This is an interesting journey. Parfums MDCI tends to take us on trips to faraway lands and places lost in the shrouds of time. Perfumer Cecile Zarokian is extremely apt at doing so, and in Les Indes Galantes she brings us the exotic fantasies of the French at the time of Louis XV as captured by in the 1735 ballet, Les Indes Galantes (The Amorous Indies)*. The libretto for the ballet was supposedly inspired by a dance performed in 1725 by several native Illinois chiefs (try to imagine that event). It's a gorgeous piece though the modern mind finds it hard to ignore the misguided cultural appropriation that goes on in there (see the Wikipedia entry I linked above).
The MDCI perfume is all about the fantasy. The warmth, spice, juicy fruit, and the kind of feeling you get when lying on your back with your eyes closed in a room so drenched in sunshine that your eyelids seem to have been bathed in yellow and orange light. It's particularly tempting when outside is actually winter and the sunlight in an empty promise that only exists indoors.
Les Indes Galantes is a spicy oriental with a massive gourmand streak. I completely agree with Patty of the Posse about the connection to Fendi Theorema, but where she finds the 1998 perfume to be an orange creamsicle I see it as a round and smiling being, like those creatures in the Fendi commercial. It's a minor difference, but Les Indes Galantes is sharper, heavier, more serious, yet still comforting and cozy. Like a grownup's home.
The incense and balsamic notes of Les Indes Galantes have a strong bone structure just below the soft surface. The official fruit notes are orange and raspberry, but I could have sworn that I smell ripe persimmons (there are not enough persimmon perfumes, if you ask me). It might be the orange hue that I almost see when I spray this perfume, bursting with color and passion. The spice mix (heavier on the coriander and clove where Theorema is cinnamon) is seductive yet dry enough not to dive head first into a vanilla-benzoin cliche. The steady hand of the talented perfumer assures it.
I don't know how my mind goes free associating like this from pre-revolution France through their idea of the Orient and the new world, to a mid-century modern home with teak furniture, orange upholstery with a nubby texture, and a round wooden fruit bowl on the coffee table. I just do, and that's what Les Indes Galantes does for me. The perfume came out just before Christmas and I'm sure that next year many people will choose to wear it during holiday gatherings. I know I will.
Parfums MDCI- Les Indes Galantes ($250, 75 ml eau de parfum in the plain bottle. Like all MDCI perfumes there's also a $375 bust edition) is available from OsswaldNYC and Luckyscent.
* I have no idea where Luckyscent got the bit about the inspiration being the Mughal Empire of 16th century India or British Ceylon. I must remember to ask them.
Image: A 1955 record sleeve for Rameau's Les Indes Galantes. Found on a French auction site.