Cranky floral chypre: FAROUCHE by NINA RICCI (1974)

 

 

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Politics and fashion obviously influence all fragrance houses, so while the fifties perfumes tended to scream ‘madam’; the sixties ‘young and beautiful’ and the eighties ‘sex and power’, the seventies, in general, to me at least, shout ‘depressed.’ Yes, there was disco and emancipation, but the dark, masculine chypres that abounded for women in that difficult decade were just that: dark. If they had a colour it would be brown. This was fine for houses like Givenchy, whose Gentleman and Givenchy III were convincingly hairy, animalic and horny, ready to get out the velours and groove.  Nina Ricci, however, whose lady-like fragrances of the prettiest porcelain pink and yellow are some of the lightest and most feminine scents ever made, could never be described as brown (incidentally my most hated colour).

 

It is fascinating, then, to look at the scent that Ricci released into this velvety seventies environment, ‘Farouche’ (which translates as sullen; shy; lacking social graces…) a strange choice of theme and her only ‘moody’ perfume, a weird floral chypre that Michael Edwards, world authority on perfumes and author of many a seminal text, lists as one of the all-time greatest perfumes ever made. Though on Fragrantica, where you can still get vintage bottles of this long forgotten creation, there are  fans clamouring for its return to the main Ricci lineup because they love its delicacy (no chance in hell, ladies!), I must say I personally agree with one reviewer who phrased it perfectly:

 

 

“It’s very dated; cranky like it’s wearing polyester, and shy because it’s older than everyone else at the party and wants to go home; put comfy shoes on and be wild in the only way it knows how: dancing alone to Neil Diamond”.

 

 

 

 

 

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I once had a beautiful vintage parfum of Farouche in Baccarat crystal flacon, but could never fathom its mysteries no matter how many times I tried it (just couldn’t connect to the crestfallen, more narrow-eyed formation of the classic Ricci template – those strange additions of galbanum, clary sage and cardamom to the usual aldehydic florals and musks), so I gave it to my Japanese dressmaker friend Rumi, who immediately pronounced herself in love. To her it has a dignity and mystery, an emotive sense of detachment, and is also redolent to her of Japanese paper and of incense in temples – the smell of the wood after decades of smoke – and, most crucially, intelligence.

 

 

 

I could agree. But there was just something in that sour, dusty, exacting and ill-humoured perfume I could not abide.

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Comments

Filed under Depressed, Floral Chypre

15 responses to “Cranky floral chypre: FAROUCHE by NINA RICCI (1974)

  1. Laurels

    Your hatred of the color brown reminds me of my mother, who hates brown with a passion and has a general disinterest in all other colors that aren’t purple.

    Farouche is a perfume I’ve never heard of before, despite being sentient in the 1970s, and it sounds fascinating. What an odd marketing concept! The juice itself doesn’t sound like my kind of thing at all, despite the fact that I could often fairly be described as farouche, and quite like the color brown. (I remember double-knit polyester, though: ugly and rashy. And I can take or leave Neil Diamond.) Off to look for other Farouche ads.

  2. As I have related to you before, this is one of my all time favorite scents. I discovered it as a young girl, it gad already become a hard to find fragrance, and fell in love and never looked back. I simply adore this scent and find it sophisticated and very well rounded. It definitely is “of its time” but I feel the beauty of it on a truly profound level. While it is a bit of a departure from some of there early scents if you look at it in relation to Capricci, a glorious 60’s release, it seems to be a logical follow up. I am happy you are opening up to her a bit more, she really is a beauty…in her brown corduroy jumper 😉

  3. Sorry about the spell check corrections and punctuation deletions. I really have to reread and correct spell check before posting.

  4. I knew I’d find guidance here, Neil. I’ve been sniffing around a vintage bottle of Nina (1987) edt at a not-astronomical price, debating, vaguely remembering an old minis set of all the (then) range, none of which really took me. I doubted my original perceptions – loving classic discontinued fragrances in principal and having a strange desire to rescue any I find – until I thought I’d see what you might have written about them. And here it is: “. . . those strange additions of galbanum, clary sage and cardamom to the usual aldehydic florals and musks.” You nailed it. The reason I couldn’t wrap my nostrils around any of those compositions. I will pass on the Nina and let it find a more appreciative home. Thank you. More $$ to spend on things I want much more.

    • Are you talking about Nina or Farouche? Farouche is very unusual, dusty but quite mysterious: Nina is conservative eighties woman in white hat, but I personally find it utterly delightful. The muskiness combined with the green and the florals – it always uplifts my spirits.

      • Ah, velly interrrrestink. It’s Nina, round bottle, “conservative eighties woman in white hat.” And “utterly delightful,” you say? Right then. I think it will be mine. Musky/green/florals/uplifting is right up my alley. Thank you very much, N. Really appreciate you getting back to me.

      • This is what I wear to bed! It relaxes me.

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