Tuesday, 13 May 2014

5 Rare Guerlains in 5 Days (Series 3) - Day II: Cachet Jaune

1937 marks the year perfume heir Jean-Paul Guerlain was born... the baby boy who was to grow into the man who would be the fourth successor to the title of Master Perfumer at Maison Guerlain. It is alleged that Cachet Jaune - a Jacques Guerlain creation - was created as a gift for Jean-Paul's mother the very same year. Produced solely in an eau de cologne concentration and presented in the now-iconic watchface-style 'flacon montre' (later used to house a variety of Guerlain eaux de colognes), it is fascinating to discover that contemporary Guerlain perfumer Thierry Wasser and his assistant, Frederic Sacone have reprised Cachet Jaune for visitors to experience at the Guerlain boutique in Paris, in pure parfum form.

The author never had the honour of sniffing the somewhat diaphanous eau de cologne, but Cachet Jaune the parfum has immediate presence. A brisk aromatic green flight of rosemary and citrus rush over the receptors when this is first applied to skin... it feels verdant and succulent to the nose. A candy-like undercurrent of vanilla shifts the parfum's flight from a 'cologney' treatment, to something more saccharine... one's mind can't help but wander back along the Guerlain timeline and recall the pastry-like deliciousness of L'Heure Bleue, but here - albeit somewhat cursory - there is a sensation of delicious, zesty lemon curd. But all at once, just as one starts to succumb to it's ambrosial gourmand qualities, a titanic note of carnation shifts forward, pressing up from below with its heart-swelling combustable warmth and peppery prickle of spices... it is carnation in profusion; a multitude of crepe-like ruffled petals releasing their bold, commanding perfume.

This astonishing carnation is underpinned by signature Guerlain florals (jasmine, iris and rose, which indeed feature heavily in the Guerlain DNA)... but a generous measure of musk at its core pulls the composition away from a resolutely feminine bouquet and gives rise to a coarser, more physical facet. These delightful components simmer over a classic Guerlain foundation comprising amber, vanilla and tonka.

After some hours, as the last remaining molecules of perfume evaporate from skin, I crave the sweet aromatic spiced floral aspects that were so abundant in the beginning. I long for those generous sunny hues that seduced my nose - as it did Jean-Paul's mother's - so many decades ago.

Such a pity that Cachet Jaune never appeared resurrected next to Vega and Sous le Vent in their most recent incarnations, as was originally intended. For lovers of carnation, and for those simply hankering for a unique olfactory snapshot of the 1930's, Cachet Jaune has it in spades.

Tomorrow's Review: Fleur Qui Meurt (1901)

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