Grossmith Betrothal parfum is a recently released, limited perfume for the 2011 Royal Wedding based on a the original formula created for Queen Mary’s betrothal in 1893. The Grossmith Pefume House is back in business (originally founded in 1835) . The bottles are based on the original Baccarat bottles and the formulas are based on “remastered” originals. You’ve most likely noticed this luxury brand before because of its price point. Obviously, one can charge whatever they want for old Baccarat molds and new-old formulas.
It’s a great big floral that really is Belle Epoque-ish or even 1980-ish. The opening is a heady white floral, slightly spicy and humid. My nose picks up on the ylang-ylang, dainty roses, and some indoles. These huge florals are dipped in powder. One would think that this would make Betrothal smell innocent and coy. But, it doesn’t. The florals, jasmine and ylang-ylang, used in Betrothal border that fine line between ripe and rotten. These florals aren’t really clean and have that natural “vulgarness” of fresh flowers (like a Georgia O’Keefe painting), the powder is trying to cover up something that may be offensive (umm…like sex, but don’t worry, it’s marital sex). The jasmine and ylang-ylang in Betrothal remind me of almost rotten or very ripe bananas when the peel is black. This is the only thing that really pleases me in Betrothal, the ugliness. The dry-down is warm woods with a talcum powderish vanilla. It’s “talcum dry” from vetiver and binding orris. Unfortunately, this rather boring, but pretty base, is the longest wearing part of Betrothal. It reminds me of Tom Ford Jasmine Musk at dry-down.
Betrothal is old-fashioned. Not necessarily because of the fragrance itself, but the feel of the fragrance. It’s like a biological clock ticking with it’s overripe florals, a day away from being rotten, rushing to marry any eligible (hopefully affluent and stable) man. It’s flirting with the silly notion of being an “old maid”. It’s an annoying, pushy mother saying “hurry up and get married already” type of fragrance. To cover up the “oldness” it uses talcum powder to give a feeling of youth, virginity, and a subliminal hint of babies. Viewing marriage as completely “pro-creative” is old-fashioned, this is why Betrothal smells like 1893.
I do like Betrothal but I’m not “wowed”. It’s a tremendous floral and it does smell well-done. I can tell that the ingredients used are good. But, the price is really off putting. Annick Goutal’s early florals are in this big, old-fashioned style. I’m thinking of Grand Amour, Heure Exquise, and Passion. They aren’t exactly like Betrothal, but they are close enough considering the ginormous price difference. I actually like the AGs mentioned much better. Honestly, if Betrothal retailed for under $200, I wouldn’t want a bottle. It isn’t something that I’d wear often. The bottle and font are nice, but I think St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur did a better job in the “turn-of-the-century” look department.
Betrothal is a “dabber”. I imagine it is very overwhelming if sprayed. A little dab is good enough for me. I do smell it all day. The top is the only interesting part, the balance of fresh/beautiful and rotten/ugly, and it fades fairly quickly. This long-wear is what makes it “better” than an Annick Goutal, and you’re paying for it.
Notes listed include citrus, Rose de Mai, jasmine, ylang-ylang, neroli, vetiver, warm woods, and vanilla.
Give Betrothal a try if you want to try something expensive for the hell of it, or if you like big 1880’s or 1980’s florals like Annick Goutal Grand Amour, Annick Goutal Passion, Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, Esprite d’Oscar, Chanel No. 5 EDP, Tom Ford Jasmine Musk, Giorgio, Guerlain Shalimar parfum, and/or Givenchy Ysatis parfum. Or if you want to collect everything Royal Wedding. And if you are doing that you don’t care what it smells like anyways 🙂
Grossmith Betrothal parfum retails for $390 for .33 oz and $735 for the 1.7 oz at Lucky Scent.
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