Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady


26 reviews

57% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.2

Price: $$$$

Package Quality: 4.2

Price: $$$$


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on 12/9/2014 11:45:00 AM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Medium, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

This is my favorite perfume. It makes me happy to just smell it from the bottle. I love it so much that I bought the body cream. The cream does not have as strong a sillage as the perfume.
The first thing that I smell is the rasperry, clove and cinnamon. I usually don't like gourmand fragrances, but, this combination grabs my nose and drives me crazy (in a good way). The middle notes that I smell are the rose and sandalwood. Such a beautiful combination. I know there are more scents in this fragrance, it is very complex and probably smells different on everyone. Whenever I wear it, it smells exactly as it does out of the bottle. The bottom notes are musky. In a nutshell, POAL is a smoky rose fragrance.

The first time I tried it on, it lasted all day. Now it lasts most of the day, especially when I layer it with the cream.
The only brick and mortar (physical) store that carries this line is Barney's. If you want to try it, you could buy a small decant from The Perfumed Court ( or your favorite online fragrance store.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

on 12/9/2014 8:18:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Very Dry, Dark, Warm

Hair: Black, Kinky, Fine

Eyes: Black

This perfume wowed me the second i sprayed some of it on. That has never happened! The first thought I had when i smelled it was "wow" followed by "I need to wear a dress, some high heels & red lipstick"
This perfume makes me think of a well to do woman, in a fabulous coat & stiletto heels. It smells expensive & DISTINCTIVE. I smell roses some incense & if i try really hard & focus I can smell some red berries. It's spicy, deep rose. It's so well blended that not one note jumps out at you, it all melds & blends together.
There was something hauntingly familiar about the perfume & I finally nailed down whaat this reminds me of. It has this lived in quality about it. It smells old, like perfume you sprayed on yourself yesterday that has transferred onto your coat or your sweater & you get a whiff of it right before you put it in the clothes hammper. It has that slightly worn feel to it. I have a sample of this perfume that I'm guarding jealously till I can gert a big bottle of my own. Lovely!

5 of 6 people found this helpful.

on 7/12/2014 3:04:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Normal, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Hazel

Update 07/15: Having used two 10ml spray decants of this, last week i bought a full bottle from Barneys in Chicago. I still do not get a light or airy rose here. With my body chemistry this scent is still dark and utterly gothic, a dark color rose that is a little musty, a little berry, incense and has cobwebs on it, which is the beauty of perfumes- a really well done scent becomes unique with the wearer! What smells one way on one person may smell different on another. For additional comparison-- i own many rose perfumes -- Malle's Une Rose starts out like a bouquet of fresh longstem roses but then dried down to something similar to a powdery Chanel No.5 and 19 mix with EL white linen,very ice queen. Serge Lutens La fille de berlin is a rose flower that has been covered in jam, sweet and reminiscent of being younger, while still clearly not youthful, if that makes any sense. Trish McEvoy Black Rose Oud reminds me of dried black rose petals in a bowl mixed with exotic dried spices, also a very dark heavy scent but not as gothy as POAL. Serge lutens sa majeste la rose is the inside of a florist's cooler containing rose, adding in fresh soap. Serge lutens rose de nuit smells like vintage perfume that a wealthy older sophisticated woman would wear, rose plus a tinge of cold powder and some Chanel 19-ish aura, very cold and very old-world money smell.


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.

11 of 11 people found this helpful.

on 9/8/2014 10:57:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Sensitive, 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.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.

on 2/9/2014 12:52:00 PM

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.

43 of 50 people found this helpful.

on 9/18/2014 5:24:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Olive, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

My main impression of POAL is new wood, perhaps cedar, not rose, not floral. This is unisex, despite its name, and wearable in all seasons and climates. Not heavy in feel, but it throws off silage and is noticeable when sprayed. 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 caron 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.

POAL is a seamless and transparent airy melding of wood and rose accords , no doubt due to sophisticated technology and well thought materials. I don't get the sense of lush, weighty (even figuratively weighty, or tactile or oily essence) essence that I get from my fleur de cassie or other Ropion creations. I don't get the sense of darkness, vampires or even patchouli overload that some reviews mention. POAL is not as dark or earthy as Voleur de Roses. Voleur has plummy wine accords and earthy patchouli; it's wine analog would be a Barolo. POAL has a crisp translucent vibe in comparison; it's wine analog would be closer to a white burgundy. POAL is not a gourmand or sweet rose patchouli fragrance like Kurdjian's Lumiere Noir. If someone wanted a sweeter, more pine tone, perles de lalique would be another option, as a cross between a more gourmand modern rose chypre like Lumiere Noire or Guerlain Rose Nacre du desert and POAL. I used to think a bargain modern rose chypre that is closer to POAL is Gres. Cabaret, but Cabarets emphasis on pink bay herbal quality as opposed to POALs cedar oud, sets them apart. I did a comparison of rose chypre and the modern equivalent rose patchouli in my review of Heeleys hippie rose.

Since I prefer to rotate perfumes and I have many fragrances, I don't need more than a few 10 ml travel vials. This is strong and creates silage. It also lasts. One spray only, preferably not too near the nose. I prefer to decant and dab.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

on 10/3/2013 2:39:00 PM

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.

on 1/31/2013 8:48:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Red, 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....

6 of 7 people found this helpful.

on 6/12/2013 4:35:00 PM

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.

6 of 6 people found this helpful.

on 10/29/2013 10:17:00 AM

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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