The Scented Hound

Perfume blog with abbreviated perfume reviews & fragrance reviews.


Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle

If it had not been for the wonderful Undina, I would have probably never have thought about sampling this fragrance.  Thankfully, she sent me a vial of this wonderful jewel.

WHAT I SMELL:  Portrait of a Lady opens with an herbal and minty full-bodied musky rush.  With the name, I would have thought that this was going to be an over the top big floral.  What a surprise.   It start off very masculine and medicinal.  I had no idea where this was going.  After a while, out comes a very dusty and understated rose with black current along with a tempered cedar woody note.   There are many notes at play here, fruity and somewhat jammy mixed with wood in a way that’s all very subtle and really lovely.  I find that it’s proper and refined and seems like something from another era.

From the Frederic Malle website:

Portrait of a Lady is a new breed of oriental rose, a baroque perfume. It is based on an accord of benzoin, cinnamon, sandalwood and, above all patchouli, musk and frankincense. It takes off with an excessive dosage of the best Turkish rose essence that Dominique Ropion linked to the rest of the formula, thanks to a red berries and spice accord.

After hundreds of trials needed to balance such an excessive formula (Portrait of a Lady is undoubtedly the perfume containing the strongest dosage of rose essence and patchouli heart), a rare symphonic perfume appeared:  a new oriental rose, a sensuous beauty that attracts people like a magnet, a modern classic:  Portrait of a Lady. 

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: Gillian Anderson in “The House of Mirth.”  Yes, I know this is fragrance is based on a Henry James novel, but The House of Mirth is what popped up in my mind!


WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT PORTRAIT OF A LADY: Scentsate, Katie Puckrik Smells, 1000 Fragrances

BOTTOM LINE:  This is definitely full bottle worthy.  I just wish Frederic Malle’s perfumes weren’t so on the high-end of cost.  And don’t let the name fool you, this can easily be worn by men or women.  Thank you Undina for this wonderful discovery.

  • Bone Rating: 4.5 out of 5 possible bones
  • Scent: Oriental Floral
  • Classification: For women, but I believe this is easily unisex
  • Nose:  Dominique Ropion
  • Expense: $225 for 50ml EdP