Serge Lutens La Vierge de Fer

Joan of Arc. Source: cosmovisions.com

Joan of Arc. Source: cosmovisions.com

It’s hard to live up to a powerful name. Even harder when that name is something that seems to reference both Joan of Arc, and perhaps the most notorious of all medieval torture devices, the Iron Maiden. So, I put all titular and symbolic considerations aside when I tested the latest fragrance from Serge Lutens, La Vierge de Fer, and looked at it in a vacuum. With deep regret and sadness, I have to say that I think it is the worst perfume that I’ve ever tried from Serge Lutens, and more suited to a cheap department store. 

La Vierge de Fer is a floral eau de parfum whose name translates to “The Iron Maiden” (or virgin). It was created by Christopher Sheldrake, and released in September of this year as one of the famous, pricey, bell jar “Paris Exclusives.” The perfume is not sold world-wide, but is limited to Serge Lutens’ Paris headquarters, the Lutens websites, or to the Lutens section of Barney’s New York. 

The inspiration for the fragrance seems to vary depending on which source you read. Some say that La Vierge de Fer was inspired by Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, others talk about Joan of Arc, or the medieval torture device called the Iron Maiden. A few mention Serge Lutens’ mother and how the fragrance is partially an homage to her. (You can read about Serge Lutens’ childhood, and how his mother was forced to abandon him as a baby in the first part of my profile on Monsieur Lutens.)

An Iron Maiden. Source: museumofman.org

An Iron Maiden. Source: museumofman.org

In an interview with Ozmoz, Monsieur Lutens seemed to give a nod to a few of these things:

The name you picked, La vierge de fer (The Iron Maiden), is pretty intense. There’s a reference to torture. Is there perhaps a connection to Joan of Arc, too?

SL: All maidens have a connection between them. Joan of Arc kicking the English out of France is one of the loves of my life. Whether she’s wearing armor or crowning the King of France, she’s a reference, absolutely, but not here. The Iron Maiden is more of an attitude. My own attitude towards what creates beauty. You can’t conceive of anything without a certain fragility, a scar at the bottom of it all. Opening that scar to make it universal is the basic principle of Art. An iron maiden used to be an instrument of torture. And if the term ‘to create’ means anything, it means that whoever does it is tortured and sacrificed on the alter of something.

La Vierge de Fer bell jar.

La Vierge de Fer bell jar.

On his website, Serge Lutens doesn’t add any clarification, writing and describing the perfume rather cryptically:

The religion of iron needed a Virgin, and the Virgin, a lily.

“Have you smelt it?”
“Yes, I have.”
“And how is it?”
“As striking as the fleur-de-lis seal on the arm of a criminal.”
“Never?!”
“And deep down, as itchy as a hair shirt on the skin. In fact, a sublime torture!”.

As always, Serge Lutens keeps the perfume’s notes secret. Surrender to Chance says they are:

Lily, jasmine, amber, vanilla and sandalwood.

The notes I detect are slightly different:

Lily, aldehydes, muguet (or lily of the valley), jasmine, generic amber, white musk, vanilla.

Source: cosmovisions.com

Calla lilies. Source: cosmovisions.com

La Vierge de Fer opens on my skin with notes that are, indeed, as itchy as a hair shirt, though the torture is far from “sublime,” in my opinion. There is a heavy layer of soapy aldehydes that have a lemony undertone. They are followed by lilies that don’t smell like indolic Stargarzers so much as the fresher Calla lily shown in the photo. I also detect a subtle, green whiff of dainty, dewy lily-of-the-valley which I’ll just call by its French name, muguet, in order to avoid any confusion. The whole thing smells as fresh as Dior’s legendary Diorissimo, which would be fine and dandy were it not for the white synthetics.

Bounce dryer sheets.

Bounce dryer sheets.

The green-white floral bouquet is infused with a sharp white musk that sends a piercing pain through my eye every time I smell La Vierge de Fer up close. It starts off resembling expensive hair spray, which is bad enough without its fast transition into the most potent of laundryesque dryer sheets. It is astoundingly bad, astoundingly cheap, and just plain astounding — period — from a house like Serge Lutens. One reason why I like his perfumes is because they generally (with some exceptions) eschew very heavy amounts of synthetics, and, even then, it’s rarely the cheapest form around: common white musk. I don’t go to Serge Lutens for a fragrance that smells like any white florals found in Sephora or Macy’s. I don’t pay his prices for what a celebrity might put out for $30, and I most certainly do not expect such a scent in one of the uber-expensive bell jars whose price has just gone up in the U.S. to $310. The depths of my disappointment and disbelief knows no bounds.    

Source: wallpaper.metalship.org

Source: wallpaper.metalship.org

As I struggle to stop wincing at the shooting pains in my head from the Bounce fabric softener sheets, I notice the odd contrasts emerging in La Vierge de Fer. The fragrance runs hot and cold, metallic and gourmand, in a mix that is both discordant and perplexing. The top notes are soapy aldehydes, piercing white musk, and fresh, green-white lilies, but there is a metallic clang surrounding them that goes beyond mere coldness. It’s as though there were a vein of chilled silver running through the notes, no doubt due to the bloody white musk and the aldehydes. The latter quickly lose their lemony overtones, and turn into pure soap with a tinge of waxiness. 

Vanilla powder. Source: food.ninemsn.com.au

Vanilla powder. Source: food.ninemsn.com.au

Appearing underneath the cool, white bouquet are sudden flashes of something warm, dusty, and sweet. At times, it feels like richly custardy, sweet vanilla. Other times, it’s like dusty, dark, vanilla extrait in unrefined, unprocessed powder. The rich sweetness in the base acts like a wave hitting the green-white floral shores before pulling back, then returning once more. It’s almost like a sort of relay race between the sweet gourmand notes and the alternating cool, metallic, clangy element, the soapy aldehydes, and that piercingly sharp, laundryesque, white musk. It’s rather brilliant on an intellectual, theoretical level, but somewhat disorienting and perplexing on a purely olfactory one.

I’m not happy. I have not been happy on any of the occasions when I’ve tested La Vierge de Fer. Lily is perhaps my favorite floral note, and white floral bombs are the one kind of floral scent that I gravitate towards, but I can’t decide which part of La Vierge de Fer I find more off-putting. So, it’s probably a small mercy then that the perfume has such incredibly weak projection. Within minutes, it feels as though it were evaporating off my skin. Well, everything except that revolting white musk. In less than 10 minutes, in fact, La Vierge de Fer is a complete skin scent on me, which is pretty astonishing. I have problems with longevity, not sillage, but 10 minutes? For an eau de parfum?!

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

Lily of the Valley, or Muguet.

La Vierge de Fer also suffers from the cardinal sin of being utterly boring. I have nothing against soliflores — perfumes celebrating and revolving around one main note — if they are interesting or well-done. For me, however, La Vierge de Fer is tedious and banal. Exactly 20 minutes into its development, the perfume loses that odd metallic clang and coldness, and the relay race with the vanilla ends. I wasn’t keen on it, but at least it was interesting, and I could see how the metal might be a symbolic representation of either Joan of Arc’s armour, or the steel spokes of the Iron Maiden as it pierced flesh warm from vanilla and white from lilies. Once that extremely clever bit of elegiac sophistication vanishes, you are left with nothing more than lilies infused with soapy aldehydes and horrific commercial musk. Even the more green muguet note vanishes, if it was even there at all. It’s hard to tell under all the synthetics, especially given how wispy the fragrance is on my skin.

Source: hdwallpapers.fr

Source: hdwallpapers.fr

It takes about 75-minutes for La Vierge de Fer to change, though it’s minor at best. At first, there is a subtle, nebulous change in the perfume’s temperature and feel, as though there were a growing warmth in the base. It’s not vanilla, and it’s most definitely nothing that is actually ambered, but La Vierge de Fer seems less crisp and fresh. The jasmine starts to come out, slowly vying with the lily for dominance, and turning the fragrance sweeter. Eventually, by the end of the 2nd hour, La Vierge de Fer begins to shed some of its laundryesque sharpness like an unpleasant snake’s skin, though the jasmine can’t erase all of it. The perfume is now jasmine and lily on an abstract, sweet, warm base that is infused with Bounce dryer sheets. By the end of the 3rd hour, La Vierge de Fer is nothing more than a blur of whiteness (and synthetics) that feels as though it’s about to die entirely.

To my surprise, La Vierge de Fer hangs on tenaciously, chugging away in the most translucent smear on my skin. It still gives me an immediate pain in my head every time I smell it up close, but the perfume is definitely there if you put your nose right on your arm and inhale forcefully. What is surprising is an odd, unexpected fruitiness that suddenly pops up alongside the clean, white musk in the base. To the extent that I can make out anything from La Vierge de Fer’s thinness, it almost smells like dark grapes. It has to be the indoles so prevalent in white flowers like jasmine; indoles can be broken down to something called methyl anthranilate, a natural compound which has a fruity aroma, often like that of Concord grapes (among other things). Whatever the reason for the sudden fruitiness, it is a fleeting thing that shows up on in the tiniest of ways and towards the end on my skin around the middle of the 5th hour.

Source: backdropsforyourlife.wordpress.com

Source: backdropsforyourlife.wordpress.com

The perfume dies shortly thereafter, giving its last gasp just a little over 7 hours from the time I first applied it. In its final moments, it was nothing more than cheap, synthetic white “cleanness.” The 7 hours comes from an average quantity of about 3 smears, or about 2 sprays. At a smaller dosage amounting to one good-sized spray, La Vierge de Fer lasted only 5.75 hours on my skin. Were it not for piercing musk, which my skin clings onto like glue, I suspect the whole thing would have died after three hours, no matter how much I applied.   

If I were to be diplomatic about the reactions to La Vierge de Fer that I’ve observed in groups or on various sites, I would say that they are mixed. Some eventually grow to appreciate the perfume as was the case for Bois de Jasmin, who wrote, in part:

La Vierge de Fer is neither punk nor bizarre. It’s not particularly dark either. I would put it as one of the more approachable and easy to like florals from Lutens’s impressive collection. It’s quite demure and delicate next to the bombshells like Tubéreuse Criminelle or Fleurs d’Oranger. The tender sweetness of jasmine is contrasted with the champagne of aldehydes in the top notes, and this beautiful contrast between softness and sparkle is carried on into the drydown. […][¶]

Jasmine and lily fireworks notwithstanding, La Vierge de Fer was not love at first inhale for me. I found it too simple and not challenging enough. But as I continued to dip into my sample, I found it more and more compelling. It’s simultaneously comforting and sophisticated, which makes it versatile enough to wear for just about any occasion. You simply have to love being showered with white flowers.

Well, I do happen to “love being showered with white flowers,” but I personally wouldn’t wear La Vierge de Fer if it were given to me for free. And no amount of time or testing is going to change my feelings.

In my opinion, La Vierge de Fer could go right next to the sort of clean, fresh, white, Spring-like floral scents found in Dillard’s, TJ Maxx, or Sephora. There’s nothing wrong with that if that is your taste, but I doubt anyone would want to pay $310 for it. One spends that sort of money on a Serge Lutens bell jar to get a wholly unusual, creative, innovative scent with a twist — a scent that has a complex, morphing character that is different from everything else out there, and that doesn’t come with a massive wallop of cheap synthetics. I realise that Serge Lutens has veered as of late towards lighter, thinner, simpler fragrances, and away from the complex (often Oriental) perfumes with which he began his line in the early 1990s, but I think La Vierge de Fer suffers from more than mere simplicity. I find it tedious and absolutely terrible. In almost every case with Serge Lutens — even when a particular fragrance doesn’t suit my personal tastes — I can admire the artistry, think it is well-done, and respect it. That is not the case here. I don’t think La Vierge de Fer even deserves to carry the Serge Lutens name. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: La Vierge de Fer is an eau de parfum that is part of the Serge Lutens “Paris Exclusives” line, which means it is available only in the larger 2.5 oz/75 ml Bell Jar size. It retails for $310 or €140 for a 75 ml/2.5 oz bottle. You can buy it directly from the U.S. Serge Lutens website or from the International one
In the U.S.: La Vierge de Fer should be available exclusively at Barney’s New York store, but for some reason, the fragrance is not on the website at the time of this review. Normally, you can call the store to purchase their Lutens bell jars. The number is (212) 833-2425.
Samples: You can order samples of La Vierge de Fer from Surrender to Chance starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. The fragrance is also available as part of a Five Piece Non-Export Sampler Set, where you can choose 5 Lutens Paris Exclusives for a starting price of $18.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. 
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Perfume Review – Robert Piguet Fracas: The History & The Legend

“There are perfume legends, there are perfumer legends, and then there are perfumes that become obsessions. Fracas is all three, which is a hat trick less common that you’d think.”

Fracas Eau de Parfum.

Fracas Eau de Parfum.

Thus begins the New York Timesreview for Fracas. It is a five-star review by the highly respected perfume critic, Chandler Burr, for a perfume that he rates as “transcendent.” And I couldn’t agree more.

As a very small child of six or seven, and one already obsessed with perfume, there were two fragrances that I loved above all others: YSL’s Opium and Robert Piguet‘s Fracas. Out of the vast array of expensive French bottles littering my mother’s mise à toilette, out of all the Lalique jars and containers filled with various mysterious, adult things, out of all the things that made being a woman seem so fun and magical, there was really only Opium and Fracas that mattered to me. It was the 1970s, we lived in Cannes in a villa on the side of the mountain, overlooking the whole city below. There were exciting and often turbulent things going on, new things to explore, and make-believe adventures to be had. And, yet, I was always drawn back to that table. To be honest, it was primarily for the Opium which is still, to this day, my favorite perfume in all the world (in vintage version). But Fracas was a close second.

It was the empress of all white scents. It was a perfume that, as I recall, brought every man who passed by my mother to a stumbling, stuttering halt as they wondered what was that marvelous, incredible, hypnotic smell. It was a scent that I always thought was exuberantly joyful and happy, but which seemed to seduce whomever came within ten feet of it. It seemed like some cloud of happy white magic, all in one jet black bottle. It was the perfume worn by Marilyn Monroe (when she wasn’t wearing Chanel No. 5), Rita Hayworth, and Brigitte Bardot. And its modern die-hard fans range from such polar opposites as: Madonna to Martha Stewart, Ivana Trump to Courtney Love, Princess Caroline of Monaco to Bianca Jagger. It intoxicated them all. And it intoxicated a tiny seven-year old, too.

Years passed, and I never forgot Fracas. Even though I had my own bottle of Opium by now, I would often talk with my mother about that “amazing white perfume in the black bottle.” When she told me that it was no longer made, we both paused in a moment of sadness — a moment of silence, if you will, for the tragedy of a world without Fracas.

Then, one day, in 1998, I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area when I heard that Fracas was back. I remember the exact moment I heard it. It was late afternoon, I was feeling unwell, and lying on a forest green, brocade sofa watching some criminal trial on Court TV when my mother called. She mentioned, in passing, Fracas’s return. Without exaggeration, I got off the phone, literally leapt off the sofa, and drove through horrendous traffic all the way to San Francisco. I bought it that evening, there and then. That is the power of Fracas over those who adore it.

But there is another side to Fracas. The side which sends people reeling with horror, the side which has been described as pure poison, redolent of “rotting fruit,” litter boxes, cat urine, and more. It is a scent which can trigger migraines that will knock out its sufferers for days on end, lying huddled and whimpering in a darkened room. It is a scent that some say should never be worn out to dinner because your neighbors at the table may be too overwhelmed to be able to taste their food. It is a scent where, allegedly, two sprays were enough to send the baristas at Starbucks into a coughing, watery-eyed fit as they gasped for air. It is a scent that can make some beg for an early death. Even one of its adoring male admirers describes it as “[t]he perfume of the black widow: it attracts you and then kills you with a kiss…”

Fracas was released in 1948 by Robert Piguet, one of the top, Parisien haute-couture designers of the time, and a man who trained or taught everyone from Hubert de Givenchy to Balmain to Christian Dior himself. The perfume was created by Germaine Cellier, an enormously respected, avant-garde perfumer who was quite willing to literally grab the underwear off runway models in order to get a better idea of what constituted the core scent of a woman. Cellier made Fracas four years after the release of her Bandit, that infamous, legendary leather chypre that is the black light to Fracas’ white one. The contrast seems to have been intentional. According to the perfume expert, Elena Vosnaki, Cellier was quite explicit in making the distinction between her two fragrances:

Cellier infamously dedicated Fracas ~a voluptuous tuberose scent conceived for ‘femmes’~ to the beautiful Edwige Feuillère, while she promised the butcher Bandit to the ‘dykes’.

In the New York Times article, Chandler Burr explains that tuberose “is notorious among perfumers for being a difficult raw material to master” and that perhaps only Cellier could have managed to create a scent like Fracas. Or, perhaps, she and tuberose’s tempestuous, animalic nature were simply a match made in heaven:

[Cellier was] the creator of a striking style. ‘She transposed Fauvism and Abstractionism into perfume,’ Jeannine Mongin has written. ‘She created in dissonance.’  … It is possible that the secret of Fracas (1948) is an equilibrium between the power of Cellier’s style and the power of tuberose.

That creation “in dissonance” is one reason why Fracas horrified and bewitched people in equal measure. Another is that tuberose — and Fracas in particular — evokes carnal sex. The famous perfumer, Roja Dove, said bluntly:

Fracas is the big tuberose reference of perfumery, and tuberose is the most carnal of the floral notes. It smells like very, very hot flesh after you’ve had sex — that’s the bottom line. It’s very much in fashion just now, but current fragrances don’t use such an incredible concentration of it. While they may nod towards something carnal, Fracas is carnal all the way. [via The Independent, 12/14/2002.] [Emphasis added.]

Fracas continued to hold sway until sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s when it faded into the mists of legend. It seems that the house of Robert Piguet essentially died. Then, in the mid 1990s, the Robert Piguet name was bought by

"Fracas" Eau de Toilette. Quite probably, the Arpel version.

“Fracas” Eau de Toilette. Quite probably, the Arpel version.

Adrien Arpel, for his company, Alfin. He re-released Fracas in both eau de parfum form and some rogue eau de toilette version. Neither seemed to be much like the original. (So if you ever see any bottles of Fracas on eBay that come in boxes with the words Arpel on them, stay away.)

In 1995 or 1996, however, the Robert Piguet brand was bought by Fashion Fragrances and Cosmetics (FF&C). They made every attempt to release a version of Fracas that was close to the original in terms of notes and appearance. And, by most accounts, they succeeded as the current version is said to

A small bottle of Fracas in vintage extrait concentration that is currently selling on eBay for an extremely reasonable amount.

A small bottle of Fracas in vintage extrait concentration that is currently selling on eBay for an extremely reasonable amount.

be exceedingly close, though Bois de Jasmin says that the original is more aggressive and animalic, and various commentators around the internet insist that the new version is “watery” in comparison. (They also say to turn to eBay where it’s not hard to find the vintage version from the ’60s and ’70s in extrait form for extremely affordable prices.)

Whatever the changes, the return of Fracas was hailed by all and soon returned to its status as a cult legend. Luca Turin calls it the “Ferrari” of fragrances and, in 2006, it was inducted into the FiFi (Fragrance Foundation) Hall of Fame.

The bottle for Fracas's Pure Parfum (or Extrait de Parfum) concentration.

The bottle for Fracas’s Pure Parfum (or Extrait de Parfum) concentration.

The new Fracas comes in either eau de parfum or pure parfum/extrait concentrations, and, like the original, comes in a jet-black, opaque bottle with a black top and a pink-framed label. The extrait version is said to be creamier, richer and more balanced than the louder eau de parfum version. My 1998 bottle is the eau de parfum concentration and I don’t find it loud in the slightest, but then I was imprinted with the original, full-bodied, hardcore Fracas at a very early age.

Bois de Jasmin says that notes in Fracas are:

bergamot, orange blossom, greens, peach, tuberose, jasmine, violet, iris, lily of the valley, carnation, sandalwood, musk, oakmoss, and cedar.

However, I do not believe that list to be complete at all, particularly as it leaves out vetiver which is well known to be in Fracas, along with jonquil (otherwise known as narcissus). On numerous sites, I have read a far more extensive list of notes and I think we should go with the long list provided by Yesterday’s Perfume blog:

Top notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Hyacinth, Green Notes

Heart notes: Tuberose, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Lily of the Valley, White Iris, Violet, Jonquil, Carnation, Coriander, Peach, Osmanthus, Pink Geranium

Base notes: Musk, Cedar, Oak Moss, Sandalwood, Orris, Vetiver, Tolu Balsam[.]

Chandler Burr of the New York Times explains the effect and smell of some of the key ingredients:

Cellier packed her formula with Indian tuberose absolute, which gives it huge power and “sillage” (the olfactory trail). Like all good perfumers, she was an illusionist. To achieve an even more lifelike, more raw tuberose (this flower smells of armpit, flesh and decay due to heavy molecules called indoles; jasmine is similarly loaded with them), she used an even larger quantity of Tunisian orange blossom absolute, plus some astronomically expensive French jasmine and Italian iris root butter. Add natural violet leaf to give the sweet, heavy scent a refreshingly harsh, wet green aspect, iris for a woody depth, synthetic civet (the smell of unwashed construction worker) for power, the synthetics C18 for an unctuous, milky, soft tropical quality and methyl anthranilate for fizz. The result is a signature, a persistence on skin, and a diffusion that are – all three – astonishing. Another hat trick.

I’m hesitant to give one of my usually detailed, hour-by-hour breakdowns for Fracas. Some masterpieces can’t be dissected. And, in all honesty, I couldn’t even hope to sum up its key elements as well as that quote by Chandler Burr just did. But there is also something else: Fracas is such a magnificently blended perfume that the notes often merge together in perfect unity to create a strong, buttery, indolic, narcotically heady “sum total.” It is a symphony of buttery, creamy white, even though there are things that cut through the richness, like the green vetiver and the airy, spring-like, green lily-of-the-valley and hyacinth.

Despite that, there is almost a thick, viscous, rubbery richness at the heart of the sweetness. It’s because Fracas contains two of the most indolic flowers around – jasmine and tuberose. And it smells very strongly of another white super-flower that is also very indolic: gardenia. (Gardenia is not one of the official notes, but it’s there and it’s quite powerful.) Indolic flowers can often have a rubbery element to the narcotic richness at their heart; over-blown ripeness that, sometimes, can verge almost on the side of decay. (You can read more about Indoles and Indolic scents at the Glossary.) These indoles are the reason why some people get the the impression of “rotting fruit,” sourness, urine, plastic, or Hawaiian flowers.

I’m fortunate not to experience any of that. On me, it is predominantly tuberose and gardenia, with a touch of green, a base of creamy earthiness and, yes, a strong feeling of a hot body after sex. (Though never the gardenia and “bad-idea sex” that one person amusingly called the scent of Fracas.) The rest — the numerous, subtle nuances and undulating waves of notes — I refuse to break down. I won’t dissect Fracas. I suppose I don’t want to dig into why it creates the magic that it does for me. To me, Fracas is the Ode to Joy in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. There are a lot of cadences involved, but some things are just meant to be appreciated as a majestic whole and to try for yourself.

For all its glory, I would be the very first to say that you should never buy Fracas blind unless you are sure from ahead of time that you love powerful, heady white floral or tuberose scents. Never. One reason is the powerful projection and longevity of Fracas, which really cannot be emphasized enough. Read the comments on Fragrantica; they are uniform. When someone wrote that Fracas lasted through two showers, I believed it fully. When others write that it can induce searing migraines in even small doses to anyone sensitive to perfumes, I believe them too.

If you are not a fan of heady scents — let alone heady florals — you should not consider Fracas. EVER. In fact, if heavy white scents give you a migraine, you should take a plane to the opposite side of the planet from whomever may be wearing Fracas. I truly am not joking. This is not a scent to apply with reckless abandon if you’re going to be going anywhere close to masses of other human beings. As the perfume site, Now Smell This, said, “[w]hile Fracas doesn’t feel heavy, it packs a hefty sillage. It is exactly the sort of perfume that leads to no-fragrance rules in large office buildings.”

Even if you love heady florals, it may be best if you first try a sample or give it a whiff at a department store. Fracas is…. well, if you love it, words simply can’t do it justice. And, if you hate it, words can’t seem to convey the full depth of the fear or revulsion. Either way, one thing is undeniable: it is a legend which set the standard for all white florals which followed.

The question is: will you find it to be the white empress that seduces you, or the black widow that kills you?

 

PRODUCT INFORMATION, COST, LOCATIONS TO BUY & SAMPLES:

Cost & Type: Fracas is available on the Robert Piguet website in numerous different forms, along with several accompanying body products. The Eau de Parfum costs $95 for 1.7 oz/50ml and $135 for 3.4 oz/100 ml. The Parfum, pure parfum or extrait version costs $235 for 1 oz/30 ml. (There should be a smaller and cheaper size which is usually around $110 for 0.25 oz/7.5 ml but I don’t see it listed on the website.) Fracas also comes in solid Parfum form for $75.

Fracas Pink Box setIn addition to all that, there are gift sets and body lotions. There is a small gift set called the “Fracas Little Pink Box” (that Martha Stewart apparently recommends) that is $65 and which includes: 1 oz. (30 ml) Fracas Eau de Parfum Spray and a .33 oz. (10 ml) Fracas Eau de Parfum Roll-on. There is also a Limited Edition set that is $595. Fragrantica states that the matching body care products include: Silkening Body Wash (250ml), Silkening Body Lotion (250ml) and Silkening Body Crème (200ml). I have only seen the Silkening Body Lotion on most sites.

Where To Buy It: In addition to the Piguet website, you can find Fracas in numerous department stores or online retail sites. In the US, you can also find Fracas available at Saks, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom (which only carries the Eau de Parfum version and the body lotion), and various online retailers. Neiman Marcus carries not only the Eau de Parfum and the 2 different sizes of Pure Parfum or Parfum Extrait, but also the Little Pink Box set. In the UK, you can find Fracas at Harrods which carries the Eau de Parfum, the pure Parfum, and the body silkening lotion. It costs £75.00 for 1.7 oz/50 ml of the Eau de Parfum while the pure parfum costs £80.00 for the 7.5 ml size/0.25 oz and £195.00 for the 30 ml/1 oz size. In Australia, you can find Fracas on Libertine.

Samples: You can also order samples of Fracas from various sample sites. The one I use, Surrender to Chance, carries only the current Eau de Parfum version, not the Extrait/Pure Parfum form. It costs $3 for the smallest 1 ml sample vial and the sizes go all the way up to 15 ml (which costs $39). Surrender to Chance ships worldwide for about $5.95 (though it’s a little bit more for larger orders over $75), and for $2.95 for all orders within the U.S., regardless of the size of the order.