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Nobody has ever accused me of being a neutral, dispassionate reviewer of perfumes. So it amused me when poking around that I can find almost no blog reviews anywhere of Laura Mercier’s fragrances – because I figure that must mean lots of folks hate her gourmand scents as much as I do. Those massively sweet things appeared on the scene (or at least on my radar) at about the time I was at my maximum gourmand-hatin’ self, before I came around a little to the idea. I like vanilla, but I still don’t want to smell like a bakery item. I admit I find them extra irritating because I consider Laura Mercier to be an adult-woman brand in terms of its often very nice makeup, so I would expect something more interesting and sophisticated from Mercier perfumes than Tarte au Citron and Almond Coconut … and kill.me.now, frankly. These are the liquid handsoaps they stock the Bergdorf bathroom with, which I avoid like the plague, because you will never, ever wash away that smell.
But I remember liking last year’s Mercier limited edition Nuits Enchantées, which I sniffed once or twice in Nordstrom and then poofâ€”it was gone. The notes for that one, which was classified as an oriental, were mandarin, orange, cardamom, tuberose, ginger, guaiacwood, pimento, cedar, rose, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, coffee, vanilla, vetiver and cedar.
Today’s review is their newest LE, Minuit Enchanté, which sounded good in Angela’s review on Now Smell This. Cribbed from Nordstrom: “Laura Mercier Minuit Enchanté parfum, developed as a flanker to the original Nuit Enchantées EdP, evokes the deepest moment of night with deep incense and rare wood accords. Minuit Enchanté is a deeper, darker, more mysterious and more concentrated fragrance than the original Nuit Enchantées.” The notes are somewhat similar to Nuits, here they are: juniper, mace, ginger, clove, pimento berry, rose, jasmine, tuberose, peach, vanilla, musk, labdanum, benzoin, amber, myrrh, guaiacwood, cedarwood, sandalwood, agarwood. Please note that’s not a typo, it’s a 50ml bottle of parfum for $90. When I sprayed it on, it left a sheen on my skin.
It’s lovely. It starts off with a lot of vanilla and tuberose, and skated in the direction of Too Much for maybe five minutes, but pulled back pretty quickly with all the woods and spices. Then there’s an interlude of about half an hour when it made me think of something like Shalimar, only a Shalimar I could get behind (actual Shalimar hates me.) It had this dry thing going on top with the big, non-edible vanilla base that reminded me very much of the Shalimar Dichotomy. Then we move on to eight or twelve (!) hours of my favorite part, the drydown, which is some excellent but not overpowering vanilla grounded by the last eight ingredients on that list of notes. I know absolutely nothing about perfume quality in terms of material, but man, this thing!!! The vanilla/woods/incense angle is spectacular. Raspy in a great way, that raspy thing you get with sandalwood, cedar and oud, with some incense notes thrown in for good measure. It reminded me a bit of both Annayake Miyako (which I find a hair too raspy on the wrong day) and Annayake Tsukimi, only Tsukimi is sweeter – I compared them.
I know of at least one person who tried this and loathed it, so I wouldn’t be buying it unsniffed. But if you like Miyako, and/or the concept of vanilla/woods appeals, you might want to check it out. Having gone back twice to sniff, I bought it. I don’t know how truly “limited” this is, but Nuits is relatively hard to come by, and my Nordstrom was down to two bottles.
Mercier has a standing line of three other fragrances I’ve ignored – a Neroli that I find uninteresting and That Other One (Lune?) But while I was there I sniffed the third, L’heure Magique, because it seemed related thematically to the LEs by name, if nothing else, and a sniff of the cap seemed reassuring. I’d have guessed floriental. It’s classified as a woody floral musk, released in 2001, notes are: spices, sandalwood, amber, musk, bergamot, rose and geranium. No, no – don’t wander away bored! Because I kept sniffing and sniffing and sniffing, trying to think of what L’heure Magique reminded me of, and call me crazy, but I don’t care what the notes say – it’s TEA. Glorious, glorious tea! Now, it’s not just tea – it’s more a floral tea. But the more I sniffed it, the more taken with it I was, because a great tea can be so impossible. They tend to skedaddle way before I want them to. Give this scent ten or fifteen minutes for the citrusy top notes to blow off and I’m getting a strong, dark, not overly sweet tea with a little floral-musky filigree to keep it from being Bettie-one-note boring.
So now I want a bottle of L’heure Magique, and I’m tempted to buy one of those Nuits unsniffed on eBay. And if I buy three bottles of stupid old Laura Mercier the week before I go to Sniffa I’m going to throw myself under a bus. I know, I know – break out your tiniest violin.