“Promesse de l’aube” has to be one of the most beautiful names for a perfume. The promise of dawn: it seems so full of hope, so revitalizing, as if life has suddenly sprung anew. A rebirth of both man and his world.
And it also reminds me that I was very taken with Greek mythology in my early youth and I’ve never forgotten the name of the Greek goddess of dawn: Eos with the rosy fingers, a beautiful blonde with a robe made of saffron strands, a glittering tiara and dress sewn with flowers. It is a romantic, pastoral image, and even a bit naive, but there is a catch: as punishment for taking Ares to bed once, Aphrodite has cursed Eos to be under the perpetual influence of sexual desire. Not so naive anymore, n’est ce pas? I always thought those Gods of the Mount Olympus knew how to have fun.
I could ramble on about the associations my mind makes about dawn and its promises, but I would’ve missed the one that has actually served as inspiration source for the perfume itself: the autobiographical novel of Romain Gary, in which the maternal figure plays a pivotal role. I’m an ignorant on many levels and I was completely oblivious to the existence of this novel and its author, one of the most celebrated of France’s writers, but life works in mysterious ways, and it took a perfume and its name to add another layer to my modest knowledge. This is one of the things I love most about “smelly waters”: how it’s not about the fragrance itself that much anymore, but about the search that ensues regarding concepts, historical eras, art currents, one’s emotions and memories. It’s a twisted, a bit haphazard journey with a lot of meandering, and I enjoy this kind of education. It is slow, it takes its own sweet, chaotic time and somehow, at the right moment, all the pieces of the puzzle will fit.
But now let’s go back to MDCI’s own Promesse de l’aube that to my mind embodies a cross between the youthful image of Eos and the image of a determined, ambitious woman rising courageously to life’s challenges as Romain Gary’s mother seems to have done. The perfume manages to do that by laying a chypre’s breath over a semi-gourmand fruity floral. Actually the brand presents Promesse as a floriental, but I’ll be honest and say that the oriental vibe was pretty much absent from my skin.
Promesse starts juicy, vibrant and bright. The bergamot, with its floral aspect and a much less tart, citric profile than lemon, lends a soft, golden shine, like light dappled through green foliage. Although not listed, I can sense peach or maybe apricot, and rose, imparting sweetness and a warm coloring to the fragrance. Swirls of buoyant orange and pink merge happily in a psychedelic vision of sunrise. It feels panoramic, there’s a kind of sweeping majesty to the perfume’s allure, without being stuffy and heavy or aloof. It is glossy, diffusive, energetic, modern. The sweet fruity floralcy of the beginning is carried through the heart with the help of a honeyed, vanillic jasmine and ylang ylang, both in their cleaned up, non indolic guises. Promesse de l’aube keeps billowing effluves of elegant florals with a vibrancy evident throughout the entire duration of the fragrance, including the drydown. The supposedly balsamic, oriental trait doesn’t register with me, unfortunately, but there is a restrained woody breeze about the final stages. What I wrote so far certainly confirms the floral category to which the scent is ascribed. The gentle chypre shadow over the contemporary, smooth sheen of the florals is harder to associate with specific notes, but it’s there, in the shape of a delicately musty whiff, difficult to pinpoint but definitely present. It’s a dark green, humid effect, a bit reminiscent of freshly turned soil.
It is a beautiful fragrance, with a shimmering, sparkling shape, impeccably orchestrated, both youthful and sophisticated, modern and classical. It makes me imagine a white marble Greek temple, all symmetrical beauty and flawless proportions, set against the dawn colored skyline. There’s a young woman playing hide and seek among the tall colonnades, bright eyed and bushy tailed, the picture of health and optimism. Something makes her stop for a few moments, maybe the breathtaking view or a passing thought, and her poise and elegance, the straight line of her back hints at the worldly, strong lady she’s going to become.
Master Francis Kurkdjian has created an agile floral chypre, poised confidently halfway between the exhilarating character of modern, effervescent florals and the subversive solemnity of the classical chypre. Give it a try this spring. You might discover it’s perfect.
Promesse de l’aube notes: bergamot, mandarin, lemon, ylang ylang, jasmin, sandalwood, tonka, and vanilla.