Flower Market by Maison Margiela

Are we transported to a Parisian flower stall on a sunny Sunday morning in Spring, or a fish stand down Borough market on a wet Tuesday in November?

Listed notes

Crushed leaves accord, freesia, sambac jasmine, Egyptian jasmine, tuberose, rose, peach, cedar wood, oak moss.

The brand

Maison Margiela is a fashion house launched in 1988, now under the creative directorship of John Galliano. This is big brand stuff, and like many big brands, they have trotted out a fragrance line to lure you in if you don’t have a penchant for designer clothes.

Flower Market is part of the Replica line of fragrances, the line aims to be a reproduction of familiar scents and locations. With names like By the Fireplace, Jazz Club, At the Barbers, and Funfair Evening, it’s easy to get a sense of where they may be going before you’ve even taken the cap off the scent.

It’s also worth noting that the whole Replica line are eau de toilette fragrances. We’ll come back to that shortly…

Top notes

We’ve tried this fragrance several times now, more than the minimum three times that we need in order to write a decent review, and we still haven’t fully decided how we feel about the top of the fragrance.

As soon as you spray it, the florals start to emerge from their alcohol bath, and a note very similar to lilac emerges, followed shortly thereafter by freesia and generic powdery flower notes. All sounds very nice doesn’t it?

The problem is that it’s a bit too sickly sometimes, a little over sweet. Like that over friendly colleague who is just a bit too into cooing at pictures of your kids or dog. You’re never quite sure if it’s genuine or really fake and saccharine. We feel like that about this fragrance; sometimes it seems like very a real representation of lovely flowers, and just now and again, you catch it letting out hints of over ripeness and, dare I say it, even rot. At times it smells rather like that fortnight at the end of Summer when everything is a bit over bloated and ripe, just before it all falls apart and Autumn descends properly.

And that sounds very much like we didn’t like the start of the fragrance, which wouldn’t be true. It just has a slightly duplicitous little something about it. Approach with caution and watch its every move!

Heart notes

Thankfully, we found the sweetness dies down ever so slightly in the heart of the scent and the florals become more gauzy and transparent. The notes of crisp leaves peep through here and there and bring a welcome refresh. The crisp, green notes are very pleasant indeed and we almost wanted them beefed up more to balance the sweet florals and stop the scent being quite so two dimensional.

The middle portion of the scent does give rise to both rose and jasmine, two fragrances which given space and the right framework can be utterly glorious (see Dusita’s Melodie de l’Amour or even Miller Harris’ Rose Silence). Here they felt a little cluttered and like they wanted to breathe but couldn’t quite. They were still nice, but nice isn’t quite good enough.

The sweetness never really goes away. If you don’t like full on floral perfumes then steer clear. Although this isn’t as sinus destroying as some florals can be, there is no denying it is very flowery and very sweet indeed. With that in mind Flower Market can come across as a little old fashioned. If you’re cool enough to pull off retro, then you may well be able to work it, but us normal people may end up smelling like we have raided Granny’s toiletries cabinet.

Base notes

The scent notes list peach, cedar and oak moss but we couldn’t get the oak moss at all. A tiny amount of cedar came through now and again, but the peach didn’t seem to stand in it’s own right, just another facet of the sweet floral miasma.

There is something right in the base that we loved, it was just a hint and it smelled a little like fennel. We couldn’t tie it to anything on the listed notes, but it gave even this sweet scent a moreish quality that was sort of addictive.

I realise that this review does seem damning, but this is quite a pleasant fragrance all in all. It’s sweet, girly, naive. I wouldn’t go so far as to say charming, but definitely not awful. The trick seems to be to not wear too much of it. A spray or two and you have a floral waft about you all day, three or four sprays and you start to smell like someone’s bathroom after the air freshener has been deployed.

The other stuff

The sillage, or projection, of this scent is moderate. It does envelop you in a floral cloud, but it doesn’t last for too long. It felt like the sort of scent that if you wore it every day, you’d end up totally unable to get rid of the sweet tones, like it would stick to your skin and hair and never wash off. A floral Bog of Eternal Stench if you will.

Longevity of the scent is also moderate. It was discernible through to lunch and then faded rapidly afterwards, just leaving behind undefined, powdery sweetness.

This is a strongly feminine scent, no bones about it. We couldn’t imagine anyone other than those wishing to smell ‘girly girl’ wearing it, and it’s a little bit boring because of that. It would probably wear best on a warm Spring day, before it has to really compete with Summer flowers.

Buy it

But here’s the rub: Flower Market is only available as an EdT, and it’s priced around £95 for 100ml. We found the price point a little disappointing given the ‘safe’ nature of the scent (read: a little bit boring) and the fact that it is an EdT. It’s totally possible to find smaller brands who produce EdP at that price, thus giving you a less common scent, and a better quality product at the same time.

For those who are not totally familiar with the terminology, EdT refers to eau de toilette which doesn’t have as strong a concentration of perfume within the formula as eau de parfum (EdP) does. Less of the magic, so to speak. Ebay, of all places, has a straightforward article on the differences between EdP and EdT.

Flower Market is available from John Lewis, priced at £95 for 100ml. It is also available from the Feel Unique website, priced at £94 for the same size bottle.


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