Sunday, 10 November 2013

Lancôme La Vie Est Belle Eau de Parfum (review)

Lancôme La Vie Est Belle Eau de Parfum

You might have seen Julia Roberts' smiling face gracing billboards, websites and Christmas catalogues as she is the most recognisable part of Lancôme's La Vie Est Belle fragrance. The campaign has been an elegant one, with simple, attractive images but it's not without pretence. Make no mistake, Lancôme has gone all out for the launch of La Vie Est Belle, with the hope that this will become one of their statement perfumes for years to come. La Vie Est Belle, which means life is beautiful, is apparently inspired by “quintessential French beauty; that famous, radiant 'je ne sais quoi' that goes beyond beauty.” In some ways Lancôme has captured this perfectly, in others it's quite wide of the mark.

To start with: the packaging. While the box veers precariously towards tacky with its sparkly panels, it redeems itself with simple black writing and the intriguing addition of Braille and a quick response 'QR' code on the back for instant, detailed information. Far more impressive is the bottle which I think perfectly captures the “je ne sais quoi” Lancôme make reference to. The overall design is elegantly simple with a voluptuousness to the body that's very feminine, but the addition of the bottle neck 'scarf' is lovely; it's a distinctive trait that at the very least makes it stand out on the crowded perfume shelves in store, but more significantly adds some French flair to the container. The only other adornment is a tiny Lancôme rose on the spritzer (which incidentally works really well).

The scent itself, however, is far more divisive. As a result of its strength, even when you use only a little it makes itself known to all and sundry. Inevitably this means you receive comments and some will be good, and some will be bad. I've had La Vie Est Belle described as “far too potent”, “sickly sweet”, “smells like glacé fruits” and “really powdery” - all of which I agree with. Interestingly, some of these comments have been levelled at the scent as both good and bad points, so it really does depend on how you feel about strong, sugary scents as to whether or not you should give this a go.

It was created by perfumers Olivier Polge, Dominique Ropion and Anne Flipo in 2012 after an alleged 5,000 versions were disregarded before they settled on the final formulation. Breaking it down into more detail, the top notes are blackcurrant and pear, the middle is made up of iris, orange blossom and jasmine with a base of tonka bean, praline, patchouli and vanilla. It comes only in eau de parfum strength. Lancôme describe La Vie Est Belle as "the first ever iris gourmand".

While you do get a hit of fruit from the top, it's doused in sugar (the glacé fruit description seems especially apt because of this). I also get the creamy praline and vanilla notes far earlier than I was expecting, but I don't get much pear at all, if any. Instead the praline and vanilla hang around stubbornly throughout the development phase and leave a lasting impression upon my skin, long after the glacé fruit top has faded. I don't get much iris either, so I can't help but question Lancôme's assertion that this is a revolutionary iris gourmand. Surely it needs a significant dose of iris to qualify?

It's a glamorous perfume, for sure, and I enjoy wearing it to certain occasions such as my friends wedding earlier in the year. Unfortunately, as it was the first time I'd worn it, I applied far too much and choked everyone half to death in the car on the way there. They were kind enough not to say anything, but I was rather embarrassed! This is not a day-to-day fragrance, though. It's too bold, too sweet and I feel 'overdressed' wearing it at work, almost as if I'm turning up in a red carpet ensemble. A bit like the one Julia Roberts is wearing in the advertisement for La Vie Est Belle below...

While there are times I've enjoyed La Vie Est Belle, I'm struggling to get through even my small 30 ml bottle. There are so few occasions when I think 'this event calls for La Vie Est Belle!' that it's been hanging around in my cupboard for a year already. Perhaps if it was available in a lighter formulation, such as eau de toilette, I'd find it more wearable because it is pretty, and it is sexy in an understated way. But I am tiring of these overly creamy, sweet scents and I feel this one needs pepping up with something edgier or jazzy. As it is I suspect La Vie Est Belle will still be in my cupboard for many more months yet.

If you do like this fragrance, Lancôme offer it in three sizes. While 30 ml works out quite pricey, the 75 ml size is adequate value for money (but still rather expensive for a high street purchase). There is also a matching shower gel and body wash – both 200 ml, available for £28.00 and £30.00 respectively. There is also an interesting, glittery packaged version that's exclusive to Debenhams and strictly limited edition but costs even more so is probably not worth it. There do seem to be offers around a now a year has passed since its launch, so do shop around and you might find a (relative) bargain.

Understated in its sex appeal
Too obviously creamy, right from the off, makes it feel heavy
Lovely bottle design
Very sweet; a bit overwhelming
Very strong, lasts for ages so works out reasonable value
Use extremely sparingly; potent formula
Scent is pretty enough to keep for indulging on special occasions


Brand: Lancôme

Size: 30 ml
Price: £42.00 (£140.00/100 ml)

Size: 50 ml
Price: £58.00 (£116.00/100 ml)

Size: 75 ml
Price: £70.00 (£93.33/100 ml)

Manufactured: France

Ingredients: Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Aqua (Water), Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Methyl Anthranilate, Tris (Tetramethylhydroxypiperidinol) Citrate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, CI 14700 (Red 4), CI 17200 (Red 33), CI 47005 (Yellow 10), Geraniol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Courmarin, Farnesol, Citral, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate

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