"Imagine its spring. A rich young man arrives in his E-type Jaguar to pick up his girlfriend. Imagine the scent of fast air, speed and leather seats. He takes the girl for a ride along the seaside. He stops in a forest. There he makes love to her on the bonnet of the car."
~Marcel Carles recalling Paco Rabanne's brief for what became Calandre.
I was browsing one of the blogs I enjoy, namely Perfume Posse, the other day, when I came up upon a post by Patty in which amidst other musings (such as her antipathy for my beloved Fille en Aiguilles, how can this be I ask you?), she was crestfallen about the discontinuation of Calandre, a floral aldehydic that comes from 1969 (composed by perfumer Michel Hy) and which is just about one of the friendliest rose aldehydics in existence.
This Rabanne is also respendid with interesting trivia: It has rose oxides which give a slight "metallic" tinge to the flower, supposedly to translate the notion of "calandre" into scent, it being the car's radiator grille in French. Actually the first perfume "draft" was too reminiscent of a hot car (Spanish-born Paco Rabanne's brief) which made it rather unwearable, so back to the sketch board it went! The bottle, designed by Pierre Dinand, was sparse, with metal overlays in brushed silver finish which gave a high-tech look about 20 years before this would become the norm.
Calandre has been special to me personally for two reasons: First, it was given to me as a gift as a young teenager (we're talking about 13 here) by my sophisticated grandmother. I cherished my little bottle and had it alongside my other precious gems for years ~Anais Anais, Chanel No.5 (you read this correctly), Tosca and 4711 by Muelhens and Opium (you read this correctly too, I've said my piece before) alongside several minis I snatched up every chance I got.
Secondly, in the face of the deterioration of Rive Gauche by the oversexed, modernisating Tom Ford stint as creativer director of Yves Saint Laurent Parfums, Calandre remained more faithful to the former's idea of what I call its spirit of frosty allure, "what KGB agents would have worn to seduce James Bond"; almost the way "black pudding" is the faithful reminder of our primeval, barbaric and needy of ready nutrients nature.
The comparison between Rive Gauche and Calandre of course is the very antithesis of cognitive dissonance: Perfume lore wants Jacques Polge to have been instructed by the people at Yves Saint Laurent to produce something similar to the ~at the time~ avant-garde Calandre which had been issued the previous year. The result came in the market in 1971 in a striking blue and silver metal aluminum can and with the passage of years managed to eclipse the pulchritude of the original: Yves Saint Laurent with his flamboyant colours, rustic decadence and matchless tailoring became all the rage in the 1970s, while the futuristic Rabanne sewing with pliers and a blowtorch on his space-age plastic chain-mail Barbarellas had become a little less relevant to the zeitgeist; only Mylene Farmer continues to evoke the futuristic extravagances today. Overall Calandre is more American than Rive Gauche and it pre-emptied the trend of American-style fragrances that followed (White Linen etc)
Calandre has a wonderful olfactory profile: citrusy, slightly sour top note which segues into both oily green hyacinth and a fresh (laundered, thanks to lily-of-the-valley) white rose, elements which peter out slowly into an undefinable vaguely herbal base with honey and light musk touches that is its own thing more than anything that morphs into the wearer. Compared to Rive Gauche, Calandre is less frosty aldehydic, more lemony and with a softer overall character but equally abstract like you can't really point your finger on what you're smelling: Is it iced linens off the fridge on a hot day in a tamer version of The Seven Year Itch heat-remedy? A florist's fridge when the flowers have long departed? Or the cool breeze through a vetiver-sewn canopy in a non-tropical climate? That's Calandre's charm!
Cue into the last few days: The news of a possible discontinuation of Calandre bombed. Smiles were wiped off faces. The official response from Paco Rabanne on the question on discontinuation luckily came through a POL member, Cubby:
"Thank you for your message and for your interest in Paco Rabanne. Further to your enquiry, the Calandre perfume is still available in our current collection. Could you please notify us of your residential area so that we could indicate you the details of your nearest stockist. We remainSo now you can rest easy! It's even available as an Eau de Toilette on Amazon still.
at your disposal for any further information. Best regards,
Paco Rabanne Online"
Notes for Paco Rabanne Calandre:
Top: Aldehydes, green notes, bergamot, lemon
Heart: Rose, lily of the valley, geranium, jasmine, ylang-ylang, orris root
Base: Vetiver, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, amber, musk
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Aldehydes, what are they and how do they smell?
Perfume ads via parfum De Pub. Pic of chainmail dress by Paco Rabanne via In Memory of All Things