Parfums MDCI Enlevement au Serail / FK No 3 : Perfume Review


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

After first inhaling Enlèvement au Sérail from Parfums MDCI, I envisioned a slender figure wrapped in voluminous furs. The image was rendered in sepia tones, misty and soft, hinting at the tenderness of this classical composition. It immediately evokes the sumptous sensation of the grand French perfumes that makes me feel as if I am gliding across a mirrored ballroom dressed in a silk gown. When a fragrance makes one feel like a princess out of a Tolstoy novel, or perhaps, a Ballets Russes dancer, how can it be ignored?

Alluding to the gorgeous warmth of Rochas Femme and the strartling elegance of Guerlain Mitsouko, Enlèvement au Sérail has a gilded, opulent quality. Its plummy darkness blending the sweetness of ripe fruit and the nutty dryness of autumnal leaves conceals the rich floral heart. The cool chypre elements are contrasted with the effervescence of the oriental motifs. Although the first impression is of langurous softness, Enlèvement au Sérail does not wallow in classical nostalgia. As the composition dries down, it reveals its modern form, which balances weightlessness with delicious heft.

The fact that Enlèvement au Sérail was created by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian did not come at all as a surprise when I first explored Parfums MDCI. There is a certain romanticism inherent in the compositions where Kurkdjian’s fingerprint is quite obvious. I cannot consider Christian Dior Eau Noire without drawing parallels between its magical interplay of notes and the richness of Diego Velázquez’s palette. Dior’s Cologne Blanche is a neoclassical etude. In the same vein, Enlevement au Serail recalls the lavish and exotic stage sets created by Léon Bakst at the turn of the century. Given that I do not hide my own affinity with Romanticism, this aspect of Enlevement au Serail appeals to me very much.

Enlèvement au Sérail (formerly FK No. 3) is a rich composition with excellent tenacity and elegant sillage. It features notes of bergamot, Italian mandarin, ylang-ylang, jasmine sambac, tuberose, Turkish rose, wallflower, patchouli, Indian sandalwood, vanilla and Haitian vetiver.

Painting of the most renowned Ballets Russes dancer Anna Pavlova. Valentin Serov. Anna Pavlova in the Ballet Sylphyde. 1909. The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.



  • aryse: Waouh Victoria…Enlèvement au sérail would be perfect for me if I was Nijinsky directed by Serge Diaghilev in the ballets russes (wonderful time and wonderful show).But, unfortunatly it is not the case…snifff.

    And I am not either Mozart.But, if this perfume joined together so many geniuses, it must be absolutly lovely 🙂 March 13, 2007 at 6:01am Reply

  • Elle: What a beautiful review! This really does invoke the grand French perfumes and was my immediate favorite from that line. Well, am having trouble picking a favorite from them these days, but that was my first. An exquisitely gorgeous, well composed scent. March 13, 2007 at 8:11am Reply

  • March: I am rooting for a review of FK2 (a rose I actually loved) and the Bakouche one… this one was such a gilded, dressed-up fragrance. I opened a couple of the samples recently and was thrilled all over again. How often do you smell something new with that kind of classic beauty? You know I don’t know squat about making perfumes, and maybe it’s an unfair comparison, but I would think that kind of classicism would be more difficult in many ways than the really weird niche stuff. March 13, 2007 at 8:25am Reply

  • Judith: What a beautiful, evocative review! And I do really enjoy this scent. On first try, my favorite was the SB one (something Barbare?) but this was close behind–and I might change on further testing. Must do so soon! March 13, 2007 at 8:57am Reply

  • Flor: Wow! What an amazing review! I look forward to your reviews on the other MDCI perfumes. I haven’t had the opportunity to sniff this one yet, but it sounds like the exact kind of fragrance I could go crazy for. March 13, 2007 at 11:51am Reply

  • Marina: Romanticism! So beautifully put. FK3 is my most favorite of the MDCI scents and one of the most favorites scents in general. I would love to hear your impressions about the other 4. March 13, 2007 at 8:21am Reply

  • violetnoir: I love this fragrance! It’s sumptuos, rich and oh so beautiful.

    Thank you, V, for such a lovely review.

    Hugs! March 13, 2007 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Ina: Your comparison to Mitsouko and Femme is right on! It’s like a modern version of a classic fragrance. Wonderful review! March 13, 2007 at 10:56am Reply

  • Patty: Yup, beautiful review. My favorite is still FK2, the Rose, for reasons that I can’t really can’t figure out, but this one is right behind it for sheer beauty. They did a great job with this entire line. March 13, 2007 at 3:11pm Reply

  • chayaruchama: Gorgeous comparisons for an opulent fragrance.
    I can’t decide between #2 and this- I love them so.
    Classically beautiful and NOT boring. March 14, 2007 at 6:57am Reply

  • Gentiana: R.I.P. Enlevement au Serail… It is discontinued since a few months. … Sigh ! June 10, 2014 at 10:50am Reply

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