All Woman – Review: Parfums MDCI La Belle Hèlène

I have been circling Parfums MCDI for a while, not approaching for reasons of price as well as the fact that no single scent really spoke to me, from reading about it alone. Until La Belle Hèlène that is.

It is probably mostly the fact that it is a Duchaufour creation, which ups my interest factor at all times, but the review at Bois de Jasmin, likening La Belle Hèlène to Traversée du Bosphore particularly piqued my interest back then. Not because I loved Traversée du Bosphore so much, but because I did not. Another Duchaufour fragrance, this time for L’Artisan Parfumeur, Traversée du Bosphore was lovely in theory and I also rather like the candle (see my review here), but the perfume turned into a loukhoum festival on my skin that I could not stand, although I liked the idea behind the scent.

Created in 2010 by Bertrand Duchaufour, La Belle Hèlène includes notes of pear accord, aldehydes, tangerine, lime blossom, rose essence, osmanthus absolute, ylang-ylang, orris butter, hawthorn, Mirabelle plum, myrrh, vetiver, patchouli, cedar, amber, oak moss absolute, white musks, sandalwood and licorice wood.

La Belle Hèlène starts out smelling like a sweet pear, juicy and just a bit tart. The base clamors from the depths right away, and a sumptuous, sweet and powdery almost-gourmand base it is. In between the pear and the powder, rose and osmanthus are sitting pretty, surrounded by a tiny hint of overripe banana-esque ylang-ylang and juicy plum. The base is a dark mossy-green leather, old and well-used, soft and smooth but durable and hardy.

This is not a happy scent, La Belle Hèlène is rather dark and shadowed. It evokes the idea of being heavy, but isn’t. It evokes the idea of being sweet, but isn’t. La Belle Hèlène is complicated and contradictory, but that makes it interesting and not easy to place.


La Belle Hèlène is an abstract gourmand that treads the exact middle ground between yummy and perfume-y. Just how I like it. It is comforting, but sensual, soft and powdery-smooth. It is sensual and maternal, it is reminiscent of both bedroom and kitchen.

La Belle Hèlène is all woman.

I used this image for its smooth perfection, the face of a mythical woman who inspired a bloody war and meant death for many. Although the cold stone belies the power and the passion of this woman, the perfume breathes her warmth and strength.

La Belle Hèlène has fantastic staying power, it is fairly linear and is with me for the entire day. Were it not for the investment factor, I’d put it on my list, being as it is, I cherish my sample, but use it, not squirrel it away for hard times, it deserves to be worn, it asks to be worn. I won’t cry my eyes out if it is gone, but I’ll sigh deeply and hope for fate to bring another sample to my doorstep at some point in the future.

Sample provided for purposes of review by First in Fragrance.
Image source:, Helena via 

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This entry was posted in Chypre, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Fruity, Gourmand, Oriental, Parfums MDCI and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to All Woman – Review: Parfums MDCI La Belle Hèlène

  1. Sandra says:

    Oh I am so pleased you like it – I have been looking forward to your review. It is one of my favorite perfumes this summer. I wear it often and feel at home while wearing it. It is very long lasting – I can smell it on my wrist the next day. A gorgeous warm, gourmand, sensual perfume – a happy scent in my books.

  2. Undina says:

    I liked the perfume when I tested it but since it wasn’t love I put my sample aside and haven’t touched it in a couple of months. Now after reading you review – it was a good reading, as always – I want to try this perfume again. Can’t do it tonight though: everything that I tested today turned to be of the kind that doesn’t want to leave your skin without a loooong shower. Maybe on Friday…
    Thank you for the review and for reminding me about this perfume.

    • Olfactoria says:

      More times than not, I need a second shot with a perfume, and again more times than not, I start to like something on second sniff. I don’t know why that is, but I have certainly stopped dismissing things after the initial contact (except it is unbearably horrible, then I’ll wait for a very long time before braving it again).

  3. lady jane grey says:

    Hm, I’ve never even heard about them (MDCI), but the notes in theory sound rather very nice. Now I only have to check, if they smell nice to me (on me…) in the practise as well. BTW, Traversee wasn’t for me either.

  4. Ines says:

    I’m sighing deeply because I still haven’t tried it. And I’m very interested to smell the pear in a perfume.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I am sure you would like it, Ines. BD also has a beautiful pear note in Mon Numèro 1, although the fragrance takes a completely different direction of course. But that one is not much easier to get anyway. 😦

  5. Tara says:

    Lovely review, “dark and shadowed” sounds intriguing for a pear dominant scent. Nice.

    Oh that MDCI sample set is calling my name, especially since I found out a few of them are by Francis Kurkdjian. They pick their noses well! Temptation all around…

  6. annemariec says:

    I love the idea of a perfume that evokes the idea of being sweet, but isn’t. It makes me think I have been on a quest to find such a thing for ages without being exactly able to articulate it as you have. Perhaps Montale’s Chypre Fruite comes close, although it would be quite a different perfume from La Belle Helene I’m sure. CF is sweet, but in a very controlled and structured way. To my mind, this makes CF much sexier than the average fruity stuff in a pink bottle.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I don’t know CF, so I can’t compare the two. I know that I love the pseudo-sweetness of La Belle Helene very much. That is what a great gourmand does, I think, acting “as if”.

  7. Marla says:

    MDCI is one of those lines I respect, but haven’t yet found anything to love. My pear perfume is Numero 1, but maybe I’ll have to try this one as well, I’m intrigued that it’s a little darker and more mysterious. Numero 1 is relentlessly charming and cheerful!

  8. Caro says:

    …and thus a lemming is born.
    I have been consciously avoiding Parfums MDCI too, in the same way I am avoiding Xerjoff.

  9. Vanessa says:

    I tried this briefly at the end of a long sniffing session in Germany, and it didn’t agree with me at all, for the same reason as Traversee du Bosphore didn’t – I got a wire wool fuzziness and fruity richness that weren’t my thing at all. But having done a complete 180 the other day on Esprit d’Oscar moments after the first application – and encouraged by your delcious review – I should give this one another go. I am keen to find a pear scent I love, as it is a tricky note, often poorly interpreted in loud hailer fragrances like Eau Mega or Idole.

    • Olfactoria says:

      An overtly synthetic pear note is the worst there is. And I assume it is not easy to get pear right, but BD showed twice now that he has his pears down pat. Knowing you and your tastes I see why you didn’t like Helene. But as you say, and I know from my own experience as well, a complete 180 is always a possibility! 😉

  10. The notes sound lovely and the fact that you’ve described it as ‘complicated and contradictory’ piques my interest. With the price are we talking more or less expensive than Xerjoff?

    Is it sad that i use Xerjoff as my benchmark for ridiculously expensive?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Less expensive, since they give you the option not to purchase the entirely unnecessary, if pretty stopper, featuring a marble bust. And there is no controversy that their bottles are classy and beautiful, no talk of murder weapons, nouveau-riche Russians and Versace bathrooms when it comes to MDCI. 😉

  11. anotherperfumeblog says:

    I really like the unnecessary but pretty stopper!

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