Cabochard by Gres (1959)
I hate to say this, because I want so much to love Bandit and Cabochard, both legendary green leather chypres, but they are both almost too chemical and harsh for my nose. Every time I’ve taken a whiff, wanting my damndest to fall in love, I begin to get allergic reactions, my nasal passages declare war, fortifying themselves by shutting down. And I begin to sneeze.
This is no way, in other words, to begin an affair.
But more than that, perhaps there is something cliche in this day and age about the whole Stevie Nicks “leather and lace” formulation. Maybe being a tough lady can be broadcast with the most over-the-top “feminine” notes? Does she have to say one thing (flowers) and mean another (leather, tobacco, isobutyl quinoline, galbanum)? This dialectic seems stuck in the ’40’s and ’50s, when these scents originated.
I am beginning to have an appreciation for scents that are either straightforwardly feminine or perhaps signify a femininity that does not refer to masculinity (like Germaine Cellier’s perfume for Balenciaga,La Fuite Des Heures or Fleeting Moment). This perfume, unlike Bandit and Jolie Madame, seems to tell a woman’s story “in her own words,” with notes that refer to the kitchen, the countryside, and to classic perfumery. (I took a whiff from a friend’s virtually empty bottle and await my bottle via eBay, but I can see how this scent isn’t so “defensively” tough.)
In the end, I surprise myself by saying this, but I think, like a dominatrix with a whip and a scowl, Cabochard and its predecessor Bandit doth protest too much.
Top notes: Aldehydes, citrus, fruit and spice accents
Heart notes: Jasmine, rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, orris
Base notes: Patchouli, amber, vetiver, castoreum, moss, musk
(please note: Haarman & Reimer guide does not list galbanum or isobutyl quinoline as notes for Cabochard although that harsh accord is present in the vintage)