, πόσο σωστά το περιγράφεις! Πράγματι, τα οσμηρά μόρια, τα αντικείμενα, το φως είναι εκεί για όλους, η περιγραφή που δίνει ο κάθε ένας από εμάς όμως διαφέρει ανάλογα με το τι έχουμε μάθει να ονομάζουμε ᾽μπλε᾽᾽άρωμα βανίλιας᾽ή ᾽τετράγωνο᾽. Λόγω της δουλειάς μου( είμαι οφθαλμίατρος) σκέφτομαι πολύ συχνά την μετάφραση του οπτικού ερεθίσματος με λόγια, το βρίσκω εντυπωσιακό σαν θέμα. Και τώρα τελευταία, λόγω του καινούριου μου χόμπυ, με εντυπωσιάζει και η αντιστοιχία με την οσφρητική οδό (που είναι ομολογουμένως αόρατη και συνεπώς ακόμα πιο υποκεμενική!)
    Μαθαίνω πολλά μέσα από το blog σου, και σἐυχαριστω πολύ για την απάντηση!


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