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Up-and-coming jazz singer and former Queen of Pop Lady Gaga is releasing a new fragrance. Did you know that? Probably not, because in a very un-Gaga-like fashion, there has been absolutely no promo surround it. Lucky for you, I, Racked Beauty Expert, fragrance enthusiast, and recovering Little Monster, know all about it.
Interestingly, the scent has been billed as appealing to both men and women, which at first I took as nothing more than a marketing ploy. I personally don't think fragrances should be gendered, although that's another article altogether. But then, I smelled it.
It is a simple, well-balanced fragrance with a few notes that work very nicely in tandem. At the top, lime opens the fragrance, imparting a true citrus essence rather than simply adding sweetness—a problem for many scents, celebrity fragrances especially. White violet takes up the heart, making it equal parts woody and floral. Leather holds it down at the base, giving the scent an edge and adding warmth.
When Eau De Gaga first hit my skin, I was very surprised that the top notes of lime were immediately met with—and almost overpowered by—a musky scent, reminiscent of a man's aftershave. Masculine, indeed. That, thankfully, dissipated as quickly as the fragrance dried down, because you can be sure that I wouldn't be writing about the fragrance if it smelled like Stetson.
What you're left with is a light, versatile fragrance that does not discriminate, no matter what gender you identify as. It's uncomplicated yet sophisticated, and stands out from almost every other celebrity fragrance in that regard.
Lady Gaga promoting Fame at Macy's in 2012. Photo: Getty Images.
Eau De Gaga is a scent that deserves accolades, so it's odd that we've basically heard nothing about its arrival. When she released her first fragrance, Fame, back in 2012, you couldn't escape it. Lady Gaga, social media pioneer, tweeted every last detail surrounding the scent's development and release for months ahead of its debut.
She detailed everything, from how the scent was supposed to smell like "blood & semen" (JK! Try belladonna and orchid), to the bottle, designed by noted perfume bottle designer Lady Gaga and photographer and frequent collaborator Nick Knight. Gaga talked about how Fame's black liquid wouldn't stain your clothes, released a mini movie to promote the scent, and had a huge release party at the Guggenheim where she got a tattoo on the back of her head and called it performance art.
But here comes Eau de Gaga with no reference to its predecessor, and oddly devoid of any fanfare. From the name to the bottle to the lack of buzz, it all seems very unlike the Lady Gaga machine.
Pop music is fun. Beauty is fun. Celebrity fragrances are the perfect marriage of those two things because they're one of the only things in beauty that don't demand to be taken seriously.
I first heard about Eau de Gaga, which has already been out in the UK for months, when I saw a photo of it, taken by a fan overseas. Truthfully, I didn't think it was real. I assumed it was a cheap drugstore knockoff of Fame. Even the name "Eau de Gaga," seemed like some sort of bad joke, but then again, I thought the same thing about "ARTPOP."
The bottle looks like a Tom Ford rip. I'm not saying Tom invented rectangular bottles with square labels, but Fame's bottle design was talked about at such lengths that it's odd that the second offering is so…normal. This, from the woman who described herself as being "obsessively opposed to the typical."
It all seems like a reflection of how the Lady Gaga brand has lost steam in the last year or two. Her vision used to be so clear and concise. Everything she produced was driven by her passion for being a pop star. Eau De Gaga is a great example of how her work has started to feel thrown together, lifeless, and altogether unremarkable. If you're not going to have fun with a fragrance release, then why even bother?
What makes this all more frustrating is that Lady Gaga is still the best. ARTPOP was far and away one of the best pop albums of 2013, but suffered the same sort of promotional problems that this fragrance seems to be having. She is still one of the best live performers we have, and when it comes down to it, she knows how to write a fucking song. I want to be excited about her as a pop star again, but I'd also like her to be excited about being a pop star.
Pop music is fun. Beauty is fun. Celebrity fragrances are the perfect marriage of those two things because they're one of the only things in beauty that don't demand to be taken seriously. As big as the Fame release was—moving six million bottles in its first week, making it the fastest-selling fragrance ever, second only to Coco Chanel, and then going on to sell well over 30 million bottles in under a year—it just feels like she's trying to let this one fly completely under the radar.
Celebrity fragrances are all too easy to roll our eyes at, so it's important that the celebrity get behind their product and take ownership of it. Right now, it just feels like Gaga is rolling her eyes along with everyone else. And if Gaga isn't going to own it, why would we want to?