It's been noted before that Aramis bears a distinct kinship with Cabochard (Grès) through the common perfumer behind both creations, namely the legendary Bernard Chant. But two other perfumes fall neatly somewhere between those two neighbouring meridians: Azurée by Estée Lauder and Bandit by Robert Piguet. Roughly, they can be likened to a family:
Cabochard is the maternal force turning the neck (and therefore the head as well) in any which way she likes, while Azurée is the younger long-haired son driving fast without a licence and Bandit the rebel without a cause tomboy daughter who shuns panties in lieu of leather pants. They could have been The Sopranos, had the show been more stylish-oriented and retro glamorous. Or not. It doesn't matter, we can imagine.
Actually I'm cheating: Technically, the original sketch for Cabochard from 1959 was later deprived of its intensely opulent, romantic floral heart of India-reminiscing blossoms to serve as the core of the formula for Aramis (1965). For those who didn't know it, Azurée (1969) is also by Bernard Chant; a fresher interpretation of the Aramis idea given a luminous fruity topnote of refreshing bergamot, while still remaining resolutely herbal.
Chant was mad for chypres, skanky animalic or non; his Aromatics Elixir for Clinique is a seminal study on mossy herbal patchouli with a big rose lurking inside the bush. Azurée, albeit herbally green and chyprish, is softer than Bandit and lacks the acid green bite of the quinolines that compose the latter's leather note, thus making it more approachable of the four specimens, if largely unsung.
ès and Aramis, Cabochard and Aramis for Men respectively, I find myself contemplating how reformulation has changed perceptions: Cabochard has lost something of its intensely feminine mystery of floral chypre throughout the years (the ylang ylang and civet have been watered down), gaining a toughened, ballsy exterior which brings it even closer to the virile Aramis; the latter hasn't suffered major loses so far, although a reformulation in the mid-2000s altered a bit of its veneer.
Aramis appears somewhat sweeter and mossier, underneath the male snagging quality with its pungent bitter leathery and artemisia green notes on top laced with cumin and a hint of ripeness emerging very soon ("body odour zone", "wild!", "unbelievable"). It has a more powdery-earthy vibe overall, with a sweet pleasing note in the drydown which lasts amazingly well. Cabochard is more screechy and strident nowadays with its synthetic castoreum and floral reconstitutions, yet still rather formidable compared to so many blah scents around. Both are abstract landscapes where everything is sophisticated, yet wild too; a cultural map of the sexual revolution unfolded through the span of a couple of decades.
Certainly not interchangeable, but similar enough to appeal to lovers of rough, fangly greens with mossy, leathery drydowns, this quartet of fragrances ~Aramis, Azurée, Bandit, Cabochard~ has a place in any perfume collector's arsenal. All fragrances are highly recommended as "shared" between both sexes irrespective of their advertising campaigns.
Top: Artemisia, aldehydes, bergamot, gardenia, green note, cumin
Heart: Jasmine, patchouli, orris, vetiver, sandalwood
Base: Leather, oakmoss, castoreum, amber, musk
Notes for E.Lauder Azurée:
Top notes: Aldehydes, bergamot, artemesia, gardenia
Heart notes: Jasmine, geranium, cyclamen, orris, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Leather, patchouli, oakmoss, musk, amber
Notes for Piguet Bandit:
Top: galbanum, artemisia, neroli, orange
Heart: ylang ylang, jasmine, rose, tuberose, carnation
Base: leather, vetiver, oakmoss, musk, patchouli.
Notes for Gres Cabochard:
Top: aldehydes, bergamot, mandarin, galbanum, spice
Heart: jasmine, rosa damscena, geranium, ylang-ylang, iris
Base: patchouli, leather, vetiver, castoreum, oakmoss, tobacco, musk, labdanum, sandalwood.
Top photo Vogue US cover March 1969. Vintage ad from the 1980s for Aramis for Men.