There is a technique in film called “soft-focus”. The concept is to intentionally blur the image. When you see it in movies it can be used to indicate a flashback for a character. There is no equivalent in perfumery. Although there are perfumes which are easily described as soft. It doesn’t seem to be as desirable an attribute as others. When a perfume can produce this effect through the entire composition, I find it particularly attractive. Which is what I found in Parfums MDCI L’Aimee.
This is another release in “The Paintings” collection. The inspiration piece comes from painter Jacques-Louis David’s painting of his sister-in-law, Madam Serizat. While the painting is not in a soft-focus technique. The subject matter as translated to perfume is decidedly so. Creative director Claude Marchal teamed with perfumer Nathalie Fesithauer to create a perfume which amplifies the moments of softness within the painting.
This is on the surface a classic floral Oriental with a vintage vibe. Here is where the idea of soft-focus comes in. If Mme Fesithauer had used her keynotes more traditionally this would have felt like an anachronism in 2020. What she does is take a traditional expansive floral recipe and provides a soft-focus to tone it down. It also provides the kind of aching tenderness you see as Madam Serizat holds her child’s hand.
The softening technique appears right away. Mandarin provides a typically fruity start as Mme Feisthauer softens the edges through a precise use of blackcurrant bud. It causes a green tinted haziness to the typical sunniness of the citrus. This really comes alive in the heart which is predominantly orange blossom, rose, and orris. This could be a powerhouse but again she uses precise amounts of other florals to tamp it down. The ingredient list for this perfume is long. My assumption is these other ingredients are how Mme Feisthauer causes her blurring effect. It creates something softly compelling as if leaning into a caress from a loved one. As the base accord shapes up it forms around sandalwood, tonka, and amyris. This is that coumarin tinted woody base common in modern perfumery. Then it gets blurred through another set of ingredients which take this well-known accord someplace different. At this point it is like a flashback to a vintage perfume that never was. The final piece is the long drydown as this becomes drier. It is like watching a memory book version of a flower as it dries in time-lapse. By the end it whispers of what came before.
L’Aimee has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
L’Aimee is a tremendous technically proficient perfume. I think I could spend months trying to figure out all there is to learn from it. That’s the perfume geek in me. The Colognoisseur admires the ability to create a perfume which successfully softens the focus so beautifully.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.