Where Is The Freak? – Review: Illamasqua Freak

Illamasqua is a British cosmetics line, their motto is “Make up for the Alter Ego”.  The line was founded by Make up Artist extraordinaire Alex Box, and is devoted to high quality products in all (and I mean each and every) shade imaginable. Freak is their first fragrance release.

Illamasqua stands for tolerance, celebrates individuality and caters to the alternative culture.

There seems to be everything that is associated with Gothic, darkness and mystery in this perfume. The bottle is unique and nothing you have seen before, the detail of the snail crawling up the side of the flacon is well-made as well as adorable.

Notes include black davana, opium flower, belladonna, poison hemlock, datura, queen of the night, frankincense, oud and myrrh.

So this must be a unique fragrance, right? Something different, something dark and mysterious, something that is utterly non-mainstream, right?

Um, no.

If you are hoping for Freak to be different, you are in for a surprise. Freak is totally non-freaky. Freak is more the girl-next-door. The one with the pink shirt and the ponytail, the one wearing Narciso Rodriguez For Her, or Idylle or the always smiling Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile. I’m strongly reminded of all of these scents when smelling Freak. That is not what I expected… and that is a little freaky after all.

I’m majorly disappointed that Illamasqua did not stick with its image and philosophy here, but went with an extraordinary bottle only. The juice inside is as generically happy as they come. An unimaginative floral with a persistent cheer running through it that only subsides toward the very end of the four to five hour wear time.

If she is your definition of a Freak...

If there was a line that could have gone with something unusual it would have been Illamasqua. A brand that created its image solely around the fact of being different, of taking care of the alter ego, of belonging to the night, not the bright sunshiny day, to release a cheery floral that smells like hundreds of others on the market, is not only disappointing but also incomprehensible.

What do you think? Did you try Freak yet? What did you expect of he perfume, going from how it is presented and described?


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34 Responses to Where Is The Freak? – Review: Illamasqua Freak

  1. vanessa says:

    Goodness me, so that is what it is! I had seen some tweets flying around featuring this name but had no clue as to whether it was a perfume, a make up line or an obscure tribe in Polynesia. All is revealed… ; – )

    Love the snail – my nickname as a student was L’Escargot, as I was always backpacking – and to this day I have a hideously gaudy Kenneth Jay Lane snail brooch I was given in tribute to my wanderings. Prefer the discreet little mollusc slithering up this bottle, mind!

    But the juice is generic and girl-next-door-y you say? Given those peculiar notes, that in itself is freakish. Schade!

  2. andrea says:

    Reading the notes, I would have gone for this one, hemlock, I love Ormonde woman with the hemlock in it, Datura, I love SL Datura noir, I would have thought it would smell dark and mysterious not pink and generic. I will still have a sniff if I find some but it sounds pretty disappointing to me. The search continues. 🙂

  3. Aw man, I had such high hopes for this one! *throws tantrum*

    Also, how the hell do you pronounce Illamasqua?! I just call it Llama for short, because it’s easier.

    P.S. The snail is the best thing on a perfume bottle EVER.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’ll join you in that tantrum, I’m very disappointed. Why, oh why? Who else has a clientele that is decidedly non-mainstream? Why do they get a mainstream scent?

  4. Tara says:

    I haven’t tried it but sounds like a missed opportunity, a truly freakish perfume would have been fun and interesting. Especially as that wonderful snail makes one of the most original perfume bottles around. Not sure how they managed to come up with a cheery floral given that note list – now that is freaky!

  5. Suzanne says:

    Never heard of it let alone tried it, but what a bummer to think that this perfume made a cheerleader perfume from those notes, especially davana! I would have expected a drunk cheerleader, at least. 😉 Actually, looking at the entire note list, I would have expected Winona Ryder a la “Heathers.”

  6. deeHowe says:

    Stunning bottle! I’m completely enamored with the snail detail, and had this been even passably good, I might have added it to my wish list…

    But pink?! Awful!

    Like Andrea, those notes set me in mind of Ormonde Woman, and I was hoping that you’d say it was a take on the same theme. Sad, what a missed opportunity!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I love the bottle too, and I really thought this would be something fitting the rest of the image of the brand, a huge disappointment. I expected something à la OJ Woman too!

  7. Thomas darling: “Ill-uh-mask-uh” =)

    B: With a list of notes like that, I was expecting something mossy, sexy, and dangerous. How…disappointing yet not surprising that it’s a happy-go-lucky pink flowery juice. I’m grateful I didn’t order this. I just want to know – with datura, belladonna, hemlock, etc. HOW did they get something that smells so cheerful?!

  8. Eva S says:

    As a doctor I seriously doubt the perfume contains genuine poison hemlock or belladonna, the skin absorbs such things quite well, the IFRA would really have a field day…OJ Woman contains black hemlock wich I gather is from a species of hemlock tree, not related to poison hemlock. According to a favorite book, (“Evil chemistry”!) poison hemlock smells of rat urine, that would truly make a freakish perfume 🙂
    The bottle looks adorable, disappointing that the juice is so generic, with that list of notes where did the florals come from?!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for the info, Eva! Rat’s urine, well not that I’d needed that, but there should be something between urine and chirpy flowers that could pass as freaky! 😉

  9. Snail says:

    I bought a bottle of this solely based upon the imagery, the amazing bottle and the descriptions of the notes. I knew it was a huge risk, but something told me I was going to love it. And I actually do! It doesn’t last as long as I would like on my skin, but it definately speaks to me, and I consider myself a person of dark likings, but then again, I’m also wannabe-mainstream, because I’ve always felt like I didn’t ft in there, but would have liked to.

    I guess Freak is a perfume that has similar traits, except that it does fit in the mainstream very well, like you said, I can definately see or smell that. So in that way I find it comforting. Still, I smell something captivating and unique in there, definately nothing pink, but nothing *too weird* either. Perhaps it’s just the bottle and the branding, but I don’t feel it as anything happy or girl-next-door – the heavyness puts it towards the nighttime and dark eye make-up for me, meaning when worn during the everyday daylight I get a beautiful aura of dimmness around me. The first stages remind me of a cologne, so it adds up with the edgyness I like to imagine Freak has…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Snail,
      thank you for commenting! It is great to hear a positive opinion. I’m glad you like Freak and it is what you want it to be. That is what’s most important after all.
      On me Freak is relentlessly cheery and coupled with the disparate image, it makes this a disappointment for me. But I am really glad the scent has its fans.

  10. Undina says:

    I am disappointed. Very. I really liked the bottle when I saw that perfume announced. I think it should be outlawed to waste beautiful bottles on boring perfumes!

    Hm… Is there a place that sells empty bottles? (not vintage)

  11. anotherperfumeblog says:

    I will join in the general disappointment on this. The bottle is so cute, the Illamasqua aesthetic is normally so coherently executed in their products, it’s just a big disappointment. You chose the perfect photo of a fem-bot, though, to illustrate. 🙂

  12. Aw nuts. Another ad campaign to lead us astray. I was thinking here we’d have the sibling of Ormonde Jayne Woman, by the notes list alone. Love that bottle with all my heart, but I’ll be skipping this,

  13. The bottle is one of the most well thought of bottles in a long time. It’s so nice that although I don’t expect much after your review, I will still try and test it.

  14. Jules says:

    And here we were sooo looking forward to this. ~ Boo, hoo ! I totally & completely share your disappointment ! And, unfortunately, couldn’t agree with you more !

    I’ve also just hosted a “split” of “Freak” … and, couldn’t believe they had so royally F’d it up ! …
    With such an interesting “notes” line-up, how could they have arrived at such a “wishy-washy” average clean-floral ??? (The dismal longevity is also inexcusable for a company that excels at such excellent quality make-up).

    Somehow, “Freak” has managed to smell exactly opposite to what I had been expecting from it.
    ~ A “missed opportunity” is exactly right ! … What a total disappointment !

    Oh well, at least I imagine the gorgeous bottle will still garner them many a sale.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Jules,
      I completely agree with you, this had all the markings of something NOT in the usual mold, and it ends up being just another unimaginative floral. Why?

      • Jules says:

        I know right, … It was the release I most looked forward to this fall.
        And has unfortunately landed up being the largest disappointment instead.

        In fact, I imagine exactly those opposite to which it was targeted to, would probably enjoy it most.

        I’m still in mourning over it ! ;o)

        • Olfactoria says:

          I’m really curious to hear responses from the targeted audience, the Illamasqua clientele, so to speak. I have tried and liked some of their make-up, but I am certainly not living my Alter Ego. 🙂 Maybe reviews on Makeup Alley will be illuminating to that end.

  15. Meredyn says:

    Hmmm – I really can’t identify with your review of ‘Freak’ at all! I own a bottle and this to me is definitely not girl next door! On me it moves to a complex deepness quite quickly, and I totally identify the black hemlock note akin to that in Ormonde Jane Woman, but with smoother ‘edge’.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Meredyn,
      that is good to hear! Really, I am glad that Freak is perceived as dark or deep by others. I wish it was the case on my skin, but for me it unfortunately is how I described it. 😦
      I love Ormonde Woman, but I just can’t smell a similarity. My skin seems to hang on to and amplify anything cheery and fresh…
      Great that Freak works for you!

  16. Rosanna says:

    Oh I love Freak, I just LOVE it! It’s deep and rich without being obnoxious to the smell (like Opium or Lou Lou). It definitely isn’t light or next door like Sunflower, and it isn’t musky either. It’s a pleasant, albeit puzzling, combination… full of contradiction and yet strong and fascinating. I usually don’t like perfumes but this one is captivating.

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