Thursday, December 15, 2011

Parfums MDCI Ambre TopKapi: fragrance review

More of a straight fresh masculine than a languid unisex, more of an hesperidic-rich mock-amber than the stupendous orientalia of the brick & mortar of the real TopKapi palace, Ambre TopKapi, the first masculine fragrance by niche perfumery Parfums MDCI is a puzzling case of onomatopoeia.The fragrance "sounds" like an expletive in a foreign language.

Perfumer Pierre Bourdon is at least as famous as Ernest Beaux for super-dosaging an ingredient with a very distinctive odour profile in a best-selling fragrance: For Beaux it was the chain of aliphatic aldehydes in Chanel No.5, for Bourdon it was dihydromyrcenol in Cool Water. It seems like Bourdon has made a habit of this: Ambre TopKapi, although classified as a woody-spicy, is suffused with the cool citrusy aluminum blade that is dihydromyrcenol; boosting the freshness of the citrus notes (which veer more into pineapple fruitiness than the classic Eau de Cologne bergamot ambience of old) and incising the spiciness of its heart (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, basil, lavender and thyme, all essences with a bracing, stimulating quality). The fresh feel is one that resembles part shampoo remnants, part chlorine-mopped counters, part woody cologne for men and it's this atmosphere that characterises the duration of the fragrance on skin; oscillating between dusty cool and sweetish, never really giving a straight-shooting answer.

Not much warmth or languor is to be met in the drydown and it's interesting to see that the fragrance doesn't really last as I expected, despite the presence of heavyweights listed in the official notes (musk, vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss). The problem with Ambre TopKapi coming out in 2003 out of a niche line is that in a market full with clones of Cool Water it ends up smelling generic, even though it's masterfully blended and retains the same coherent character from start to finish.

Notes for MCDI Ambre Topkapi:
Bergamot, grapefruit, pineapple, melon, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, basil, thyme, lavender, oak moss, vetiver, sandalwood, rosewood, leather, Darjeeling tea, amber, musk, vanilla, jasmine and violet.

Ambre TopKapi retails for 250$ for 60ml and the price can rise to 610$ for the bust edition (same fragrance, same size, with a Roman bust on the cap made of Limoges porcelain)

Related reading on PerfumeShrine: Parfums MDCI Peche Cardinal, Masculine fragrance reviews


  1. Love MDCI! Isn't their Invasion Barbare a masculine? It's incredible.

  2. K,

    indeed. They have quality stuff.

    This one reviewed on this space is probably touching my sensitive nerve ;-)

  3. Hey, we all like what we like and don't what we don't. Totally OK! Haven't tried this one, but doesn't sound like something I would like either...

  4. L,

    very true.
    It's not that I don't like it. It's that objectively seems similar to other things on the market, which makes a niche effort a bit less of a success in what it supposedly sets out to do. ;-)
    Some of the rest are stellar.


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