We were sitting in André’s kitchen as we were looking at his recently-retired perfume collection. André seemed quite detached from it all. He had moved on… and when he showed me some beautiful enamaled copper plates from the 60s and 70s, he was obviously impassioned. As I perused the collection for things to purchase we spoke about Fracas, which I already had. Andre said, “I wanted to love Fracas.” “So did I”, I responded. And then there was a silence. I sat down. Neither of us spoke. We were both lost in our thoughts. I remember thinking… I should go home now.
When I got home, I opened my magic closet and I realized that there were several perfumes that I bought unsniffed that I just WANTED to love. Whether it was the creator that attracted me or the process or the myth, there were some perfumes that I had decided would be my signature perfume before I smelled them… only to put them back on the shelf after a couple of outings. What’s odd is that NOT loving them feels like a personal failure. If these were masterpieces, why didn’t I love them? Here are three that come to mind.
Fracas by Robert Piguet
Germaine Cellier’s tuberose marvel is referenced every time a new tuberose perfume comes out. It’s the standard. But I almost gag when I smell it. That butter note grabs me by the throat and I just can’t wear it! And yet, many of my friends LOVE Fracas. Just yesterday at a perfume lecture, the very first woman I handed the Fracas scent strip to oohed and aahed. “What is THIS?” I responded, “Uh… Fracas.” “Oh, it’s beautiful” she said as she scribbled notes on her handout. Must be me, I thought.
Chamade by Guerlain
I know that Chamade is studied by students wanting to become perfumers because of its extremely long development… over many, many hours so they say. I smell the same field flower fragrance from the beginning to the end… nothing special. In fact, of my many perfumes it seems to me the one that evolves the least. Maybe it’s my skin? My nose? I wanted to love Chamade… but it didn’t work out.
Insensé by Givenchy
I love floral scents and I resent that there are so few available for men. And so when I read that Insensé by Givenchy was one of the very few florals for men created in the early 90s, I decided right there and then that it would be one of my favourite scents. But when I first wore it I thought… This is a floral? Where are the roses? The jasmine. Ylang ylang? I’m getting mostly herbal on a woody base… anything BUT floral. I wanted to love this one too… but I didn’t and I still don’t. Ormonde Jayne Man is a much better floral… masculine, handsome and beautifully wearable.
It’s interesting, though, that I would never sell them. In fact, I still have an emotional connection to Fracas, Chamade and Insensé… it’s difficult to explain. Maybe I’m hoping that one day I’ll fall in love with them, only this time knowing what they’re really all about. Love is funny that way.
Next week, I’ll get back to perfume reviewing.
Have a nice week everyone!
Top image : The Confession (1896) by Sir Frank Dicksee