Perfume Pen Pals: Parfums MDCI


From now on, I'm getting all my perfumes from Parfums MDCI. Check this: I ordered my seven samples and received a very nice note from Monsieur Tussel, the assistant to the MDCI president, thanking me for my order.

Then I received a second note reminding me that Friday is a French holiday, but he would try to bottle and package my order for shipment prior to that. And when it arrives, I should look for a plain white box.

Le box.

Then this morning, I got another email from M. Tussel, announcing that indeed he managed to get my perfumes mailed (he even included a scanned copy of the postal receipt!), but apologizing. For what you ask? Because MDCI had run out of white boxes and was still waiting on new ones from its supplier, so now I must be on the lookout for a black box instead.

Apparently, color aside, the shipping box is not dissimilar, as M. Tussel writes, "But be reassured: this box is not that bad."

Katie, he sent an email apologizing for the color of the shipping box! We should only do business with the French. Until the rest of the world gets its act together.



That really is elevating customer service to high art -- taking it all the way from cookies to Ladurée macarons.


Macaroons kick cookie ass.


I think the oddest thing about the company is the $610 for the perfume with the little marble head, and $230 for the same perfume without the head. Who pays nearly $400 for a little marble head?

And between the last paragraph and this one, my MDCI's arrived. (Why do things always come more quickly from Paris than Florida? Paris is farther than Florida, right?)

Oh my. I can't believe how large the samples are. Someone's screwing up on the adding machine at MDCI. You shouldn't be able to get 70ml of samples for $70 when it costs $610 for 50ml of a single perfume. (And a marble head.)

And, oh, that Enlèvement au Sérail! It's not even quite sexy. It's luxurious. And comfortable. I want to gently nuzzle up to a woman wearing this, careful not to mess up her fancy dress.

Enlèvement and all of the feminine MDCI's are so gosh darn ladylike, I suspect there's nothing I can do with any of them. I'm wearing Rose de Siwa now and while it's not one of those aggressive four-old-women-going-to-a-funeral roses, it's also not an ultra-modern, smoky, incense-y, dirty rose. It's a soft quiet lovely rose, and I don't know that I can pull off a soft quiet lovely rose. Though I like smelling it.

There's another MDCI, Péché Cardinal, a fruity peach tuberose, that I can already tell out of the bottle is going to be too feminine. But I'll still love it. Basically, MDCI is breaking my heart.

Now I'm wearing Promesse de l'Aube and it might be the one MDCI feminine I can pull off. It's by Francis Kurkdjian, and now I'm thinking I should reinvestigate his Indults and Juliette Has A Guns. Promesse is a lovely chypre, and Luca Turin (who gives it five stars) says it will bring tears to your eyes. If it does, I'm blaming it on the tree pollen.

This Promesse de l'Aube is every bit as great as Enlèvement au Sérail. In fact, it's pretty similar. But they're perfumes that keep their distance, both because they're so obviously classical scents of a long-ago era (it's like watching a Grace Kelly movie: she's so very pretty, but not quite arousing) and they're so complete on their own, their personality dwarfs my personality.

Grace is exhausted from not quite arousing Dan.

They're both great and utterly useless. I will end up buying one or more, I'm sure of it, for reference at least, but reference to what? How insignificant I am? I suppose that's worth it.


Macaroons via


  1. Dan's description of Pêche Cardinal is going to haunt me - peaches to die for - uhmmmmm. Not to mention Promesse de l'Aube. A chypre that will make you cry - I'd be in perfume heaven. I must at least take a look at the company's website. Just looking, merely looking.

    I will admit that there often was something future spinster-like about Grace Kelly, but I do think that she looks quite "come hither" in that photo, no? Or maybe just "come closer".

  2. Oh I love the way - like many of us - Dan is so completely powerless in the face of a wonderous perfume. If it's love, it doesn't matter whether or not you have occasion to wear it or can even carry it off with confidence.

    Good to know that those Parfums MDCI fumes are as good as LT says they are. The price is beyond me, but the fair value of the samples makes it tempting.

    As for "this box is not that bad" LOL!

  3. Yes, the box issue is wonderful! I love it that they take their business, including customer service, seriously. I guess that's also in part what we (meaning Dan) pay for in this case, although every company could learn from this.

  4. Junelady, it's especially funny to me because in the UK we are sadly quite a long way from that level of customer service. Good to know France (or Parfums MDCI anyway)is doing a good job! It definitely pays off - see how Dan now wants to buy perfume only from them :)

  5. Poor Dan! Even if the perfumes are too feminine for you, the customer service, for itself, worths another purchase:)



  6. Good customer service is definitely an investment, and one that is neglected by too many companies. The older I get, the more bad customer service annoys me, and I'm happy to take my business elsewhere when I encounter it. Equally, I like to "reward" good customer service and try to remember saying thank you etc. Yes, I suspect that Dan will have a very hard time resisting future purchases :-)

  7. Gosh, Monsieur Tussel sounds so nice that I almost want to buy a marble head from him. In a plain white (or black?) box!

  8. This is one of those companies I've steered clear of, like Xerjoff, since I cannot in good conscience pay so much for a fume when I have such beauties that cost half their prices. So get thee behind me, Dan!!

    I must not sniff them, I must not, must not....

  9. Kathy,

    But Katheeeeeeeeee (adopting a serpentine, "Trust in Me" from "The Jungle Book" wheedling demeanor), you get 7 jumbo samps for a fraction of the cost of even a full refill bottle! You can hardly refuse. It would be downright churlish....


    I know you love your chypres, and was thinking of you when I posted this, wondering if you were going to bite - or if you already had a sample or 2.

    I deliberately found the foxiest photo I could of Grace K. But they are are truly few and far between. Most pictures feature her in her "formidably correct" mode.


    You tease, but I'm sure there are plenty of bottle hounds out there who consider the marble heads the main draw of the perfume. Which I don't get.

  10. You know those bust remind me of the Avon line years ago that did the U.S Presidents. Yes they were aftershave splash. My aunt use to sell the stuff remember my grandmother bought the set. I have yet to do what Dan did and order the set of samples. I guess just a bit gun shy to add another EXPENSIVE perfume to the wish list.

  11. Gojira,

    You are so right! I never knew these existed, and just found this batch for sale on the 'net:

    Did each president have a different scent?

  12. Katie, and I certainly took the bait. I've already studied their website and had it not been because I could not understand the how-to-order directions, the deed would already have been done, I'm quite sure of that.

    Not only do the descriptions of the perfumes reel me in like crazy, it's a pleasure to read them, and I love that they unashamedly include pineapples and peaches along with the classially classy notes of rose, sandalwood etc. It all amounts to a delightful case of too much of a good thing, I imagine. And I do love a bit of ripe fruit in my perfumes.

    I also wallowed in fantasies of receiving compliments and answering questions on wearing e.g. Le Rivage des Syrtes and answering leisurely, "thank you, it's .... by....." - admittedly having no idea what it means, but it sounds beautiful! Many of the names do - how about Rose de Siwa, and my favorite in this respect: Pêche Cardinal. Peaches of the flesh! Death by peaches! It's brilliant.

    I hope 2011 will be the year where I give myself one really exclusive perfume and pass on the dozens of mainstream ones (that are absolutely fine etc etc - I make an effort of finding ones that I really, really like) that are on offer all the time and everywhere. I'd love to go a bit more vertical and a bit less horizontal. Heaven knows it's not more bottles I need.

  13. I just revisited the website - and I now realize that my desire to make Jubilation 25 mine will seem like a slight indulgence compared to becoming the proud but blushing owner of an MDCI perfume. I'm such an amateur, I realize that. But I can dream. Dream of sinful peaches. Dan, thank you for ruining my peace of mind. And thank you for the sweet dreams of lushness and indulgence. It's cold and wintery where I'm at and I needed that.

  14. Well, I do love a beautiful bottle, but marble busts aren't quite my style. But the jus underneath? Well yes, many of them are quite beautiful. I would buy a sample set just to own 10 ml each of Enlevement and Promesse, even if I rarely wore the others.

  15. But au contraire, Junelady! LuckyScent shows Jub 25 as actually a bit more expensive than a headless MDCI. The key here is "headless", remember!

    And what with the latest MDCI on the scene, La Belle Hélène, it's even more excuse for you to wallow in your ripe fruity chypre fantasies. I've just tipped Dan off to it, and he just wrote back:

    "That looks GREAT! Peachy osmanthus and licorice! It's like something I'd create. I'm sampling that one, yessiree."

  16. Fuck yeah I would pay another 400 dollars for a marble head. If I had another 400 dollars. Cry.

  17. I just love to read these comments; it makes me truly feel like part of a tribe! A sick, demented, obsessed, addicted, fume-head tribe. That can debate the merits of teensy marble busts only slight more attractive than Hummel Figurines and can justify the price. I love us! Thanks for a great review, Dan. And BTW, how many minutes and showers elapsed between samplings?

  18. Prosetry,

    When you put it that way, sure, bring on the marble heads! Along with the oligarch funding.


    I love us, too! And you especially, since you brought up Hummels again. You think you would've learned after the Great Hummel Debate Dan inadvertently started here:

    As commenter Jane mused on that post:

    "Like sex, religion and politics, entering into the discussion of Hummels has its own cautions"

  19. Katie, the difference between Jubilation at 145 pounds at Les Senteurs and e.g. Peche Cardinal (2 fl. oz) at 215 Euros is definitely not as big as I first imagined. The difference would amount to roughly 55 US dollars. I have the advantage of (potentially) ordering from a fellow EU country.

    Not that it resolves the issue, really. And then you had to go and mention La Belle Helene -another fruity chypre wet dream! I instantly thought of the dessert by the same name - yum yum.

    So, maybe I should go headless and get a sample kit from MDCI. 7 ml samples of good perfume go quite a long way and I do love variation in my scents. However, that would postpone the coveted purchase of a full size over the top perfume indulgence.

    Problems, problems. Scott, you're so right.

  20. My old boss always used to say that the Golden Rule in business was always to do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, and if for whatever reason you were unable to carry out your side of the bargain, to advise the other party of the change in a timely manner. Monsieur Tussel is following this code in an exemplary manner with his successive box updates, yet it surprises us, because there is so much sloppy customer service around.

    My old boss also taught us that no one will ever call you back, so don't allow a conversation to end with the other person promising to ring. That was known as "losing control". No fear of losing control with Monsieur Trussel - just possibly losing head - but the financial incentive to go the headless route is significant. I never knew that was an option before!

    I like Rose de Siwa best - you will never hear me complaining about something being "soft" and "quiet". I *thought* I LOVED Promesse de L'Aube, but last time I tried it dawn - and the hope that it would have worn off by then - couldn't come quick enough. I suspect my sample may be in its sunset years, for as my flittersniffery volte-faces go, this one was major.

  21. Believe it or not, my old boss also taught us to proof our work, but a rogue "r" appears to have crept into one of the Tussels!

  22. Katie, I believe they did. If I remember correctly they were quite spicy woodsy numbers. But they weren't that different.


  23. Gojira,

    I like the idea of our founding fathers having distinct "perfume personalities", ie: George Washington - a commanding, brisk green woods with a whimsical cherry inflection. Abe Lincoln - a stalwart masculine comprised of pine logs. Etc.


    I like how your old boss had all the answers. I'm going to strive to live by his words.

  24. Gojira,

    You were asking about the link to get the sample set - you can click on the first link ("Parfums MDCI") in the post to go to their website, click on "catalogue " and scroll down to the sample sets.

  25. Fingers in my ears, whistling, can't hear you, Siren Katie!!!

    I do not need another expensive lemming! :)

  26. Junelady, I am impressed and a bit envious that you were able to compare the prices of several perfumes in pounds, Euros, and US Dollars. And at the same time, I had no idea what the amounts refer to since I don't know the exchange rates. (It sounds like one of those math problems you get in grade school: if the bus leaves for Cincinnati at 6:00 a.m. and the train leaves for Cincinnati at 7:00 a.m., what was the color of the car you drove the week before?)

    Katie, I like your idea of matching the Presidential Avon scents to their backgrounds. Would Washington's brisk green woods be akin to a forest-y tree?

    As for the head vs. the head-less debate, I say go head-less. When the bottle is empty, are you going to want to keep it around because you paid all that money for the head? It reminds me of when someone gives me a gift in a pretty box and I feel honor- bound to keep the empty box. But I am doing better these days about getting rid of the fluff! So go head-less!

  27. SoS,

    Re Junelady's facility with conversion, you know it's all down to the basic fact that on balance, Europeans are smarter than Americans. And they have better chocolate.

    Haha - "forest-y tree." Good ol' Anchorlady Erica!

    Your headless bottle remark reminded me of a comment someone left on YouTube about the Katy Perry Purr bottle"
    "Yesterday I went to nordstroms looking for Chanel no19 and that little cat was completely sold out! The headless sampler was sitting on the shelf all alone!! It was funny. The lady said, 'Even the head is gone.'"

  28. I don't know about that, but Belgian chocolate is delish! When I was a teenager in Germany, we were lucky (?) enough to have a maid and she would bring me little chocolate treats. Even though they had the same name as the American version, I guess they were formulated for German tastes so I wasn't crazy about them. I was able to re-gift them to my younger sister, so it all worked out. I did, however, have no problem developing a taste for German hotdogs (lange wieners) and beer (bier). Still like 'em!

  29. SoS, there's a saying in Danish that translates something like: Necessity will teach a naked woman to spin wool. It's from Norse mythology, I believe.

    In my case it refers to the circumstance that I
    1. Live in a small country with a small, uncommon currency.
    2. do quite a bit of internet shopping outside Denmark - and for that reason I need to have a rough idea of exchange rates. My assumption is that the Euro is appr. 7,5 to 1 against the Danish Crown, the British pound is roughly 8,5 (a bit more, actually, 8,8, I think) and the US dollar is roughly 5,5 to 1 Danish Crown.

    But if I don't want to put wear and tear on my brain, I find a website that will do the conversions for me. And I check them regularly to make sure that I'm not fooling myself when internet shopping abroad.

    I believe that we do have better chocolate. And bread. But Americans have a better selection of skin care and makeup brands. Customs charges are ridiculous when shopping outside the EU, otherwise I'd buy A LOT of good stuff from the US.

  30. I got the coffret, too some time ago. (What's the story with the white box? Didn't you get a nice coffret with the logo on top and satin interior?)

    I love Invasion Barbare and Promesse too. Quick question from a newbie who has never smelled pre-IFRA chypres: what does one smell in the drydown of Promesse? Is that true oakmoss (not listed) or a reconstruction?


  31. cacio,

    I'm guessing Dan got the nice coffret, but the box color discussion referred to the box containing the coffret, I do believe.

    Does anyone know the answer to cacio's oakmoss question? I know indie perfumers have been known to fly in the face of the oakmoss ban and include it in their creations, but I don't know if that applies to MDCI.

  32. Junelady, what will necessity teach a naked man to do? Probably grow his hair out. Ha!

    Yes, I agree about the bread and cheese and butter, among other things, that you and Katie mentioned as being better in Europe. I think each place has its own things to recommend them which is a good thing.

  33. In many cases I think necessity would teach a man to look for a wife with wool spinning skills ;-)

    There's definitely good stuff on both sides of the great ocean.

  34. I have an urgent and stoopid question- can anyone tell me how MDCI is correctly pronounced- Is it as it sounds or the greek version- "1601"???

    1. I never thought about Roman numerals, but you have a point. However, it turns out MDCI is an acronym for"Marchal Design & Créations Indépendantes".

  35. whew- thanks for responding, Katie- knew you would know!!