A Forbidden Rose — Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir Fragrance
Walking the line between pretty and piquant, demure and dangerous, soft and subversive, Agent Provocateur‘s lingerie tends to combine ladylike and exquisitely sophisticated materials like scalloped French lace with piquant elements like straps arranged in a bondage-inspired fashion and strips of mesh positioned to offer glimpses of skin in unexpected places. This ability to juxtapose hard and soft elements has distinguished Agent Provocateur from all other lingerie brands and made it synonymous with both luxury and lust. The brand’s new fragrance, Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir Eau de Parfum ($87 for 1.7 oz. and $118 for 3.3 oz. at AgentProvocateur.com and Nordstrom.com), manages to infuse this same feeling of naughty femininity, this confident sensuality, into a fragrance composition.
Described as a “deep floral scent with a hint of oriental mystique,” the Agent Provocateur Pétale Noir perfume features top notes of mandarin, water lily, bergamot, violet leaves, hyacinth, and magnolia; middle notes of rose otto, rose absolute, ylang ylang, muguet, orris, osmanthus, neroli, and cassis blossom; and base notes of ginger, leather, vetiver, tobacco leaf, amber, musk and sandalwood.
When I first spritzed the scent onto my wrist, I instantly picked up the floral notes — particularly the rose otto and rose absolute notes — but I was excited by how the rose notes were elevated from the realm of the precious, dainty, and amorous, how instead they had a slightly roughed-up, prickly, defiant feel. This was the type of bouquet you would have expected Stephanie Seymour to carry in the Guns N Roses “November Rain” video. This effect is the result of the more masculine notes in the composition — particularly the leather, tobacco leaf and sandalwood notes. The ginger and amber notes, meanwhile, add a spicy touch to the aromatic equation, while the water lily, violet leaves, and hyacinth top notes make the initial impression feel less overpowering by adding a lush and watery quality to the floral bouquet.
When I wear this scent, I feel a bit naughty, like I’m harboring a dirty little secret (maybe some erotic lingerie under a buttoned-up shirt). Needless to say, it’s a sexy and empowering sensation. But here’s the most exciting part: though the base notes are masculine, woody, and musky, the Agent Provocateur Petale Noir EDP actually feels softer and more dainty over time, once the florals take a backseat to the other notes in the composition. If this fragrance were a woman, then, she’d be one with a tough exterior, a take-no-nonsense gal with a tender heart that’s revealed only to those who manage to break past her armor, to coax her into reveal her rawest self, to render herself vulnerable and, yes, naked.
The leather base note is one of my favorites since it’s so rarely found in women’s fragrances, and it instantly procures images of whip-wielding dominatrices and Wiemar Berlin’s Boot Girls for me, making this scent feel that much naughtier. Similarly, the tobacco note adds a mysterious feel that might remind you of hookah lounges and hand-rolling tobacco shops in Istanbul.
In terms of the packaging, the Petale Noir’s bottle perfectly captures this feeling of beautiful danger, of an enticing but perhaps forbidden fruit. The elixir itself has a pinkish hue that instantly conjures up images of flowers, and it’s packaged inside a bulbous glass bottle that nods to the curvature of the female form, its exterior illustrated with long-stemmed roses, all outlined in white. But for a subtle dose of rebellion, a bit of dominatrix fun, a black chain dangles from the golden neck of the bottle, thereby suggesting that this intoxicating scent might just have a slightly wicked side.