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Fragrances - Frederic Malle - Portrait of a Lady



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rated 3.9(25 reviews)

  • Average Rating: 3.9
  • 56% would buy again
  • Package Quality: 4.1
  • Price: $$$$

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rated 4 of 5 on 9/18/2014 5:24:00 PM More reviews by Aimbl

Age: 44-55 Skin: Combination, Olive, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

My main impression is new wood, perhaps cedar, not rose, not floral. This is unisex, despite its name, and wearable in all seasons and climates. Not a heavy scent. IMO, the name, POAL, is evocative to my mind of new world modernity and my vague recollection of the straightforward quality of the protagonist of the novel POAL, unaffected by old world Europe.

I think dominique ropion is a genius and my bottle of his une fleur de cassie from the year 2000 has been firmly placed on a pedestal in my mind as my desert island fragrance. I also love aimez moi, a dominique ropion fragrance for caron. I love carnal flower. I like geranium pour monsieur very much, don't mind the mint, think the dry down is superlative.

Portrait of a lady is, IMO, a seamless and transparent melding of wood and rose accords , no doubt due to sophisticated technology and well thought materials. I am sadly unable to smell the other stuff that is in there like oud or incense. I don't get the sense of an organic olfactory meandering or a lush, weighty (even figuratively weighty, or tactile or oily essence) that I get from my fleur de cassie or other Ropion creations. A fragrance that I find similar to POAL is perles de lalique. Other reviews compare POAL to cabaret by gres, but I don't see the similarity as cabaret has a spice note more reminiscent of vintage rochas femme.

Because of its airy quality, I don't see this as dark or austere. I think it would be an ideal fragrance on a man, suitable for office and evening. Since I prefer to rotate perfumes, I don't think I need more than some travel vials, each 10 ml. This is strong and creates silage. It also lasts. One spray only. I prefer to decant and dab.





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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 9/8/2014 10:57:00 AM More reviews by stls

Age: 25-29 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Neutral Hair: Blond, Curly, Medium Eyes: Green

Portrait of a Lady is perfume with a capital P, dense, evocative and full bodied. Light, fresh roses aren't for me but this is baroque, dark and smokey.

There's a lot going on here. The opening is all about deep velvety spiced red roses. There is also a hefty dose of raspberry that contributes on gaining a wine sense but apart from the roses there is A LOT of incense and patchouli. And I mean a lot, so you must absolutely love these to love Portrait of a Lady.

This is a fantastic fragrance from Dominique Ropion, just a drop and you get nuclear strength and longevity until the next millennium. Truly majestic.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 7/12/2014 3:04:00 PM More reviews by firesyren

Age: 36-43 Skin: Normal, Fair, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine Eyes: Hazel

This is not a "lady" fragrance. If this was to represent a picture of a woman, here would be that woman: she is a vampire, dark and old though she appears in her 40s, dressed in a black gown that mixes gothic and medieval. Mature, deadly, she walks through her darkened stone castle at night, enjoying the silence and the flickering of the fire that lights its passages. She radiates a power that comes from her age and experience, as well as from being what she is: the immortal undead. Reaching the balcony that overlooks the mountainous landscape below, she grins, her fangs catching the moonlight, as the wind stirs her long dark hair, stirring the scent that followed her passage through the castle as she revels in being what she is. She laughs at the vampire hunters scurrying towards her castle--they are hopelessly outmatched. She will eliminate them all. THAT is "portrait of a lady". It is the most gothic scent I have ever smelled or owned. Dark, sensuous rose that initially dances with a rich yet subtle berry, then accompanied by spice and musk, the rose (I envision here a black rose, something not quite 'alive or happy' like a rose in bloom) never overpowered. It settles into a gorgeous mysterious voluptuous rose nestled in incense and musk (on my skin) radiating like heat off my skin. This is not a girly rose, and its not a proper- woman rose. It is evil in rose form--black rose or a rose so deep burgundy it might near black, perhaps just slightly past its prime...if you could turn the color "oxblood" into a perfume this might be it. To compare to other rose scents, Jo Malone "Red Roses" was pure red rose, fresh and cold, like the cooler containing the rose bouquets at the florist. Frederic Malle "Lipstick Rose" smells slightly sweet, mixed with violet and powdered, just like vintage powder makeup, proper and aristocratic. Tom Ford's "Cafe Rose" is a sweeter cold rose with spice at the same time, also a little dark but still more bright and clear than POAL. Tom Ford's "Noir et Noir" is a rose that has been soaking in a glass of deep merlot wine for days and has turned slightly sour. Portrait of a Lady is strong and lasts forever. Spray yourself only once, carefully, and you'll smell it easily into the next day even with showering. The smell will linger in your home and remain in your senses long after you actually used it last. This scent is not for those who like lighter fragrances, and not for those who prefer subtleness in scent.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 2/9/2014 12:52:00 PM More reviews by Reemyn

Age: 25-29 Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Blue

My first perfume review, well I'm not a perfume expert, never was and probably never will be, so sorry but I just have to write down my feelings.

I moved to my aunt's apartment in 2011, it's in a beautiful neighbourhood, on of the richest in this area.. It is close to work place and school so I don't really care about that this is the city where even old (but elegant) ladies drive Porshes and you can bump into football players in every corner. I don't really care about these stuffs..

This building is not as big as you would think (like skyscrapers in the US), so basically everybody knows everybody. She lived in the top floor, in a huge penthouse-like appartment.

She was my neighbour and friend but I feel like I never really knew her. She was 23. There were times I saw here every single day, and there were times I didn't see her for like weeks. I had no idea what she did/does for a living. I know one thing, she always looked exquisite,her style was impeccable, she was really beautiful, a class beauty I'd say, you could tell she likes fashion, but she was not that uber fashionista, she had her own style, sophisticated and glam but she was never too much, she simply looked effortlessly chic and RICH. She could have worn Zara or Forever21 or whatever fast fashion brand but she'll still look like an aristocrat.

Before we became friends I was always wondering how she is able to afford the living here (it's an European thing I suppose, we are guessing, making conspiracy theories, but we never really ask - "oh it would be so rude" as my mother would say LOL). She might have been a model, or a heiress, or a rich man's little bird kept in a cage... I don't know.

So one day I was really happy because I passed one of my important exams, and I bumped into her (she always took the stairs), she smiled, said hi, and something was smelling so good, normally I'm way too shy to ask anything from people, but as I mentioned I had a good day so I just complimented on her perfume. She accepted it with class and she invited me for tea. That was the first time I saw her apartment. It was beautiful. Not that pastel-mint-apricot-pink colored girly style that is so popular nowadays. It was mature, minimalist and luxuriously empty. So we had a tea, it was a French brand (she said she bought in Paris) I can't really remember the name of it, and I'm a coffee girl but boy it was the most luxurious tea I've had in my life. She showed me her outstanding perfume collection and of course I always liked perfumes but I never really knew a thing about them. Of course I had some perfumes (from Avon, Flowerbomb, Bright Crystal), but nothing really sophisticated... I mostly used perfumed deodorants before changed my cosmetics to organic ones. So notes, accords, niche perfumery - these things were new to me. New but really fascinating. She introduced me to fragrantica and basenotes, and some blogs, and gave me samples and showed me her favorites. Portrait of a Lady was one of them. That was the one I komplimented on. Beautiful, magical fragrance. Really suited her. Sensual but still a little distance keeper. You can never know what to expect. I was fascinated by her world and the fragances.

So there it began. We slowly became friends. We were really good friends until I went to the annual summer college camp. When I came back she moved out. She left without a word. I tried calling her but her number was no longer available. The apartment was empty for months. After that a couple moved in, but they rented the place through a real estate agency and they knew nothing about the owner.
I was, and still I'm really disappointed. I tried several ways to get in contact again with her without a success. I gave up. I won't forget her but I decided to stop being miserable.

But this weekend me and my BF(he lovees perfumes) were in Munich and went to a nice niche perfumery and they had the whole line of Frederic Malle. I tried Portrait of a Lady. And tried again. My BF really liked it on me and said he would buy me for Valentine's Day. But I don't know. I It reminds me of her. Her smile but the sadness behind it. Her unexplained disappearance. Our probably non-existent friendship. Portrait of a Lady is not my fragrance, that beautiful girl was not my friend, and I don't really have a misterious, glamorous life she had. I could wear Portrait of a Lady and pretend to be someone else but I just can't.

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rated 4 of 5 on 10/29/2013 10:17:00 AM More reviews by poppycherry

Age: 44-55 Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Blond, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

THE SELLER AT AEDES DE VENUSTA WAS SO EAGER TIO GET THIS TO ME, ITS HIS FAVOURITE HE GENERALLY HAS GREAT TASTE AND KNOWS WHAT IM LOOKING FOR AND KNOWS MY BASE PERFUME IS FRACAS SO I LIKE LOUD, ( GOLD BY AMOUAGE IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY BUT I LOVE IT) i find it dainty nothing like any of the other desrctippiosnat all i dont find the slightest thing "hippy: about it, its veryu "ladylike" if you will, and it takes a lot of suirts for me as my skin eats perfume fast, i find it sexy like a third date sexy.... but not a first this is not the first impression id want anyone to have of me, its t5oo shy and retiring the rose is sweet but not cloying and its very nice i wont buy it again but itll probably last for a year or so as its just not really me. now if i could only remember that gingerbread serge lutens name i loved that sample....

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rated 1 of 5 on 10/3/2013 2:39:00 PM More reviews by ninanina

Age: 56 & Over Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Blond, Other, Other Eyes: Blue

The opening of POAL is lovely, it goes down hill for me quickly and I am left with rose and benzoin...not a terrific combo. By the time I got home I had to scrub it off. This happened with Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille also....I'm sticking with Dior Addict, it never changes, comes through as a sexy vanilla and that's all I am really seeking. Nice try Malle but this was NOT a home run for me.

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rated 5 of 5 on 6/12/2013 4:35:00 PM More reviews by muxu11

Age: 19-24 Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure Hair: Other, Other, Other Eyes: Other

this is my favorite perfume i have ever smelled, and i smelled a lot of perfumes from expensive to affordable. this is indeed a strong perfume that caught me off guard at first and was absolutely turned away by it. than for some reason i tested it again and slowly it grew on me more and more, til i couldn't deny that i have found a scent that i love so much, i have yet to find something else to top it.
it is not light or cheery, it is deep, dark and warm. it smells strongly of rose but not cloying of floral. when i smell this perfume i feel instantly comforted.
i also find the ingredients of this perfume top notch (of course it better be for the price i am paying), for such a strong perfume i found no trace of it stinging or burning my nose upon spraying. the aroma is full bodied and complex.
i use about 3-4 sprays on my skin as my skin dont tend to hold scents well, so it isnt too full on when i wear it. i wear it so i can smell it and have a sense of comfort where ever i am and whatever i am doing.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 6/9/2013 11:11:00 PM More reviews by CobraRose

Age: 56 & Over Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Neutral Hair: Brown, Straight, Medium Eyes: Hazel

An intense scent I have intense and conflicting feelings about. I am in love with roses. Maybe it's because my mother pointed out that they start blooming around my birthday, but rose is my most-beloved fragrance note. My husband dislikes it, and prefers patchouli, woodsy, and incense scents. I also love the Frederic Malle line--the concept, the artistry, even the packaging. So, when daydreaming about my perfect scent, I would picture an incensey rose by Frederic Malle. But why would he produce one? He already had two rose perfumes in his line. So when I first read about Portrait of a Lady, the hair on my arms stood up. (You know you're a perfume nerd if...) It was like an answered prayer.

I didn't much care for PoaL the first time I tried it (see my snippily-dismissive review under Wyrmiax). The fruit and spices seemed to clash with the rose, and reminded me of potpourri. But I couldn't give up on it. And when I tried it again, it compelled me. It was everything I'd been longing for--all my perfume-loving life, it seemed.

So what's my problem? Malle says each of his perfumes is produced at its "optimum concentration." And PoaL is parfum strength, and a *strong* parfum at that. It's not extroverted or cloying--it's reserved to the point of being brooding, and dry for a rose fragrance. But it has such massive presence that it makes me self-conscious, especially since my workplace has a no-sillage policy. ("If others can smell your perfume, it is not acceptable.") My husband said, "You shouldn't wear that in a car with someone," even though he likes the scent. (And I never thought he'd enjoy a rose fragrance!) So the perfume I've waited all my life to find is a perfume for a life I don't have, it seems. I swapped away the bottle I'd bought, but I can't bring myself to get rid of my sample. I take it out and sniff it frequently, and occasionally apply just a couple drops.

UPDATE: I started thinking, When did I get so timid? I used to wear Azuree and Poison! I think my problem with PoaL is that it's a fragrance I feel I have to live up to. It reminds me of my youthful ambitions, and makes me uncomfortable that I haven't realized them. But it inspires me, so who knows what might happen? I also thought of my mother, who lost her sense of smell in her 70's. So I think it's time I claimed this scent as my own. A bottle is on its way.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 1/31/2013 8:48:00 AM More reviews by cocorocha

Age: 30-35 Skin: Combination, Fair, Warm Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine Eyes: Brown


a shortes review ever- this smells like a love child of Lalique's Perles du Lalique(spicy,peppery rose) and PdE's Wazamba with it's bonfire, pine ,camphoric feeling...
a wonderful perfume, totally colliding with it's name....

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rated 3 of 5 on 1/14/2013 9:03:00 PM More reviews by rpolisk

Age: 44-55 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

Many of the reviews have this one right on target: dusty rose, lots of berries up front, patchouli but not head-shop product. Second every reviewer on MUA urging great restraint when spritzing. This is a room-clearer. I find that I rarely want to reach for POAL. When I do, the temperature outside has to be less than 50 F, and I spritz one small spritz in the small of my back. This allows me to enjoy warm gusts of a lovely dusty rose scent, while allowing others to breathe.
I'm a huge fan of Dominique Ropion and truly appreciate the cerebral beauties of his creations, especially for FM, but this one is difficult to love. One reviewer below called this perfume "oriental" and I agree. Being of North African descent, and as such am dark and of a definite physical "type" (no one's ever been confused as to whether I came from Scandinavia), I tend to shy away from perfumes that bring to mind a certain, shall we say, overexuberant use of gold everything and smothering fragrances a la Opium (the original). It just feels like too much of a cliche for me. POAL walks a fine line between brooding, dark, sensuality I love, and a certain brassiness I'd like to stay away from. I keep thinking I might grow into this one. I returned a full bottle which was first given to me by my lovely husband, but eventually bought some travel atomizers. I can't say this is a true love, and Le Labo's rose 31 is much more to my taste, or even Christian Dior Ambre Nuit, but I'm glad I have the travel mini's.

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