When it comes to perfume inspirations famous historical figures are a common place for a perfumer to start. The hazard in choosing to do this is these kind of larger-than-life figures also have lived in different people’s imaginations in very personal ways. That is why even though a perfumer might make a fragrance which matches their impression there might not be a general agreement on that. Independent perfumer Shelley Waddington has already successfully navigated this path with last year’s stunning Zelda inspired by Zelda Fitzgerald. Now a year on she takes on another woman with a singular life story, Frida Kahlo, in the new perfume Frida.
Frida Kahlo was like one of those heroines in a historical novel who seems to be there when important people show up. The difference is she is a real person. She is most known for her paintings. She was also involved with Diego Rivera and Leon Trotsky after he fled to Mexico from Russia. She was bisexual and had an affair with the singer Josephine Baker. Ms. Waddington was drawn to her “unconventional style” and decided to make a fragrance centered on tuberose. She surrounds it with touchstones of other parts of Ms. Kahlo’s life.
Frida Kahlo (Photo by Guillermo Kahlo)
Ms. Waddington opens her assay of Ms. Kahlo’s life in her garden where she grew herbs and vegetables. The very vegetal green accord Frida opens with is that smell of green leafy things growing in abundance. She uses a healthy dose of agave which places the setting as Mexico. I really thought this was an interesting choice as it indelibly fixes the geographical place of this fragrance. Tuberose is next to show up. This is a lush tuberose fully rounded and soft. In Frida some of the greener and mentholated character has been greatly diminished. What remains is the indolic floralcy. The tuberose takes over the middle phase and allows for a little nuance to be added by hibiscus but the tuberose is always on top. As that tuberose looks for a foundation to settle upon Ms. Waddington chooses a woody base. As the tuberose matches the woody notes it later evolves one last time into a musky accord rounded off by tobacco. The later stages of Frida are really spectacular as everything that has come before hits a crescendo.
Frida has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
When I wore Zelda I was immediately transported to the 1920’s. Frida not only transports me to Ms. Kahlo’s time but also her place. What I like most about Frida is not only has Ms. Waddington created a fragrance made up of parts of Ms. Kahlo’s life she has also managed to find the heart underneath the icon. I have said it before Ms. Waddington has been on an impressive creative streak over the last 18 months. Frida continues the upward trend.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by En Voyage Perfumes