On the eighth day of Xtina-mas, Xtina gave to me what I came for: the Christina Aguilera take on the Old Lady Perfume (it’s a compliment, I swear!) in the form of 2014’s Woman, which is still rather sweet, but having spent the last seven days wearing sweet ‘n fruity florals, I’ll take whatever I can get. But first, a little context, shall we?
2014 was a helluva year to be alive if you still think Trang Pak is a grotsky little byotch, because Taylor Swift was here to sing to you from her Burn Book and take over everything whether you liked it or not. If Beyoncé Beyoncé’ing Beyoncé in 2013 was about affirming Queen Bey as the most talked-about act in music because she found a new way to make an album release an event, Taylor Swift would dominate the conversation in 2014 the old fashioned way: through zeitgeist omnipresence and sheer force of will.
Are you an aging hipster bemoaning the end of “Cool” New York? Tay Tay left Nashville to move to New York City, and you should talk about it! Are you a child of the ’80s and/or a fan of its music? Tay Tay’s got a new album with some cool new 80s sounds, and you should talk about it! Are you a person with an opinion about Taylor Swift’s dating habits, or how streaming platforms are killing the music industry, or celebrity feuds? Tay Tay wrote “Blank Space” to prove she’s in on the joke, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how streaming services undermine the value of music, and another song about a fellow pop star who hurt Tay Tay’s feelings and whose identity will remain a mystery (for as long as it took before gossip columnists and music bloggers could post their thoughts), and guess what? YOU SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT. When 1989 did boffo record sales, it wasn’t because it was a distinctly 21st moment in music; it was because everybody else was already talking about it, and it was impossible to be left out of the conversation. It didn’t hurt, of course, that Tay Tay wouldn’t put 1989 on streaming services until 2017, but this is Ode de Parfum, not Ode de Record Sales, so I digress.
Anyways, if you’re wondering what Xtina was up to during all of this, well that’s a good question, because so was I! She wasn’t a judge on The Voice (though she did serve as one of Gwen Stefani’s advisors on Season 7, so I guess they advised on how to choose the best red lipstick), and she announced she was going back into the studio to work on her follow up to Lotus, but that’s about it. I guess she used all that extra time on her hands to work on her latest perfume, because I kid you not: Woman marks a (kinda sorta) step forward in the evolution of Christina Aguilera’s fragrance line.
Woman, to be clear, is another fruity floral, but it feels a touch fresher than some of Xtina’s previous variations on the fruity floral theme, and there’s a lychee not just distinguishable enough that at first blush you might mistake it for a cheap dupe for Dolce&Gabbana’s The One. Moreover, Woman shakes up that tried and true sandalwood-and-vanilla base by adding some amber, and the result is something more powdery and mature–dare I say elegant?–than any previous Christina Aguilera perfume. It’s not much, mind you, but compared to how developmentally stunted the rest of these fragrances can feel, and combined with my deep-rooted, unwavering adoration for Old Lady Perfumes, Woman is a step in the direction I’d only dreamt Xtina would dare go.
And, if for nothing else, over at Fragrantica, Woman inspired my favorite use of the word “supposedly” ever:
The fragrance supposedly embodies true femininity; this woman is sensual and joyful, and above all, she feels comfortable in her own skin.
I’ve never seen such dismissive suspicion in so few letters. It is the definition of shade:
I love it more than I love Old Lady Perfumes or Christina Aguilera’s take on the Old Lady Perfume, and almost as much as Christina Aguilera loves herself, and I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: that’s saying something.