It goes without saying that gender norms affect all of us, with women (and/or those presenting as femme)—and women of color, in particular—often historically bearing the brunt of gender-based discrimination and marginalization. From our bonnets to our body shapes, body hair and even natural body odors, women are assessed, critiqued and policed—and even as she enters the fragrance game one bad girl seems to have had enough.
“We’re fucked up most of the time—and it’s not because we wanna be that way,” says Rihanna in a trailer for Fenty Parfum dropped on Sunday. “It’s because we’re dealt a hand, and guess what? We don’t run from it, we deal with it. And so, you want me to tell you what a woman is supposed to smell like? However the fuck they want to feel.”
The message is also evident in the fragrances’ composition, described as: “Complex, vibrant, raw, sensual, spicy and sweet all at once...a deeply intimate fragrance that is everything you feel, everything you are and everything you want to be!”
What does that mean in olfactory terms? Developed with Louis Vuitton Master Perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud, who describes the formula as a “love elixir” (h/t The Cut) the distinctive deep amber flacon (“Brown is my favorite color. Brown is who I am. Brown is what I come from,” says Rih) holds top notes of tangerine and blueberry with middle notes of Bulgarian rose, geranium and magnolia and base notes of musk and patchouli. And while the new billionaire (“God is good,” she notes) only refers to women in her teaser for the highly anticipated scent, interestingly enough, it’s intended to be unisex. In fact, “interesting” and “expensive” seemed to be the most consistent reactions of several online reviewers who copped an early sample.
“It doesn’t give you male, it doesn’t give you female...” says YouTuber Kensthetic, pointing out that the scent (which she “really, really loved”) also smelled seasonless and “luxe.” IamTeshaMarie agreed that Fenty Parfum smells “expensive,” adding “I would not say this is something that a lot of women would enjoy; I feel like more men would enjoy this fragrance than women,” while also conceding that she loved how it reacted with her body chemistry, as well.
Of course, scents are entirely subjective—and we’re almost getting the impression that this fragrance was especially designed to scent-shift, depending on the wearer. At $120 per bottle for a 2.5 ounce bottle, it’s probably great that it’s shareable, though maybe it’s worth it, since sampler BriBeatss exclaimed that like she “smelled like a million dollars.”
Or is that a billion dollars? Find out on Tuesday, August 10 when the Fenty fragrance hits shelves everywhere.