Perfume Review: Parfums MDCI
Just when one thinks that the concept of Exclusivity has been taken to the level of impossible, along comes a company and proves that nothing is impossible in the world of très chic and ultra-niche. Today Ina and I are talking about Parfums MDCI. MDCI is a small French company built on the excellent idea that “fine fragrances should be an art more than an industry, a source of pleasure, pride and beauty more than a commodity.” MDCI finds its inspiration in the period of Renaissance and strives to create “modern evocations” of the precious objects kept in Galerie d’Apollon in the Louvre, in Musei dei Uffizzi, in the Schatzkammer in Vienna, in the collections of the Medicis and the Sun King. The exquisite flacons contain fragrances created by Pierre Bourdon, Stéphanie Bakouche and Francis Kurdjian, who were given absolute freedom of creation and no cost limit (“only the very highest quality, the best origins have been used, none of controversial animal origin implying suffering or fragilization of a specie”). The only requirement was not “to try to please the greatest possible number, never to imitate or follow the day’s trend or fashion.” Pierre Bourdon and Stéphanie Bakouche created the two masculine scents and Francis Kurkdjian the three feminine scents in the collection.
Pierre Bourdon’s scent, PB2241, was meant “to incarnate strength, power, wealth, and the conflicting feelings inspired by the severe but beautiful portrait crowning the men's flacon”. It starts bracing and strong, as forceful and audacious as the man who can afford to wear MDCI most probably should be to be able to afford it. The beginning is bright with bergamot, tangy with ginger, it has a cool, herbal-green undertone, the chilliness of lavender and on the whole is undeniably Manly and rather reminiscent of quite a lot of traditionally, powerfully masculine fragrances. After a while, the cold freshness subsides and I can smell some leather and lots of gorgeous, sweet sandalwood. Ginger, vanilla, lavender and amber ornament the wood beautifully, making the blend somewhat evocative of Chanel’s Egoiste, only less sweet, less “exotic”. I can’t believe I dare to say such a thing about a scent created by the legendary Bourdon, but PB2241, as luxurious as it smells, lacks some sort of a twist, something “modern” to balance the “traditional”. Notes: bergamot, grapefruit, pineapple, melon, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg ginger, basil, thyme, lavender, oak moss, vetiver, sandalwood, rosewood, leather, Darjeeling tea, amber, musk, vanilla, jasmine and violet.
I was very curious about SB1, a masculine scent created by Stéphanie Bakouche. A young woman perfumer was given a carte blanche to create a men’s scent, what would she do, what would be her dream masculine fragrance? It turns out, Mlle Bakouche and yours truly day-dream about the same sort of man. He has elegance, warmth and depth. Unlike the man of Bourdon’s creation, he is understated, he does not emanate power and obvious wealth, but his charisma is undeniable. The scent juxtaposes the freshness of citrus fruits, lavender and spices with the warmth of vanilla and wood…a concept similar to Bourdon’s, yet resulting in an entirely different fragrance. This is a quiet, cuddly composition, slightly powdery with violet, sweetly piquant with cardamom. A beautiful scent for a soulful, sensitive (and probably non-existent) man, it can very easily be worn by a woman. Notes: grapefruit, bergamot, violet leaves, white thyme, cardamom, lavender, ginger, cedarwood, vanilla and musk.
Francis Kurkdjian’s first creation for MDCI, 1182/K1, is a scent "Pour le jour", “a classical and refined "oriental floral”. On my skin, it is surprisingly reminiscent of my beloved Attrape-Coeur, only fresher, with less of that dirty amber I love in the Guerlain’s creation and with a pleasantly candied, vaguely fruity undertone. The citrusy top is juicy and playful, a sunny accord of sugary citrus fruits. From there the blend moves on in the floral direction, into the creamy embrace of ylang-ylang balanced by the airy headiness of jasmine. The base is still fairly Attrape-Coeur-esque, its sandalwood velvety and sweetened by vanilla. A wonderfully pretty scent that smells like it would be a somewhat cheaper alternative to Attrape-Coeur but is actually way, way more expensive. Notes: mandarin, lemon, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, tonka bean and vanilla.
1096/FK2 is, according to MDCI, “all pink” or “all rose”, a woodsy floral for soft moments ("moments doux”). This is the scent for the young daughter of the man from PB2241. The heiress is surprisingly unspoiled, sweet-natured, and still a little childish. With her wavy blonde hair, big blue eyes and porcelain skin, she is as pretty as a picture on a vintage ad for lipsticks and powder. The perfume is tender and fresh, truly the vision in all pink: pink peonies, pink roses, and pink fruits, with just a hint of purple from soft violets. It is as far removed from the kind of scents that I like as it can possibly be, but it is undeniably attractive. The fans of romantic, airy, girly florals would adore FK2. Notes: litchi, peony, hawthorn, Moroccan and Turkish roses, violet, cedar, musk and vetiver.
0442/FK3, described as an oriental floral, "Parure pour le soir” (ornament for the evening) is my favorite from the line. It is just the kind of floral that I love, the floral with a spicy twist, with the woody warmth, with the dark depth of patchouli. Jasmine is the star note in the composition; it is evident in the top notes, where it is made sweetly-piquant by the blend of citrus and what I would swear is cardamom; in the heart it is indolent, luxurious, aided and abetted by the sensual tuberose and the languid ylang-ylang… and in the base it is the most attractive of all, its dazzling beauty shining the brightest on the nocturnal background of patchouli, vetiver and sandalwood. I find FK3 to be somewhat similar to Indult Isvaraya; Kurkdjian seems to like the contrast of white florals, woods and spices as much as I do. Since there is no chance at all that I will ever be able to afford FK3, I will be pinning my hopes on eventually getting a bottle of Isvaraya instead. FK3 notes: bergamot, mandarin, ylang-ylang, jasmine sambac, tuberose, rose, wallflower, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla and vetiver.
I must confess that I don’t know the cost of MDCI scents. The site is discreetly silent on the subject and I felt it would be just too obviously un-chic of me to actually raise the question in my email exchange with the very charming Claude Marchal. The rumor has it that we talking of thousands of euros for crystal flacons (eat your heart out, Jar) and of hundreds for refills. According to the site, “the crystal flacons are presented empty in a hand-made, silk-lined jewel-box” and come with two 60 ml aluminum refills holding the fragrance chosen by a customer from the five scents I described above. Refills are also available to order, however you would have to be a registered holder of at least one crystal flacon or a “legitimate person expressly designated by one” to buy a refill. MDCI flacons are signed, numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Each flacon is decorated with a gilded bronze ring, which by special order can be made of solid 18 carat gold or engraved. In other words, the flacons seem to be as -or perhaps even more- important as the juice they contain. I have not had the pleasure to see one in real life, but they do look like they are worth the price. The scents on their own…probably not.
For more information on the perfumes, flacons and on how to order, contact Parfums MDCI, Tel.: 01 41 44 01 93, E-mail: ParfumsMDCIparis@free.fr
Please visit Aromascope to read Ina’s impressions of the scents!
The images are from parfumsmdci.free.fr.