Saturday, July 25, 2015
Vintage Cabochard de Gres-Review
Having recently reviewed Bandit, I thought it appropriate to say a few things about Cabochard as they're often mentioned in the same breath. I'm not sure that's a fair comparison, though they do share a leathery/smoky sort of base. If anything, it reminds me of Aramis (which I just learned makes sense as it was the same perfumer Bernard Chant. He was also responsible for Estee, but I guess we can forgive him that. You can't always hit it out of the ballpark. Thanks, Google!).
Oakmoss, leather, and tobacco aren't for everyone. Twenty years ago I would have insisted they're not for me, I would have protested at such extravagant use of oakmoss. I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Perhaps it is a case of absence making the heart grow fonder as oakmoss has been regulated out of modern perfumes, or my nose has matured-either way I am now thoroughly converted just in time to see the stuff's use discontinued. I haven't smelled the new Cabochard, and I'm not sure I wish to.
Cabochard is categorised as a "green" perfume, which I suppose it is given the amount of vetiver, tarragon, and sage in it-but the warmth of sandalwood and patchouli combined with the cold orris root and geranium keeps it from smelling like a freshly mowed lawn sprayed with Lysol disinfectant. Cabochard isn't that sort of green (though Cabotine definitely IS). Most reviews put the leather and tobacco as dominant notes, and they're there-but to my nose the dominant note is oakmoss. And then, a bit of musk, oakmoss, and some more oakmoss. Oh hey, how about some oakmoss? Yeah? Well here 'ya go! So yeah, there's a whole hell of a lot of oakmoss in Cabochard. Although described as a feminine perfume I don't see any reason why a man couldn't or shouldn't wear Cabochard. In fact, to modern American perfume sensibilities, Cabochard seems more appropriate on a man. The only "feminine" thing I can find in Cabochard is the vague fruit/coconut notes that tend to appear and fade quickly in about the amount of time it takes to wonder what it was. It has always been my opinion that rose and lemon work better on men anyway.
I'm rather certain the thrift stores I frequent will never present me with a Madame Gres gown, but bottles of vintage formulation Cabochard do frequently turn up.
Cabochard seems like a fragrance that was both behind and ahead of its time. The strong leather chypre fragrances of the 30's and 40's would have made Cabochard seem old fashioned by 1959. What it anticipates (without knowing it) is the unisex fragrance trend that began in earnest with the musks and herbal scents of the 60's. The "big" 80's fragrances owe something to Cabochard as well with the gigantic blast of aldehydes. I won't claim Cabochard is the embodiment of 20th century perfumery, but if you pay attention, nearly all the good points are represented.
I do think, in 2015 United States office culture, Cabochard would be a no-go. Lightly applied perhaps an hour before arriving at work you *might* be able to pull it off, but I could see it being headache inducing even to a perfume lover with all that oakmoss. Chypres need space to roam free like the waves crashing the rocks of a Greek island, which if any of the places I worked in the last 30 years were typical, that does not describe the cubicle hell of modern offices. I only recall one office with an open floor-plan rather like a newsroom, and I still wouldn't have worn Cabochard there. If memory serves, I was deep in love with Innisfree by Fragrances of Ireland at that time, not exactly a quiet scent! But not Cabochard, that would have been too much. Still, you know your office culture better than I, so use your judgement. Cabochard does make a wonderful evening fragrance.
Has anyone tried the most recent reformulation of Cabochard? Please share your impressions.