Friday, March 19, 2010

L'heure Bleue

The citrus topnotes must have faded on this, because it's just the base now, all camphor-cream smelling aniseseed, musty flowers and a dry down that gets woodier and sweeter as it goes.

People say L'Heure Bleue is powdery, but it's not like the giant powder-bomb that Habanita is. I think they mean more that L'Heure Bleue smells like old-fashioned perfumed powder, and has a texture like wearing powder. It lays close to the skin, like the finish of a powder, and just barely kicks up this soft scent. It has the effect of smelling like it might be your own skin, the way it lays so close and subtle. But it doesn't smell like skin at all. It's very beautiful, delicate.


They still make Fracas and you can easily get a small eau de parfum roll-on for under 20 dollars at Sephora, which is kind of excellent. I've always liked this massive white floral (mostly tuberose) scent, but I only wear it once in a while because it has a screechy, in your face quality that is hard for me to pull off.

I saw this same little vial of the parfum at the antique mall for a song so I bought it and thought I'd give the vintage, pre-reformulation scent a chance. What a huge difference, holy shit.

Vintage Fracas is well-rounded, goes DEEP. I've noticed that most vintages have this quality, using now-banned aromachemicals to create depth and roundness. It's the difference between grape juice and red wine. They both come from grapes, but you're not mistaking one for the other. Fracas was made by the famous gender-bending perfumer Germaine Cellier, who was notorious for using 'bases' in her creations. A lot of houses have a House base. Guerlain has its vanilla-bergamot-lilac Guerlinade, old Caron's have their dark Mousse de Saxe, etc, but Germaine Cellier used handfuls of pre-made bases in each of her perfumes. This was seen as a sort of cheap cheat used by amateurs, but the effect was deep, round, multi-layered perfumes. Modern reproductions of her perfumes are shallow at best, because her ingredients lists were pages long, and a lot of these bases either don't exist anymore, contain banned aromachemicals or were just plain forgotten. It's a pity.

New Fracas has this knifing-your-brain accord that kills me, reminds me of the way cleaning chemicals smell sharp and dangerous, bleachy. The whole scent starts off with this BUTTERY, heavy cream Gardenia and Orange Blossom, and then knife-knife! The dry down gets a little woody, but it doesn't develop much past the knifing and the woodiness.

Vintage Fracas starts out with that same buttery white florals accord and just keeps GOING. Like the thick, soft thighs of a girl parting, it just keeps getting creamier and richer and muskier and deeper and sweeter. After a while, it's like eating too much of a good, rich dessert, though it's not a gourmand in any way. Finally, there IS a steel-blade of an accord that cuts through the richness. It's like the sea salt on a buttery caramel, just enough of something to make the sweetness bearable. In vintage Fracas, the note is a clean, bright lily-of-the-valley. Sharp and sleek like being cut by a thin metal wire, it saves the whole scent from turning into a creamy, oversweet melt-down.

It's gorgeous and sultry and voluptuous and I'm already looking at my little parfum and mourning the fact that it can't last forever. SAD.

I'll be back with vintage Emeraude and others later.

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