She was the image of sweetness, softness, and femininity as she walked in the garden. Young, but sure of herself, confident, and at ease. She didn’t need a man to be content, though there were plenty who sought her. She didn’t follow the dictates of fashion, though she wore elegant clothes. She simply did what made her feel happy, seeking comfort, simplicity, and softness in her life.
That is the woman I imagine when I wear Ultimate Seduction, the latest fragrance from Laurent Mazzone and LM Parfums. It is a pure parfum extrait that was just released and whose essence is that of a very approachable, simple, sweet fruity-floral. For me, it radiates youthful femininity, and it has done so since I first tested the fragrance 8 months ago in Paris. Back then, Ultimate Seduction was called Lost Paradise, and Laurent Mazzone told me the inspiration and thought behind it. Contrary to my impressions of youthful innocence, the backstory is one that is all about a steamy love affair, and a sophisticated woman intent on seduction. The recent photo campaign that was released to accompany Ultimate Seduction’s launch underscores that point:
As you can see, there is a definite theme behind the text and images. Laurent Mazzone told me the story he saw in his head for both Ultimate Seduction and the woman who wore it. My memory is a little hazy as to all the specific details, so I apologise in advance to Monsieur Mazzone if I get some parts of it wrong, but the story is important in explaining certain aspects of the perfume that he created.
The woman in Monsieur Mazzone’s imagination wore Ultimate Seduction as a tantalizing suggestion, discretely wafting out from under a little black dress, on her way to meet her lover. (The clothing may be my own extrapolation, or it may have come from Monsieur Mazzone who is heavily involved in the fashion world and who had come to attend Paris Fashion Week.) Regardless of the clothing details, the gist of the story is that the woman was elegant, fashionable, worldly, strongly confident, and on her way to a steamy rendezvous with her lover.
Ultimate Seduction was meant not only to express her own sweet femininity and to drive her lover wild, but to also symbolise the juicy passion of their hot affair. And juicy sweetness is a strong part of the fragrance’s essence, thanks to the following perfume pyramid:
TOP NOTES: Pink pepper, black currant, orange
HEART NOTES: Violet, iris, rose
BASE NOTES: patchouli, amber, blond wood, cedar, praline.
Ultimate Seduction opens on my skin in a blast of tangy tartness, infused with juicy, fruited sweetness. There is a lovely heaping dose of black currants which I’m used to calling cassis, so I’ll stick with that term. The fruit can sometimes smell sharp, indolic, and, on some unfortunate people, reminiscent of cat pee or urine, but that is not the case here. Instead, it is merely a sour tartness that feels very green and incredibly bright.
The cassis is accompanied by a host of other notes as well. There are: blood-red roses dripping with heavy, syrupy, purple patchouli molasses; fruity pink peppercorn berries that occasionally have a peppery blackness to them; and ripe, juicy oranges. The whole kaleidoscope of bright, tart, sour, juicy fruitiness rests upon a very thin foundation of dry cedar. In the background, there are hints of a silky vanilla note that dart about, though the note quickly retreats into the shadows to await later developments.
The floral elements are completely overshadowed on my skin in the opening moments by the fruits and patchouli. The cassis, in particular, grows stronger after a few minutes, adding a truly necessary tartness to counterbalance the other, sweeter elements. I’m a bit dubious about the pink peppercorns which used to be a big trend about 5 years ago in perfumery, but it is a subtle touch. Unfortunately for me, the purple, syrupy fruit-chouli — one of the notes that I like the least in perfumery — is quite profound. Regular readers know that this sort of patchouli is one of my bête noires, especially when combined with roses, and it is the main reason why I had such an immediate, instantly negative response to the fragrance when I first tried it 8 months ago.
Yet, I want to say clearly that Ultimate Seduction is much better than the “Lost Paradise” that I encountered that day long ago in the Hotel Costes. It is much tarter, tangier, brighter, and, for the first hour or so, much greener and crisper as well. Ultimate Seduction feels better balanced, more well-rounded, with better body and more elegance. The company says that the perfume has not been changed in terms of its notes since the time it was called Lost Paradise.
However, it does acknowledge that it smells slightly different in terms of its nuances, and explains that maceration is the reason. Ultimate Seduction has had 8 months to steep, strengthen, and grow deeper. Perhaps, but I am convinced that Ultimate Seduction is significantly tangier and tarter than it was, and I have to wonder if the sweetness, patchouli, and rose levels have been modulated down a notch. Don’t get me wrong, the perfume is still very sweet in its opening phase — too sweet for my personal tastes, even now — but it’s no longer the cloying tidal wave (with overly gooey fruitchouli roses) that it was back then. In all honesty, even with my patchouli issues, there are times when I thoroughly enjoy Ultimate Seduction’s opening. It’s all thanks to the cassis, which is a simply beautiful touch here in its almost mouth-watering tartness.
As noted earlier, the floral elements are quite overshadowed at first. I don’t smell any iris on my skin, now or at any point. Yet, occasionally, there are wafts of a dewy, rather metallic violet note in the background. It’s akin to a small firefly being buffeted about by multi-coloured Mistral winds of sour-tart black currants, oranges, red peppercorn berries, and purple fruitchouli roses. The violet simply can’t withstand the strength of the other notes, though it makes more of an effort to do so later in the perfume’s development.
Another very subtle note that appears after 30 minutes is something that seems almost like a lemony-bergamot tonality. There is no bergamot listed in the notes, but I detect something that differs from the tart, crisp acidity of a blackcurrant. It really smells more like a citrus note, though it is subtle. Whatever the source, it helps to add further brightness to the fruited bouquet.
Remember Monsieur Mazzone’s story about the woman discreetly wafting her seductive scent for her lover? Well, the word “discreetly” is important because Ultimate Seduction opens as a soft scent, before turning quite intimate. The sillage is not enormous: 2 sprays from an actual bottle gave me 2 inches in projection; 3 sprays gave me 3 inches. I don’t think a greater application would yield much more than that, because Ultimate Seduction is intentionally meant to be something akin to lingerie.
Granted, Monsieur Mazzone wants it to be very sexy lingerie that you would wear to meet your lover, but lingerie nevertheless. To that end, Ultimate Seduction feels very gauzy and airy, even in the opening moments. The force of the sweet, tart, juicy fruits is strong, but the perfume itself is surprisingly lightweight, right from the start. Frankly, I found the degree of sheerness to a little surprising for an Extrait de Parfum or Pure Parfum, but Ultimate Seduction has stellar longevity to compensate.
I’m afraid I don’t see any of the torrid heatedness, insanity, obsession, madness or toxicity that Ultimate Seduction is meant to represent. To be fair, there are few fragrances that conjure up even half of those things for me. My beloved vintage Opium is one of them. In my opinion, if there were any fragrances in the LM Parfums line that would qualify for those terms, it would absolutely and unquestionably be the gorgeous, intoxicating, heady, but also strangely comforting Sensual Orchid, not Ultimate Seduction. In fact, my review for the former was expressly all about a woman dressing (or, rather, undressing) to seduce her lover, as represented by this image:
Try as I might, nothing I smell in Ultimate Seduction conveys to me the sort of imagery that the several Mert & Marcus photos up above represents. (And, yes, I really love Mert & Marcus.) Instead, I see this woman:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the latter, and she’s a beautiful woman with great softness and elegant femininity, but she symbolises a very different sort of perfume than the one Ultimate Seduction is meant to be. My point is that the marketing for Ultimate Seduction may lead you to think that it is a very different scent than what actually appeared on my skin.
Part of my difficulty is that fruity-florals with jammy patchouli always seem like very young, youthful scents for me. They are safe, approachable, and can be well-done on occasion as Ultimate Seduction is, but the entire genre simply does not scream seduction, sophistication, lustiness, or even edginess to me. Ultimate Seduction is a highly feminine, soft, sweet fragrance with a very traditional mainstream profile, but it has been done in a very refined, smooth, seamless way. It’s the quality that speaks out, not the scent itself.
As a side note, while I think that most fragrances can be unisex on the right person or with the right attitude, I think Ultimate Seduction skews quite feminine. I really can’t see a lot of men wearing it — unless they truly adore sweet fruity-florals — but perhaps I simply have strange associations in my head for the genre.
Ultimate Seduction has 3 distinct stages, and it is the very long, final drydown phase which is the loveliest in my opinion. The opening stage dominated by the tart cassis and other elements slowly segues into a secondary bridge phase, where the vanilla rises up from the base to merge with the fruity-floral elements and thereby create a transition to the final phase centered all around a creamy, slightly dry, very smooth, tonka vanilla.
Stage Two begins precisely at the end of the first hour, as the vanilla blankets everything, softening them, diluting the tartness of the cassis and the heaviness of the fruited patchouli. Oddly, the one exception seems to the violet note which makes a brief reappearance and feels a little more metallic. It is short-lived, however, and fades away after another 20 minutes. The orange sinks into the base, while the black currant’s green tartness begins to weakens. 90 minutes into the perfume’s development, it feels more like a suggestion than anything else.
All the notes start to blur into one, overlapping, losing their distinct edge and clarity. Ultimate Seduction feels like one of those images where everything has filtered through a soft lens, and all the shapes have been blurred out. Even the patchouli rose feels more muted, almost as if it had been tamed by the vanilla. The loss of the tart, sour tanginess is a real shame, but the weakening of that syrupy sweetness almost makes up for it. What’s left is an increasingly abstract fruity-floral with a lusciously silky, airy, vanilla mousse, and only occasional whispers of green tartness.
By the end of the 2nd hour, Ultimate Seduction is completely blurry, and evokes soft clouds made of the almost translucent, pink, ethereal petals. Words keep running through my head for the next few hours like a litany: “Soft. Petals. Feminine. Soft, soft, soft!” I keep imagining a sea of petals, all pink, white, peach and cream, with a touch of lingering fruity redness. The perfume itself now smells like a misty cloud of pink, abstract fruity-rosiness with vanilla. The whole thing has a seamless smoothness that is impressive, even if hazy perfumes are not my actual cup of tea.
In fact, I’m honestly a little surprised to like Ultimate Seduction as much as I do, particularly given my reaction to “Lost Paradise” all those months ago. One reason is that the perfume definitely gets much better after the opening hour, even if the tartness has largely dissipated. A bigger reason is that there is something very easygoing, approachable, and uncomplicated about the scent. Some days, I just want to put on a smooth, expensive-smelling fragrance, feel good, and not have to analyze the bloody thing. The main reason though is the smooth softness that I keep talking about, and that wonderful, silky, but slightly dry vanilla. The two things together somehow manage to make the perfume feel almost like the lingerie that it’s meant to partially represent. And, like lingerie, by the middle of the 3rd hour, Ultimate Seduction is an very intimate scent that lies just fractionally above the skin.
In the second stage, the petal-soft combination of fruity rose and vanilla is subtly counterbalanced by an undercurrent of dry woodiness. It is a very muted, quiet note that runs through the base, but it was noticeable in 2 of my 3 tests of Ultimate Seduction. It occasionally smells of cedar, but, most of the time, it’s merely an abstract dryness and woodiness. I wish it were a little stronger, to give Ultimate Seduction a bit more of an edge, but it sometimes it feels like a ghost, disappearing for a while before reappearing again in the background. Then again, I don’t think this is a perfume that is meant to have any “edges” at all.
The final, very long drydown phase begins roughly 3.5 hours into Ultimate Seduction’s development, and is all about the vanilla. The perfume is now primarily a vanilla scent, infused with fruitiness. The rose is now merely an abstract, amorphous floralacy, and it lurks at the edges alongside the equally abstract dry woodiness. Once in a blue moon, the black currant’s tartness is noticeable, but it’s generally too well-blended into the general “fruitiness.” The best part is really the vanilla note. I think it’s lovely because it’s not one of those traditional, very gooey, cloying, sweet vanillas. It really feels more like tonka, actually, which brings me to another point.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned “pralines” once in this review, even though that is what is actually listed in Ultimate Seduction’s notes. For me, “pralines” have a very different aroma (and taste) than what I detect here. I associate the term with a more buttery, more caramel-like nuance. It’s nuttier and substantially sweeter than the note in Ultimate Seduction which smells instead like a really silky crème anglaise sauce mixed with abstract fruitiness. Ultimate Seduction is not a gourmand fragrance on my skin, thank God, and the notes are too carefully calibrated to be as sweet as the praline fragrances that I have tried in the past. Its primary characteristic at this point is petal-soft creaminess, more than anything either overt or sweet.
Over time, the vanilla begins to change. At the start of the 5th hour, it turns drier, and there are the first hints of graininess. It’s not powdery, but more like grainy tonka texture, if that makes any sense. For the most part, though, it’s still extremely creamy, soft, and smooth at this point.
For the many, many hours which follow, Ultimate Seduction is all about the tonka, lightly flecked by fluctuating, increasingly insignificant amounts of abstract fruitiness. Sometimes, the cassis returns to peek out, while at other times it is the orange (which takes on a rather neroli-like aspect). Once in a blue moon, the woody cedar shows up. Generally, though, Ultimate Seduction is merely a soft tonka scent with a slightly grainy, occasionally powdered texture that has only the smallest strands of abstract fruits.
Ultimate Seduction lasted just under 14 hours in most of my tests of the fragrance. In its final moments, it was only a smear of soft sweetness. For the majority of its life, Ultimate Seduction was primarily an intimate, discrete scent on my skin, but it was still easy to detect up close until the start of the 9th hour. After that point, however, I had to make some concerted effort to find it, by putting my nose actually on my skin and sniffing hard. Yet, I was surprised to see that the most minute traces of the scent lingered on tenaciously each time I wore the fragrance. On one of the occasions when I used 3 sprays — and I was using an actual bottle, not an atomizer — I was rather shocked to smell Ultimate Seduction 16th hours later. It took effort and concentration, but there is no doubt the perfume was still there. And my skin eats perfume much faster than the average person.
The longevity stems from the fact that Ultimate Seduction is one of the LM Parfums’ handful of pure parfums, and thus comes with a high concentration of fragrance oils. Ultimate Seduction shares the same pricing structure as some of its other siblings from the Extrait line, like Sensual Orchid or Chemise Blanche. It costs €195 or $225 for 100 ml of concentrated perfume. The perfume was released in Europe a few weeks ago, so it’s already available for purchase there. For American buyers, Osswald should be getting it in a few weeks.
Ultimate Seduction is not my personal style or genre, so it’s not a fragrance that I would ever have gotten for myself, but I enjoyed the times I wore it. It’s very approachable and easy-going, and there is something incredibly appealing about its uncomplicated smoothness. Its superior quality is what I think makes it stand out amongst others in the same genre.
I think Ultimate Seduction will work for people who really enjoy very soft, discreet, fruity-florals. It’s not an edgy, complex, complicated, or revolutionary scent, but it is a very refined, smooth take on the genre. I think it’s infinitely better, more elegant, and more luxurious than, for example, Guerlain‘s badly named Chypre Fatal which is actually the furthest thing possible from a real chypre, and is instead another fruity, patchouli-rose scent with vanilla. There are big differences between the two fragrances — beyond just the fact that Chypre Fatal is dreadfully insipid, flaccid, boring, simplistic, and obnoxiously over-priced — but I’m talking about overall genres or general profiles.
In short, if sweet fruity-florals with a tangy opening and a soft, creamy finish are your thing, give Ultimate Seduction a sniff. At the same time, I have to add, if you’re really looking to seduce with an over-the-top, divaesque, truly sensual fragrance with even greater creamy smoothness and enormous lushness, then I urge you to give Sensual Orchid a chance as well. It was my very first exposure to the LM Parfums line, and I loved it from the start. I think it’s really stunning.
Disclosure: Ultimate Seduction was sent to me courtesy of LM Parfums. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.