It's gonna get sappy up in here.
All I really needed to know, I learned from Britney Spears. Britney Spears taught me to dance. Britney Spears taught me that you can get away with anything if you have dirty hair and a toned stomach. She's a walking example of reinvention, of resilience. I always say that Britney Spears raised me and people think I'm joking but I'm not.
In celebration of her 18th fragrance, Fantasy Intimate Edition, I've taken it upon myself, as the Britney disciple that I am, to review every single one of her perfumes (with the exception of Rocker Femme Fantasy which is not available in the U.S. [NATALIE!] and Fantasy eau de toilette which is only available in Brazil.)
This is truly the article I was born to write. Last week, my friend's dad asked me when I'm going to write the "great American novel" and I was like "Obviously never but don't worry because I am reviewing every Britney Spears fragrance ever released."
We begin, of course, with:
The Fragrance: Curious by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Do you dare?”
The Era: September 2004, after the Onyx Hotel Tour in support of her fourth studio album In The Zone.
The Notes: Top: Magnolia, pear, lotus. Middle: Tuberose, cyclamin, jasmine. Base: Sandalwood, musk, vanilla.
The Rundown: Curious by Britney Spears is instantly iconic and truthfully, that’s all you need to know.
I’ve always thought that Curious is not what I expected the debut Britney fragrance would be. I anticipated something a little bit more simplistic, warm, and approachable. Something that showcased vanilla. Britney is a huge fan of vanilla, as evidenced by the most perfect tweet of all time:
But in thinking that, I was making the mistake that everyone tends to make when considering Britney Spears. I was selling her short. Her first offering is a sophisticated fragrance based around white florals and musks that’s clean and complex.
With Curious, she reminds us that there’s so much more to her than meets the eye. It’s smart, it’s sexy, it’s unexpected. It surprises you, and it keeps you guessing, just like Britney herself.
The Fragrance: Fantasy by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Everybody has one.”
The Era: 2005, during the time she had taken a break from her career to start a family.
The Notes: Top: Kiwi, red litchi, quince. Middle: White chocolate, jasmine, orchid, cupcake. Base: Orris root, woods, musk.
The Rundown: The sophomore fragrance is a complete 180 from her first release, being almost exactly what you’d expect a quintessential pop star fragrance to be.
Housed in a rhinestoned magenta bottle, the fragrance blasts you with an intensely sweet beginning, that white chocolate note all in your face, with the tangy, fruity notes coming in right behind. It’s cloyingly sweet, and over time, the musk note brings up the back, not exactly balancing it out in any way, but almost as a desperate attempt to add some maturity to scent. Fantasy smells like your first time applying hot pink lip gloss.
The Fragrance: Curious In Control by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Are you?”
The Era: April 2006, during Britney’s career break, after the birth of her first child, Sean Preston.
The Notes: Top: Tropical fruit. Middle: Tonka bean, vanilla, orchid. Base: Wood, musk.
The Rundown: Curious In Control is a lot more along the lines of what I expected from the original Curious. The fragrance is almost equal parts vanilla and musk. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it wears nicely all day if you’re looking for a warm, fuzzy scent that’s not too distracting.
I only wish that it was something more exciting because I kind of feel like “IN CONTROL” paired with the jet black bottle with hot pink accents really set me up for an assertive, dominatrix sex romp of a fragrance.
The Fragrance: Midnight Fantasy by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Magic begins at midnight.”
The Era: December 2006, right before, um, 2007…
The Notes: Top: Plum, sour cherry. Middle: Iris, orchid, freesia. Base: Amber, musk, vanilla
The Rundown: Aaand we’re back. Where its predecessor, Curious In Control, failed to wow us, Midnight Fantasy really packs a punch. The top notes of plum and sour cherry are the stars throughout the wear, with added depth from the floral middle and grounded by the reliable amber, musks, and vanilla at the base.
It’s tangy, sensual, and delightfully slutty. It’s almost like a more affordable version of my favorite fall scent, Andy Warhol by Bond No. 9. It’s sexy and smirky, and smells like Jessica Rabbit popping a huge bubble of Strawberry Bubblicious right in your face.
The Fragrance: Believe by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “The greatest freedom is to believe in yourself.”
The Era: 2007.
The Notes: Top: Guava, tangerine. Middle: Lime blossom, honeysuckle. Base: Praline, amber, patchouli.
The Rundown: I remember, vividly, when Believe was released, though I probably couldn’t even tell you who was in office at the time.
For starters, Believe was a departure from the Curious and Fantasy lines that were beginning to be sent through numerous diffusions, and would continue to be after its release. It was a welcome change. The angular, alien-like bottle was also different, easily the coolest yet, and arguably the best in her entire collection at the time.
I remember looking at it on the fragrance counters and thinking to my 20 year old self, “I love Britney Spears and I love fragrances. I wish I could wear women’s perfume.” LOOK AT ME NOW.
The scent itself is as unique as the bottle, and might just be my favorite Britney Spears fragrance. At the start, guava and tangerine make for a tangy, tropical opening that brings an interesting and welcome sweetness without smelling like a body mist. The lime blossom and honeysuckle are lovely accents to the fruity top without smothering them with white florals, which can sometimes be such a buzzkill. At the bottom, amber, patchouli, and praline for a sweet and spicy base.
I really like a lot of Britney’s scents, but this one is a clear standout, and I wish that they had taken it through a few more iterations to explore it more, (Fantasy has no less than 12 versions.) But the fact that this was a one-off sort of heightens its uniqueness.
The Fragrance: Curious Heart by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Live yours to the fullest.”
The Era: 2008.
The Notes: Top: Magnolia, pear, lotus. Middle: Tuberose, cyclamen, jasmine. Base: Sandalwood, musk, vanilla.
The Rundown: This one is a total flower bomb, and we all know how I feel about florals. Curious Heart doesn’t give a fuck about my feelings, or the fact that I’m almost repelled by it. I’m not saying it’s a bad fragrance, it’s just everything I hate about perfumes so it’s hard to see past my own feelings because this scent feels like a personal attack.
The Fragrance: Hidden Fantasy by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “What do you have to hide?”
The Era: 2009, the Circus era.
The Notes: Top: Orange, tangerine, lemon verbena, neroli. Middle: Clove, lily, jasmine, Neapolitan cake (sure.) Base: Sandalwood, amber, vanilla.
The Rundown: Alright, Hidden Fantasy is SO good! The clove is the standout here, really taking the fragrance and turning it on its head. It’s warm, spicy, sensual, and definitely the most intentionally sexy scent of the bunch.
At the risk of being a total hypocrite and gendering this fragrance, which you know I hate doing, this is the most masculine fragrance of them all. Such a nice surprise from the bright, sweet, fruity scents, and a welcome exploration into Britney’s darker side. I’ve been wearing it a lot at night ;) ;) ;).
The Fragrance: Circus Fantasy by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Where nothing is what it seems.” ~*~*~*~*~
The Era: 2009, at the tail end of The Circus (Tour) Starring Britney Spears.
The Notes: Top: Raspberry, apricot blossom, sugar. Middle: Orchid, peony, water lily. Base: Vanilla, wood, musk, violet.
The Rundown: At the opening of The Circus Starring Britney Spears tour stop (night one) in Chicago, when I saw Britney Spears descend from the ceiling in a hoop while wearing the iconic ringleader outfit, it was the happiest I have ever been, and will ever be, in my entire life. As my breath caught in my chest, the sound of a thousand homosexual demons escaped my mouth, and tears streamed down my face, I know that it was truly a moment that would never be topped.
And then I wore this:
That’s what Circus Fantasy smells like. It’s unapologetically sweet, see the third top note: SUGAR. The raspberry and sugar are center stage through the entirety of the wear, tempered only, briefly, by the floral heart notes, and anchored and intensified by the sweet base. It’s the Circus era encapsulated: intense, sweet, and playful.
The Fragrance: Radiance by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Choose your own destiny.”
The Era: September 2010.
The Notes: Top: Red Berries. Middle: Iris, jasmine, orange flower, tuberose. Base: Musk, cashmere, amber.
The Rundown: Radiance showcases white florals, but not so much that they cause you (me) a headache. The red berries on top work to take the edge off the floral heart of the fragrance, but the prominent bouquet in the middle pretty much stomps out their sweetness. I find this Radiance to be one of the most uninteresting of the entire Britney Spears fragrance collection (forgive me, Britney.)
The Fragrance: Cosmic Radiance by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Be the brightest star in the universe.”
The Era: August 2011.
The Notes: Top: Mandarin orange, pear, litchi. Middle: Peony, jasmine, gardenia, tuberose. Base: Musk, sandalwood, amber, vanilla.
The Rundown: Look me in the fucking face and tell me that Cosmic Radiance isn’t one of the cutest bottles you’ve ever seen.
Brit is having a mod, Twiggy moment, and it works.
But I should be talking about the fragrance. Thankfully, Cosmic Radiance is a welcome step up from its big sis. The tropical fruit top notes are just sweet enough to balance the floral heart, making it interesting and a more enjoyable wear all around.
The Fragrance: Fantasy Twist by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Choose your Fantasy.”
The Era: October 2012.
The Rundown: A reissue of Fantasy and Midnight Fantasy as a duo. Cute. The duo makes a great little selection of both fragrances, and when put together, it’s a perfect size to throw at your ex-boyfriend’s car.
The Fragrance: Island Fantasy by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “What’s your island fantasy?”
The Era: April 2013.
The Notes: Top: Mandarin orange, clementine, red berries, watermelon. Middle: Jasmine, violet, freesia. Base: Sugar, musk.
The Rundown: Island Fantasy is, at the same time, one of my favorite scents in the collection, and one of the biggest disappointments. I wanted a tropical, trashy, slutty scent reminiscent of sticky, sweet daiquiris spilled all over your freshly sun-screened torso while being fanned with palm leaves by your backup dancers. It’s called Island Fantasy. I wanted something literal, summery, and low rent.
My mistake. Island Fantasy is a fruity, breezy escape that is perfect for summer without leaving you smelling like you’ve been hanging out at a beach bar all day, or worse, a beach themed bar.
It’s got a citrusy opener that’s livened up by watermelon, a welcome addition and apparently the big star of the show that makes this scent tropical. In the middle, you’ve got all the florals you’ve come to expect, and apparently they got bored by the end of the scent because the base notes simply consist of musk and sugar. Fine.
While Island Fantasy isn’t exactly the illicit summer fling I had in mind, it’s still fruity, tropical, and one of my faves.
The Fragrance: Fantasy: Anniversary Edition by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “10 hugs & 10 kisses, xoxo - Britney.” (those are only two hugs and two kisses, respectively, Britney.)
The Era: October 2013.
The Rundown: It’s a reissue of the original Fantasy in a commemorative 10th anniversary bottle, which is pretty thoughtful if you ask me because I’m sure that you, like me, have used up your bottle of Fantasy by Britney Spears a FEW times in the last 10 years.
The Fragrance: Fantasy: The Nice Remix by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Everybody has one. Naughty or Nice.”
The Era: February 2014.
The Notes: Kiwi, jasmine, cupcake, sweet musks.
The Rundown: The Nice Remix is basically the Baby, One More Time album in its entirety bottled and sold to you as a fragrance.
The Fragrance: Fantasy: The Naughty Remix by Britney Spears.
The Tagline: “Everybody has one. Naughty or Nice.”
The Era: February 2014.
The Notes: Jasmine, white chocolate, orchid, cupcake, wood, orris root, creamy musks.
The Rundown: Now we all know that, given the choice, Britney would wear The Naughty Remix, and really, so would we. It’s like they took The Nice Remix into the girl’s bathroom and gave it its first Marb Red, and then chugged Boone’s Farm in the back seat of your dad’s pickup truck that you’re driving without a license (I’m seriously not speaking from experience here I’m just PAINTING A PICTURE.) It’s smoky, velvety, and sensual. It smells like a good girl gone bad.
The Fragrance: Fantasy: Stage Edition by Britney Spears.
The Rundown: It's the original Fantasy, repackaged to commemorate her Piece of Me residency in Vegas (HEY DAD ARE WE GOING TO VEGAS TO SEE BRITNEY? TEXT ME. ALSO MY BIRTHDAY IS COMING UP. Also I seriously didn't drink Boone's Farm in the back of your truck.)
The Fragrance: Fantasy: the Intimate Edition by Britney Spears.
The Era: June 2015.
The Notes: Top: Litchi, Italian lemon, violet leaf. Middle: Lily of the valley, jasmine, genet, ozone, brown sugar. Base: Vanilla, heliotrope, musk, benzoin.
The Rundown: Last year, Britney took the lingerie world by storm when she debuted the Intimate Britney Spears collection (ON MY BIRTHDAY,) changing the sleepwear industry forever. Now, she’s given us a fragrance to pair with her comfy collection for when things are getting a little more intimate. Omg.
Fantasy: The Intimate Edition is a grown and sexy version of Fantasy, with some of the most interesting heart notes including ozone and genet (it’s an animal scent, for some added sensuality and heat. Get it, B!) I find it the sweetness of the original Fantasy to be tempered by the florals, but the genet, ozone, and brown sugar bring something to the fragrance not found throughout the rest of the collection. I’d venture to say this is the most interesting and intelligent scent in the entire collection, and it makes me excited to see where the Britney Spears fragrance empire goes next.
What's your favorite Britney scent?
Mine is a toss up between Believe and Hidden Fantasy. What's your favorite Britney moment? Album? Era? Let's chat in the comments.
Tynan smells like Britney Spears on Twitter @Tynanbuck.