If there's one thing Bertrand Duchaufour can do with envy-inducing finesse, it's using smell to paint incredibly precise, near-holographic visual images. La Belle Hélène, the latest release from MDCI, showcases this skill as successfully as the finest of his creations.
The perfume's initial juxtaposition of leathery iris immediately calls to mind Traversée Du Bosphore, but there the similarity ends - icing sugar sweetness notwithstanding - because Hélène turns into a vivid, ripe pear. But rather than conveying an impression only of the fruit's yielding flesh, Duchaufour adds a dry edge that suggests the rougher taste of the peel and lends the whole a near-palpable feeling of substance. Eschewing syrupy predictability, the scent dries down to an orchard-inflected lipstick note which serves to complete the picture with admirable wit: first we were treated to the smell of the eponymous beauty's garments, then she served us a luxurious dessert, but in the end, she lets us get close enough to smell her make-up. And all the while she remains charming and seductive.
Highly recommended, not least for the manner in which it combines classical sensibilities with a recognisably modern aesthetic.
(NB: I should point out that according to the official list of notes - and several other bloggers* - La Belle Hélène contains a notable proportion of osmanthus absolute. I'm not sufficiently familiar with this particular material to identify it myself, but if it really is as jammy and apricot-like as web descriptions would have us believe, then yes, there's plenty of it in this perfume.)
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by MDCI in 2011; fragrance tested on skin.]
* For more reviews of La Belle Hélène, please visit Bois De Jasmin, Grain De Musc, Now Smell This and Perfume Smellin' Things.
Thanks to the generosity of MDCI's Claude Marchal, I'm able to offer a sample of La Belle Hélène to a lucky Persolaise reader, but this time, instead of asking you to write a response to a specific topic, I'd very much appreciate it if you would follow this blog using Google Friend Connect (you'll see this facility to the right of your screen) AND/OR add me to your Facebook friends AND/OR follow me on Twitter. Once you've done that, please leave a comment on this post to tell me so... at which point you'll be able to consider yourself in the draw. If I'm already fortunate enough to be on your Google/Facebook/Twitter lists, then please just leave a comment about any subject you like... pears, perhaps??
Terms & Conditions:
i) the competition/draw will be open until 10 pm (UK time) on Monday 11th April; ii) the winner will be selected at random and announced on this blog; iii) if the winner has not made contact with me before Sunday 17th April in order to claim his/her prize, an alternative winner will be selected; iv) readers from anywhere in the world are eligible to enter; v) by entering the draw, you indicate that you are willing to pay customs charges (if applicable) and that customs regulations in your country permit you to receive an alcohol-based perfume / perfumery product posted from the UK; vi) if the prize is lost in transit, it will not be possible for a replacement to be sent; vii) the address of the winner will not be kept on record, nor will it be passed on to any third parties; viii) I take no responsibility for the composition of the perfume, as regards potential allergens and/or restricted materials.