The girls in question are MAC’s Variation Parfumee MV2 and MV3, two gorgeous variations on the theme of vanilla. I don’t really consider myself a perfume snob, but I certainly did not expect to rate these as highly as I do. MAC is known for its make-up products after all, not its perfumes, and the way the fragrances are packaged and displayed doesn’t really do them justice either: Lined up one after the other in identical glass and plastic bottles with a simple variation on cap color does not really conspire to tell the customer that thought has actually gone into making each scent unique and valued. It is indeed a pleasant discovery to find that there is a MAC perfume for every MAC girl, and that the same attention to detail that goes into their fabulous make-up products, goes into the fragrances as well. I might not have found something to like in every single scent, but I have found two new loves in MV2 and 3. Variation 3 is the one I consider the best of the bunch, in fact I find its smell downright addictive. The opening is incredibly sensual and rather empowering due to its masculine character, a scent that would certainly put me in the right mood if I was getting ready for a night of partying. It is a scent sensitive to one’s own chemistry, smelling sweeter on some and rather more bitter on others (I fall in the latter category), something I certainly enjoy. It is a spicy, playful fragrance, which compliments the main vanilla theme with perfectly proportionate doses of dark coconut and cacao. Leather, vetiver and tolu balsam play great supporting roles, holding everything together and adding character and depth to the otherwise carefree mix. It is a quite effusive fragrance, allowing others to catch delightful whiffs of it every now and then even when the wearer has been prudently modest with application. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the fragrance is long-lasting overall, it does lose its beautiful richness after a couple of hours of wear, leaving one with a great many hours of a dry, less than playful base. I personally find I need to refresh MV3 two or three hours after the initial application, so that I can once again experience its delicious, addictive goodness. Fortunately, the bottle is tiny enough to not become cumbersome in my purse, but I can see how this would be seen as too much trouble for some.
In comparison to MV3, MV2, seems like the simpler, but most certainly not dowdier sister. Perhaps more apt would be to call her the daytime sister, the antipode to MV3’s darker, mysterious sensuality. The most salient trait of MV2, is its instantly recognizable, profoundly milky scent. Those of you that love scents with prominent milky accord (such as Miyako or Feu d’Issey) like I do, should definitely give this one a try, for it is the milkiest of milky scents I’ve ever tried. This beautiful, utterly comforting scent smells like luxurious, high quality Dulce de Leche, bathed in thick, creamy condensed milk. I do not actually perceive the scent of lavender in this perfume, despite it being listed as an official note. What I do smell now and then however is the milky scent of freshly cut grass, a beautiful background freshness that paradoxically manages to fit right in with the warm appeal of this fragrance. Despite all this sounding like a recipe for tooth-rotting disaster, MV2 somehow manages to refrain from being sugary: its sweetness is shy and refined, perfectly cuddling the vanilla heart in a soft-as-clouds, fluffy goodness. The passage of time makes this scent meld wonderfully with one’s own skin-scent , ending up smelling oh-so-sexy, like sun-baked skin. This makes this oriental fragrance smell bizarrely summery indeed.
My only axe to grind with these two beauties is their price: MAC’s philosophy is a promise for excellent, professional quality cosmetics that come in affordable prices. And indeed, the fabulous brand keeps its promise 99% of the time: the quality is indeed amazing, the collections are stunning, the products are of a professional caliber and the prices are great. However, at 26 euro a pop, the fragrances are far from affordable. Sure, 26 euro might seem like a great price initially, but each bottle actually only contains 20ml of juice. Which means that you’d pay 130 euro (about 201$ US) for the usual 100 ml (4 oz)! To be fair it has to be said that the price for bigger bottles is usually cheaper of course, but still, it wouldn't be that much cheaper. That said, they are a great perfume pick-me-up for the perfumista who’s just itching for a new bottle of something, but doesn’t have too much spending money at the moment those all too familiar urges kick in. Certainly, there is something to be said about the smaller bottles, which are becoming less and less ubiquitous nowadays.
Images: Author's own and commons.wikimedia.org