Last week’s discussion of sweet fragrances inspired me to stop by the Laura Mercier counter. Of all the cosmetics lines, Laura Mercier seems to be most known for gourmand perfume. Amber, vanilla, spices, sandalwood and soft musk infuse the line's fragrances. I was hoping to sample the latest, Lumière d'Ambre — I still regret not buying a bottle of the limited edition Ambre Passion Velvet — but it hadn’t arrived yet. So instead I tried the fragrance that launched Laura Mercier’s perfume line, L’Heure Magique.
Perfumers James Bell and Cecile Krakower developed L’Heure Magique in 2001. It has notes of pikake, bergamot, white rose buds, pink geraniums, soft spices, sandalwood, amber and cashmere musk. Although L’Heure Magique is warm and cozy like the rest of the Mercier fragrance line, it’s probably the least gourmand of the fragrances I’ve tried.
When first sprayed from the tester bottle, L’Heure Magique's pikake (another name for jasmine sambac) sings bright and clear, and its tingle is more herbal than citrusy. Right away, “cashmere musk” appears as the fragrance’s backbone. To me, the cashmere musk smells like ripe sandalwood wrapped in velvety, suede-like musk and powder.
For a while, L’Heure Magique plays along in a lovely duet of sharper, buzzing floral notes against soft base notes. After an hour or so, the base notes take the spotlight, and L’Heure Magique’s sweet, fuzzy body with just a whiff of plastic and soap shavings glows on skin all day long. Really. This fragrance has remarkable staying power.
With its blanketing of cashmere musk, L’Heure Magique is comforting but dated, firmly fixed at the turn of the 21st century along with ultrasuede couches and Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel hairdo. (That’s not entirely bad. Give me an oversized ultrasuede chaise, a cat, and a stack of novels, and I’ll see you next week.) The fragrance is built for simplicity and comfort. It doesn’t try to wow you with complexity and a surprising take on beauty. Instead, L’Heure Magique seems to aim to make you smell warm and pretty, and I think it succeeds.
Everyone from real estate agents to soccer moms could wear a spritz of L’Heure Magique comfortably. That said, the fragrance feels targeted to the khaki capri pants and pearl-wearing set. Aspiring burlesque performers might want to keep looking. I’ll pass, too, although I appreciate how well L’Heure Magique succeeds in spinning an aura of safe, sweet warmth.
Laura Mercier L’Heure Magique Eau de Parfum comes in a satisfyingly hefty 50 ml bottle and costs $75. It’s available online or at any Laura Mercier cosmetics counter.