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.