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Do you have Kate Middleton in a bottle?

It doesn’t really work like the old joke, does it? Because of course it isn’t Kate Middleton herself; it’s her perfume.

I’ve managed to get my hands on a bit of Illuminum, White Gardenia Petals, which is widely reported to be the perfume Catherine Middleton wore to get married in (and become the Duchess of Cambridge). I’m not necessarily royal-crazy but I enjoy a princess fantasy as much as the next girl and of course when this word got out I decided I wanted to try the perfume. It amuses me that I have a bottle of Kate Middleton’s wedding perfume in my purse.

I’m glad I got some, but the sad truth is, this perfume is nothing if not bourgeois. It’s a sad commentary on the wedding, really. The dress, her jewelry, everything about her looked so elegant, and ultimately so royal; I hate to think of her smelling like a room freshener on the big day.

I don’t associate the royal family with the sort of fake “First Class”-ism of, say, Donald Trump, with his “Gold-plated crap is better crap” ethos. I know her family is nouveau riche, but I like to think of her as quite classy in her way, bridging the gap between new money and some of the oldest in the world with her own type of modern flair.

There may well be some of that in Kate, but the perfume doesn’t reflect it. If you want the review, it opens a bit floral-y, and quickly becomes a bit large, fruity, and detergent-musky. I don’t agree with the Now Smell This review that compared it to Clean Fresh Panty Liner Accord (TM, presumably), but I can certainly see where the comparison is coming from. The smell is closer to Household Product Clean than any classic fragrance that probably a perfumista would have chosen for Kate. “Fruity detergent” is probably the comparison I’d draw. And unfortunately that fruity detergent cloud really stays with you. I could smell it for several hours on me and my dry skin dispenses with most scents forthwith.

And yet, I can’t really argue with the choice. Though I’m disappointed in the bourgeoisie effect of the thing, I’m not sure anything else would do. Kate simply doesn’t give the impression that she is, well, adorned. She wears simple clothes with good cuts and good fabrics and without furbelows. Her hair is worn in pretty much the same style everywhere, no matter what she’s doing. I think she’s a woman who likes fashion but she doesn’t like bedazzlement. A rich, multifaceted, multilayered, complex perfume just isn’t her.

I have a friend who won’t wear some of the perfumes I wear regularly because she thinks they smell too “dressed up”. I really never have that feeling. I am perfectly happy to smell, if nothing else, expensive. But I know that my entire mien is hopelessly bourgeois, with my rumpled hair and my vaguely cruddy hiking sandals and my penchant for gold jewelry, and if a dressy perfume fails to counteract that air of bourgeoisie, then so be it; that contradiction, c’est moi. There is no Amouage, no Clive Christian too overdone for me to smell like, in my own opinion. I try to dress in simple lines, because I am a large person and they suit me better than the baroquitude my heart secretly yearns for; but I like extensive, expensive art on my person. Large, complex olfactory art suits my personality; I would wear complicated Victorian-style jewelry and embroidered clothes, if I could.

I simply don’t embody the simple style of Kate. And if I did, and if I had her slim, exquisitely elegant figure, classic features, fortune, and a prince to marry, I might well feel like a full-blown artful perfume might be, well, gilding the lily. (Mmm, lily. The lily perfumes I would have recommended to her! Diorissimo, or Donna Karan Gold!) I wouldn’t have gotten married in Illuminum, but I can see why Catherine Middleton did.

Okay, seriously, she probably should have worn Diorissimo.

P.S. The Duchess apparently requested Jo Malone bath products in the bathrooms for her wedding; this seems a sensible British elegant touch to me, also simple in its execution, and a more recommended product line for you to try, if you would like to emulate royal weddings at your house. Jo Malone’s limited edition sakura scent, for instance, is now supposedly available in the U.S. (though I don’t see where), and some of the spring 2011 tea scents are also still available; these are lovely, and special, limited experiences well worth collecting, if you feel the need for a bit of British posh.

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