ANAIS ANAIS by Cacharel ( 1978 )



For the writer Anaïs Nin, if you dare enter the diluvial self-obsession of her journals, life was a neverending rush of hypersensitivity.  She was  too precious, almost, to live. With complete contempt for the trivialities of daily life,  she survived on her emotions, indulged her impulses and crushed conventions – seducing even her own father on a sudden morbid whim of narcissism. For Anaïs, to be desired was to be alive: without sex, the mirror glass of her soul would shatter. She was sensuous, fragile; huge-eyed.







A woman such as Anaïs, then,  might seem unusual inspiration for an unthreatening perfume such as this – Cacharel’s first fragrance from 1978, a classic that went on to great success in the eighties and remains ever popular today. Yet despite its commercial appeal (she would have been horrified), the scent did in fact succeed in capturing some aspects of this creature’s nympho-purity with its spray of white lilied delicacy. It is a very romantic perfume that inspires devotion in its admirers because few scents are of comparable mood; a scent for women who seek reticence, or almost  studied shyness in perfume: delicate, feminine, and young.



Under the pallid white and pale pink tendresse of the opening chords lie more carnal, shadowy undertones though – veils of musk, patchouli and Russian leather – a dusky quality foreshadowed in the perfume’s original packaging: I have the parfum de toilette concentrée from 1979 in my collection, a wonderful, somewhat eerie dark velvet grey box adorned with creeping flourishes of dark green leaves and pink petals, the scent inside also darker, more ambiguous than the current cleaned up version with its neat, white, perfect-for-bathroom cylindrical flacon.















Anaïs Anaïs’ floral wistfulness comes from a concentration of glorious white Madonna lilies interlaced with other white flowers: crisp, vernal meadows of fresh hyacinths, blackcurrant leaves, galbanum, muguet and ylang, a bridal bouquet softening gently to a warmer hue of lilies and rose that always retains something of its rather insistent chastity.






Your reaction to this mélange might therefore be of rapture, if breathless tendrils are your thing: irritation perhaps at its undeniably conservative tones (it is a somewhat tame scent that renders a woman pliant and demure in an instant): or, like me, you may enjoy its mysterious, immaculate form, its creamy melancholy – the cool, sepulchral sweetness of a funeral bouquet.









‘The new self she offered him, created for him, appeared intensely innocent, newer than any young girl could have been, because it was like a pure abstraction of a woman, an idealized figure, not born of what she was, but of his wish and hers. Outside of this room, this bed, was a black precipice……’










(Anaïs Nin, ‘A spy in the house of love’)


Filed under Flowers, Lily, Perfume Reviews

38 responses to “ANAIS ANAIS by Cacharel ( 1978 )

  1. Cath

    What an interesting bottle, it is similar to the flask used for the Cacharel Pour Homme. I would have never imagined this type of bottle for a scent as delicate as Anaïs Anaïs. IMO the later version suits the perfume better.

    P.S. you might want to correct Cacherel to Cacharel in the title.

  2. ginzaintherain

    I love Cacharel Pour Homme, by the way. The best nutmeg ever.

    • Cath

      When I was in highschool and at university I went through countless bottles of this, until a classmate started wearing it. I switched to something else and would go and sit next to him in class instead, LOL. It’s still a major turn on scent for me. Hubby won’t wear it, it’s too strong for him, that’s ok, I kept the bottle (almost 20 years old and still gorgeous) and sniff it now and then when I feel nostalgic.

    • Dearest Ginza
      Hurrah… someone else who like Cacharel Pour Homme… I thought The Dandy was alone in liking this hilariously cheeky aromatic.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Debbie Lauri

    Brilliantly written, yet again my dear man! I must confess that I do not like even the memory of this scent. One of my best friends wore this in school & always put way too much on! Therefore, it would leave anyone ill with the continual stench everywhere she went. Most of us wore Shalimar {my very first perfumery choice} & just a hint of it. The seductive lure of perfume is just the mere hint of it, no? I Loved your tale of the lineage with this. Do you perhaps know what her name Anais means?

  4. brie

    There are only two bottles of perfume that my perfume despising co-worker owned and this was one of them…she gifted it to me but alas with its completely improper storage (in a humid bathroom for thirty some odd years) it smelled awful and I had to discard it….
    Yet I had my very own bottle in middle had just come out and was all the rage…and although you know my taste in perfume can be quite outrageous at times (given the chypres and orientals that I wore in my youth) as you thus described it this SHOULD have been my scent- ” a scent for women who seek reticence…delicate, feminine and young…”

    • NO: I have never met you but I know you are sexier…Anais is a classic, and I love it, but it is surely just that TOO little bit internalized…..too PRESENTED or something. And yet, there is real poetry there I think…all comments from Anais lovers extraordinarily welcome.

      I had a friend at school called Helen Garner (not THE Helen), who looked like Barbra Streisand, and I used to call on her all the time. She did ballet, we weren’t soul twins, but her room was SUFFUSED with this perfume and I just loved it. I could drink the stuff to be honest. But there is certainly something in the water that does not quite compute.

      • brie

        And my 93 pound body is feeling quite “sexy” today in my vintage First …merci beaucoup…I am in my glory!!!!!

  5. Lilybelle

    I wore Anais Anais decades ago. I was always a florals girl so its all purpose prettiness suited me as a quick spritz and go, and I received compliments on it, but eventually I became a little bored. I think I must have moved on to Oscar afterward. I had several, but Oscar was a big love around then. The original Anais Anais did smell better than today’s version. I never saw it in that ^^^ bottle, only the white glass one. Was it actually named after Anais Nin? I always assumed so, but then I read that it was named for a Persian (I think?) goddess. Perhaps Cacharel later claimed that to avoid legalities with the estate of Anais Nin, I don’t know. I enjoyed your review. 🙂 You’re writing is always a treat. I suppose Anais Anais is a bit of a wimpy wilting lily at that. The current version isn’t worth hunting down. You’re right: it has a funereal quality which makes it restrained and anti-sexual — but enjoyable for its coolness. The leather part was good.

    • It most definitely was, and saved it. I also have got bored of it, and yet in my perfume memory this scent is important for me somehow (I also love Oscar, hugely, though my review of it – did you read that one? – was a bit overly camp…I just couldn’t help thinking of Dynasty somehow..)

      Anais is way more chastely doe-eyed in comparison I would say.

      • (also you are probably right about the Persian thing: I have heard both stories but am too slovenly to be bothered to check properly. I just go blindly ahead, arrogantly..)

      • brie

        Oh my God…you have both brought up oscar….I haven’t thought about that one in years!!!! drained 5-6 bottles…I can smell it now! Off to seek that review you wrote!!!

      • Lilybelle

        No, I didn’t read your Oscar review yet, but I will. Today’s Oscar is not as nice as the dear old Oscar. I have a vintage parfum mini, which is all I’ll ever need again of Oscar.

      • The one with the rubbery top? So do I, and that will probably suffice for me too.

      • brie

        nothing ever is as nice as the old stuff we remember, right?

  6. Dearest Ginza
    What a splendid description.
    That reticence combined with both narcissism and putative sexuality… no wonder it seemed to be a hit with all the girls of a certain age when I was at school.
    Like much else by Cacharel it’s also shockingly well made for the price.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Love the juxtaposition of this scent and Lou Lou. While one would think that Lou Lou was the siren scent, in actuality it is Anaïs that is the real siren. Lou Lou is in your face, she is the vampy sex pot, whereas Anaïs is a slow burning hot house flower. Once you have worn Anaïs for a while, well, her inner naughty girl starts to show herself…especially in the PdT strength.

  8. jennyredhen

    What do you think about layering Anais anais and Mitsouko.. each perfume could fill in what is lacking in the other or it could turn into a big mess.. I tried it and thought it smelt OK… but I know nothing … Tell me HONESTLY what you think..I can take it..Thanks..

  9. Lilybelle

    It’s good to read this one again. Occasionally I toy with the notion of snapping up a vintage bottle of Anaïs Anaïs, but it’s just too much trouble for one I’d probably not wear much, merely hoarde. We’ll see. It may cross my path.

  10. Funny I just read an article on Brain Pickings about how Anais’ ideas of how to write. EMOTIONS! And I flashed back about my youthful passion for Anais Nin back in the early 80’s. And Henry MIller. Carrying around some old tattered copies and marking the pages. When me and my art school-dancer- rock band friends lived in garrets and weird old houses in a very rough and ready Chicago. (Now Chicago seems so tame.) I remember seeking this perfume out and liking it for what I thought of as sort of old fashioned quality. It was not what I expected, that’s for sure. I’m not sure what I thought it would be like. But I was open and thought. OK. That’s someone’s take on Anais. Interesting.

    Thanks for reminding me of those heady days of yore!

  11. Tara C

    Back in the 80’s I loved reading Anais Nin’s diaries. I remember owning the white bottle and wearing it but not being overly enamoured. As Luca Turin describes it, it’s “un peu salle de bains”… not what I would describe as sexy, but pleasant.

    • I know exactly what you mean and Luca is right on the mark there: I do imagine it in a bathroom.

      At the same time, when I was a teenager, I had a friend who was in love with this scent, and I used to go to her room and it was PERFECT. I also think that it was a tad more mysterious in its original incantation. It does have a genuinely ‘virginal’ aspect on the right skin that can be disturbingly dreamy.

      • RitzySpritz

        In some ways this perfume, subconsciously, is responsible for my perfume obsession today. My mother wore this to fancy occasions when I was a child (she might still now for all I know) and I liked it then (along with Amarige—that weapon of mass destruction—that an aunt favored). Fast forward to 2010 when I am 21 and on a semester abroad in Vienna and take a spring break in Spain that concludes with a weekend in Paris (my life is much less interesting now if you’re wondering) and end up in the Fragonard perfume museum. I smelled Fragonard Fragonard and became instantly addicted. I think it is because of that perfume’s echoes of Anais Anais. And from there it’s been a long, strange voyage that’s resulted in a drawer full of loves (Kilian Love and Tears, Fragonard Fleur d’Orange Intense, Monsillage DuPont Circle) and hates (Byredo Mojave Ghost, Bulgari Omnia Paraiba, and Amarige, which I bought in an impulsive fit of nostalgia and which I was horrified to discover nowadays smells like cherry cough syrup mixed with gasoline and plastic). I love your writing; I just discovered the blog and feel like I have a map now for my voyage.

      • This is lovely to read : Thankyou . I hope to hear your thoughts on here again.

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