Perfume Pen Pals: Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare, Bond No. 9 Madison Soiree and Karl Lagerfeld Chloe


Today I went with my one MDCI masculine, Invasion Barbare. Invasion Barbare is almost unbelievably bright, and at first smells more like a female MDCI than it does a masculine cologne. But the masculine part quickly starts banging down the door and, I don't know, when it comes to these classic scents, I prefer the female ones. Women were just fine the way they were. It was men who needed tweaking.

I think this is why I like big fat gorgeous ladies' perfumes and weird post-modern male perfumes. I never liked Clark Gable and I don't imagine I would've liked the way Clark Gable smelled.

But what I wouldn't give to smell like Myrna Loy. Myrna Loy always looked like she smelled great! Some actresses look all perfumed, whereas Myrna Loy looks like she might be wearing nothing, or her man's cologne, or just whatever strikes her that day.

And if I can't smell like Myrna Loy, then I'll smell like sooty vinyl. But I will not smell like Clark Gable.

After I showered off my Invasion Barbare (and it was no small task), I tried a sample of Bond No. 9 Madison Soirée, a fragrance that enjoys the distinction of almost unanimously consistent descriptions.

Everyone agrees it smells like shampoo, although opinions are split on whether or not that's a good thing. "It smells just like shampoo. Ick!" Or, "It smells just like shampoo. I love it!"

It's like the split-screen scene in Annie Hall when Annie and Alvie are talking to their respective therapists about their sex life, and Annie reports to having sex constantly, like three times a week, and Alvy says they almost never have sex, like only three times a week.

What I'm saying is Madison Soirée comes down to perspective because it definitely smells like shampoo (with a touch of gardenia) or, as one reviewer astutely pointed out, not only shampoo but specifically shampooed hair. It smells like wet, freshly shampooed hair. I've been smelling it all night and I might be the one person who has no opinion. Except that Bond No. 9 has a lot of nerve to charge $200 so its customers can smell like Johnson & Johnson No More Tears. Dan

Dan, As soon as I got your samples, I went straight for MDCI Enlèvement au Sérail, the perfume from which you once claimed an entire woman could be created. Well, I couldn't believe what I was smelling! Enlèvement turned out to be a time machine that took me back to my (original, Karl Lagerfeld) Chloé-wearing days as a nuevo wavo youngster. Enlèvement is a fancier-smelling Chloé! And I'd forgotten all about Chloé, that it was my "deep and womanly" fragrance when I was anything but deep or womanly. And here's another odd thing...I used to think of Chloé as a peach, you refer to Enlèvement as a peach, but according to the listed notes for both, there's peach in neither. They both feature ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, tuberose and sandalwood (Chloé also had oakmoss, giving the it the chypre snap.) But no peach. And we're both smelling peach. Perhaps Enlèvement snuck some in? Katie

Katie, As for Enlèvement's peachiness, it's a peach and I don't care what the notes say. If there's one thing I know, other than baseball, it's peach. I just did a quick search and Angela at Now Smell This writes, "The Parfums MDCI website describes Enlèvement au Sérail as an oriental floral, but to me it smells like a classic peach-jasmine chypre." And it is, Angela. Even Luca Turin agrees, writing in The Guide, "(Enlèvement) moves on to a golden, seraphic chord of jasmine and peach in the fifties-revival manner of 31 Rue Cambon." It's even peach-colored, KP! Where do you think that color comes from? Peaches, that's where! I don't know Chloé, though. Maybe peach is an accord achieved by combining various other things and so it's not strictly peach but instead a peachy spirit. Might it be a peachy spirit? Dan


  1. I wore Chloe, too, back in the days, and it almost killed me, it was so strong - or too strong for me anyway, but it was also the big womanly scent in my neck of the woods. I've never thought of it as peachy, but then I haven't smelled in years and years.

    I noticed recently that my local supermarket had it on sale - they must have dug up a hitherto unknown stash of it somewhere. I'll go check it out, if it's still there. What I remember was mostly a big fleshy flower that threatened to swallow you up if you didn't behave, and perhaps even then. And a somewhat salty dry down. That also scared me. Is it even wearable today, I wonder? Should it be worn today?

    Chloe is also culpable in making me feel old. Old-ish. Young girls/women today have no idea what we're talking about when we refer to Chloe in the orange box. I tried it at some point in a department store. The young sales assistant looked at me as if she didn't even believe me. Thankfully, I quit insisting before the whole thing become too awkward.

    Dan, I think I'm mostly in the "oh no, it smells like shampoo" camp. Somehow I want more from my fragrances than the smell of clean hair. Shampoo smelling perfumes are really disappointing.

  2. The reference to Chloe made me think of Jardins de Bagatelle which I bought second hand last year but never did anything with but sniff from the flacon. I'm wearing it now and it has the tuberose and ylang-ylang in common with Chloe.

    Katie, do you also think of Jardins de Bagatelle as peachy? Maybe more orangey?

    I regret not trying it sooner, anyway. It's lovely. It seems to float in the air, not sit on me like a tired Saint Bernhard, like some fragrances tend to.

  3. It almost like using AXE products non stop. I am with junelady, I want more then smelling clean out of them. As for Bond I have only found one that I really like. To me most of them have that AXE vibe to them. Nothing too over the top, safe scents. In others words BORING. Wait until you try New York Oud. I can hear all the cat references being bandied about.

  4. I have never smelt original Chloe, but I have smelt Chloe Narcisse, which in turn reminds me of Escada pour Femme from 1990. Both struck me as big, sticky, spicy, marmaladey, tuberose numbers. A friend of mine said that Amaranthine smelt just like Narcisse, which I found quite upsetting at the time.

  5. I liked the Invasion Barbare, Thought it was a lot like Fahrenheit...

  6. Back in '73, at the ripe old age of 13, I realized I was a WOMAN, and that I should wear either Chloe... or Norell... both from the tray atop my Mom's dresser.
    The only way I got away with either one was to mix it with my Coty Wild Musk oil, (to add an appropriate level of reckless juvenility) and the boy who I had my eye on thought I smelled just heavenly- go figure! Ah, youth!

  7. Junelady,

    Your memory of Chloe "Classic" is spot on: a fleshy, carnivorous tuberose with a somewhat salty drydown. After first connecting it to Enlèvement, I realize Chloe is blowsier and more vulgar. (Incidentally, I also smell a link between Divine - by Divine - and Chloe.)

    I bet when you smell it again (allowing for the inevitable corruption/cheapening of the old formulation), you'll have a renewed appreciation for it.

    It's been a while since I smelled Jardins de Bagatelle - don't remember it.

    The quick answer for the those no-win conversations like the one you were having with the SA about Chloe is "Google it!"

    I love the idea of perfumes that sit on you like a tired Saint Bernhard!

  8. Gojira,

    I've had a couple of go-rounds with Bond No. 9 New York Oud, and I'm not getting your cat pee! It's a different experience for me - more akin to a big, thick 80s perfume. My review of it's coming up soon....


    It's funny how you can be put out by someone mis-perceiving your perfume and style choices. I remember being really annoyed when a friend pointed out some fluorescently-attired rave teen and commented that we dressed similarly - just because I like vivid colors!


    I love Fahrenheit!


    Now that is CRAZY, that combo! It's a good illustration of how kids seem to have a limitless tolerance for sensory times. (I remember knocking back a whole box of Jell-O powder when I was 10, thinking it was delicious and just like eating Pixi Stix!)

    On the one hand, young'uns can tolerate overdoses of sugar - and sugary perfumes - but experience adult tastes like coffee and Mitsouko too much. The tolerance for sensory overload is very particular, it seems.

  9. Katie, I went and sniffed Chloe this afternoon, and it was definitely recognizable, it smelled like I remebered it, but you were right: My appreciation for it is much different now, 30 or so years later(things have progressed, thank goodness!). It's quite interesting, I think, that the olfactory memory is in tact, but my interpretation of it has changed, eventhough I haven't smelled that particular fragrance in years. It seems as if fragrances and memories of them have lives of their own in our brains even when stashed away in the darkest corner.

    Being the happy owner of Jardins de Bagatelle I'm not sure that there's a place for the old Chloe as well, Jardins seeming more refined than Chloe. But let's face it, there will be more less refined moments in my life than more refined moments, so who knows, and maybe a defeat of the past could become a victory of the present. I will devour the flower!

    Vanessa, I have a sample of Amaranthine that I have worn within the past week, and I can tell you that it doesn't smell like Narcisse. They are not unrelated, but Amaranthine is way less crude than Narcisse, it isn't crude at all, in fact. Amaranthine is sweet, gourmand-ish, a slight touch of cream or powder, or both, a roundness in other words, sensual and easy to wear, I think, if one is not put off by sweetnes, which I'm not. So, I wouldn't let Narcisse scare me away from trying Amaranthine.
    Narcisse is in your face (which can be a good thing). Amaranthine is more of a sneaker up on you, a scent that will blend in with the rest of you, not march a couple of yards in front of you. And no, I'm not employed by Penhaligon's ;-)

  10. Katie, Yes, I agree. Now that I'm fifty (HOLY CRAP- I'm fifty!!!) I find that my chosen sensory overload experiences have gotten more expen$$$ive...

    And as for that little [powdered] Jell-O-gulping adventure- LOL!

    As for me, I thought it would be fun to drop the entire package of Alka-Seltzer tablets into the tub for a fun and fizzy "bubble bath"... that "spa" experiment was right up there with my Elmer's Glue Peel-Off Beauty Mask Fiasco. Not so beautiful (Elmers does not peel off.) =]

  11. Junelady,

    You're on a roll today: I love "devour the flower!" - in the ancient tradition of warriors eating their enemies.

    And to clarify, Vanessa *does* has a bottle of Amaranthine - she's written about meeting creator Bertrand Duchaufour at the Penhaligon's launch. Check it out (and the rest of her witty blog, Bonkers About Perfume), here:

  12. Tina,

    Haha...there comes a time in life when contemplating the calendar is a shock therapy session - minus the therapy.

    I'm impressed at the "beauty spa" orientation of your childhood experiments. The funny thing is, it seems to me that Elmer's Glue would work fine as a peel-off mask. Just the way it peels off nicely from the palm of your hand...

  13. Ah, Jello as a substitute for Pixi Stix. We did that in 5th grade too! I think we brought different flavors in to school and shared, driving our teachers crazy. I never tried Elmer's Glue as a facial mask, although I remember spreading copious amounts of it on our hands and arms to peel off. Over and over. Apparently, we were easily entertained.

  14. melisand61,

    I shudder to wonder at the state of our young be-Jell-O'd intestines, every last twist and turn filled to the brim with gelatin! An unusual sort of Jell-O mold...

  15. Dan, I too would not want to smell like Clark Gable. I heard tell that he had terrible breath! Perhaps due to his purported cigar smoking and wearing of dentures. If true, I would think his breath could have knocked over an elephant. And funnily enough, I have never heard tell of what cologne he might have worn. I always shuddered when I saw him swapping spit with someone in the movies. Blech!
    But Myrna Loy! She was hot and sultry and funny! I especially loved her in all the Thin Man movies.
    I never wore Chloe, I guess it wasn't my generation's perfume. I too started out with sampling my mother's perfume tray. Chanel No. 5, Je Reviens, Arpege, and L'Heure Bleu were just a few I would surreptiously spritz. And once I got a chance to sample my grandmother's perfume tray! That was fun! I remember trying Tabu in a black bottle which evidently made a big impression since it was the only one I remember from her collection.

    I found this partial list of perfumes which is interesting, if only because it goes back to the year 1390. Really?

  16. SoS,

    What a great selection of perfumes you were exposed to as a li'l sniffer! That list of perfume names (What? No "Cleopatra No. 5" from 40 BC?) reminds me of a funny name I came across when I was at the Harrods perfume exhibit last September. It was a Guerlain from the 20s-30s called "Candide Effluve." Sounds like "Magnificent Secretions" to me! Any French speakers out there care to improve upon Babel Fish's translation to "Ingenious Emanations"?

  17. Katie, thanks for the tip about Vanessas great pefume blog! Great excuse for getting another cup of coffee and postponing my Sunday chores.

    Vanessa, I understand that you were upset - obviously not the same thing. Not the same thing. Not. And in the light of the post Katie referred to - even more upsetting to you.

    I'd love to have Amaranthine in my collection. If you wear it on a regular basis, Vanessa, what's your experience there - does it stay as satisfying as it appears in the beginning?

    ScentsofSmell, I also watched the Thin Man movies when I was a kid (being an indoor introvert) and I wanted to be like Myrna Loy, self-reliant, witty and intelligent!

    In the realm of strange childhoood experiments, not food related, though, I remember getting the wonderful idea of riding my bike wearing roller skates. It all went quite well - until I wanted to brake and put my feet on the ground. Well, the introvert should have stayed indoors.

  18. Katie,

    I plan on revisting New York Oud today. I don't have much hope I will change my mind. Only thing is I could have been suffering OUD OVERDOSE, when I tested it. I really have been on this huge sample spree lately. I just think, it was just too much oud. Find out later after my work out and shower. I have to say, no incense in it does change it a bit. Just not sure if its groundbreaking.

  19. Hi Junelady,

    To be honest, I don't wear Amaranthine - or any scent - on a regular basis, because I am always either testing new stuff or furiously trying to rotate the old. However, based on the half dozen or so outings my bottle has had, I can report that Amaranthine has monster longevity on me (to borrow a sillage term : - ) ).

  20. Katie-
    RE: "it seems to me that Elmer's Glue would work fine as a peel-off mask. Just the way it peels off nicely from the palm of your hand..."
    Yeah, well, tell that to my [then-seven-year-old] sister! To make matters worse, as soon as we attempted the peel-off and realized that it was just not gonna happen that way, my sis got scared and started to cry. You should have seen how that Elmer's make her face wrinkle up like an 85-year-old woman's! I could not stop laughing and the more I laughed, the harder she cried... She's 48 now and still mad at me for that. =\

    Ha ha! Rollerskates and a bicycle?! Are we related? (Twins- separated at birth!!!) What a fabulous 10-wheeled adventure you had! Sorry it ended in a crash. I feel for ya. (That damn Mary Poppins made me believe I could hop off the front porch with only an umbrella and float gently to the ground! Jeez. What a great nanny, huh? I wore that cast for TEN WEEKS!)

    My apologies for unwittingly highjacking this thread. It's making me smile though. =]

  21. Tina, I regularly hurt myself due to wrongful thinking in terms of what's physically possible and what's not. I should have learned by now that even if xx-undertaking would be physically possible for your average person, it probably isn't for me because: 1. My motors skills are lacking; 2. I forget on a regularly basis to pay attention to what my extremities are up to, lost in thought. Bad combination. Or maybe related. My latest endevour was based on the faulty assumption that I could write a text message, solve a work related problem in my head, board a train and lift a suitcase at the same time. I couldn't and I have the scars to prove it. That hurt.

    I'd be happy to have a sibling in these matters - where were you when I was 10 years old, home alone with a big sewing needle stuck in my big toe (don't ask) and managed to remove it myself with a pair of my dad's pliers that I had gotten from the garage, hopping on one leg back and forth. I was so proud! When my parents got home and I told them the story they merely looked at me funny. I was so disappointed that they weren't proud, too. Grown ups!

    Vanessa, I know the feeling of wanting to try something new all the time - and feeling the duty to at least try to use what you already have. I only have half a sample of Amaranthine left, so I use it sparingly - only the second time today, and I really, really like it. It's different from everything else that I have, sexy but daytime wearable at the same time.

  22. Tina,

    There I was thinking you were performing the Elmer's Exfoliation Pampering Treatment on yourself in the interest of advancing spa science! Instead, you were blending spa science advancements with sadism. Kids.


    Rollerskates and bicycles are truly a Pippi Longstocking combination!

    As for Amaranthine, I think it's a wonderful horizontal addition to anyone's collection, because it's so singular.


    Agree that Bond No. 9 New York Oud isn't groundbreaking. That patch of rose oud earth has been well-plowed by now. But I do think NY Oud is pretty.

  23. Junelady, your mishaps struck a chord with me. I recently decided that I could easily change a light bulb in the ceiling that had burned out. I got the step ladder (instead of the regular tall ladder) and got on the top step and then had to stand on tip toes to reach the light in the ceiling - what we call an eyeball light. Well, I lost my balance and went forward over the handle/back of the step ladder. As I was falling, I decided - hey, that wasn't such a good idea so I tried to go the other way and ended up falling off the ladder and landing on the edge of the brick hearth, overturning a brass pot in the process. Not a smart idea. Just then my dog pushed his way into the house - he had gone out for a moment and I thought, well, at least someone will be able to get in the house to find my cold, dead body. After I recovered enough to get up, I wished I had a way to tape what must have been some pretty good cat-like ninja moves as I tried to prevent going headfirst over the ladder.

    And rollerskates and bicycles make perfect sense to me. I think that is something I probably did as a kid as well. Oh, for a good Thin Man movie to watch about now.

  24. Hmm, my captcha on that last post was futtater. Is that a potato that looks (or tastes? yuck) like a foot?

  25. SoS,

    The acronym for your handle seems appropriate for your scary-yet-slapsticky tumble. You let me down at the end of story, though - I thought the dog was going to try to eat your face or something, the way they like to when their beloved master lies still for too long. I guess you wouldn't have cheerfully been sharing it with us if that had been the case...

  26. Murphy eat my face? He is too much of a sweetheart for that! Oh, my dog took one look at me and said, yup, falling down again, so - what's to eat?

    That doesn't sound so friendly if a pet eats their beloved master's face. Maybe I shouldn't encourage his affection!

  27. Reading this blog post and the previous one, I think we need a *split-screen* with Grace Kelly and Myrna Loy and take a vote on which has the *stuff*. I would have to go with Team ML.

  28. SoS,

    I'd need to do more stuff-oriented research to come to a conclusion.

  29. Sos, I'm on Team ML, too - no doubt about it! I want her cool and confident sensual appeal!

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate your light bulb story! In the best possible sense, of course. I can practically feel the physical pain that must have been involved. It could have been me all the way, except no dog would have found my cold. dead body, I would've had to drag myself to the undertaker's. I really like the way you absolutely learned nothing from your first ladder climbing attempt - I feel a kindred spirit from across the ocean.

    I'm full of completely unwarranted self-confidence which in the past, among other disasters, resulted in my trying to remove the pit from an avocado with a huge and very sharp knife while entertaining a friend of mine with witty remarks. Half an hour later I was waiting in the ER for some 22 year old doctor to sew the skin beneath my fingers together again. My friend, who was no Florence Nightingale, was mainly p..... that there was blood all over the salad we were making rendering it inedible. Hrmmmf!

    On another occasion I had assembled quite a bit of junk in my hallway that I intended to take to the recycling center, a.o. a broom stick without the broom but with a really nasty metal thread that had come apart. In stead of getting the stuff out of the way I straddled across the load of junk back and forth between kitchen and living room. Encouraged by my success (I define the term loosely) I became absent-minded (my habitual state of mind) and on one fatal occasion forgot to lift my legs properly - and down she went - from appr. 5 feet 7 inches without warning - and into the broken thread of the broom stick with my left shin. There was also some serious pumping out air of lungs as I landed on the corner of a wooden chair before finally hitting the floor with gravity working at its very best. That was a definite low point in my existence on this planet. I crawled into my living room and onto my couch where I sat for half an hour or so without wanting to look at my leg. Then a friend called, a sweet one, and said "Hi, how are you?" and I replied "Funny you should ask that question" and again half an hour later she was driving me to the ER where another 22 year old doctor sticthed me up. It took more than 3 months for the wounds to close and the scars are permanent. So, there!

    The falling-in-the-hallway thing also exists in a no hurdle version when I wore very loose Katherine Hepburn pants and my big toe got stuck in the fabric. Down she went. Now loose pants are folded up or removed upon entering my home.

    Katie, Pippi Longstocking indeed! And maybe I should think of myself as an adult Pippi to boost my bruished ego - and body.

  30. Junelady, I feel your pain. The last few months I seem to have been on a crash course (pun intended) with minor and major traumas. I am currently losing a fingernail due to an infection that my doctor assured me *might* grow back. Yes, and I am monitoring my bruises from my light bulb moment (ha) that are slowly fading. I think the cruelest cut of all, was when my daughter's cat attacked me, and my brother had to take me to the ER where a technician poured water over the worst of the cuts and scrubbed them to remove any crud. The doctor wanted to start a series of rabies shots because I wasn't sure if the cat had been inoculated, but I pursuaded them to let me wait til I could confirm with my daughter. The doctor said I would have a very short window of time before I would start running a fever, lapse into unconsciousness, then die, if in fact the cat had rabies. Good news - the cat was inoculated, bad news - animal control was involved because they are called any time there is an animal bite and they took the cat. More bad news - they put it to sleep since it was still acting sketchy, but then determined it didn't have rabies (uh, good news?). And then more bad news when I received not one but two bills from the ER visit, one for the ER and a separate one just for the doctor, who spent maybe 5 minutes with me. Big bills. Big, big bills. And I have scars from the cat bite and scratches and numbness that is slowly clearing up in the thumb and finger around the cuts. So I think, dear Junelady, we definitely are kindred spirits. And I hope we can move past the injuries and have a safe and healthy year!

  31. Let's toast to that! Sitting down.
    And lots of healing vibes your way.