When you’re in the mood for a full on, no holds barred, gourmand fragrance then nothing else will do. So come with us to the nearest cake shop and stick your nose into this fragrant confection which sees layers of whipped cream collide with sweet and crumbly nutty cakes.
Chestnut, Chantilly cream, cumin seed oil, tuberose, cypress, geranium, tonka bean, milky musks, vanilla.
One of the biggest defining characteristics of Masque Milano fragrances is the intensity with which they imbue their perfume. It’s scarcely possible to try a Masque fragrance without remarking on the sheer will of each scent. Given the amount of polite and ultimately forgettable fragrances on the market, this forcefulness is a good thing, but it means that Masque scents are likely to be love or hate for a lot of people. It’s difficult to imagine people being left on the fence about any of their line!
Of the Masque fragrances sampled thus far, Madeleine is one of their quieter offerings if viewed in the round, but the opening bears all the hallmark intensity of a standard Masque scent. Madeleine opens with a flurry of sweet cakey notes and nuttiness. It is the fragrance equivalent of opening the oven as the hot cakes are baked to perfection and ready to come out. You can almost smell that granular texture as if you have zoomed in to be close up to the interior of the cake; they are golden and moist, just crumbly enough to melt in the mouth but never dry.
First, a dense, dry-but-oily nuttiness surrounds you, then a dry-crumbly cakey texture. The nuttiness is a chestnut accord and it seems to be marked out from other nuts by being less green or earthy than hazelnut, less sharp than Brazil, and less almondy than, well, almond. There’s a sweet, fleshiness about the nut we find here, it is yielding and warm, and it mingles well with the other ingredients giving the impression of different layers and components of the cake.
A ribbon of lemon floats past, even a hint of something which feels coconutty, and these facets are all tumbled into the cake crumbs. As soon as you spray Madeleine you will have no doubt that this is a truly gourmand scent and it is one of those fragrances which is both realistic and moreish in that genre. Madeleine beckons you to have “just another one and another and another” but thankfully the “anothers” here are sniffs rather than bites.
There is no getting away from the fact that Madeleine is a sweet fragrance, and doubtless that will mean that it isn’t for everyone. For those who enjoy a gourmand though there is something unashamedly satisfying about the way that the scent delivers that cake hit – it does indeed feel as if it would be one of those scents you could sniff in order to persuade yourself that you didn’t actually need to eat a piece of cake.
Once the scent has properly settled and found its stride, a little more of the creaminess comes through, but this is cream spiked with vanilla to bring another layer to the olfactive confection being assembled before our very noses.
Cumin on the notes list may well scare some people off, because in substantial measure it can smell sweaty or dirty, but here it is quiet and low down in the mix giving a thrum of warmth in the composition. It can either evoke the sense that the cakes are still warm from the oven, or that you are catching the faintest hint of the baker as they toil in the kitchen. The cumin certainly never becomes a dirty or overbearing guest in the composition.
The final phase of Madeleine is where the olfactive bait and switch takes place, but the way that it does this really elevates what it is like to wear the scent. For the first hour or so it is a sweet, cakey gourmand and then suddenly the tuberose starts to pop. The transition from cake to tuberose is seamless, but before you know it, the fragrance has stopped being quite so naive and is now a rather elegant tuberose backed with milky musks, vanilla and tonka. This is most noticeable if you catch a whiff of the perfume in the sillage rather than if you smell it up close on your skin, but it is one of the things which makes this fragrance memorable; that evolution from something easy and youthful, to something rather more grown up.
The shift in the emphasis of Madeleine as a fragrance feels like an appropriate maturation of the scent, rather than a gimmicky titillation, but it is a clever thing to do. Had the scent stayed firmly in the cake-gourmand that it established at the beginning, it wouldn’t have had the versatility that it does with that more elegant tuberose note. Add that into the mix and suddenly you have a fragrance which will appeal to the gourmand lovers but also to the tuberose lovers too. It elevates the scent from being something that you would likely only wear with sweatpants and a messy bun, to being something you could wear to the office, or for a lunch date, on holiday or in the depths of winter.
Madeleine serves up glorious confectionary vibes, but with this more sophisticated twist. It’s a gourmand which, if not fully grown up, is definitely able to make its own way in the world and yet isn’t afraid to have a little fun along the way.
The other stuff
The perfumer for Madeleine is Fanny Bal.
The longevity of the fragrance was around four or five hours following application, with it lingering on as a skin-scent for a while longer. At first, for the initial hour or so, Madeleine projects to at least handshake distance, but once it starts to reduce, it calms down quickly and for the rest of the wear it hovers at hugging distance or just on the skin.
We’ve previously reviewed Ray-Flection by Masque Milano.
Masque Milano are an Italian brand who started cooking up fine fragrances in 2010, launching their first range in 2013. The brand is the product of the friendship of Alessandro and Ricardo, who bring a wide variety of influences and inspiration to the brand’s concepts.
Masque offer bold fragrances which have a significant following in the fragrance community. They aren’t scents that everyone will like but they are veritably bursting with character, so find one that you love and it is almost certain to become a signature scent.
Madeleine is one of three fragrances which currently make up the La Donne di Masque collection for the brand, the other two being Dolceacqua and Petra. These stereotypically feminine scents with their pretty little names and inoffensive descriptions feel a bit like a cynical marketing gimmick designed to appeal to the buyer who hasn’t yet cottoned on to the fact that all perfume is for anyone regardless of gender. We’d urge you to judge the fragrance on its merits alone and try and put the frilly marketing to one side when you do; it feels a little 1996 and we’ve hopefully come along since then.
We were kindly gifted a sample of Madeleine by Bloom Perfumery London and we thank them for their generosity.