Robert Piguet : Fracas

Created by : Germaine Cellier (reworked by Aurélien Guichard)

Date : 1948

Genre : Buttery tuberose

Concentration : Eau de parfum

Do you think Picasso loved women?  The literature says he didn’t.  As for prostitutes I think he loathed them because he desired them.  Life is like that… we seem to hate what we can’t live without.  Look at these beauties in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (originally titled The Brothel of Avignon) with their bare breasts, long flowing hair and curves.  From across a dimly-lit room, they might appear quite appealing but as one gets closer… I’m not so sure.  And what of those two on the right.  Are those African masks or how he sees their faces?  Even today one wonders… why?  The genius of Picasso shocks even today when we feel we have pretty well seen everything.

I thought of this painting when I heard Chandler Burr refer to Fracas, Germaine Cellier’s take on tuberose.  He describes tuberose as “almost a flower with claws”.  Chandler is so right about tuberose and yet so many people I introduce Fracas to love it!  It’s big and buttery and delicious but it’s missing subtlety.  I’m thinking that tuberose is best when mixed with other notes as in Estée Lauder’s über-pretty Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia or even Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Fragile which seems to have other flowers like jasmine and orange blossoms mixed in.  To my nose, Fragile smells more like a bouquet than Fracas even though they both have many of the same notes.

Those who read me regularly know that I wanted to love Fracas.  The truth is that I actually like Fracas but from afar because as I get closer… ouch!  It’s all the clichés of tuberose… over-the-top and indolic and with a big rubber note.  And it’s so overpowering!  I don’t wear Fracas, it wears me.

But that Germaine Cellier… you’ve got to hand it to her!  She was the real deal, wasn’t she?  All these years later, we are still talking about her masterpiece and we’re still comparing new tuberose perfumes to her milestone fragrance.  Fracas is big, bold and beautiful… but it’s not for me.

Have a nice week everyone.

Image : Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) by Picasso

Leave a comment


  1. I’ll admit, this can be hard to love…but give it time, and you will eventually come around.

    ps – I prefer the parfum, only because it can be dabbed…spraying any Cellier creation can be lethal!

  2. Anonymous

     /  July 30, 2014

    I remember liking Fracas in the 90s. Whatever has happened since the reformulation? It has a watered down, slightly bitter cast to it now. It also doesn’t last. I never found this perfume to be overpowering as many seem to, even in past formulations. Buttery, heavy tuberose and gardenia, yes, but never “in your face” or too much. On me it always stayed very close to the skin. I wish it stilled smelled the way it used to in days of yore – I miss it.

    • Hello and thank you very much for this comment! I have no idea how it used to smell. I have the modern reformulation by Aurélien Guichard in my collection… but thanks for the historical perspective. It must have been something!


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