Lancôme La Vie est Belle needs no introduction. Since its launch in 2013, its success has gone orbital, leaving trails of imitators quivering in its wake. Its army of flankers shows no sign of slowing the pace either. Until now, they have all escaped my radar, but the one I tried today stopped me in my tracks. Yes, I nearly walked past it, thinking “Really Lancôme? Another one?” but once I sprayed the gorgeous bottle, this grumpy cynic was silenced.
Let’s start with the irresistibly touchy feely faceted glass bottle. It’s impossible not to run your fingers over it. It’s a delight to fiddle about with and it looks good too. Apart from that, the display in Boots looked the same as the usual LVEB displays. But what’s this? I thought at first spray. This is pretty good.
LVEB L’Eclat immediately reminded me of something I’d smelled before and I couldn’t put my finger on it until about twenty minutes later. It was then that I realised that it reminded me of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial. Indeed, it has more in common with Parfum Initial than it does with La Vie est Belle.
The opening note is bergamot which immediately clings to the pretty orange blossom and “white flowers.” Fragrantica doesn’t elaborate but I’m calling jasmine. I couldn’t pick out any tuberose, but the orange blossom is definitely in there.
Now, around this point, I was waiting for the heavy praline fountain to drown out the pretty notes like a Nutella Tsunami. Although this is what I like least about the original LVEB, it seems to be the bit that many fans like best. However, the praline never came. Instead, I was rewarded with a base of rather delicate sandalwood and a silky flourish of buttery vanilla. There’s no praline. There’s no patchouli. There’s just citrus, white flowers, and subtle vanilla.
The vanilla, it must be said, is delicious. It has heart and warmth with none of the vibe of an overfull bowl of sickly frosting that it can sometimes have. It ends on vanilla and stays with vanilla, which does make it more gourmand than floral, but La Vie est Belle L’Éclat has restraint. I probably wouldn’t buy a full bottle, but it’s the LVEB flanker that I thus far like best. Bravo and 10/10 for the divine bottle.