Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises : Perfume Review

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Turkish_delight1

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises always makes me think of trying rose rahat lokum for the first time in Istanbul. Amid the marketplace, with its diverse noises, rapidly spoken sentences of bargaining partners, endless stream of people, clinking of cups containing dark tea, smells of cumin, fenugreek and grilled kebabs, the sensual sweetness of rose scented delicacies stands out as a vibrant memory. Whether it was really the most amazing thing I have tasted hardly matters.

Gourmandises, created by Yann Vasnier in 2004, is a fragrance that embodies both a concept of travel via scent and of abstract dessert. For all of its sweet notes (praline, bitter almonds, rose jam), it is not a conventionally gourmand fragrance. It does not smell of any particular dessert, but its dark sweetness with a somber, rich rose note hints at the presence of a mouthwatering confection. It opens up on a lush red rose heated by the sun. Rose petals are then immersed into sugar syrup, which is underscored by saffron. Saffron is what conjures a vision of jalebi, a North Indian dessert of golden fritters soaked in saffron syrup—a delectable interplay between crispy exterior with the soft spongy center. Shedding its radiant sweetness, Gourmandises caramelizes into a darker, spicier composition.

The drydown offers a whisper of my memory of rahat lokum, its sinful sweetness folded into the opulence of rose. Creamy richness embellished with sugared rose petals and bitter almonds is very enticing. Suddenly, I envision myself in Poona shopping for a sari—the rolls of brocaded silk and lavishly embroidered georgette are unfolded in quick succession. Next door is a halwai shop, the scents of its sweet offerings reaching the fabric store. Sumptuous color of silk, shimmer of gold embroidery, fragrance of almond fudge and rose syrup soaked milk balls are blurred in a mélange of sensory images that both overwhelm and mesmerize me.

Gourmandises is certainly a sweet fragrance, however what keeps it from becoming cloying is a beautiful medicinal tinge of saffron. A small amount suffices to be embraced by this comforting and sensual composition.

Keiko Mecheri line is available at Barneys New York, Fourseasons, Luckyscent, Neiman Marcus, and The Perfume Shoppe.

Photo: rose rahat lokum, lannicesnyman.com.

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21 Comments

  • parislondres: What a gorgeous review dear V!!
    This transported me to India. How I love hot and well made jalebis with icecream…..

    I did try this creation of Yann’s and still have some samples sent by kind friends and now I am off to test it again because of your review.

    Hope you are well sweetie. Have a great day.

    xoxo September 7, 2005 at 2:52am Reply

  • Anjali: You have the most amazing way with words Victoria. I am not a large fan of Gourmandises (the saffron in it did awful things on my skin) but I loved reading your wonderfully synesthetic review nonetheless!

    And oh…jalebi…I would kill to be in Chandi Chawk right now and pick one up straight from some shady little stall on the street. The jalebi one gets here in America are such pale imitations! September 7, 2005 at 2:57am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, I don´t like Gourmandises that much :( On my skin I could only smell the roses – I didn´t expect it to be foody, but I had imagined something else…Perhaps I should re-test it when the weather gets colder! So far the only KM fragrance I love& own is Loukoum. September 7, 2005 at 7:13am Reply

  • Robin: An enticing review, V — now I will have to try Gourmandises again! September 7, 2005 at 8:36am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, I love jalebis too, especially for breakfast with milk and bananas. However, it is a treat I have not had in a while. The saffron note in Gourmandises is amazing–I have flashes of images from India before my eyes. Of course, paired with rose, it makes for a very special composition.

    How do you like it?
    xoxo September 7, 2005 at 11:08am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anjali, you are right about American jalebis. They are greasy and waxy, redolent of vegetable shortening. I only encountered good ones in Eddison, NJ and Devon Street in Chicago.

    My Chandi Chawk experience was memorable, but rather uncomfortable. It did not help that one person in our group (which was all Indian, save for me) was wearing a spaghetti strapped short sun dress. She was born and raised in the UK, and in that heat it seemed like the sensible thing to wear. Of course, it drew the attention of the entire Old Delhi. Did not hurt that she is a gorgeous girl on top of that.

    Still, now I feel nostalgic and want to return to India. September 7, 2005 at 11:17am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I did not even explore much of Keiko Mecheri line until I tried Gourmandises. I am such a big fan of rose and saffron that it clicked with me immediately. I shall try Loukoum next. I keep hearing how beautiful it is. Thank you for giving me the impetus to do so now! September 7, 2005 at 11:20am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, thank you. On the other hand, I will have to try Fleur d’Osmanthus. :) September 7, 2005 at 11:20am Reply

  • mreenymo: Hmmm…I don’t like Gourmandises that much. It smells like another version of Stella or Ecume de Rose.

    But I sure do love your amazing review of it, V! :)

    Hugs! September 7, 2005 at 12:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear R, I am glad that you liked it. The roses I smelled in India comprise another treasured memory. I even have a few blossoms from that trip–dried and shrunken, but still possessing a bit of their amazing scent. September 7, 2005 at 12:50pm Reply

  • Katie: I am embarrassed to say that I’ve never tried a single thing in the KM line! Your description is so lovely and evocative. I love how scents can transport us through time to some hidden place in our memories. Thanks, V. September 7, 2005 at 1:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I have not tried anything else in the line. I tried only Gourmandises so far, and it has been a wonderful discovery. However, I will be sure to try other fragrances soon.

    Glad that you liked the review! September 7, 2005 at 1:17pm Reply

  • Tania: I haven’t smelled too many Keiko Mecheri scents, but the ones I did smell I didn’t like, for the most part. Oliban was pretty good, but that’s it. I don’t think I ever tried Gourmandises, though, although since I’m not a fan of rose or dessert-type scents, it doesn’t seem like my speed.

    You *are* making me want to grab some sweets at Kalustyan’s, though! September 7, 2005 at 1:25pm Reply

  • Test Subject: Yes, I remember Old Delhi to be quite an experience. As I recall, our tour guide was beaten up! September 7, 2005 at 1:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tania, I would not call Gourmandises a dessert-scent. It is more of an abstract vision. Expressionist take on dessert, if you will. I would not be surprised if you end up liking it. September 7, 2005 at 2:27pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, I do remember you taking that opportunity to hold my hand. Very sly! :)

    Tour guide was beated up, because he did not pay the rickshaw drivers what he promised. Not sure why. It was a matter of a few rupees. September 7, 2005 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Test Subject: Trying not to blush… September 7, 2005 at 4:04pm Reply

  • Linda: Another favorite! It is so beautiful and elegant. Thanks for a great review. You captured the beauty of this fragrance so well. I tried other Keiko Mecheri fragrances, but Gourmandises is the only one I bought. I heard that Genie des Bois (sp?) is similar to Serge Lutens Bois de Violette. Is it true? September 7, 2005 at 4:40pm Reply

  • Diane: What a wonderfully evocative review, darling! My friend’s mother makes incredible jalebi, but she always modestly expresses that nothing beats the kind you get from the stalls in India. Of course, this makes me hunger all the more for my first visit!

    I’ve never tried this scent, as is the case with most of the Keiko line. I will have to remedy this soon though, especially now learning that Vasnier is the nose behind Gourmandises. As for other Keiko scents, I do like Genie des Bois, which is similar to Serge Lutens Bois de Violette except that is far lighter on the cedar. September 7, 2005 at 5:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, I am very glad to hear it. As Diane notes below, Genie des Bois is indeed similar to Bois de Violette. I have to try it now, because BdV is one of my favourite fragrances. Thank you for alerting me to something else in KM line. September 7, 2005 at 7:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear Diane, I keep deciding to take up jalebi making as my next project. I thought that I have reached the heights with my puran poli, but there are more challenges ahead. Of course, I will keep you updated on the outcome of this endeavour.

    I would imagine you liking Gourmandises, because the rose note is done really well (not a fresh blooming rose, but a caramel coated rose, without being either cloying or foody). I have difficulty capturing the essence of the fragrance, because from the description and the notes it might seem like something very foody, yet it is not at all. September 7, 2005 at 7:55pm Reply

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