Monday, February 16, 2009

Mi Fa by Reminiscence : Perfume Review

Brand identity is a valued concept in today’s market, however sometimes with our in-built motif seeking and pattern recognition capacity we manage to classify and even pigeonhole brands in ways they doubtlessly never intended to be defined. I’ve hardly ever been exposed to any marketing efforts by Reminiscence, but even so, the brand has been irreversibly connected in my mind with a number of images, ideas and concepts. For first, it is a line that is truly niche, continuing to fly under the radar even while it is being offered through big stores such as Douglas. Secondly, it is a line that seems to keep doing its own thing, with utter disregard for what is currently on trend, rendering it slightly bohemian. Further, it is a line that is very clearly youth orientated: the bottles leave no doubt in one’s mind on the issue of the target audience, but a visit to any one of their psychedelically cute boutiques can speedily close the case with overwhelming evidence. Finally, and perhaps most characteristically, Reminiscence is a line charmingly catering to the neo-hippie: the gorgeous, modern, flighty and unconventional hippie muse, folksy and favoring flats over heels, she is a novel translation of the 60’s-70’s model updated for our age.

For me personally, there is one last defining characteristic, harder to pin down and this time pertaining to smell: Reminiscence perfumes all feature a disturbance, a dissonant note or accord that manages to perturb me while at the same time keeps me with my nose glued to my wrist, my interest piqued beyond logic, even while I am bothered. Mi Fa is no exception to this rule. Belonging to a series of perfumes all named after musical notes (the rest of the perfumes in the series are named Do Re, Sol La, Si Do, while the series itself is collectively called “Les Notes Gourmands”) with all of them exploring the gourmand theme, Mi Fa delights even as it disturbs in equal measure. The opening is full of neroli and mandarin zest, with the former being very realistic and the latter juicy sweet and lacking in freshness. Quite heavy, the neroli note does not fly away, but instead remains, as the main theme of the fragrance –namely a delicious, soft, puffy note of marshmallow develops. Candied and sweet, the marshmallow heart smells exactly like the moment you open a bag full of the soft treats and find yourself surrounded by the sugary cloud. Belatedly, fresh notes kick in the background, tampering the sweetness and adding the slightest touch of masculinity: rosemary and lavender, with the merest undercurrent of something marine. Further down the road the gourmand character of Mi Fa intensifies as the aroma of nuts becomes ever more prevalent. I smell the officially listed almond (very marzipan like), but also roasted pistachio. Creamy sweet vanilla joins in the chorus loudly and proudly, underscored by heliotrope with cerise aspects and warm musk. Mi Fa lasts simply forever and remains rather unchanging after having reached this stage until the drydown, many, many hours later (in fact you will probably wake up with it the next day). The drydown is a faint gourmand shadow of cherries and vanilla.

So what is the odd note out? In this case I am sure it will come as a surprise, but it is in fact the neroli, strong and distracting from the fluffy character the rest of the notes present. It does however add something valuable to this gourmand/oriental: It makes it highly appropriate for summer, with its cheerful sunny disposition. Mi Fa is described as childish and mischievous on the official website and I can’t overstate how true this description is. In fact, before ever taking a peak at the website, my very first thought upon smelling the perfume was how childish it was. I find this absolutely delightful: This is definitely a feel-good perfume, with the power to lift mood and spirits. It does bring a smile to my face every time I wear it, and it makes life’s troubles seem not quite so heavy after all. Even though this is a sweet gourmand, it is not heavy or cloying. It has this amazing ‘whipped’ character, this frothy, soft as clouds lightness that rests on the skin like sparkling dusting sugar. Gourmand lovers will rejoice in being able to wear this beautiful fragrance in any weather, hot or cold.

Images: Joss Stone, the neo-hippie poster child. Les Notes Gourmands collection and the Mi Fa bottle, both sourced from


Ines said...

Hey Divina

this sounds interesting, although the candy/marshmallow, even in theory, sounds way too sweet to me, I wonder what exactly would a childish scent smell like. :) Douglas is supposed to open here soon, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. ;)

Linda said...

Dear Divina!
I loved reading your great description: I've never heard of these fragrances but must admit I like the musical theme, and the pretty bottle. I think it would be a lovely choice to take on holiday, or to cheer myself up on a grey day (like today!)

Anonymous said...

Is it at all like Pink Sugar?!

Divina said...

Hi Ines! Childish, mm, I meant it not only brings back memories of childhood with its candied notes, but it also has this air of happy exuberance associated with childhood. It really is a perfume that smells rather *delighted*! Hahah :) Douglas is a total favorite for me. Hope you get one closeby soon!

Divina said...

My dearest Linda, yes it is so cheery! Re: bottle: Oooooh, yes, I'd love to have all of them actually. They look so good together! I think they look even better irl.

Divina said...

Anon, I am afraid I can't answer that, as I've never smelled Pink Sugar. I don't think Aquolina fragrances are offered at all in Europe. At least I've never seen them here or in the other European countries I've visited.