Thursday, November 23, 2006

A re-orchestration: Baghari by Piguet, fragrance review and comparison

Reformulation seems to be the new name du jour for perfume companies. They sometimes miss terribly (Dioressence) while sometimes they invent something amazing (Femme). Baghari by Piguet seems to stand at the middle, being neither atrocious or disloyal to the original, nor the innovative masterpiece that could be the be all and end all. Taking that into account however it stands as a perfectly lovely little aldehydic floral that is sure to be enjoyed by lots of people. Not what one expects from the house of Piguet, who has churned out such controversial fumes as the lethal white femme of Fracas and the leathered dominatrix rolled in grass of Bandit.

The original, now vintage, Baghari was created in 1950 by Francis Fabron, creator of Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps (1948), Balenciaga Le Dix (1947) and Givenchy L’Interdit (1957). This venerable french "nose" composed elegant scents with polished and powdery notes echoing an aura of romanticism and the feel of the feminine New Look that had been introduced just 3 years prior by Christian Dior. The vogue became one of feminity packaged as a lady who lunches discreetly with crinoline skirts a little below the knee, cinched waists, little hats and gloves for all occasions. Baghari was marketed in 1950 as a discreet and fresh fragrance for a young lady, but of course perceptions have changed so much (not to mention fashion trends) that it is impossible to imagine what the audience of BlackEyed Peas or the consumers of Miami Glow might find elegant anymore. Nevertheless, this is not an affirmation written in an attempt to look down on our day and age as is so prevalent among perfume boards, blogs and articles. Our age has also got its classics (Narciso for its loveliness, Angel for its innovation, Voleur de Roses for its unusual mix of rose and patchouli and a few others). Their time of reverence will come...

Not to divert from the point however, the new Baghari is a playful spin on the original. It was reorchestrated in 2006 by Aurélien Guichard of Givaudan, famous for his acclaimed Bond no.9Chinatown. The main difference with the vintage is in the top notes and less at the base. The stark glaring white aldehyde of the original is replaced in part with sweeter notes, encompasing a little violet, a note which is witnessing a rebirth this year after eons of exile in the darkest corners of the perfume hall of fame. On a blotter it has a slightly spicy note that is deceptive. It really properly blooms only on the skin.

The notes for the original are: aldehydes, bergamot, orange blossom, lemon, rose, lilac, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, jasmine, Bourbon vetiver, benzoin, musk, amber, vanilla.
In contrast the new one has: bergamot, neroli, aldehydes, violet, jasmine, orange blossom, rose Damascena, rose Centifolia, iris, vetiver, amber, musk, vanilla.

As the new Baghari unfolds its secrets there is a clean, almost soapy smell that is very becoming, like crispy linen on a laundry day, starched collars and preppy shirts laid out on the bed for inspection before donning them. It then sweetness considerably with the full revelation of the jasmine and orange blossom heart. The dance of rose with jasmine and violet is never ending, going on and on and on, into the territory of romantic and old-fashioned elegance of wisps of satin petticoats underneath. This is most definitely a floral for soft personalities, a little shy perhaps, a little wistful. There is a silent lucidity about it, that resembles a piece by Debussy. Full of emotion that is expressed in a tender and innocent, shining way; shielding our core and our memories from the ravages of the mundane, affording us a slow drive to sunny gardens.
The woodiness of the base has a hefty dose of powdery iris, a very expensive ingredient, lending an earthy dry afterfeel that lingers like the memory of a kiss on one's flesh, a skin-like aroma that seals the deal and makes this one reformulation worthy of its launch.
The comparison with Chanel #5, Le Dix by Balenciaga, Guerlain's Vega or Liu is not far off and indeed somehow Baghari seems a little redundant to me, since I already own Chanel #5 in parfum/extrait, which is a little muskier and woodier than this one, making it more seductive and secretive in my mind. But that's not to mean that the new Baghari isn't a lovely scent.

It can be had in a bottle of 50ml/1.7oz of Eau de Parfum at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols (UK) and Les printemps (France).

Pic courtesy of touteenparfum.

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