May 8, 2011

Hard Core Perfume, Swank, Feminine and Sophisticated: MDCI, Annick Goutal & Hermes for Spring

I feel like I've been traveling in the land of alternative perfume for a long time, so I took a Spring break in the oasis of luxury that is very much about perfume alone, rather than a mood piece or an aromatic haiku of poetic allusion.  This is a pause deep inside the land of haute-European perfumery. 

I have my core favorite perfumers of this type.  Among them are Bertrand Duchaufour, Camille Goutal and Isabel Doyen for Annick Goutal and Jean-Claude Ellena.

I ventured into obtaining samples of a few Spring perfumes that piqued my interest following  early reviews on the classic perfume review sites,  and not surprisingly the descriptions that interested me most were those from the aforesaid perfumers.    Even in blind testing I find those perfumers are among those that consistently come up with perfumes that attract me most. 

As these are all released for the Spring season, I find myself in a world of green notes, with some gourmand elements and quiet, faint soft breaths of chypre in the background.

For me this kind of perfume is like opening a gift box of exquisite candies that are both traditional and so beautifully made as to expand the parameters of taste within a conventional form, that is, pretty rising to moments of true beauty, with the freshness of Spring generously included.

MDCI La Belle Helene EDP for me is like an archetypal experience of perfume; what I think of when I  think of the word "perfume".  An Audrey Hepburn type of perfume; something a glamorous and elegant beauty would wear in the months of April and May in Paris, on a daily basis. 

It immediately presents itself as a flattering and engaging green sweetness, accompanied by the tang of pepper and anise, developing into an almost caramelized floral that hints at depths.  Based on a dessert of ripe fragrant pear, it is teased up and heightened with a narcotic form of osmanthus; damp, green, with a light coating of anise flavored honey and a tap of pepper bracing the feminine energy. 

People say it is an outgrowth of the L'Artisan Traversee du Bosphore composition by Duchaufour, who seems to work in chapters, moving in a series from one olfactory theme and obsession to the next. I see the direct connection, but for me this one is far more to my taste, because the gourmand aspect is not overwhelmingly the foreground theme.  Here the green is predominant, and upholds the highly decorative floral essence as a ravishing body-conscious ornament.

This makes it hyper-feminine and very connected to the season of Spring because the green element is so integral and so reminiscent of the early leaves that appear while it is still cool. A classically beautiful  experience of Spring perfume, and what I think of as very French in style.

Le Mimosa EDT from Annick Goutal, is a melting, melon apricot-floral on a background of soft green.  There is a watery element similar to blue lotus, and also the feel of a fresh cut flower brought indoors. An informal, gentle almost iridescent variegated type of beauty, and delicate in a way that invites you closer in for more. 

The notes are listed as bergamot, anise, mimosa, iris, sandalwood, white musk, and peach. I find no recognizable anise but I think the peach and sandalwood are imparting that dreamy happy quality and anise may be in the background behind them, aiding in that olfactory quality of youthfulness. 

I see it has been compared to their Petite Cherie, a very very young fragrance, but to me this one not nearly so young, though it has some elements that are the same.  It is not so young as to be wearable only by those under 30, as I would say for Petite Cherie.  It reminds me a little of certain aspects of Un Matin d'Orage, a great favorite of mine, but without that development on the skin of twists and turns arriving at an unexpected floral finish.  Le Mimosa is very consistent and stable.  It makes me think of an easy sunny Spring weekend afternoon,  and I can see surrounding myself with this fragrance to heighten a sense of well being and ease, without overwhelming anyone near me.  It is in limited edition, which implies that it is available for this fugitive Spring season only.

The Hermes Garden EDT series has been a great pleasure for me to follow as it continues to unfold.  My favorites so far has been the Un Jardin en Mediterranee, exactly what it sounds like, and this last newest one, Un Jardin Sur le Toit, inspired by the pocket rooftop gardens of Paris. 

Immediately the green is mixed with earth, mixed with cedar chip mulch, and I get the leaves of last year raked into the ground beneath the aromatic green that is toughened by the winds and sun of exposure. Plants in the city must be tough to survive, but being so they provide an even greater immediate sense of oxygen, freshness,  peace and calm, surrounded as they are by traffic, noise and exhaust.  Even though there is a sheerness and transparency to the EDT strength, it breathes of tenacious beautiful things, and precious space. 

There is an almost cypress sense of strength to the green, and there are apples and pears but not cut or bitten into.  They seem still closed and complete in their skins on the tree branches, being warmed by sun.   The notes are listed as apple, pear, rose, green grass, basil, magnolia and compost, but again, for me while the fresh and quick citrus opens at the beginning, and the sweetness of fruit on a tree, it is immediately followed by the strength of the green (basil and grass) rooted in the rich damp earth.

This one is most definitely wearable by men and well as women, and would make either one emanate a subtle sense of beneficial natural elements colonizing pockets of air and light around themselves.

The above images are from online sites selling the perfumes. MDCI, at Luckyscent, as an EDP is madly expensive, $240 -$375 depending on the packaging;  the other two are in the $115-$80 range depending on size, at Neiman Marcus and other fine perfume counters.


Anonymous said...

Lovely choices, Lucy! I like Toit a lot
and I am wearing it regularly this spring. La Belle Helene is something I have to try, your review makes it a must-try. I love almost everyting Duchaufour does.

Lucy said...

Me too, Olfactoria. I see there is a sample set of good size on Luckyscent for MDCI which seems like a great deal, with the range boxed together, in very heavy smaller sizes.

How lovely to live in Toit this season.

Bloody Frida said...

Hello - I have Nil and Mousson, and cannot wait to sniff Toit and Mediter..!

Annick Goutal has so many lovely choices for springtime - it's difficult for me to choose!

allyn said...

i agree its hard to choose from so many lovley scents cant wait to try toit

Lucy said...


I am settling down to think that the Goutal is really great, and more on the attainable side. The super fancy MDCI is exquisite but my lifestyle does not support the necessary image. You need at least a Mercedes. No public transportation for the lady who wears it, I don't think. The Goutal is very feminine, and without those issues.

Lucy said...


Yes, the Toit is very versatile and beautiful.

versace perfume said...

So many choices! In my opinion toit is number 1!! as lucy said.. versatile and beautiful!

Liam J Moore said...

I adore Annick Goutal's Ninfeo Mio! I'm sorry I don't have time right now to reply to your post, I wanted to thank you for adding me to your blogroll Lucy! It's Liam from Personal Odour here :) Thank you again

Perfumes Importados said...

Lucy, isn't the first time I read your blog. Nice post! Congrats!

justsoyouknow said...

Few perfume manufacturers can make their perfume wearable by both men and women. Love it!

perfumes online