Of the poached pears, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and crystallized violets, the perfumer has only kept the pear — a vivid, juicy pear adding its green, rosy and musky notes to the apricot in top and heart, underlined by a zest of tangerine. The powdery woodiness of violets, another facet of osmanthus, are boosted by pure orris butter and balanced out by their classic partner, rose; ylang ylang adds contrast and a rich floral fleshiness. The leather in the osmanthus is drawn out in the heart and anchored to the base by a burnt sweet, woody licorice accord. With its drop of citrus, rose and vetiver, patchouli and oak moss base, La Belle Hélène is also, essentially, a chypre – the third in MDCI’s line-up. But it is decidedly a non-classic chypre, silky, musky, juicy and light-hearted: in fact, like its namesake “the beautiful Helen”, it is quite the charmer. And like Escoffier’s culinary classic, it’s almost impossible not to bite into.
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