IT CAME IN FROM THE SWAMP : : : EDEN by CACHAREL (1994)

 

 

 

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Master perfumer Jean Guichard was the creator of complex and full bodied masterpieces that screamed blockbuster success. Obsession, Loulou, La Nuit, Deci Dela, his perfumes are seamless but bold. Arresting. Also quite experimental and diverse – Cartier’s So Pretty, a peculiarly vivid floral that once entranced me throughout an entire flight with Air France each time the attendant passed me drenched in its morbidly feminine petals- on-pause, has no connection to Fendi Asja, another of his discrete creations. Likewise, though Loulou – one of my very favourite perfumes of all time  – was Cacharel’s cash cow, the perfume house was adventurous enough to let Jean Guichard have free rein with his next project for Cacharel  :  the entirely different and bilgily aquatic semi-oriental that was ‘Eden’.

 

 

 

The nineties were full of new and stimulating oddness. There were dramatic shifts in music; Nirvana – Massive Attack. Primal Scream. Kate Moss wore the face of drugged out emaciation in grunge fashion. Dior came out with the mesmerisingly peculiar oceanic amber that was Dune, a perfume that, in its vintage concentration, was appallingly attention grabbing  (who could properly continue a conversation with a woman drenched in such a scent, your neural pathways clogged with that gorgeously cockle-coloured sea sludge?). Guichard’s own Parfum De Peau for Montana, a true mindfuck of a patchouli leather powerhouse in the manner of Estee Lauder’s Knowing, but with death defyingly huge hair and Freddy Krueger like talons scintillating with ginger and blackcurrant and killer roses, narcissus and incense and one of the strongest sillages in the history of fragrance, was the eighties personified; Eden, which made me feel bilious yet hypnotised and somehow slightly angry when I first smelled it, was perfectly emblematic of the more ‘environmentally aware’ and supposedly more gentle decade that followed.

 

 

 

 

An uncanny congregation of unexpected ingredients (melon meets pineapple meets mimosa; muguet melds with tuberose flooded into itself with a non-indigenous self-replicating aquatic water lily; ‘luminous citrus fruits’ segueing into a warm and clingingly womanly base accord of cedar wood, sandalwood and a prominent, de-fanged patchouli musk….), when I first excitedly smelled this perfume at the chemist’s down the road I remember marvelling at its brilliantly hermetic wholeness (one of this perfumer’s trademarks: his fragrances like giant Jeff Koons statues to be erected at the Pompidou) while simultaneously feeling slightly disappointed andsick.It was the algaed wateriness,  a stagnant lake streaming with reeds in the circles of water like a dead maiden’s hair; slow, blind fish that have lost their way, coelacanths loping coldly up onto the muddied shores, staring into nothing as man-eaters and Venus fly traps lie in wait for huge hairy fireflies. It was no Eden – but an alligator infested bayou.

 

 

 

 

 

The shock of the new always fades with time. There were other, much greater, horrors in store for us: Calvin Klein’s tinnitus-inducingly screeching Escape, for instance  (trust me, I really wanted to, but it was everywhere). Issey Miyake was biding his time patiently with his furiously hygienic (and explosively successful) Eau D’Issey which could singe off your hairline. In comparison, Eden seems innocuous now; warm and mellow, secretive and strangely binding. True, I never got on with anyone who wore it at the time – there was something both homely, yet also very passive aggressive about this perfume; those that thought of themselves  just a tiny bit outside of the mainstream because they had a Tracy Chapman album or had been to Lilith, were vehemently against animal cruelty but were mean with their emotions  –   but in time I have come to quite like its jade coloured contours, its ease on the body, and now actually have a reformulated bottle of my own.

 

 

 

 

The newer version of Eden has definitely been de-swamped (drain the swamp!) and has lost that bloated fresh-water tang of lotuses and water lilies dangling Evil Dead tendrils into zombie patchoulied tonka beans of the original, although it is still long-lasting and smells fantastic on a hoodie when you need some emotional protection (along with the first Kenzo perfume, Kenzo (1988) , and Van Cleef by Van Cleef & Arpels (1993) I think of these as being smooth and unosmosable perfumes with no rough edges; soothing like hugs and mugs of milky tea on a cold cloudy day). Decontextualised from the 90’s backlash from whence they came  – the revenge on Joan Collins – the annihilation of Hair Metal and Jive Bunny; Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now and Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Eden is now just mere pleasant background noise for me; a scent for a harmless blue moon. Not hellish, now. But certainly not close to paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 Comments

Filed under aquatic zombie florals, Flowers

16 responses to “IT CAME IN FROM THE SWAMP : : : EDEN by CACHAREL (1994)

  1. Tara C

    I found the original Eden a bit sickening, but wore Loulou, Anaïs Anaïs, Dune and So Pretty from that era. I’d be curious to sniff the current version of Eden. The original had my nemesis trifecta of melon, muguet and mimosa.

    My oddball « green » perfume at the moment is Mugler Aura edp.

    • I was never able to get into Aura the first time I smelled it but I did think it was different to anything else.

      ‘My nemesis trifecta’ : a fantastic way of putting it!

    • The current version of Eden is extremely, I wouldn’t say bland, but very snuggly and domestic and easy to wear when you just feel like wearing sweatpants – I kind of like it in certain moods.

  2. bibimaizoon

    A client who worked for the UN Mission here in Nepal gifted me a bottle of Eden years ago. I found it to be dank & cloying. Strangely enough, another client employed by UNICEF gifted me a bottle of Amouage’s Figment Woman about 2 years ago. There’s a similiar watery green white floral vibe as Eden but brisk saffron and Sichuan peppercorn keep it from going bang-on bilgewater. Figment Woman is said to be inspired by Bhutan. I definitely get the sense of the remote Himalayan nation with its high mountains covered in long-needled pines, tiny tropical valleys lush with flowers, and the incense of Buddhist temples. Although not listed as a note, I believe Figment Woman contains Amouage’s signature Omani silver frankincense, making it all the more reminiscent of forests and shrines. Very understated, very unusual, and evocative of a particular mood & place.

  3. Robin

    Really enjoyed reading this, your short, no-holds-barred descriptions of various scents from the time especially. Catty. Rauwr!!!

    Have to admit, I’ve never smelled Eden, nor LouLou, even. Cacharel for my generation was drugstore stuff, and I was too busy wandering the department stores downtown to be exposed to them. (Not that I was a snob. Just geographically removed by that time in the retail sense. I was into every drugstore fragrance on the shelves when I was a teen and all I had was my meagre weekly allowance. Then, Cacharel would have been a financial bridge too far. I was buying Heaven Sent from Helena Rubenstein, solid hippie-type perfume quads, Love’s Baby Soft, White Shoulders.) I know you love LouLou, and I would like to run across it, but by the sounds of Eden I think I can survive without. From what I’ve read it smells a little like the original oddball Kenzo (1988), which I have, dislike to a mild degree, and never wear!

    • I am genuinely shocked that you have never smelled Loulou (sweet AF almond coconut incense tiare – genius in vintage, so thick and sassy); Eden is like a more aquatic Kenzo – there was something mildewy about it that turned the stomach.

      There is a vintage White Shoulders parfum at a Kamakura antique shop. Do I need it?

      • Robin

        But if you like slightly tropical, dense white florals featuring jasmine, it’s a benchmark. I can’t be objective because it’s associated with a time and a person so strongly. It was the first perfume I was ever given, by my first love, age 16 the both of us. The presentation was a ridged goldplate tube, half ounce. Stunning. When I think what that took, to go so far out of his depth to find that for me. But that was Guy.

      • This sounds like a fascinating story.

      • Robin

        I do love reading about that time in your life. Mine was a real mix of the good, the bad and the ugly, and it shaped — and mis-shaped — me profoundly. Guy came along and, in many ways, saved me while I got through the worst of it.

  4. Oh how I adore Eden!! I have the vintage and have to admit I was not a fan in the beginning. I thought it was kind of repulsive, so I sold off my bottle about a decade ago. Well, along the way I smelt the newer version, in Barcelona at Sephora, and decided I needed to revisit it. I found a vintage mini on eBay and ordered it. It was far more potent than the one in Sephora, but in a good way. I eventually found a vintage 30 ml bottle, still sealed, and bought it.
    I guess my tastes have really changed over the years, because I am in no way repulsed by this at all. The orange blossom in it really shines through on my skin and all those over-ripe fruit notes are not horrifying any longer, they are perfect and really sing on my skin. Even the oceanic note in here is pleasant. Who would have thought? I just can’t get enough of this scent now. I’ve been enjoying this all summer long.

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