Cabochard Eau de Toilette (Grès)

Few fragrances have endured more criticism than Bernard Chant's Cabochard (1959). It's a midcentury animalic chypre that has seen sixty-three years of shifting social values and cultural norms, yet it remains on shelves. In my opinion, it still smells good. 

Cabochard sits somewhere between Balmain's Jolie Madame (1953) and Guerlain's Chant d'Arômes (1962), but it's most compared to Chant's own Aramis for Men (1966). What do I think it smells like? To me it resembles Jacomo's 1978 feminine, Silences, a super-green floral chypre, but mixed with a hefty splash of Aramis. Silences is largely forgotten, which surprises me because there aren't many perfumes that are greener or eerier. It's evocative of a foggy lakeside morning in April, full of green tall grasses, mosses, and bittersweet wildflowers poking through the verdant murk. Cabochard is suprisingly green and ever-so-slightly more floral, but it's brightened with a massive bergamot, lime rind, and lemon juice accord brushed with Chant's signature fizzy aldehydes. It's nice stuff, and in keeping with the unofficial tradition of old-school feminines, it's eminently wearable for men. 

Has reformulation ruined it? Well, I haven't smelled the original (few people have), but I find little fault with this bowtie EDT version that I'm reviewing. Sure, longevity is brief (five hours), and it's no longer de rigueur to wear it, but it smells like it was made in 1959, and that's good enough for me. Look for either the EDT or the EDP. 


Introducing My New Blog!

Photo as taken by DRs Kulturarvsprojekt
In the past few months I've been tackling a project concerning what is truly my first love in this world, movies! I would like to introduce my new blog of movie reviews, Fontaine's Film Wipe, link here. I will maintain both blogs in the years to come. Spread the word: I also review movies now, both new and old. 


Deauville pour Homme (Michel Germain)

Deauville pour Homme is one of those inexpensive fragrances I've seen a million times on discount shelves, and never thought to buy because it just seemed too cheap to bother with. But the fragrance has seen a revival in popularity in the last few years, due in no small part to The Scented Devil's review, which is an interesting essay on the historical context of Michel Germain's 1999 masculine release. People have come around to DpH, and I join them in finding it to be a sleeper hit. Customers must be buying it in fair numbers for it to remain in production, with exclusive flankers, twenty three years on.

This fragrance is a remarkably beautiful composition for appreciators of powdery-soapy barbershop masculines in the Le 3ème Homme and Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentrée tradition, i.e., dandified floral fougères with orientalist touches. Its brisk lavender and clementine citrus salvo greets the nose in a rush of astringent freshness, tempered by a warmer undercurrent of sage, nutmeg, and cinnamon on the outermost fringes of perceptibility. These notes coalesce around a thyme-like creaminess that gradually gets airier and grayer, until the overall aura emits an abstraction of iris and tobacco, with the sweeter accents of the latter elevating the somber propensities of the former. Lavender survives the opening melee, as it is wont to do in compositions built on fougère accords, and retains a peripheral presence into the far dry-down, as hints of coumarinic duskiness undergird the scent's iris heart. It's all very smooth and easy to read. Deauville never feels abrasive or synthetic, and keeps its expensive shaving foam feel through to the woody-tobacco and talc base five hours down the line.

While I largely agree with SD's review, I diverge a bit in my perception of Deauville's pedigree relative to its competition in the designer realm: I don't find it to be "entry-level" in the least. Quality of materials is as high as those in my Carons, and while the composition is simple, it's just as deft as anything I've smelled by Jacques or Olivier Polge (and better than something like Platinum Égoïste), while the durability of the scent over a day's wear is admirable, with nothing "fuzzing out" into vanilla-crème cliché. I don't find the use of synthetics objectionable if they manage a coherent message. The one Deauville sends says, "I'm a clean-shaven man, and I'm ready to get to work." 


Hummer (Formerly Riviera Concepts, now by AB Diversified Fragrances)

I bought Hummer on the basis of Luca Turin's review in The Guide. He gave it three stars and wrote it's "not bad," and "the random gods of perfumery struck again." He describes it as "a sweet woody lavender," which is exactly what it smells like to me. This is one of the simplest fragrances I've smelled in a while, composed of three discernible notes: lavender, sweet amber, and oakmoss. The amber smells like an extension of the caramellic-grade lavender being used here, and takes the toasted biscuit end of the herb into a sugary direction, without straying into gourmand territory. Whatever moss is in the mix (real or synthetic) gives it a powdery and woody dry-down. 

The most surprising thing about Hummer is how classy it smells. The lavender is reasonably natural, although it's obviously bolstered with synthetics. It isn't loud at all, and wavers in and out of perceptibility, with moments where I smell it on the exhale after failing to detect it on my skin. There's no sclarene or other amplifiers involved. The note is soft, dry, rounded, and warm. Its sweetness gives it a Skin Bracer and Brut-like feel, and overall I associate the profile of Hummer with "barbershop." The nearest thing to it in my collection is Ungaro pour L'Homme II. Avon Tribute is in the same neighborhood, as is Jovan Sex Appeal. They're all more complicated, however. Hummer is far more basic, but this makes it more appealing to me. Good lavender scents are hard to find.