Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Libertine by Vivienne Westwood : Perfume Review

Libertine... Gluttonous abandon, hedonistic encounters... The word brings many associations to mind, but perhaps most salient to me are the wordy, loquacious, sometimes downright pleonastic writings of the time. But no matter which association my wandering mind stumbles upon, the perfume itself seems incongruent with its gifted name. No, I do not mean that this is a fragrance with mass-market appeal, for it isn’t. But it is not quite anti-establishment either, nor is it garrulous and excessive. It follows a linear development and its beauty, albeit not simple, is Spartan and restrained.

It is not difficult to become infatuated with Libertine. The simple beauty I spoke of should not be equated with mediocrity, or with the average. It is the simplicity of a gorgeous woman wearing nothing but her man’s crisp white shirt on a sunny Sunday morning. She needs no make-up or dangly earrings. She is sensual as she is and her silky skin is begging to be explored. It is the simplicity of a pair of sparkling diamond studs: they don’t scream their presence, but they never fail to add an extra spring in your step. So is Libertine, unassuming yet unfailingly noticeable. In the same way one does not need to be a sommelier to recognize the quality of a wine of great vintage upon tasting it, one will immediately recognize the standard of this perfume the moment they come across it. To borrow a term from the field of cognitive psychology, this fragrance has the ‘pop-out effect’.

Like Boudoir, Libertine features viburnum, a flower commonly found in English gardens and favored by Vivienne Westwood. Having never smelled viburnum myself, I cannot say how prominently it features in the fragrance. The rest of the notes listed for Libertine are pineapple and grapefruit at the top, honeysuckle, muguet, and bergamot oil in the middle as well as oakmoss, musk and patchouli at its base. The notes do not quite resonate with me; I would prefer to describe to you how I experience the blend myself. Libertine to me is woodsy, like a dark basket lined with sappy, freshly cut green vines. In it, I do find small pieces of ripe pineapple and flower petals, but also roasted coffee beans, which have been slightly caramelized. In fact, it is this flowery, slightly caramelized coffee smell that makes me love this fragrance so much. The lovely, bittersweet Libertine has sadly been discontinued. You can still find it in some fragrance boutiques until their stocks get exhausted, as well as online. Which reminds me... I really need another bottle.

Pictures courtesy of http://metropolis.co.jp and www.floralimages.co.uk


7 comments:

helg said...

You know, I never got to try Libertine and now I don't want to, for fear I might really really like it and can't get it.
What a depressing thought discontinuation of a beloved frag is....

Jenavira13 said...

Ever since I realized I really like the scent of pineapple, Libertine has been under my radar of something i wish I could try.

Divina said...

I can't help it, I like this one very very much so I must advise you both to seek it out and try it!

chayaruchama said...

Thank you for the review !

I smelled my first viburnum last week- it is incredibly narcotic in nature, but is short-lived in the garden...

My friend gave me some blooms, which only last a day-
But WHAT a day !

I'll have to sniff it out...

Divina said...

Hello dearest Chaya!

If you do get to sniff Libertine, please let me know how prevalent the scent of viburnum is in the blend. I am very curious!

Antoinette said...

Libertine is out at Westwood stores at the moment a 'limited' stock was unearthed on sale while stock lasts - so if you want to try it be quick.

I have loved the scent since my first introduction and am delighted to get an opportunity to wear it again. - go shopping!!

Martha Bright said...

You can still get Libertine on the web and on ebay. You can have it! Ack Ack Ack! It is truly the worst thing I've ever worn. It starts out smelling like a department store or one of those stinky magazine ads that you have to rip out and toss in the outside trash before you gag. After the first shock to my system it smelled like gasoline mixed with the eye-watering stink of the candle and potpourri aisle at Target. I desperately wanted to wash it off, especially because I was losing my appetite for dinner (thankfully I was home, alone), but I thought I would wait it out in case something better happened. It didn't. The next stage was the stench of onion rings and funnel cakes cooked in rancid oil. While it did bring back memories of the Grange Fair it wasn't quite what I had in mind.

It's hard to believe my experience could be so different from others', but I guess it only proves that chaq'une a son gout.