I mentioned in my overviews at year-end and mid-year that celebrity branded perfumes, celebuscents, have been waning in popularity. On the whole I am thrilled to see this happening because the great, great majority of these perfumes had nothing to do with the style of the celebrity. They were almost all another cynical play to separate fans from their money. Most of the time the celebrity smelled “their” perfume just before it was released. It was a bad joke which was only funny to those profiting from it. Which is why the few celebrities who actually care about a fragrance product which carries their name are to be commended. Those names are also pretty well-known because they have lasted for years because of their involvement. One of the best sellers within the mass-market sector are the perfumes which carry the name of Britney Spears.
Starting in 2004 with the release of Curious her perfumes has been among the best of celebuscents. Starting then and ending with the release of 2007’s Believe she produced four perfumes which still remain best-sellers. Part of this is you can search for interviews with Ms. Spears and she knows the name of the perfumer she is working with. She also knows about the ingredients. What she is doing is what any creative director should do. With the support of the Elizabeth Arden team she helps make the decisions. For the last few years the brand has been focused on flankers of 2005’s Fantasy. They were typical flankers; none of them better than the original. I had thought that was it for the brand for the foreseeable future.
I received my press sample of Britney Spears Prerogative and was strongly reminded of those early entries. Like Ms. Spears herself who has continued to perform in residence at Las Vegas; Prerogative shows she still has all the moves on the fragrance stage, too.
Prerogative is composed by perfumer Honorine Blanc. One decision that was made is to make Prerogative another of these floral gourmands so many of the big brands believe is what a younger perfume consumer desires. It is also pitched at the also presumed desire for lighter fragrances. Prerogative is more appropriately a fruity floral gourmand.
It opens with the tart goji berry. I am reminded of a kind of nutty cranberry when I’ve smelled goji berry. Mme Blanc chooses baie rose to attenuate the tartness while apricot provides a slightly juicier effect. Lily is the floral at the heart of Prerogative. This is a very typical lily with the green aspect dialed way back. The gourmand counterpart is coffee. The fruity top accord, lily and coffee come together in a pleasant wave. I found myself enjoying this part of the development a lot. It ends on an ambered sandalwood base accord which will make Prerogative a good fall fragrance choice.
Prerogative has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Ms. Spears has traded in the notoriety of her youth for a quieter success these days. Prerogative could be a signal she is interested in getting more involved in the perfume world. I think that would be a good thing.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Elizabeth Arden.
If you’re ever interested in doing a bit of Pop Culture Archaeology the perfume discount bins can be a good digging spot. Just by casting your eyes over all of the celebrity fragrances within you can tell whose star is descending straight to the discounter. Despite the barometer of popularity, the great majority of these perfumes with a once hot personalities’ name on the box are almost all terrible. From a discerning point of view, the number of noteworthy celebrity fragrances is quite small compared to the hundreds which have been produced. Which means the ones that have sunk to the discount bin which are good should be pointed out. That’s what I’m doing this month with Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy.
From 1998 to 2004 Britney Spears was one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. Her debut single “…Baby, One More Time” is one of the biggest selling songs of all-time with over 10 million copies sold. As Ms. Spears built on that success releasing three more albums through 2003 she did what has become standard issue for a pop star; she branched out into fragrance. The problem became her first fragrance Curious was released just as Ms. Spears life began to become a very public train wreck in 2004. Despite the infamy it sold well and there were yearly releases which continue right up until today with the release of the nineteenth fragrance in the brand named Private Show.
Midnight Fantasy was the fourth Britney Spears release, in 2007, and was a flanker to 2005’s Fantasy. Perfumer Caroline Sabas was asked to create a more gourmand-style fragrance. The original Fantasy by perfumer James Krivda is a textbook example of why so many celebrity perfumes fail. It had a distinct lack of focus as it veered all over the place. The most interesting thing about it was this “cupcake accord”. Based on what Mme Sabas was asked to do with Midnight Fantasy I am guessing their focus groups also shared my opinion. What she did was go very big and very gourmand.
Britney Spears in 2016
Midnight Fantasy uses the linchpin of every early 2000’s gourmand as its focal point, ethyl maltol. Most of the time the perfumers spend their time trying to rein it in. Mme Sabas lets it spin madly out of control as she wraps it in sugary fruity notes of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, some tropical fruits, and plum. These fruits are swirled into the cotton candy sweetness of ethyl maltol to give an incredibly satisfying candied fruit accord. It has a very provocative attitude of asking you to take it on its own terms or to walk away. There is a fleeting amount of iris and vanilla floating around later on but it is this olfactory package of Five Flavors Life Savers which is what you remember.
Midnight Fantasy has 6-8 hour longevity and above average sillage.
With the current trend of trying to appeal to Millennials with these lightly sugared floral gourmands I would love to see what that generation would think about Midnight Fantasy’s nuclear gourmand. I know I like it because of the intensity. If you’re doing some prospecting in the discount bins and you like gourmands Midnight Fantasy is worth a look.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.