What a year Ariana Grande has had, and it's only February. Unless you've been living under a rock with no Wi-Fi, you know that Ari's been working hard since, well, it's kind of hard to remember the last time she took a break from work, and the limelight that comes with it.
With the press whirlwind surrounding her, it may have been easy to miss Ari's latest fragrance release, Cloud. But believe me, it is worth revisiting. Cloud is Ari's sixth fragrance (if you count flankers, which we do). We knew it was coming; a few months back, Ari gave us a preview of the fragrance by posting lab samples on her Instagram story. First,the rollerball was made available on her website, then Cloud debuted in full, bottle and all.
Last year, Ari released the most hotly anticipated album of the year, Sweetener, a cloudy, fizzy record that blended pop and R&B with the effervescence of champagne, and just as intoxicating. During the Sweetener press tour, Ariana mentioned to Ebro of Beats `One Radio that after every release, she goes right back into the recording studio to get her creative juices flowing. This time, though, the juices didn't stop. If you were watching closely, which I know you were, you noticed that Ari was consistently snapping from the studio, and just three months after the release of her fourth album, we got a new single — her first number one: the now ubiquitous, colloquial, and iconic "Thank U, Next."
If there is one thing the past few months have taught us about Ariana Grande, it's that she is now doing things on her own terms. After becoming one of the most-talked-about celebrities, not just for her music and ponytail, but her relationships and breakups, "Thank U, Next" was part of Ari reclaiming her narrative, taking control of her story, and talking about her past through the lens of light and growth. It's no surprise, then, that Cloud is the outlier among all her fragrances.
How it's different
Cloud is a fitting name for the scent, as it's a recurring image in her life and work. Before Sweetener's release, she told Vogue that her sound is that of "a '90s baby catapulted into this cloud of polished pop dust, and the six million different personalities singing a bunch of harmonies together." Because of this, and the cloud emoji that often accents her Instagram stories and tweets, plus a cloud tattoo on her knuckle, it makes sense that Ari extended it to something tangible her fans can enjoy with her.
As much as Sweetener felt like a departure from her previous sounds, and "Thank U, Next" even more so, Cloud is also a departure from Ari's original and often reinterpreted bottle shape: the diamond-cut grenade with pom-pom accent. Cloud is shaped like, well, a cloud, with a rainbow, or sun, (or moon?) peeking out behind it, capped by another cloud. It's literal, fun, and cute.
The scent is surprising. All of Ari's scents have been unapologetically girly, sweet, light, and floaty, but Cloud is very different than any scent she's done before, and a welcome and exciting change. It opens up bergamot, pear, and lavender, with a heart of coconut, whipped cream, praline, and orchid, and a base of wood and musk. Your standard celebrity fragrance, right? Wrong.
How it wears
On my skin, the woods and musk rise immediately through the fragrance and mingle with the bergamot at the top for a long-lasting trio. The sweeter notes, like coconut, do a nice job of rounding the fragrance's otherwise sharp edges and warming it up a bit, while blessedly few florals prevents the whole thing from becoming too sticky.
It's a chilly, fresh scent that, if we were still gendering fragrances in 2019 — which we are not — leans pretty heavily masculine. If you threw the scent in a sporty bottle and sold it in the men's section of Sephora, no one would think twice (the power of branding).
This scent may miss the somewhat obvious opportunity to include an ozone note, but it does a great job of re-creating it, sort of making a cloudy, electric accord that smells like the street after a summer rain; think a more assertive, juicier CK2. It feels alive, like walking through fog, or a cloud.
The longevity and throw of the scent are just right. People can pick up on it if they're close to you, but it's not smothering, and it lasts from morning to night. Every time I wear it, I get a ton of compliments. People are always shocked when I tell them it's a celebrity fragrance (but they shouldn't be, because as we know, celebrity scents are just as good as scents perceived as high-end. Cloud hits all the right notes without doing too much. It's great for anyone, any time, and it won't go anywhere until you shower it off.
How it resonates
A recurring theme of the Sweetener album and press tour was fighting darkness with light. During and after the album cycle, Ari was faced with a lot of darkness, personally and publicly. We saw her live her message: showing us that light and positivity during the darkest times was more than a marketing concept or theme to sell a record, and more of a personal mantra to her.
Right in front of our eyes, Ariana Grande is redefining what it means to be a pop star, going from a cog in the pop engine to driving the vehicle, and with that, meeting the greatest successes of her career. We've seen her break through the confines of what a pop star can be. Releasing a fragrance like Cloud amid all the music and headlines might seem like a conventional thing to do, but that's the thing about clouds — they always reveal the light.
Ariana Grande Cloud is available now at Ulta.
Celebrity fragrances can be some of the more revealing sides of them:
- Why Celebrity Fragrances Are So Important to the Perfume World
- The Unofficial Guide to Naming a Celebrity Fragrance
- The Top 10 Britney Spears Perfumes in Order of Greatness
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