Spicy Ground – Les Indes Galante Parfums MDCI (2015)

Whereas I do own and love perfumes from all spectres of the perfume wheel, it’s no secret that I feel most at home in the oriental category. What I feel that this ‘belonging’ to a genre means, is that in the oriental category not all perfumes I own need to be masterfully different or outstanding, in fact this is a genre where I am happy to have perfumes in all shapes and sometimes with just the slightest of varieties because they please me, and I am certain that all of them will be worn with the greatest pleasure.

Little twists and turns – which in a chypre or a big white floral would make me pronounce that it’s nearly identical to another perfume in the same category – can mean the world of difference to me in an oriental.

With that in mind and the fact that I am coming to think that MDCI with its artistic director M Claude Marchal can do no wrong with his superb line of perfumes, I will talk about his newest release today; Les Indes Galante by perfumer Cécile Zarokian.

Les Indes Galante is inspired by the Opera Ballet by Jean-Phillip Rameau from 1735 telling four love stories in four different corners of the world. Les Indes, meaning Indies, was a common term for exotic faraway places, and so the ballet travels to; Turkey, Peru, Persia and North America. The perfume though is not inspired by the stories but by the spices which stem from these places.

les indes galante 2

Like the music, the perfume is elegant and vibrant and it’s unmistakably French.

Les Indes Galante opens on a warm and dark vanilla with bursts of pepper and just enough bergamot to be more oriental than an actual gourmand. The vanilla in its various incarnations is the heartbeat of Les Indes Galante, taking us from the sneezy pepper through cinnamon bark to cloves. The spices here make me keep smelling even more spices; cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, whether there or not. There’s a deceptive feeling of linearity, but truly it’s the way the spices interact which makes transitions go almost unnoticeable. The background with its different aspects of vanilla as well as the dry down of labdanum and bezoin scintillate between spices and the discrete ascending incense in which Les Indes Galante becomes an elegantly shimmering spice-fest.

Not for the first time does MDCI find the inspiration to his perfumes from the landscapes in the world of music/ opera. There is the discontinued Enlevement au Serail (refined like the rococo backdrop of Mozart’s ‘Western white floral meets Eastern spice and sandalwood’ of ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’), the smooth ‘Italiana’ floral; Vepres Siciliennes (Verdi) and the recent release Cio-Cio San inspired by Madama Butterfly by Puccini ( and which I haven’t tried) with its yuzu and sakura. To me Les Indes Galante with its charm of exotic spices-French style is an oriental perfume with the vision of threading the fine line and linking to an elegant and adult gourmand. It is one of the true winter perfumes in the MDCI line-up, and while it may not be ‘ground’ breaking (pun unintended), for any spice lover, whether looking for another oriental fragrance to add to the collection or not, this surely is a must-sniff.

Last but not least, I had many posts in my head but not enough time to get them out in Cyber space so even if this was not supposed to be a Christmas post, well here it is, wishing you all a wonderful, peaceful, joyful Christmas time. May Santa bring you many fragrant gifts.

13 thoughts on “Spicy Ground – Les Indes Galante Parfums MDCI (2015)

  1. It really sounds Divine, Asali. Love Cecile Zarokian’s work. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    • Thank you E. I think in that case you’ll love this one too 🙂 happy x-mas to you too

  2. Even though spicy orientals aren’t my thing, the way you write always makes me “Hmmm, maybe this could be for me”. I love learning a little about opera and music through you too.

    Have a great Christmas!

    • Thank you Tara. You know this one really is neither as spicy or as oriental as all that. It’s main emphasis really is on elegant, so if you generally like the MDCI style, perhaps you should give it a go. Merry Xmas to you too <3

  3. Spicy orientals *are* my thing, barring clove. And barring scents that are very strongly spicy to the point of stinging / poking you in the eye, hehe. I love the sound of this one and had no idea of the opera connection of this and the other perfumes from the line you reference.

    Happy Christmas – you may be celebrating today of course!

    • We are getting ever closer to each other perfume wise, who could have foreseen it 😉 ? I think, as everything in here really is discret, you can possibly forgive the little clove, nothing poking here. Even the prices seem less of an obsticle nowadays, especially taking into account that they, as opposed to just about evryone else, haven’t gone up.
      Happy Christmas, yes we celebrate on the 24th mostly.

  4. I hope you’re having the greatest time (you’re 9 hours ahead of me, so you should be opening your gifts right about now 🙂 ).

    My perfumes are predominantly floral but I venture into orientals from time to time – so I never know which one will hit the target. So if I come across this one, I’ll definitely try it (though it’s one of those brands that currently isn’t represented at all where I live – it’s a shame!).

    • Yes, I probably was 🙂 and thank you Christmas was lovely.
      It really is a shame you haven’t got MDCI around as they are big on florals, and I must admit I find quite a few of them spectacular. they are all so incredibly elegant. I was talking to Ines about it, and we agreed that if we were ‘one-brand-persons’, or were playing one of these ‘one-brand-only’ mind games, MDCI might be it, because they have it all, and each perfume has a unique stamp, and no foul cheap smelling white musks or the like.
      I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas

  5. This sounds like a rococo delight, and you’ve made it very tempting. I wonder if it is at all like Vanille Tonka from PdN? This is one I’ve loved for years but its formulation varies and so I might enjoy this MDCI. Anyway, as always, a lovely post and a very Happy Christmas.

    • I have a Vanille Tonka sample somewhere, so I would need to test it to give you a good answer. On the top of my mind, I’d say VT feels more solid and duo-floral, whereas Indes Galante is more ethereal and the vanilla less foody than in VT due to its many different variations. I feel the MDCI’s sneak up on you, their complexity is not one you discover straight away and their beauty stands out from the rest.
      Thank you 🙂 And A happy Christmas to you too B.

  6. Wonderful depiction of why one would love orientals. Now I understand my love for them better. 🙂
    Then again, there is really no need for explanation of loving MDCI perfumes. 😉

  7. I love spicy scents, nutmeg, mace, cardamom and black pepper are so gorgeous

    • I that case I would say trying LIG is risky business, you might fall hard 😉

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