"She’s a rose with thorns, don’t mess with her. She’s a girl who goes to extremes.
When she can, she soothes; and when she wants … !
Her fragrance lifts you higher, she rocks and shocks." is how La Fille De Berlin is described by Lutens on his website. And this, despite the slightly superfluous lyricism (of which I myself am guilty more oft than not), holds quite true.
LFDB is a rose fragrance, and one quite unlike many others. The rose found here is, to my nose, a dark red, almost black rose. One that you would find alone, with no other blooms around it, in a dark room somewhere, illuminated by a flickering light. It is austere. It is dark. It is powerful, but mature. And this same rose passes through the latter half of its life within this fragrance, from the peak of it's majesty, to it's ultimate demise. My own desire for exasperating lyricism and philosophy sated, let's move to the fragrance as a whole.
Now, as is no surprise, LFDB opens on me with a rose. It's not sweet per se, but there is a sweetness of sorts, flitting through the top, accompanied by an interesting and fresh green note, not vegetal in the slightest, but light enough to cut the power of the rose, whilst softening it at the same time. Underscoring this, there is a woody background, not overtly prominent, but enough to give the opening a body, and remove any sense that this would lean "Arabic" at all.
A short while later, a touch before the mid arises, the rose takes on a fruity, almost cherry like characteristic, spiced with a dry pepper, and balanced with a bitter patchouli. An aspect that is as unexpected as it is welcome, giving depth and character to it in a way that is difficult to classify or explain. I can't say why it works, only that it does so, masterfully well.
A few hours later, in what is most definitely the dry down, the fragrance takes on yet another face. Going from bright and vibrant, yet unmistakably dark, to the austerity that I find most beautiful. It is cold, aloof, and slightly metallic, yet warm simultaneously. It presents as something that could be considered animalic and almost debauche, but the rest of the composition is so incredibly refined and well put together, that this strange "naughtiness" is completely reasonable.
The musk, the dry rose, and the light woodiness, warmed by an almost caramelized amber, with the strange metal and animalia that I can't quite put my finger on, brings to bed the olfactive journey that this scent is, in the most satisfying way.
La Fille De Berlin, in short, is a perfectly androgynous rose scent, wearable equally by men and women. There is no leaning. It simply is, truly genderless.
To summarize, for anyone who like rose scents at all, this one is a must have. To anyone who doesn't, this one must be tried.
For me, it lasts quite a while, but is never intrusive or brash. It is just strong enough to make itself known to you and remain unforgotten, which is poetic since the scent itself is truly unforgettable.