Adulterous: CABOCHARD by GRES (1959)











A dark, brooding, and very three-dimensional scent of greys, purples and black that hovers, tantalizing as velvet, above the skin, Cabochard (French for ‘obstinate’ or ‘pig-headed’) amazes with its complexity, the devious integrity of its construction. Its suggestiveness; the citrus, the hyacinth, geranium and sharp flowers: its strong woody tang of patchouli, tobacco, amber, and leather, alluring facets that all seem to develop on different levels simultaneously, right up to its last shadowy, chypric, powdered exhalations.


It is a perfume that was once described by one eminent critic as illuminating the secret life of a woman in Paris, her tweed suit tossed onto the bed after a hard day at work in a moment, perhaps, of clandestine liaison. And it is true that Cabochard is  reminiscent of lipstick, perfume and powder compacts falling from a well loved leather purse in the late light of afternoon. There is a nonchalance, a madamish insouciance. But the piquancy of the citrus oils and tobacco also make it in today’s context rather masculine,  androgynous at best. It is a gorgeous, intriguing scent, especially in its final, powdery, patchouli earth notes, and in vintage parfum, essential.




Filed under Chypre, Patchouli

40 responses to “Adulterous: CABOCHARD by GRES (1959)

  1. So beautifully written that I am going to surrender to chance.

  2. brie

    “a madamish insouciance”….Lord I love your way with words!
    But actually I was never a big fan of Aramis on my men so I am not sure how I would fare with Cabochard.

    • ginzaintherain

      You would hate it!

      • brie

        perhaps I have been a bit too harsh on Aramis. I just remember smelling it everywhere (similar to what happened with Giorgio and Poison) as every man I knew owned a bottle (including Pops-his count was 4 or 5 as mum kept buying him a bottle for special occasions). I don’t disdain it, though, (the way I do Polo and Giorgio for men) so perhaps another go round with a more mature nose I might see things differently-I am surprised that I never tried Cabochard as I am familiar with the name and do remember seeing it in stores. This bottle must be one of your flea market finds!

      • ginzaintherain

        Would you believe that I came home one day and Duncan had, in an antique shop, got this AND an extrait of Vol De Nuit? I was beside myself!

      • ginzaintherain

        Cabochard is less glinting and urinous than Aramis, more powdery, and more feminine: more conniving; cleverer, very self- contained, and understatedly sexy. A person would have to like patchouli chypres, and scents from this era to pull it off, which is why I am DELIGHTED that Marina wears it. Helen’s sister Julia smells fabulous in it as well: removed, chic. Both have dark hair. I don’t see this as a scent for blondes….

      • brie

        First off ,as I have said time and time again, how fortuitous for you to have Duncan-such treasures he not only finds but purchases for you!

        And your description of Cabochard makes it sound incredibly enticing, but if the pre-requisite for wearing it successfully is to have dark hair then I guess I do not qualify (yet I do ADORE patchouli!).

      • An extrait of Vol de Nuit?! I have this image in my head that you live in vintage fragrance flea market wonderland!

  3. Sounds a complex, alluring, ambivalent but potent scent. Find geranium and hyacinth peculiar – enticing, sweet, but also slightly dank and melancholic in excess. The tobacco, patchoulie, leather and citrus are luring me nevertheless to its potential chaos! Would I like this one? I’m not sure, but I am utterly intrigued by your description and will look out for it to give it a go. Have a huge French perfume thing going on at the moment, and want some masculine spritzes to try. Wearing an old Apres-Rasage Echoes today which is very chalky, mossy with a fine manly slap of leather! It has a hint of Kouros, and Guerlain Vetiver going on. Anyway.this is a beautifully written review, Neil, utterly exquisite. Merci x

    • ninakane1

      (Having said that, I’m not entirely sure whether the Echoes is a French scent, or whether I’ve just got a French version of it – it’s an old 80s or early 90s aftershave that an elderly gentleman gave me – can’t find anything on it!)

    • ginzaintherain

      Merci to you, Madame

      If this were a contemporary niche scent then the notes probably WOULD descend into chaos and be too brash somehow, but this comes from the age of classical French perfumery and every thing about this scent screams quiet….all ingredients subdued and subsumed into abstraction. The citrus and geranium are barely perceptible, only subliminally; the leather subtle as silk lining….

      These kind of chypres were chic; mannish; sexually alluring but damningly alluring if you know what I mean. Patchouli is the only note that really stands out; there is a vaguely hyacinthine element but it is captured by all below, nothing out of place, the scent too sleek to let anything get in the way of its mission.

      The bottle I have (sealed, when Duncan gave it to me) is turning slightly now (it was PRISTINE and DIVINE when I first got it) but the base notes are still intact. I want you to wear it Nina

      I love it.

      • ginzaintherain

        Also, when you come next time, the perfume treasure trove will be even more meaningful. A true Pandora’s box. Can’t wait to raid the ‘men’s section’ as this after shave thing could yield serious results. I want to go out with you drenched in something like Givenchy Gentleman (DIVINE) or Carven Pour Homme, these seventies, velvety, monsieur scents. Oh what a world we are prizing open…….

      • ninakane1

        I’d love to try it. Ooh I can’t wait to come back to Japan! And immerse in those masculine scents and go out comme ca. We must do it. xx

  4. Marina

    I have this newer version and love the leathery tobacco nature. It lasts all day. Wearing it today and imagining you inhaling me as we embrace in our hello.

  5. Rafael

    It was 92 degrees at 8 this morning. I am dreaming of November! Cabochard (both parfum and huile de bain), Bandit, Azuree ,Aramis (Shower Gel), Habit Rouge (which I wear with Shalimar Hair Gel). I’m almost over orange blossoms and citrus and “deceptively demure” fragrances. I want bold and depth and tobacco and whiskey. I want to think of better times and better men.

  6. Marina

    Perfect review.

  7. Lilybelle

    I tried Cabochard many years ago, and it was too *much* for me…but I would like to try it again now that I am older. I will put it on my “to try” list.

  8. It sounds simply amazingly wonderful. I must get my nose next to this one. Thanks for your wonderful and very visual review.

  9. Dearest Ginza
    This is the same woman that I described in my first scented letter… how peculiar to read of someone else’s love affair with her.
    Adulterous indeed.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  10. At one time I owned a bottle of Cabochard perfume. It was somewhat different in the other perfumes in that era and I did enjoy it at the time. However, it has been many years since I have had the pleasure of smelling it. I wonder if it would still be as appealing to me now after all these years or would it be like meeting a long ago love and wondering what you ever saw in him in the first place. Somehow, I do not think it would be like that with Cabochard. Thank you so much for perhaps having this chance meeting once again.

    • Glad I perhaps caught some of its essence for you. I think your first instinctive reaction is probably the right one though.

    • I think Cabochard is so distinctive and memorable that you almost don’t really NEED to smell it again. It has that dill pickle sourness; that testy, if elegant fiftiesness, that just stays forever in your nose.

      Having said that, I do instinctively just sometimes feel like wearing it. The last time was to my first ever performance of kabuki, and with its powdery, distanced, and androgynous effect it felt kind of right.

  11. Kabuki it is!
    Perfect association.
    I just bought Cabochard for the fun of it and I have to find the time and leasure to get to know her. Tobacco, leather, patchouli, more the stem than the flower! A gay garconne, with slick hair, trousers and a tweed jacket, cigarette in the corner of her mourn and a lighter at the ready for fluttering debutantes … No, no, I am not twentyfive anymore!
    But a rouee diva with a flair for textile drama …, definitely,
    Tails, have to drag them out of my garderobe, If not closet. Fitting is the question?!
    Have to introducé myself all over again to this wilful pungent aromatic Indiana Jones

  12. I do need her in this moment. Do you think that The whip comes with iT? Just Now i’ like to kick some well meaning interfering asses!! The hat I’ve got, Now for The Spunk. Or ought I to wave And behave like other trees? It is Nice to know that somewhere east of Suez somebody appreciates my Words And thoughts. Thanks mr. Salt of the Earth. Cabochard iT is And Cabochard I Will be

  13. Really, really nice review, and nice scent, one of my preferred ones.
    Once “female2, now Unisex, according to modern standards.

    • I really hate the word unisex simply because it is so ugly, but yes, definitely : ambiguous, sexy. I was looking at your blog the other day, actually. Fascinating information about dating vintage perfumes. I will be revisiting.

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