Promesse de l’Aube is solidly in the classical French abstract perfumery tradition – so much so that you may as well scrap the notes list for how much it will help you get your nose into this one. The two adjectives that come to my mind most are golden (in a yellow, pale, dawn mode, a quality of its dreamy abstraction) and peachy (as in a vintage cosmetics peach with powdery aldehydes to spare). It’s a billowing, bright, gauzy creation like a starlet’s chiffon scarf fluttering in the breeze in Cannes – but with the bite of something inkily vegetal and a dab of chlorine in its opening hours which goes a bit against the grain. Promesse de l’Aube stands apart from the tides of poor quality, vaguely fruity fragrances that have so denuded perfumery’s landscape.
Not quite a marvel – its demure personality is not a positive – but good in a hazily peachy manner. Whether that’s enough at this price point, I’m not convinced. I found the late drydown quite undistinguished.
Promesse de l’Aube is a sweet, delicate, and exceptionally pretty peach chypre scent that marries classical structure to modern transparency. It’s precisely what I imagine Mitsouko would have smelled like when she was a little girl of ten or eleven, before she developed feminine wiles, gained carnal knowledge, and became jaded. As befits so poised a fragrance, projection, sillage, and longevity are all well modulated, and Promesse de l’Aube remains radiantly sweet right through its feather-light vanilla chypre drydown. Writing this description I realize that Promesse de l’Aube is also very close to Aurélien Guichard’s Chinatown, though without some of the intentionally dissonant earthy elements that make Chinatown so compellingly odd. Compared to either of these other peach-centered fragrances, Promesse de l’Aube is not only clean, but bland. There is a coy, precious quality about this scent’s beauty that evokes a porcelain doll more than a living woman.
Promesse de l’Aube is undeniably beautiful, but its pricing makes the already exorbitant and frankly more distinctive Chinatown look like a bargain at about $200 US for 100 ml. Promesse de l’Aube is nice, but it’s not that nice. Granted, the Parfums MDCI bottle is pretty cool, but then Chinatown has a nice bottle, too. And if you’re serious about peach in a chypre context, there’s always Mitsouko. Even the 1 oz. Mitsouko parfum is far less costly than this Parfums MDCI offering.
Simply lovely. A fresh, feminine, blended oriental floral that has a slight chypre feel to the top half of it thanks to the tinkly bright bergamot and mandarin top notes, which feel a little green and nicely bitter. No mossiness or overt woodiness in the base, though, so not strictly speaking a chypre, but the top part of this scent does have that classic chypre feel. Taken as a whole, this scent comes off as a classic floral oriental, in the grand old French classical tradition, with perhaps a hint of chypre for added interest in the first movement.
The first hour or so is similar to Enlevement au Serail from the same house, having in common a brightly hesperidic start and a jasmine in the early heart. However, Promesse feels much brighter and "younger" overall. It is less serious, less deep/brooding, and thus perhaps a little less passionate than Enlevement. It is a joyful and optimistic perfume, one to put a smile on your face, with that irresistible citrusy top and jasmine and ylang evoking sunshine. I find I like the first half of this perfume the best. It is beautiful, sunny, joyful, but not facile or giddy in any way - this is very solidly constructed.
The base is less exciting and distinguished than the top notes and heart, and tapers off quite a bit. I sense a tiny bit of sandalwood in the base, which lends a vaguely creamy feel, but that note could have been amped up much more, and I am missing that gorgeous smell of real sandalwood. The tonka and vanilla make it quite sweet, which is not to my personal preference, but I appreciate that the citrus fruits remain all the way through and serve to temper the sweetness of the vanilla and tonka.
However, between this and Enlevement au Serail, I prefer Enlevement by quite a large margin. Why? Enlevement is deeper, more passionate, and lushly dark. It has a complicated, slightly broody presence that I like. Also, although Promesse is very lovely and pretty, it is also a wee bit too safe a floral for me. It has been compared quite a bit to 31 Rue Cambon, and I agree on some points, or perhaps the general feel, but 31 Rue Cambon is drier and more multi-faceted than this, and has more of a chypre feel at the base, which I appreciate. With Promesse, all the loveliness is revealed up front, and at the base, it is quite sweet/creamy/vanillic, and honestly could do with a bit more woodiness or moss to provide heft. But that is a bit nitpicky of me. This is a lovely blended floral oriental that is still streets ahead of most of the florals released on the designer market these days. The quality of the raw materials, you sense, is fabulously high. MDCI is a classicist firm in the grand French tradition, and you can see that here, in the solidly classicist feel of this perfume. But in terms of price per ml? Yikes, way over priced. In this category, I would plump for 31 Rue Cambon over this if voting with my wallet.
A dry fruity chypre that on my skin has more in common with chalk than rose, peach or any of the ingredients listed above.
Extremely light and very much a non-scent to my nose. Hay comes to mind, but it's less expensive to roll in the real thing than pay $250 for a bottle to smell like it.
The first minutes are an achingly lovely dawn of molten gold.
Sharing the leading peach note with Enlèvement au Sérail, Promesse is fruitier up top and sweeter at base and overall more vivacious, less creamy, and with a subtle inky bitterness that takes it in to chypre territory. The risk with both this and Enlèvement is that so many other fragrances, in lesser hands and with stingier budgets, want to be just like them, so there's the risk of familiarity breeding contempt. But if you think this is an overpriced version of something you've smelled elsewhere, try sniffing them side by side. Prepare yourself for an 'Allegory of the Cave'-type revelation.