Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women Eau de Toilette by Burberry Review

Collage of Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women and its notes, including lavender, aldehydes, iris, petalia, pink pepper, and wood.

Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women is a prime example of a perfectly good fragrance bungled by an inept marketing team.

First of all: why is this a Brit flanker? It has nothing in common with the original Brit at all. This is an airy, musky lavender, while the original is a rich pear-almond doll’s-head gourmand. The two fragrances literally don’t have a single note in common. Rhythm for Women is a perfectly good fragrance of its own right. Not everything has to ride the coattails of Brit’s success, and the decision to market this as such shows Burberry’s insecurity about releasing new fragrances.

Secondly: the whole Rhythm thing. It’s clunky, it’s cliché, it’s kind of hard to spell. The black-and-white video, young-edgy-rocker-chick marketing is exhaustingly washed-out and overdone.

It also doesn’t match this scent at all. This is a pleasant, airy, musky, inoffensive office or evening scent for a woman who knows how to do her taxes and buys the high-quality soft double-ply toilet paper. It’s a clever, comforting scent for a grown-up who has her life together and knows precisely what brings her pleasure. She’s wearing this because she likes it, not because she’s trying to say or be something.

A golden sparkle of light and bokeh spots from a sparkler.

There’s nothing remotely edgy about this. In fact, it’s one of the softest and gentlest scents I’ve ever smelled, with just a hint of peppery sparkle giving it an edge. It’s bubbly like champagne, golden and fizzy along the edges, a hint of blackberry juice and orange blossoms to celebrate the new year.

Burberry effectively scrapped Rhythm for Women in 2015, replacing it with a flanker of this flanker called Brit Rhythm for Her Floral (and replacing Rhythm for Men with a corresponding Rhythm for Him Intense).

Confused yet?

The change in naming conventions from Women/Men to Her/Him, the addition of one more word to an already long title full of irrelevant qualifiers, the identical bottles full of near-identically-colored perfume… Burberry was intent on erasing this one entirely, replacing it with an entirely different scent and fooling anyone looking for the old one into buying the new, entirely different for Her Floral if they’re not careful.

All of this is a shame, because Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women is a high-quality, clever, near-universally likeable scent, predominated by a soft, musky, airy lavender and the gentle, formless floral air of the Givaudan-patented captive Petalia molecule.

A white earthenware pot full of light purple lavender branches.

The lavender in Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women feels more distinctly aromatic, complex, and herbal than most lavender I’ve come across. In brief moments when I’m not paying attention, it actually reminds me of the fuzzy pale green stems and densely-packed purple flowers of the lavender I have growing at home in the summer.

I think this is firstly a testament to the quality of the lavender material used here, no trite repetition of a tired accord but directly sourced from the original scent, and secondly explained by the particular special of lavender used. Rhythm for Women does not utilize the less aromatic French lavender, nor the near-ubiquitous lavandin cultivar made by crossing English lavender with spike lavender which has made its way into every lavender-scented body wash and soap. No, this is entirely English lavender, delicate and faintly sweet yet aromatic and herbal.

English lavender produces much less essential oil or fragrance molecule per plant than lavandin, so the pure English lavender here demonstrates a commitment to quality materials that is rarely seen today. There is a very mild earthiness to it, with plenty of herbal, light-green nuances.

Rhythm for Women opens with a citrus-y sparkle. It is a linear scent, with this bright sparkle of fresh citrus and fruity-fresh blackberry leaf most prominent in the first few hours and fading continually into the drydown. The presence of the lavender is constant, but this never smells like a pure lavender essential oil of any sort, or even a photorealistic lavender with nothing else to it: no, this is a sprig of English lavender in a petal-soft and fresh lingerie store.

A pile of dried medium-red-colored pink peppercorns.

Indeed, something in Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women reminds me instantly of a Victoria’s Secret scent, but not in a bad way. For some reason I’m reminded of the 2007 Very Sexy spray; I think it’s the general fresh sparkle, musk, and blackberry that they have in common. Rhythm for Women, however, is much more soothing and gentle, less a bombastic plea for attention and more of an elegant hello.

There is a delightful muskiness to Rhythm for Women, largely couched in the rich lavender itself, which feels mature, confident, and luxurious, rather than screechy, simple, or wanton. This is a rich, layered, complex scent worn by a confident, mature woman to the opening of an art gallery. She is not necessarily an artist, but she is visiting and enjoying the experience of something new. She carries herself with confidence and strength and embraces the things that bring her pleasure without shame.

Perhaps this woman is the persona around whom I would have built the marketing for Rhythm Women. Certainly, nothing about this is rocker chick. Nothing in it is rebellious, or even particularly young and naïve: Rhythm for Women does not feel old, but it does feel like an evening (or maybe even office) scent for confident adults in their thirties with regular jobs and 401ks. The Rhythm woman is not rebelling: she simply knows what she likes and embraces it wholeheartedly and with confidence and pleasure (though, perhaps, that is the greatest rebellion of all).

The general airy balance of musk and citrus-blackberry-leaf fresh aldehyde sparkle here feels very much like the sort of scent VS would snap up and sell along with their lingerie, except for, perhaps, the bold aromatic presence of the English lavender.

Half of an unwrapped clementine, the smallest kind of mandarin orange.

There’s no citrus listed here, but I’m imagining a hint of something like clementine at the top, along with plenty of sparkling fresh aldehydes and the slightest prickle of pink pepper that is not spicy, but merely taps the nose in that gentle perfume-y way. I don’t think there is any actual citrus here, but my nose is playing tricks on me, and the combined freshness, sparkle, and slight prickle of something in the opening, along with some background fruitiness, reads to me like there might be a hint of clementine there.

Botanical illustration of neroli, the flowers of the orange tree, on a branch with leaves.

Perhaps this effect is heightened by an ephemeral gleam of neroli and orange blossoms among the top notes of Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women. Their oozy golden syrupiness is kept to a minimum; these white blooms stay quiet and polite, performing a pretty dance at the very edge of the lavender in the opening, contributing to the fresh, juicy sparkle at the top of this scent.

A frozen bubble coated in a fine layer of ice and frost.

The aldehydes here are faint, gentle, and sparkly. This is no Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds; the concentration of aldehydes is diffuse enough that the effect is uplifting rather than being at all heavy or stuffy. I’m someone who can’t stand aldehydes generally, but Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women makes me believe in them again.

The powder, too, is quite subtle. If anything here is at all powdery, it’s the faintest aspect of the musk and floral notes, hidden unobtrusively in the background. It’s a very gentle powder that doesn’t draw attention to itself. On me, it’s hardly noticeable; the drydown of this is only slightly powdery in the way that your standard floral celebrity-mall-fragrance is.

Seven makeup contacts filled with crushed and broken pink powder of various shapes and sizes.

This is not an artificial powder like a makeup pallette, or anything like baby powder or lipstick or talc. No, what the orris root lends here is more accurately described as a faintly earthy softness rather than powder as I know it. It’s much finer of a dust, less heavy and in your face, more of a soft and fluffy cloud carrying the aromatic lavender musk around the room. It honestly wouldn’t occur to me to describe Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women as powdery at all: just soft and gentle and diffuse with a hint of sparkle.

This is a gorgeous orris root note, the perfect picture of subtlety and restraint and not going overboard in your powdery iris base notes. It doesn’t let itself be seen and known for itself; the orris root is an invisible gust of wind scattering the rest of the notes around with incredibly soft hands.

Botanical illustration of an iris plant, with large flowers and buds, leaves, and a prominent orris root.

The softness and fineness of this note, its invisibility save for the notes it shapes and carries, is one of the most impressive facets of this fragrance. The general diffuse musky-powdery-aromatic shape of this perfume is crowd-pleasing but unique. I’ve never smelled anything quite like it. It’s so enormously comforting and soft, like when you pet a small animal and wonder that anything at all can be this soft and light to the touch.

I’m not at all a powder person, or an aldehyde person, or a lavender person, but noses Antoine Maisondieu and Natalie Gracia-Cetto have me enjoying a fragrance that has lavender, aldehydes, and powder listed among its most prominent notes. Truly, anything is possible.

The body of this scent largely is made up of Petalia, that odd synthetic molecule that smells like florals but not quite any actual flower. It’s perfectly light and airy, suggesting gentle, fluffy, light-pink floral clouds without any of the harsh edges that real florals sometimes carry with them.

A light pink rose petal covered in a fine layer of dew.

This is no real flower at all, but it’s closest to a peony. Imagine a already-soft, blush-pink peony with any of its few distinctive edges shaved off, made softer, lighter, more diffusive. That’s Petalia.

This all might sound disparaging, but really the Petalia is quite a pleasant scent, fresh and diffusive. It feels quite light and airy, matching the sparkling top of aldehydes and pink pepper.

Both of these accords counteract the grounded, aromatic, slightly earthy musky presence of the lavender. The lavender keeps the rest of the scent from floating away, becoming so light, airy, and inoffensively commonplace as to hardly be more than a VS room spray, while these lighter, sparklier, designer-perfume-ier elements wrap the lavender up and make it perfectly crowd-pleasing and safe.

Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women is fresh for a floral, and feels slightly fruity to me. Beyond the inital citrus-y sparkle of the opening, this might be the influence of blackberry leaf, wet and aromatic and smelling quite like the blackberry fruit itself.

Three blackberry fruit and a small light green leaf.

Whatever it is, something about Rhythm is unmistakably a fresh fruity scent. It isn’t at all in a shampoo-ey or typical designer fresh fruity way. The fruitiness here is juicy and refreshing, like real fresh blackberries plucked along with handfuls of leaves lying damp with dew in a little glass bowl. It’s a delightfully realistic sparkle, nowhere near edible but glimmering and gleaming with a sweet and youthful wink.

There is definitely musk here, although I would argue it is paired with the lavender more than hidden in the drydown as unnecessary, uninspired musk so often is. This is a deeply musky aromatic gray lavender, rather than a disparate musk note tacked onto the end of the fragrance. It’s an aromatic, herbal sort of musky effect, dusty gray-purple like the small fuzzy lavender flowers themselves. The blush-pink color of the Rhythm for Women bottle feels entirely wrong to me. This is a cool grayish-purple scent, cool-toned and pastel. It’s light and airy, but there’s nothing washed-out about it. This is an intentional light-blue-gray-lavender pastel color that matches neat jewelry boxes and lampshades and pretty books of poetry.

A green and white origami paper box containing many small bundles of dried vetiver grass tied with strips of cloth and twine.

I don’t detect much wood: this scent is so linear that, some respectable six hours in, I can still smell the overall shape of the fragrance, from opening through middle notes, with very little room left for any base notes to really shine. I can see hints of cedar adding to the overall fresh profile of this fragrance and vetiver supplementing its grounding hint of orris-root earthiness, but nothing about it feels strongly woody to me at any stage.

If this is at all woody, it’s in that nebulous way that herbal musky notes can sometimes lean towards woods, and vice versa. There’s a gorgeous nebulous mass of fuzzy aromatic and woody notes in the base, all husky-voiced musky gray whispers gesturing for you to come hither.

A cross-section of a cut-open tree.

Despite that description, this is not a perfume that’s musk-heavy in a way that’s overly animalic, skin-like, or seductive. No, this is an entirely office-appropriate herbal-and-woody musk, tidy and smiling in a lavender pantsuit and pearls.

A pile of tonka bean pods.

Extracted from the tonka bean, the coumarin molecule in the base provides the ever-so-slight vanillic amber dimension complimenting the aromatic and woody notes in the drydown. There’s nothing in here that screams amber or vanilla, but this also isn’t a dry perfume; there’s a faint and gentle sweetness dispersed through the musk, accentuated by splashes of fresh blackberry and clementine.

All in all, Rhythm for Women is gentle, diffusive, inoffensive, musky, and pleasant, carrying a Victoria’s Secret style mall perfuminess while miraculously avoiding all of the headache and much of the cheap clichés those often fall into. On the other side, it features and highlights a rare high-quality lavender, with facets that are more aromatic, varied, realistic, and slightly masculine than most lavender scents I’ve gotten to smell.

A tall cedar tree. It is coniferous, with a rounded shape.

The combination conveys confidence and maturity to me, while retaining a sparkle of laughter and fun that I’m tempted to call youthful, until I correct myself: nothing innate about youth owns these qualities. This is a grown-up adult woman having fun.

This is not a rebellious rocker teen scent, but a celebration of little pleasures for real adults. It lasts some six hours with projection that is slightly more faint than that of many designer fragrances released today, but this likely helps it avoid the headachey overwhelming qualities of those scents.

Rhythm for Women manages to be light as air and play within the boundaries of designer scent tradition while featuring some fascinating notes. It’s entirely unique, with a texture and lightness I’ve never smelled before.

Maisondieu and Gracia-Cetto have successfully wrangled a number of notes that can easily fly away into overpowering-cheapy-perfume-land into something that feels entirely unique and enormously high-quality. Indeed, the quality of each individual note here impresses me perhaps more than the blending itself, though one doubtless compliments the other.

Overall, this is a very pleasant scent, inoffensive and soft yet unique and premium and quality. I can see this appealing to a wide range of professional women, and it’s a shame Burberry bungled the marketing so severely as to kill it. If you can find this perfume and you like soft, gentle lavender fragrances with a touch of aldehyde sparkle, give Burberry Brit Rhythm for Women a try.



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