Sometimes it’s interesting to put aside the scent of a fragrance for a minute and focus on its texture. Is it murky and thick like a dark paisley wool throw? Or maybe it’s as diffuse as silk chiffon? The feel of a fragrance can be tight and dry or roomy and almost humid. It can be too dark to parse or nearly seem to shimmer.
As its name advertises, Parfum d’Empire Le Cri de la Lumière throws light like a moonstone. At the same time, it’s as cool and as finely grained as luxury face powder. Something so delicate should crush and fade easily, but Le Cri de la Lumière is a solid number, leading me to yet another comparison: a crystal take on Brancusi’s bird resting on an end table by the window.
Parfum d’Empire’s founder and nose Marc-Antoine Corticchiato created Le Cri de la Lumière Eau de Parfum. Its notes include Florentine iris, Turkish rose, ambrette seed and woods. The fragrance is plumped and honed and deepened with other materials, but these are the notes the perfume house lists and the notes that stand out to me.
Le Cri de la Lumière opens in a rush of steam iron aldehydes and rich iris that quickly pulls back into a clean ambrette on a breath of rose edged with jasmine and, now, just a hint of that delicious iris. (“Ambrette” sounds like a name for an especially cute amber, but it’s actually a seed that used to stand in for musk. These days, synthetic musk is used more often in perfume than ambrette is to do the same job.)
As the iris fades and the ambrette strengthens, Le Cri de la Lumière’s temperature drops. “When I first smelled Le Cri de la Lumière, it reminded me of a Chanel,” Tracy from Fumerie told me when I stopped by the boutique to beg for a sample. I can see that. It feels streamlined and elegant and removed from the mess of daily life.
It also seems to shine from within. Le Cri de la Lumière’s clean tingle radiates from a smooth, tight floral heart with a pulse of opalescent green. Its base is restrained enough that the fragrance floats like an aura. It’s hard to pin down, but present.
Le Cri de la Lumière is also surprisingly persistent for a fragrance with such a light hand. Half the contents of a sample tube at breakfast is still detectable at dinner, although the lovely iris and rose were done by lunch.
All in all, to me Le Cri de la Lumière feels more interested in being admired than loved. I’ve already compared it to a moonstone, luxury face powder, a crystal Brancusi, opals, a classic Chanel and an aura. Let’s toss in another one: a high-end 1930s bathroom with gorgeous tile, a capacious bathtub and miles of chrome. Of course, I love it. But the bathroom I live in has two stained (but fabulous!) kimonos behind the door, a half-burnt candle on the back of the toilet, and a toothbrush glass holding an overblown rose. The whole thing could use a scrubbing. It feels like me, which is something Le Cri de la Lumière doesn't quite do.
Parfum d’Empire Le Cri de la Lumière Eau de Parfum is available in 50 ml. For information on where to buy it, see Parfum d’Empire under Perfume Houses.