No matter what kind of year you had, 2020 was the most uniting year of our lifetime. A year when we were all going through the exact same thing, even if we couldn’t go through it together. Isolation didn’t look the same for anyone, but it felt the same for everyone. The feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, monotony, loneliness. Even if we didn’t have anything in common, all of us were feeling the same thing at the same time. That, in itself, is connection, don’t you think?
I hope you found a way to bring a little light into your life last year, however that looked for you. For me, it was fragrance. On my best days, fragrance is a journey, the exploration of possibility. On my worst days, fragrance is an escape.
In the early days of lockdown, I wore Bond No. 9 Tribeca, naively thinking “this will be the way the two weeks of isolation smelled for me.” As lockdown began to stretch into summer, it was Byredo’s Lil Fleur, which smelled like the angsty summers of my adolescence, speeding around my Midwest city in my old Honda Accord, excited, free. It smelled like a summer I was decidedly not having.
Instead of living in the present, I experienced 2020 through scents of my past and future. An Armani scent smelled like a certain sun-drenched June, a Kilian scent smelled like a snowy January, a D.S. & Durga scent smelled like an August I’ll never forget and a Prada smelled scent like an October that was full of surprises. I was alone in my apartment, for long stretches of sunny days I couldn’t enjoy, with only fragrance to help take me anywhere but where I was.
There were a couple of scents that came out this year that I really loved, but years from now, what will they call to mind? I can’t ever separate scents from the time I first smelled them, so will all of these lovely perfumes remind me of a year that so often felt cursed?
I suppose only time will tell, but as the year finally comes to a close, we’re talking about a new scent that was basically made to ring in the new year.
Viva La Juicy Le Bubbly by Juicy Couture is a scent inspired by champagne—pink champagne, at that. As nostalgia for the late ‘90s and early aughts comes back full force, we are seeing a resurgence of Juicy Couture. But wasn’t there always something inherently nostalgic about Juicy, even in its heyday? It was Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and Hole and Angelyn and “Material Girl” all rolled into one aspirational yet accessible brand. I wanted NOTHING more than to be a Juicy girl, but I had to settle for being an awkward gay Midwest preteen.
Here’s the thing though. It pains me to say, but I’ve never liked Juicy scents. I love the bottles, I love the campaigns, but the scents themselves have always been exactly what I don’t like about perfumes. In your face, caustic florals. I thought this one sounded cute, though, and it definitely has a New Year’s Eve thing going on, which I love.
I love New Year’s Eve, don’t you? It’s such a silly, fun holiday. After the stress of the extended holiday season as finally passed, you get a few days of nothingness and then one night to close out the year with people you actually like, and that’s reason enough to celebrate.
Know what else is cute? This scent! I love it. I was shocked, too, because the exact amount of distain I had for previous Juicy scents is the exact amount of love I have for this. I knew it the minute I smelled it, too. It smells pink, creamy, citrusy, and is just really, really enjoyable.
Viva La Juicy Le Bubbly opens with champagne, blood orange, and freesia. The heart of the scent features florals like jasmine, gardenia, and vanilla orchid, and at the base you’ll find praline, wood, and amber. The notes that really sing throughout the wear are the champagne, blood orange, and red berries at the top, plus the praline and amber at the base.
In fragrance, champagne, or anything carbonated or effervescent can be more of an idea, a storytelling element to illustrate the bigger concept that scent is trying to drive home. Le Bubbly actually captures champagne in a literal way in that there’s a noticeable white grape note throughout wear that perhaps is less fizzy and more realized. It’s a springy sweetness that’s not citrus, but not berry, nor is it confectionary. Le Bubbly really lands the champagne note with this, and it’s a nice surprise that works so, so well.
If the above makes this seem very sweet, it is, but it’s also smooth and insanely creamy. I’m not saying this is a fragrance for everyone, and if sweeter scents aren’t your thing, then maybe this isn’t for you, but if you don’t mind a little sweetness, I just can’t say enough about this. When I say sweet, I don’t mean like a body spray sweetness, or sweet in ways that some celebrity scents are (no shade, I love many celebrity scents.) The sweetness here is more balanced and tempered, served up on a plush base of praline and amber that make it so enjoyable, you keep coming back for more.
It wears very nicely, too. I don’t know that I’d call it warm, because there are so many bright, juicy (no pun) notes here, but it wraps itself around you in a lovely way that never gets old or too sugary.
I’d say that this is what Juicy Couture fragrances grew up to be, but I don’t know that Juicy’s intent was ever to grow up at all. Where is the fun in that? Juicy doesn’t owe anyone maturity, nor would we want it if it was offered. Viva La Juicy Le Bubbly is elevated, beautiful, and just a joy to wear. And I think after the year we’ve had, I think we could all welcome a little joy with the new year.