While I really love this perfume and the Elixer Charnels ARE one of my most beloved collections, I feel like French Kiss is a total copycat of Frederic Malles’ Lipstick Rose, even if they were released 14 years apart. And I adore Lipstick Rose, so naturally I adore this one as well but I feel it’s redundant in my collection. Even the name ‘French Kiss’ carries with it inference to the mouth and wearing lipstick, so I’m a little disappointed (but understanding) in Guerlains lack of originality on this one. Yes they want to be competetive, I get it. But there had to be another way, no? I digress…
FK opens a little sweeter than LR because of the litchi and rasberry but it’s pretty much gone as soon as it dries into the heart, where it becomes that same waxy rose and violet accord. The SAME!!!!! Yes it smells the way lipsticks used to smell. I own LR and FK both in full size bottles and wear them side by side and I can barely tell them apart. French Kiss seems to have just a little bit more depth, just a tiny bit of spice that LR doesn’t have. LR seems a little bit cleaner and sharper but other than that they smell the same, with the same amout of projection, sillage, and longetivity. Someone who wasn’t as familiar with them both probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. I think maybe I’m telling the difference only because I know where I sprayed each. A blind test is in order!
I REALLY wish I could give this frag its very own review but unfortunately it would just be repeating everything I’ve already written about LR because they are basically the same fragrance. The differences are really too subtle to matter. The dry downs are a tiny bit different too but again, not enough to matter, well not to me at least. FK seems to sweeten up a bit towards the end while LR stays fairly linear. This all MAY be different on you though, because of differences in chemistry, so keep that in mind. Regardless, I would highly recommend testing them both first before buying to see how they wear on your skin because they are not cheap.
Guerlain is my very favorite perfume house with Frederic Malle coming in for a very close second, but with these two perfumes specifically, it really comes down to a matter of value, in my opinion, and in this case, Lipstick Rose wins hands down. It’s almost a dollar less per ml at $2.65/ml where French Kiss is roughly $3.50/ml. And LR has more size options available with a 10ml, 50ml, or 100ml bottle plus options for body lotion and shower gel. FK is only offered in 75ml flacon. No shower gel, no lotion.
There’s a reason originality stands out and wins most of the time and it does so once again in this case. While Lipstick Rose has been around 14 years and still going strong, I forsee Guerlain doing what Guerlain is known to do and discontinue this one in the near future, say, within 5 years and possibly reissuing it again under a different name and packaging sometime in the next decade. That’s not to say that I regret purchasing it because I don’t. It was thrilling to complete my Elixer Charnel collection and to have enough juice to really wear it and truly get to know the fragrance but I will probably put it away as a collector item rather than part of my active wardrobe. There’s no point when I get a better value with same fragrance wearing Lipstick Rose. Would I ever buy it again? Nope. It just can’t compete. Sorry Guerlain. I still love you though, regardless.
Top notes: Rasberry, Litchi
Heart notes: Rose, Violet
Base notes: Vanilla, Musk, Orris, Heliotrope