Dark cherry fairytale from 1997
This perfume makes instinctive sense to me. It’s a ’90s gothy / punky / emo / dark princess perfume. It’s rich, dark and plummy, with black liquorice, black cherry, iris, dark chocolate, and violets going on. This is not sweetshop red chewy liquorice – its classy French liquorice like a cold glass of pastis in a brasserie at dusk. There is a dry, earthy, almost sour edge which stops it being too adolescent – this is sophisticated and wearable enough for 30+ or 40+ drama queens.
It makes me think of the blood red runny jam in the delicious polish donuts called paczki (pronounced something like ponch-ki) that my mum used to get from a shop in Hackney. She’d get them every week. One day she went in – none left. Alarmed, she went to the counter guy and asked “No paczki?!” He shrugged and said “Poles”.
So Lolita Lempicka – why have I never heard of her? She’s a French fashion designer, heyday in the 80s and 90s, but seems to have made her millions from perfume: most online references seem to be about the scent range, you have to dig for the fashion. This is a shame as what I’ve been able to find looks and sounds great: she started making clothes for her Barbies as a child, inspired by fairytales, baroque, 1930s and 1940s silk negligées, and Jean Cocteau.
I could imagine a young Courtney Love wearing Lolita Lempicka to sing Violet, Winona Ryder wearing it in Beetlejuice, or it suiting my friend Brontë, who has always favoured dark purples, black, hot pinks, has dark ’40s Hollywood curls and views Betty Boop as her spirit animal.
I’d wear this with black cherry lipstick, slate grey silk, burgundy cashmere, and some doc martens.
The bottle is an outstanding piece of product design. A kitsch-tastic, mauve glass apple with appliqué gold ivy leaves, a gold apple stem for the spray, and squiggley writing I could imagine adorning homemade Valentines with those liquid gold ink pens for friends when I was 12.
I got a used bottle of this with about 30 ml left for under a tenner on eBay, and will be pretty sad when I finish it.
If you have a stylish, stroppy little Wednesday Addams or Brian Molko in your life, buy them a bottle and be their favourite cool auntie / uncle.