Lolita Lempicka Couture Black Eau de Minuit, 2011

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Perfumer unknown.

I don’t know any of the annual Lolita flankers except Midnight Couture. I’m implicitly leery of flankers. The impetus for the flanker is marketing and sales, not quality, not artistry. Fortunately the original Lolita is a rich starting place for dynasty of flankers.

Midnight Couture turns out to be an appealing version of the original. It stems from the same set of notes as the original and is equally as rich. It succeeds as a flanker by steering clear of two strategies. The first is simply piling on more of a fav flav (overdosage), most often the fruity-floraliest or gourmandiest element of the original composition. The second is adding a helping of the note du jour, ideally a note that has either an exotic origin or French name.  For example, see any fragrance with oud, cuir, etc. in its name.

Midnight Couture’s strategy is simple and clever: make the composition darker yet less mysterious. It may sound contradictory, but this approach is surprisingly effective. The original Lolita is instantly recognizable, but in terms of notes I can never quite put my finger on it. It’s mysterious. Not haunting, but clever. It has a surface appeal that might suggest sugar-coating, but there is also an ornate set of barely dissonant notes, a complexity that starts just a few millimeters below the surface, like the Lolita of literature, I suppose.

Midnight Couture is deeper in tone, more rumbling than the original. It feels more grounded, more direct. The original Lolita feels coy in comparison. Midnight Couture has a more compact, tighter feel. Stripping the composition of its dissonance, and focusing on this shadowy range of resins diminishes complexity, and arguably makes the perfume less conversational. But any losses are balanced by gains. If the original Lolita is witty, Midnight Couture has a sloe-eyed, purring quality that lets you relax and not worry about an spouting equally clever reply.

A successful flanker can be the result of any other number of strategies. Midnight Couture (a ridiculous name by the way) Is a careful study of the original. It alters just a bit of the composition, edits and adds very carefully and winds up with the different response to the question that the original Lolita Lempicka answered.


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