Perfume Review: Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal

Mon Parfum Cristal M. Micallef for women

Mon Parfum Cristal was released in 2013, intended to be a “more crystalline” version of Micallef’s 2009 Mon Parfum. I have not smelled Mon Parfum and wonder if the “cristal” addition to the name was intended to reference the highly decorative bottles Ms. Micallef often uses, rather than the scent itself.

When I think of “cristal,” the French version of crystal, a few things come to mind: the brand of Champagne (though I’ve never had that, either!), chandeliers, gems, icicles, wineglasses, and… aldehydes. Well, you know me, I’m still the AldeHo.  However, there is nothing clear-and-sparkly about this fragrance. Rather, it is opaque and cuddly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in itself, and the fragrance is very nice. But it’s not very crystalline in nature.

The notes for Mon Parfum Cristal are pink pepper, cinnamon, rose, vanilla, musk, toffee, musk, and amber.  (See? just from the notes list, you’re already thinking What about that has anything to do with crystal?? Well, nothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The fragrance opens up with what seems to me like a bit of orange as well as the pink pepper and just a dusting of cinnamon.

Aside: it has become common among perfume fans to proclaim themselves sick of pink pepper, which always strikes me as being a silly stance to take. Sure, it seems like 80% of new launches contain pink pepper, but given the recent crackdown on citrus notes, I ask you, what are perfumers to do? Pink pepper, a synthetic aromachemical with rosy and mildly piney angles, functions much the same way as bergamot or other citrus notes do, and it serves a purpose. Pink pepper rarely serves as the focal point of a fragrance, but rather as a bridge or accent. (See this Fragrantica article by Elena Vosnaki of Perfume Shrine for more on pink pepper.)  You don’t hear people complaining, “Seems like everything out there contains bergamot these days!” It might be true that fumeheads much prefer citrus to pink pepper, and that stance is understandable. Everyone has preferences. But to complain that everyone is using it seems silly to me.  Whine about the recent overuse of synthetic oud, if you like; oud tends to be used as a focus rather than an accent. Okay, rant over. Sorry. Back to review.

Mon Parfum Cristal moves fairly quickly into its rose-vanilla heart and stays there most of the time. It is rather sweet, given the vanilla/toffee/amber notes, but the rose is really a lovely one, and the whole thing is girly and pretty and pleasant. I really can’t see a man enjoying this one much, but this confection is made for, say, the niece who loves pink. Longevity is good, approximately six hours on me, and the sillage is moderate. I’ve been dabbing from a mini bottle, but sprayed the scent has more presence.  I’d call this a “fleurmand” – a floral gourmand – because it’s focused on the rose and toffee notes.

The fragrance reminds me just a bit of Tocade, though it lacks Tocade’s “That Slut” sexiness, which seems to come both from its frilly rose-vanilla coupled with its smoky, dusty patchouli. Mon Parfum Cristal is every bit as frilly-sorority-girl, but it’s the sorority girl who’s slept the sleep of the righteously-caught-up-on-her-studies, not the one who stayed out all night doing keg stands. However, there is a distinctive “Micallef” recognizability to it as well; I’m not sure what it is, but all of the fragrances from this house that I have smelled seem to have in common a pleasantly-raspy vanilla in the base.

I haven’t seen the actual Mon Parfum Cristal bottle, though I think it is pretty in photos, and looks like it would be a pleasure to hold in the hand. The juice, too, is a pretty peachy rose color.

The perfumer for MPC is Jean-Claude Astier, who seems to have been responsible for much of the perfumed output of Micallef.  I’m not sure that this fragrance is available for purchase in the US as of yet; however, LuckyScent carries the original Mon Parfum, $225 for 100ml, so perhaps they will be carrying MPC soon.

Elena Vosnaki reviewed Mon Parfum Cristal on Fragrantica, here.

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Perfume Review: Micallef Denis Durand Le Parfum Couture

I know nothing of couture.

And, to be honest, I’m not bothered that I don’t. I’m fine not knowing. Couldn’t afford it, couldn’t fit in it, find it interesting to look at but not very practical: that all adds up to my don’t-care attitude.

An evening frock by Denis Durand.  I actually like this one a lot, despite its overblown quality - it's a slinky Hollywood vixen being nuzzled by a giant mutant pink rose, what's not to love here?
An evening frock by Denis Durand. I actually like this one a lot, despite its overblown quality – it’s a slinky Hollywood vixen being nuzzled by a giant mutant pink rose, what’s not to love here?

I went looking for images of Denis Durand’s couture frocks when Parfums Micallef so kindly offered me a sample of the fragrance composed with Durand’s sensibility in mind. They’re interesting, at least – often what I’d call over the top, in terms of silhouette or embellishment, and really only wearable when you’d want to make an emphatic statement. “Simply pretty” is not really applicable to any of the ones I saw, though I will say that often the embellishments are luxurious and very feminine – Swarovski crystals, silk ruffles, enormous floppy satin bows. Le-Parfum-Couture-Denis-Durand-for-M.-Micallef-cafleurebon-300x300

The flacon offered for this fragrance is beautiful, too, at least in photos. It’s square and blocky, with a blocky rectangular lid, but as the press release says, “Dressed with hand sewn delicate Chantilly black lace, the bottle is adorned with a little satin bow and a golden medal with the initials of the two artists.”

Micallef calls it an oriental, but it seems quite floral to me so I’m going to toss it in the floral-oriental category and be done with it.  As for the notes:

Head notes: Ceylon cinnamon, Italian tangerine

Heart notes: Bulgarian rose, orange blossoms, honey and animalis

Base notes: sandalwood, patchouli, amber and white musk

On to the fragrance. Does it smell like this dress?

A Durand dress that fascinates me. LOOK at it - all pale pale pale pink satin with a floppy bow, and the black Chantilly lace overlay, and - holy cow. Slit practically to the waist.
A Durand dress that fascinates me. LOOK at it – all pale pale pale pink satin with a floppy bow, and the black Chantilly lace overlay, and – holy cow. Slit practically to the waist.

Um… well, without the slit rising to risque levels, it’s not too far off.  It wears closer to the skin than these outrageous dresses would suggest, for one thing. For another, it’s not particularly dark, but it’s not a clean bright floral either. There’s enough of a black-lace quality to the earthy base to suggest evening wear and liaisons over drinks, but the florals are quite lovely. Orange blossom tends to dominate the heart, and despite the Animalis note – which smells something like my fur hat, a delightful hint of really-vintage fragrances – it is relentlessly clean on me, like a bar of scented soap. (But then, I typically get a soapy quality out of orange blossom, so this is nothing unusual.) The opening moments remind me just a bit of Tauer Une Rose Chypree, with the aromatic tangerine and cinnamon, and they might be my favorite part of the fragrance. Not that the rest is dull or badly composed at all – no, it’s lovely.  A number of people are getting oud and honey out of this, but I really don’t. There’s nothing about it that smells particularly animalic (the way oud and honey often can) to me, and it’s possible that other reviewers’ “oud” is my “dry wood,” but honey can sometimes go really, um, ladyparts on me, and I am not getting any of that at all.

The drydown is what many oriental-lovers are going to rave about, because it is warm and sensual without being too sweet or too raunchy. It makes me think of Givenchy’s Organza Indecence, though Parfum Couture is a little drier, its patchouli a little more prominent. I smell both sandalwood and a different, drier kind of wood in here (is this what everybody else is calling oud? I’m really only familiar with oud from those Montale rose-oud things, and the By Kilian Arabian things, and those were all much more medicinal), as well as a touch of amber.  Lasting power is about average for an edp on me, 4-5 hours, and sillage is also average.

Another Durand dress. I don't know how you could walk in it (or sit, for that matter), but it is a gorgeous color.
Another Durand dress. I don’t know how you could walk in it (or sit, for that matter), but it is a gorgeous peacocky thing.

All in all, a very lovely fragrance.  It’s available at Lucky Scent in the US.

Other reviews of Le Parfum Couture: Angela at Now Smell This; Mark at CaFleureBon (brief); Kafkaesque; That Smell; Chemist in the Bottle; The Scented Hound.

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Simply Pretty: Micallef Ylang in Gold Perfume Review

ylang in goldIt’s Christmastime, and I’ve been making my grandmother’s boiled custard. First, I should explain: “boiled custard,” in the American South, is not your classic custard preparation. It is not the same as baked custard, and it is definitively not crème anglaise, either. It is more like a thin, drinkable sauce than a pudding. My grandmother Nell always made it at Christmas, and we’d have it at our family Christmas Eve dinner, poured over a slice of pound cake or spooned up from cups or small dessert bowls, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream slowly melting on top.

It is not a “fancy” dessert. No raisins or candied cherries or chocolate, no dustings of shredded coconut or dragees or chopped nuts adorn it. It tastes of egg, milk, sugar, and vanilla, and it is exactly as good as its texture is smooth.

In fact, Nell never gave me her recipe. She’d say, “Well, you start with a gallon of milk – whole milk, mind you – and fourteen eggs.” Then she’d sigh, shake her head and go on, “It’s tricky to make. You’d just have to watch me make it sometime.” And then she’d leave the table. My aunts knew the recipe, and the trick, apparently; after Nell’s Alzheimer’s disease forced her to sit and watch at family get-togethers, Aunt Doris would sometimes bring a pitcher of boiled custard, to my father’s delight.

My mother recently gave me a copy of this recipe, scaled down and adapted for the microwave, and I made it for Christmas dinner, to be eaten with pound cake. It’s delicious: smooth, velvety, fragrant with vanilla.

Which brings me to Micallef Ylang in Gold.

Cast an eye over the notes list: tangerine, peach, lychee, bitter orange, geranium, sage, rosemary, artemisia, mint, ylang-ylang, rose, magnolia, lily of the valley, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, coconut, oakmoss. Pretty complex list, isn’t it?

The fragrance smells anything but complex. It does not smell fancy. It is simple, and simply pretty, a tropical-floral smoothie with plenty of vanilla and coconut, the perfect beachy refresher when you are longing for sunshine.

It’s well-named. Other reviewers have mentioned green notes lightening the floral pudding, but I don’t perceive them as a strong presence. There is a pretty, tangy citrus opening followed by ylang – big buttery floral YLANG, lots of it – and other floral notes. I can pick out the rose fairly easily, and the creaminess of magnolia. The base is dominated by vanilla, with more creaminess from the coconut and a cushiony musk.

The fragrance, which I’ve been dabbing generously from a 5ml sample graciously provided by Micallef’s PR company, has soft to moderate sillage (it would probably radiate a bit more when sprayed) and lasts about four to five hours on my skin, which is about average longevity for an Eau de Parfum for me.

It’s simple, yes. Despite that long list of notes, Ylang in Gold is ylang and vanilla and coconut, very simple, very smooth, and very, very pretty. When I’ve worn it, The CEO has trailed me around the house remarking about how attractive I smell (his fondness for traditionally-femme scents is legend), and who wouldn’t want that?

Sometimes simple is best.

Which brings me to That Bottle. I’ve heard some whining about blingy the packaging is, and how gimmicky the optional gold shimmer is, but I disagree. I like the shape of the bottle, and the crystals decorating it seem shimmery to me, a soft sparkle rather than a Las Vegas glitz. Dressed up, yes, but appropriately so. My sample did not contain the gold shimmer, so I can’t speak to that aspect of the fragrance.

A bottle of Ylang in Gold will set you back $245 for 100ml, gold shimmer or not. In the US, it’s available at Luckyscent.

Here are a few other reviews of Ylang in Gold: The Alembicated Genie, Angela at Now Smell This, Musette at Perfume Posse, and (brief) Eyeliner on a Cat. (As always, if you know of other reviews, please share in the comments.)

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Perfume Reviews: Micallef Collection Vanille fragrances (Vanille Cuir, Vanille Fleur, Vanille Marine, Vanille Orient)

Photo courtesy of Fragrantica.

The US distributor of Micallef fragrances, Hypoluxe, kindly offered me a sample set of Parfums Micallef’s newest fragrance line for review, and I promised my honest opinions of these four scents.

(I love PR review samples, but I always try to make it clear to the sender that I’m not going to praise a fragrance unless I like it. Most companies are very gracious about this stance, and I think in general that’s encouraging.)

The PR packet for Collection Vanille has this to say about the set: “A four-movement symphony on the theme of vanilla,” and [the collection] “consists of four fragrances combining the sweetness of vanilla with specific notes of leather, oriental, floral and water fragrance families… the collection has been created with the best natural oil of Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar.”

A word about my relationship with vanilla: I like vanilla, it’s the finest of the flavors1. That is to say, I would usually rather have vanilla cake than chocolate, and definitely I prefer vanilla ice cream. However, I’m not a huge vanilla fragrance fan. I like it as an accent, but probably the only vanilla-focused fragrance I ever really wear is Hanae Mori, and even then, I only wear it at home. (I really hate chocolate notes in perfume, for what that’s worth.) I do love my vanilla-accented Shalimar Light and my vintage Emeraude and my Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka, and I enjoy my little decant of L’Artisan’s Havana Vanille (now Vanille Absolument). I used to really like Rochas Tocade’s smoky rose-vanilla, but these days my bottle of it smells more like ashes than anything else, and I’m not wearing it. Givenchy Organza, that vanilla-and-white-flowers extravaganza, is perfectly nice but a bit dull.

So I’m interested, generally speaking, in vanilla-plus fragrances, which these are. Here are my reviews, in alphabetical order. Continue reading Perfume Reviews: Micallef Collection Vanille fragrances (Vanille Cuir, Vanille Fleur, Vanille Marine, Vanille Orient)

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