January 19, 2013
Majda Bekkali founded her eponymous Majda Bekkali Parfums line in 2009 with two releases J’ai fait un reve for Men and for Women. Dorothee Piot created a really lovely orange blossom and jasmine for the distaff version and Marina Jung-Allegret retained the jasmine but surrounded it with oud, vanilla, saffron, and cedar for the guys. The jasmine gave a linchpin note to connect the two introductory fragrances. Then Mme Bakkali spent the next couple of years using these new fragrances to slowly build her brand and expand until, as she enters 2013, she is now in 30 shops around the world. As 2012 ended she debuted three new fragrances. Two of them were another gender identified pair created by Bertrand Duchaufour named Fusion Sacree (Sacred Fusion) for Men and for Women. The other new release is Mon Nom est Rouge (My Name is Red) by Cecile Zarokian. M. Duchaufour and Mme Zarokian are two of my favorite perfumers and they both composed fragrances true to not only their aesthetic but that of Mme Bekkali, as well. All three of these new fragrances are quite amazing and they have been my constant companions for much of this early New Year.
Fusion sacrée sculptures olfactives inspired by the work of French sculptor Isabelle Jeandot (Baccarat crystal limited edition)
Fusion Sacree for Women is a bit of M. Duchaufour pulling some of his favorite notes out and re-configuring them. It is a bit of an overture as it carries themes of many of his previous creations but there is a turning point about midway through where the overture ends and an entirely new tune begins. The early familiarity comes from rhubarb, blackcurrant, and orange blossom. All three of these are familiar notes in M. Duchaufour’s arsenal and that he can make them perform new tricks still shows his skill. Tuberose arises and at this point Fusion Sacree for Women strongly reminded me of L’artisan nuit de Tuberose. It was only for a moment because M. Duchaufour serves up a strong coffee note which collides with the tuberose and makes for a really pleasing accord as the slightly bitter coffee keeps the characteristic tuberose over exuberance in check. The tuberose coffee eventually gives way to a resinous base of balsam, benzoin, musk, and patchouli. The base is almost soothing in its smoothness while still not lacking in power. Fusion Sacree for Women is an ideal winter fragrance as it warms my soul like a double shot of espresso.
Fusion Sacree for Men is connected to its feminine partner by tuberose in the heart and benzoin in the base. Despite that Fusion Sacree for Men strongly displays its genetics with a deep resinous woody chest bump. Cardamom, orange, and lavender whisper across the early moments before M. Duchaufour uncorks a bottle of rum. M. Duchaufour is much too versatile a perfumer to be pigeonholed by one note but speaking solely for myself when he adds rum to the early going of a perfume he makes it always seems to work for me. It is probably why I often envision M. Duchaufour as a bit of a pirate. The boozy rum accord finally starts to be pushed aside by tuberose but the tuberose is accompanied by clove to accentuate the mentholated quality of the tuberose over the sweeter aspects. Geranium also keeps it slightly greener than you might expect from tuberose. The base begins with an unusual candied diptych as M. Duchaufour combines licorice and caramel. The bite of really good black licorice is tempered with the thick nature of caramel. This combination is so surprisingly good I look forward to its appearance every time I wear Fusion Sacree for Men. Benzoin, opoponax, ambergris, musk and sandalwood apply the finishing depth. I wore Fusion Sacree for Men on the first bitterly cold day of 2013 and it was a perfect companion under my cashmere sweater.
Mon Nom est Rouge takes its name from the 1998 novel by 2006 Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk. The novel is about a group of Ottoman Miniaturists. I ended up reading this novel in 2001 upon its English translation and it reminded me of the movie American Beauty as both started with the voice of a recently murdered narrator and subsequently explored how that voice was stilled. This unique way of telling a story from many points of view and how an event is experienced really depends on where you stand resonates with me. For a perfume to mimic this kind of layered storytelling it needs an adventurous perfumer and Mme Zarokian is definitely one of those. For the fragrance she seemed to be channeling a quote from the book I particularly like:
“A miniaturist creates his art by heeding his conscience and by obeying the principles in which he believes, fearing nothing. He pays no attention to what his enemies, the zealots and those who envy him have to say.”
Cecile Zarokian:Photo Courtesy Mme Zarokian website
Mme Bekkali encouraged Mme Zarokian to compose with that same kind of defiance and Mon Nom est Rouge is an excellent example of that aesthetic.
Mon Nom est Rouge EDP and Limited Edition Baccarat Sculpture Courtesy of Cecile Zarokian
Mon Nom est Rose’s central note is a spicy Turkish rose the very floral embodiment of the color red. To get to the rose we need to open a metallic box which opens with a puff of aldehydes and elemi around the shiny metal. The rose within is surrounded by the red fire of spices around this rose as pepper, ginger, cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon create an olfactory inferno. What I loved about this was the spices seemed to lay the rose bare after they disappeared as if within the figurative heat of the spices the rose was transformed. A tobacco accord matched with a dry sandalwood and musk is the finishing touch to this fragrant story.
I applaud Mme Bekkali for taking the time to slowly build her business but with the quality of these three new releases I am equally excited to see where she takes her line next and which talented perfumers she chooses to work with. The latest three show a creative director who knows what she wants and it is something I want, too.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Sens-Unik, Inc.
Thanks to Sens-Unik,Inc., the US distibutor of Majda Bekkali, we have a reader’s choice 5mL sample to giveaway of either of the Fusion Sacrees or Mon Nom est Rouge. To be eligible leave a comment with your choice and what you found interesting about Madja Bekkali Parfums. The draw will end on January 23, 2013.
We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS option…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume.
-Mark Behnke, Managing Editor
Editor in Chief Michelyn Camen named Majda Bakkali Parfums/ Sculptures Olfactives the Best Discovery of 2012 in CaFleureBon's Best and Worst of Perfume Awards in 2012. The USA debut will be at the Elements Showcase January 28 and 29, 2013. Disclaimer Sens-Unik, Inc. is owned by Michelyn Camen and Didier Cholay. Majda Bekkali Parfums are available in 50ml, 120ml and limited edition Baccarat flacons