Caléche, Hermes' first fragrance, somehow eluded me and I never gave it much thought. Perhaps I was not sophisticated enough to appreciate it till now. I am easily blinded by ornate bottle designs of the Art Deco style, and mesmerized by the decadent stories that often accompanied them. Somewhere down the rabbit hole of exploring vintage floral bouquets, I have decided to give this one a try. The following are my impressions based on a vintage EDT I found in a flea market as a part of a fancy wooden coffrett, comprised of fragrances from several different classics, which based on the lineup, I assume is from the late 80s.  

Caléche is a refined, sophisticated and quite an old-fashioned perfume, in the sense that it is a Chypre with such strong floral leanings and a relatively heavy sprinkle of aldehydes on top, that it may be easily mistaken for an aldehydic floral fragrances. It reveals many layers of richness, and quality of materials that is rarely seen in the current releases makes a world of a difference - a sensation that lingers and is being felt throughout the perfume's performance. 

Caléche has a classic Chypre Floral structure, centred around sensual white florals that are softened and blurred by candied violets, and a generous dose of aged sandalwood which are perhaps the perfumer's Guy Robert's special signature. It gives off a feeling of luscious, smooth and luxurious silk fabric, dyed and printed with rich colours and romantic designs. 

The white flowers - gardenia, orange blossom, jasmine, ylang ylang, are all very tasteful and not at all vulgar. The sandalwood softening and enveloping like a silk wrap, and the sweetness from the flowers and violets balanced by additional, dry and sharp woody notes of vetiver and cypress.  

I think it is a classic case of Chypre Floral - even with its robust old-growth oakmoss, it still smells very floral. And anyone attempting to compose this genre, would find that when adding up so many white florals, they truly shine and take over the composition. Yet unlike other floral creations, there would be a lot of depth once the flowers fade out. Another recurring theme in many retro aldehydic florals (and Chypre) is a smooth and woody vetiver at the base. Here it especially smooth and soft, with all the sandalwood mentioned before. I am very curious to smell how the perfume extrait would play out with this one. 

Top notes: Aldehydes, Neroli, Bergamot, Mandarin

Heart notes: Orris, Ylang Ylang, Gardenia, Jasmine, Rose, Lily of the Valley

Base notes: Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Olibanum, Amber, Musk, Vetiver, Cypress, Tonka Bean, Cedar, Coumarin

Eau de Campagne (Sisley)

Eau de Campagne (Sisley)

I'm late to discover Sisley's Eau de Campagne, one of Jean-Claude Elena's earlier creations. Eau de Campagne is just about as old as I am or perhaps two years my senior, and true to form, it radiates the 1970s greenish and trimmed style that is so characteristic of the decade. 

What I have on hand is a modern rendition, and I am sure that like everything that before contained oakmoss, it has undergone alterations. However, it manages to maintain much of its green and natural charm nevertheless. 

I have purchased it as a sort of a birthday present for myself earlier this spring, in preparation for the heavy heat that is to come in the summer. While living in Canada, I never needed more than a scent or two for humidity and heat. Here in the East Mediterranean, I'm afraid to say these form the majority of the wearable portion of my fragrance wardrobe. Except for the brief winter we have, when I can pull out my beloved Chypres and incense-and-smoke laden Opulents, nowadays, Le Parfum de Therese, Diorella, Philosykos and the like are a mainstay on my dresser. And although I am not truly in need of another fresh scent, I felt like adding another option that would be reviving and refreshing for the hot days. Just to mix it up a bit, you know. 

Eau de Campagne is both citrusy and green, and can be classified as Citrus Fantasy type with a noticeable Eau de Cologne vibe, which makes it timeless, and a green and leafy twist of galbanum and tomato leaf that add an unusual, modern and cutting edge element that makes the wearer feel unique and sophisticated. And this elegant, simple sophistication is what makes it in a way a pre-cursor for Jean-Claude Elena's future minimalist style. 

At the same time, it is quite a classy and some would feel quite masculine type of fragrance. Some women nowadays may find it very brisk and bright, perhaps too sharp, but I also know many who love it. The moss, vetiver and patchouli undertones give off a very similar vibe to Eau Sauvage. Yet it has a more pronounced layer of patchouli, which adds a deep, warm, mysterious and incensey layer. Once it wears off, it becomes a very translucent white musk, which is quite a surprising turn. I think it is mostly ambrettolide, which makes it more pleasant and less artificial or obnoxious as other contemporary white musks. But still, I find it a bit flat and persistent in the end in a way that does not correspond smoothly enough with the beginning of the perfume. I'm quite confident that earlier versions of this would have still had the (real) oakmoss lingering at this stage... 

It is easy to see why it has a cult following. It's special, fun, yet easy to wear. It's fun to have a fragrance that is fresh and woody and green, without depending on iso-E super. It's both rustic and modern. In my mind it's from the same lineage of Le Parfum the Therese and Eau Sauvage, with an innovative pairing of herbaceous, floral and fruit notes, freshness and complexity, layered with a storytelling. 

While the name means "Countryside Water", I resonate more with the watery concept, rather than a typical rustic countryside per-se. There is a feeling of dipping in a cool creek or lake on a hot and humid summer day, and inhaling water mint and other herbs growing on its bank. Tomato leaf bring to mind a country's cottage vegetable garden, something that you'd keep for a hobby, not for sustenance, and to work out a sweat early in the morning. There is a hint of tart fruit (plum?) and an expanse of flowering vines (jasmine, honeysuckle), but not enough to make it truly floral. Distant scent of new mown hay and grazing animals comes across through the somewhat gamey patchouli and dry vetiver.  On the hot days that we've had lately, I've worn it with great ease and pleasure. 

Top notes: Galbanum, Basil, Bergamot, Lemon, Plum
Heart notes: Geranium, Tomato leaf, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley
Base notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli, Vetiver, White Musk 

Knize Ten

Knize Ten

Knize Ten was designed by Francois Coty and Vincent Roubert in 1920, and is arguably one of the first leathery fragrances. It was commissioned by Joseph Knize, a Viennese bespoke tailor. And before we go on, a word on pronunciation: This name is not pronounced like "knees" or "knife" or any other Anglo-centric interpretation. It is pronounced: K-NEE-sche. Now we can move on to talking about the scent itself... 

The perfumers have most likely used a then-new leather base from a fragrance firm when the then-novel molecule isobutyl quinoline was invented, and incorporated into the Cuir de Russie base. 

What I first get is the impression of a dry, cracked leather chair. There is also a clean, soapy accord, the dry and green-leafy aspects of Eau de Cologne. Knize Ten opens bright and clean, with mandarin, bitter orange and bergamot. It has a very elegant but also a bit severe, reminds me of a moustached man meticulously dressed only to armour himself as deep within he's a gentle and soft. And indeed, as it warms up on the skin, it softens to reveal  floral sides, namely violet and carnation notes that lurk afterwards.  

Keeping it within the historical context, it seems to have more than a tad in common with Tabac Blond (1919), complete with the parched dryness of isobutyl quinoline paired with carnation (also probably a floral base). 

The isobutyl quionoline is truly the star of the show here, and being surrounded by quite the herb-garden (geranium, rosemary, petitgrain) and diffuse sweet gums and balsams (vanilla and labdanum-based amber), oakmoss, patchouli, sandalwood and castoreum, give it a more natural feel. I may be imagining the tobacco note there. And a hint of spicy cloves or carnation. 

As it develops on the skin, it becomes more and more balsamic-resinous. The birch tar, as it would in true life, becomes more woody and resinous, almost incense-like. And at the very end bit awaits another round of dryness, from cedarmoss. 

Top notes: Bitter Orange, Bergamot, Rosemary, Lemon

Heart notes: Petitgrain, Orange Blossom, Geranium, Cloves, Carnation, Orris

Base notes: Labdanum, Vanilla, Tobacco, Cedarmoss, Ambergris, Birch Tar, Isobutyl quionoline 



Calyx (1986), the one and only, was referred to several times on Smellyblog, but never received its own spotlight. It was the fact that it has tagetes that renewed my interest in it, even though it has been in my possession for over two years. I was gifted a vintage bottle (from the days when it still belonged to Prescriptives) in winter 2020. The circumstances where unusual: I was invited by Daphna Margolin to sniff her osmanthus bushes, a smell she's obsessed with and is fortunate to grow in her garden in the humid coastal belt, despite all expert opinion on where osmanthus could and should grow; and to experience her womb sculpture, which she assured me would be a safe sensory haven for my daughter.

Daphna is an Eco-Tech artist whose work explores the intersection between ecology, technology, science and art. Many of her pieces are interactive and question our sensory world, and the way we perceive and process sensory information. Wonderfully, she is also a perfume connoisseur, and has a huge collection that fills an entire room. It was so special to meet a kindred spirit, enjoy her vegan persimmon mousse in the middle of a cold spell of winter that even affected the usually mild-weathered central Israel, and share our passion for fragrance, art and out-of-the-box sensory processing. She made my daughter feel welcome and comfortable, and gifted her with one of her Calyx bottles, which we both agree smells a lot like fresh osmanthus flowers. 

Since then, Calyx holds a special place in my heart, as a memory of that special evening visiting Daphna. Admittedly, I don't ever wear it, but simply remove the cap and smell the bottle every once in a while. It has such a distinctive scent! 

Calyx was in some ways a pioneer, and inspired so many other fruity-florals, including countless ancillary products with fruity-floral fragrances, the most recognizable of all being Herbal Essence. So it is hard now to think of Calyx out of this context, and taking it seriously takes some thinking out of the (shampoo) bottle.  

To be fair, it is not exactly the first of its genre, it was preceded by almost a decade by Anaïs Anaïs (1978), with which it shares many points. But like everything that comes out of Sophia Grojsman's hands, no matter how fresh it may be - it always oozes warmth and coziness, as if it's a well-wrapped hug, sealed with a hot matriarchal kiss. 

Grojsman's work is an example for how a perfumer's personality comes through their creations, and how when a perfumer - no matter how large is the corporation they belong to - remains authentic and true to themselves, their perfume can also be popular at the same time. I love the story behind this fragrance, which is a visit to Israel, the scent of grapefruit blossoms and that explains a lot about both the sheer cheer that this scent exudes, as well as its connection to this culture. Fragrances that are fresh yet strong are a very characteristic of what you'll smell around here on people and in their homes. 

Calyx opens with that distinctive fruity and burst of freshness. It is very juicy but isn't any particular citrus; it's comes across as very sweet, but it is not cloying in any way. When a perfume with everyday references (such as gourmand or fruity notes) is done right, it gives suggestions and hints, and is not an obvious fruity. This is a long lost art, in a world filled with new perfumes of very loud and obvious fruit statements. Smelling Calyx reminds us how a fruity perfume can be both sophisticated and fun. 

While many of Grojsman's fragrances are monolithic (AKA linear), Calyx goes through a few phases throughout its skin performance. It starts very fruity, which is my favourite part (and perhaps why I like to just sniff the bottle over and over again). It continues to be more of a floral-green, alluding to its literal meaning, which is the part of the flower anatomy that holds the petals in place (at least for some time). 

So just like a flower that is bright and showy and fragrant, Calyx begins very colourful and fruity and juicy, intriguing and sensual. There is a long list of fruity players in this harmony (passionfruit, mango, guava, melon raspberry and perhaps even papaya). However, I'm not really picking out any of them. There is a feeling of the idea of a fruit but its identity is vague. And of course it is an olfactory illusion created by pairing some unusual notes together - grapefruit, tagetes (marigold), rose and spearmint of all things.

The fruity phase, which is adorable and uplifting, fades out in a blink of an eye, and feeling is that you've drank its nectar too fast and greedily plucked all the petals within minutes. What remains in one's hand is a shiny green goblet of greenery, with a nice long stem as a handle, and this is the phase that lingers the longest. Green floral, with the minty notes coming to the forefront, creating a feeling of a dewy garden on an early summer day. Walking on the moist grass barefoot, and greeting the flowers and herbs. There is a pretty lily of the valley that is quite dominant, the other flowers (rose and jasmine) are more subdued, acting only as harmonizers. I am renown for having a difficult relationship with pretty florals dominated with lily of the valley and greens - part of me craves the loveliness and prettiness, and another part of me feels undeserving; Then it all gets to my head and becomes too sharp and screechy to bear, as if doused with too much euphoria. Calyx somehow stays balanced with a warmth whose source is invisible and inexplicable. 

Calyx lingers on my skin for hours, and the dry down has some continuity of the middle phase, maintaining the green for a long time, before it mostly boils down to oakmoss, cedar and musk.

Top notes: Grapefruit, Mandarin, Bergamot, Passionfruit, Guava, Mango, Papaya, Spearmint

Heart notes: Lily of the Valley, Tagetes, Rose, Jasmine, Melon, Neroli

Base notes: Cyclamne, Raspberry, Oakmoss, Cedar, Musk 



Everything about Coco the fragrance is regal and at the same time artificial. It brings me back to a long gone era when people would dress up to go out and be seen (and smelled) in public, and would take an extra effort going to a grand event, be it the opera or the cinema (remember those?). A whiff of Coco eau de toilette throws me immediately to a concert hall at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art with my grandmother. Back in the 80s and 90s when Coco was in vogue and so many ladies would wear it on a night out, clad with big chunky jewellery, bling leather purses, and shoulder pads, of course. 

The review here is for the parfum, which I have smelled a couple of decades ago and experienced as very almondy, and it did not string that chord of listening to chamber music in my youth; so I have never quite fallen for it. The eau de toilette never was quite “me”, despite this fond place I had for it bringing back memories of quality time spent with Ms. Ruth Moriel in Tel Aviv. 

So here I am in 2022, 38 years after this perfume came out, re-evaluating my relationship with it as part of my research of the Opulent fragrance family for my students. I have scoured the web (because, like concert-going, perfume shopping in this day and age is prohibited, unless one is bio-branded by a vaccine); plus Coco is no longer is available widely, being replaced by its many flankers and imitators). I dove head first into a vintage flacon that arrived from Russia in a weathered box, yet the flacon inside was sealed and in pristine condition, inviting me to viciously peel away its skin-like seal and cut the black cotton string. The golden juice within the cut-glass bottle smells like a jewel, and with ease that greatly surprised me, I was tempted to dab and re-apply as I write and marvel at it. 

What strikes me at first is its structure, and how despite its singular, unique elements, it is after all a classic Opulent-Spicy perfume, with the mellis accord of patchouli-eugenol lubricated by balsams, fleshed-out by florals, and uplifted by a generous dose of citrus, of course; and how it echoes the magnificent Opium which preceded it by seven years. Both have that mandarin opening, bright and rich orange blossom to match it, sheer cool-warm spiciness, and finally, a pronounced opoponax resin that is so addictive, plum-like and rich. 

Coco stands alone, somewhat snobby in the best Chanel tradition, but with a lot more presence and boldness than any of the other ones from the same house. It is Opulent indeed, in a way that is almost out of character for the house that prides itself with austere, orris and aldehyde-clad creations. It is definitely a Chanel with shoulder pads, at the opera or a gala concert, clapping hands quite enthusiastically but making friends only with few, who would mostly keep her company while she smokes. 

And the smoke is, indeed, the part that makes Coco stand out. Cascarilla, a Caribbean bush whose bark is used to flavour cigars, give it a peculiar note that could be either charming or off-putting. Either way it is intriguing. But I will let you decide. It alludes to tobacco and leather, and creates interest. Ditto with the angelica note - this one is not green, but rather smoky and musky, adding another element of surprise. Because otherwise, it is a rather conformist Opulent-Spicy, just equipped with a cigarette. 

Every time I dive back into my Coco flacon, I come back with another impression. At one time I’m noticing a lot of linalool and tropical floral notes, reminiscent of suntan lotion — but that’s just the surface, and won't last long enough to make Coco a Floramber (although some may be tempted to call it so, or even call it a “Spicy Floral”, which is in my opinion a misunderstanding of the genre - Opulents always have copious amounts of florals, but that does not make them a floral perfume). This aspect of Coco implies softness, femininity, fun… This is just a mask though for what comes next. Or perhaps just a sign of an unfocused composition. 

Another dab may bring to the fore its intense tuberose-orange blossom notes, bold and artificial in the manners of the 80s (Poison and Giorgio spring to mind, the former even more so because of the prominent tuberose-opoponax accord). It is saved from being vulgar by tonka bean, which creates a soft-focus effect that also helps pull all the elements together, as well as mellow woody notes of sandalwood and vetiver, which give creaminess and depth. Which makes me finally understand the connection between the original and its Noir flanker - which is a sort of a Fruitchouli, dominated by vetiver and jasmine and dark fruits. Both version have that fruity aspect, by the way, of stewed and spiced plums or poached pears in a spicy wine. 

Yet somehow, despite all these different directions pulling my attention, Coco manages to stay balanced and beautiful, and somehow this array of seeminglyy mismatched notes maintains tension and presence all the way to the drydown. It is not linear per se, but in each phase, the same melange of both classic and quirky notes emerge, for another round of card games.

Coco may be a bit indecisive, but that is only because there are so many beautiful things to explore. And that’s precisely the character of Coco parfum — contradictory, over-indulgent, a loud fragrance that commands respect even if it could have been just as easily been ridiculed. 

Top notes: Frangipanni, Mimosa, Mandarin, Coriander,

Heart notes: Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Cascarilla Bark, Allspice, Tuberose, Honey

Base notes: Opoponax, Angelica, Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Benzoin, Musk, Civet 

  • Page 1 of 82
  • Page 1 of 82
Back to the top