It was perhaps only fitting that the debut fragrance from the most controversial artist of a whole generation be shrouded in mystery and riddles before it was even formally introduced.
Although there were no meat-dresses this time, the rumor-mill was indeed running wild as soon as the news leaked that pop-sensation Lady Gaga will be releasing a fragrance in 2012 (originally thought to be called “Monster”). Threads developed in minutes with claims that the lady’s own blood was to be used as part of the composition, and that the resulting juice would smell like straight-up semen (à la Secretions Magnifique – $123, Etat Libre d`Orange*). To entertain this most preposterous notion I took the liberty of calculating the approximate number of bottles such a ridiculous formula would create: 1 Lady Gaga=5 liters of blood/1 drop per bottle=exactly 100,000 bottles of Lady Gaga’s blood-infused, semen-scented perfume & one drained pop star. How very “Twilight,” and how very uneconomical!
And yet, those rumors were exactly that – rumors. Yes, the so-called Haus Laboratories (hello, Coty!) did push boundaries with a purplish-black juice that sprays invisible, and yes, the visual campaign by Steven Klein was a spectacularly nightmare-inducing experience (since disappeared from the official YouTube page), but despite all the uproar and overstimulation the fragrance community and even the Little Monsters fan base itself might have been a little surprised by the end olfactory result. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s talk about Gaga some more.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, or Gaga as we’ll refer to her from now, is a New York-based recording artist, songwriter, and classically trained pianist. Ever since her album “The Fame” broke records with hits such as “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” she’s been riding a rollercoaster that only goes in one direction – up. With five albums to her stage-name, a main role in the hit television series “American Horror Story: Hotel,” and awards-galore she is certainly a successful entertainer, despite what the critics would have you think. She’s been written about for everything, from her costumes (or lack thereof) to her open support of gay rights. Her every move, such as a video she made for Israeli fans during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, gets blown out of proportions as only a real star’s can. Say what you want about her, but she’s doing pretty darn well for herself. Haters gonna hate!
The concept of celebrity fragrances is not a new one by any means, and Coty has been successfully launching such products into the market for years (Madonna, Tim McGraw, Katy Perry, etc.). What was new was the aggressive and immersive approach to advertizing which almost felt like a takeover of Gaga’s brand. For a while the new Lady Gaga fragrance even retailed at Sephora (paired with Paris signings and red carpets), and while it certainly enjoyed a moment in the spotlight (like winning Consumers’ Choice at the Canadian Fragrance Awards) the curtain did close on Fame rather prematurely in the end. It seems like many a celebrity fragrance ends this way, but what can we do? Those that shine brighter than everyone else will also be the first to burn out. On a positive note, Fame can now be found on FragranceNet.com for up to 75% off department store prices, earning it a spot on my list of Top 6 Perfume Gifts for Under $25. Thank goodness for FragranceNet.com, or we wouldn’t have access to countless scents that went before their time! With Fame gone fans can still get a whiff of the diva with the newer Eau de Gaga ($33.99, Target*) – I wish I was kidding about the name, but at least it seems like a move in a new direction (a clothed one, at that).
For a release with such enthusiastic anticipation and so much hype, the juice had little chance to live up to everything people hoped it would – and yet, Gaga surprised again. Described to press as “tears of Belladonna, crushed heart of tiger orchidea, with a black veil of incense, pulverized apricot and the combinative essences of saffron and honey drops,” the scent had real potential. I mean, you’d have to be nose-blind to ignore the prevalent trend of honey in mass-market perfumery, made famous by masculines like Pure Havane and feminines such as Code pour Femme ($107, Sephora*), and the popularity of incense over the last century, even (Shalimar, Bleu de Chanel, Black Orchid, etc.).
The back-scratcher-topped egg of black fluid contains a juice that follows both trends with a hint of fruitiness, which I’ve previously called ‘dark and scary grape juice’, with a heavy and powdery orchid note. All in all, it really reminds me of a more nighttime appropriate version of Tijon Éclectique, with everything a modern run-of-the-mill fragrance could need and a little something extra.
Verdict: I am so pleased that Lady Gaga’s Fame didn’t live up to expectations, because it would have been a heinous crime otherwise. Instead of the vulgar, rough-around-the-edges, over-the-top monstrosity we were promised, we got a really nice perfume that took high-end perfumery’s best and brought it to the drugstore. Everything from the advertisement to the bottle was overly produced, but the lesson we take away from all of this is to truly judge a perfume by its scent. Fame is a great women’s fragrance that shifts effortlessly from day to night. Longevity and projection are mediocre at best, but I doubt anybody buying a black EDP really cares about that anyways. Long live Gaga, long live Fame, and long live those ridiculous Internet rumors. Where would we be without them?!
*Prices true at time of writing.
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