I was introduced to this frag about 5 years ago by a fragrant friend whom I consider my perfume mentor though I was in no way ready for it back then. It smelled sweaty and dirty. But I’ve come a long way in the past 2 years as far as chypres and animalics are concerned and this one is loaded with both!
Though it’s considered a chypre fruity, and it really is fruity for a chypre, it’s also loaded with cumin that gives it a real dirty twist. Fragrantica has it listed as a “leather” note but I couldn’t disagree more. I own lots of leather goods and have worn many leather frags and this is definitely cumin, not leather.
The play of cumin on oakmoss reminds me of Alexander McQueens Kingdom, though Kingdom is much drier, brittle, dusty almost. Femme is humid, chewy, and rich in comparison. ¡Muy rico!
But Femme gets compared to Mitsouko the most and while they are both fruity chypres with peach notes, Femme has a lot more going on than Mitsy, being much more fruity since it also features a plum note not to mention all that cumin. The fruity notes give it a chewy, jammy, boozy feel.
Did I mention the cumin? Haha I read a review on Fragrantica recently where one perfumista compared Femme to the smell of her armpits after eating curry hahaha. I died lol. French perfumes are known for layering the sweet over the skank, most immortalized with the use of civet in the icons Shalimar and Chanel No 5. Femme followed right in their trails, being released roughly two decades after them.
Femme is NOT for everyone clearly as she is no dainty lady. She’s a femme fatale, but classy, sultry, and not afraid to get her hands dirty. She works for a living. She’s on the go, never idle. That dirty note can only be compared to the infamous Putain des Palaces from the House of Etat Libre d’ Orange, ohhh la la! Haha. While these two fragrances do not actually smell similar at all, I do think they have a comparable level of the skank factor. PdP being a leather note and Femme being cumin.
After coming around to Mitsouko the last few months I HAD to revisit Femme, which I still had that sample given to me 5 years ago and this time around I fell head over heels for it. I went online and ordered a vintage bottle right away. The bonus here is that it’s not expensive at all but definitely does not smell like a cheap perfume. I paid $40 USD for 100ml, “new old stock” vintage with the gold cap.
When I think of Femme, I think Josephine Baker but not in the banana skirt. No, she’s a little older here and on the run during WWII after her beloved France was under German occupation. She’s in North Africa, fighting for the French resistance, using her celebrity status as an entertainer to gather intel, a spy of sorts in the tradition of the one and only and oh so infamous, Mata Hari. She’s still a lady but she’s working up a sweat, but not from dancing but fighting for the things she believes in.
Femme is not some damsel in distress, teeny-bopper syrup spray. This is a classic chypre for the people, it’s affirdable, attainable. It’s a favorite pair of broken in dress flats, it’s lived in, comfortable, sexy, and so very feminine. This is leather and lace and will make you smell sophisticated and even a little intimidating. Femme is the scent of a confident, independant, intelligent woman that knows how to handle her business. She is her own boss though men still trip over themselves trying to open the door for her. And best of all, it’s soooo easy to get your hands on. I feel zero guilt spraying without reserve. Grab yourself a vintage bottle before I buy them all 😉 lol.
Top: Cumin,Apricot, Plum, Cinnamon, Cumin, Peach, Bergamot, Lemon, Rosewood
Heart: Rosemary, Carnation, Cumin, Iris, Jasmine, Clove, Ylang, Rose, Cumin
Base: Leather, Cumin, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Benzoin, Vanilla, Oakmoss, Cumin