One Thousand Scents

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tough: Cabochard by Gres


I often say that you can't tell what a scent is going to smell like just by reading the list of notes, and that's usually true, but sometimes you can have a fairly good idea of what you're going to be getting, and Cabochard is the perfect example of this.

Here's one list:

bergamot, mandarin, galbanum, ylang ylang, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, clove, oakmoss, tobacco, musk, iris, sandalwood, vetiver, leather, castoreum, patchouli, labdanum

and here's another (almost the same, but I try to be thorough):

Aldehydes, bergamot, mandardin, galbanum, spice notes: Jasmine, damascene rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, orris: Patchouli, vetiver, castoreum, oakmoss, musk, labdanum, sandalwood.

If you latch onto "galbanum" and "leather", you've got a pretty good sense of Cabochard.

The scent opens with a brilliant flash of citrus notes that last no time at all. They're almost immediately replaced with a dark-green garden courtesy of dry galbanum and a shadowy floral midnote. The shadows are cast by the animal notes (everything but ambergris, which would have sweetened the mix unacceptably), by the patchouli and, most of all, by the leather. Cabochard is, ultimately, all about leather, which threads its way through the entire scent from start to finish.

It is absolutely dry, possibly the driest chypre I've ever smelled. If you can ignore that bow on the bottle, it is also absolutely unisex: if someone told you it was a new men's scent, you wouldn't even think twice. Cabochard is resolutely strange: a late-fifties idea of modernity, resinous (by turns it suggests turpentine and cardboard, gasoline and rubber tires), animalic, severe and uncompromising. It means business.

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