Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cacharel Scarlett: fragrance review

It is with a sense of disillusionment that I encountered Scarlett by Cacharel while perusing the aisles of Sephora in search of a gift. The brand has something of νόστος, of L'Éternel Retour for me: Anais Anais with its funeral parlour lillies (no offence inferred) always attracted me with its subtle autumnal romanticism which so contrasted with our innocence of the times; Loulou has been a sweet memory of long-ago, a shadowed Lolitesque reprise of L'Heure Bleue behind the parapet of a circus (and it still has devoted fans); Cacharel pour Homme was rampant in school, even though it probably didn't merit quite such a popularity; Eden and Eau d'Eden had the merit of being completely individual in their own little way (a wet wools fruity-oriental and a watermelon ozonic that didn't hiss at you, respectively); Noa is a pretty white musk with a powdery little whiff that can be an office-friendly scent that's not completely trite thanks to a hint of coffee; and Gloria was ~before its unexplained discontinuation~ a pipe-tobacco dream on the lips of a modern young coquette posing at some night-club wearing a pailleté top and licking Amaretto off her lips.
Then they started producing über-sweet fruity stuff that was mediocre at best: Amor Amor, Promesse and Liberté seemed like efforts to tune in the craziness of everybody else issuing fruity florals with intense sweetness on a bed of cleaned-up patchouli, no doubt hot on the heels of Coco Mademoiselle's commercial success: efforts with results hard to deferentiate between and ultimately forgettable. Along with a pleiad of flankers that didn't shine any too brightly in the galaxy...

Scarlett goes even lower, reminding me of a deodorant mist or a shampoo more than a perfume and it really pains me to say so. Composed by such experienced and talented perfumers such as Honorine Blanc, Olivier Cresp and Alberto Morillas, it's probably a testament to the rush of companies to issue new things at a breakneck speed giving them about a week to come up with something. Or alludes to the desire to adress a pre-nubile audience raised on Japanese-style erasers and soapy non-perfumey "perfume" on their mothers: If you're brought up on Amazing Grace, anything more smelly than a bar of soap just might trip you into sensory overload. "Soapy" isn't necessarily bad, if done right: Great aldehydics of yore as well as modern musky florals prove it can be pleasant and even refined. The wrong kind however can tilt the scales into floor cleaner, deodorant cream and the laundry cupboard.

Scarlett starts on fresh pears that hint at the lightly gourmand and innocent opening of Petit Chérie by Annick Goutal and continues on girly transparent (and completely artificial, detergent-style) flowers, while vaguely being reminiscent of Juicy Couture overall only less polished. It completely belies both its wonderful flacon ~designed by Christophe Pillet~ and its fiesty name that would allude to passion and sensuality (this is neither O'Hara, nor Johansson). And just because someone had it phrased so very wittingly I am borrowing their words for once and quoting: "If Scarlett had worn this, she could have stopped the war all by herself. The yankees would have suffocated on their approach to Atlanta, and Rhett Butler would have donned a bonnet and crinoline and danced with Ashley Wilkes rather than endure our whiffy heroine".

But its invitation is so short-lived that a testing spree shouldn't leave you with too much to wash off, so do give it a try when you approach a department store and see if you think differently. I thought it wouldn't work too great on blood stains anyway...


  1. he he not a winner for you then? I have to say I haven't even been inspired to try. I quite like Noa though- it's not like anything else I wear but I go through phases wear I rather love it, I like the coffee note and the snuggle scent nature of it. Sometimes.

  2. Like someone said in regards to another scent: "angry soapsuds".
    You're not missing much. Noa is quite nice in its own little way, if a very demure/timid scent. But sometimes that can be helpful too.

  3. What a shame that the darling packaging contains boring perfume. Thanks for the review - I won't have to go looking for it. (I live in quite a rural area without access to many perfume counters.)

  4. Thanks for the warning. I love Eden, Loulou and Anais Anais, though the last 2 seem a tad young for me now. I keep hoping Cacharel will do something worthwhile again. Hope springs eternal...

  5. M,

    consider this my best service to the community: keeping you out of dreadful things. :-)
    Yeah, it's not only boring but pretty bad. It pains me to say it, but...

  6. M,

    I know how you feel and it seems we do have some attachment to the brand, if only for the memories :-)
    It's such a pity they have obviously forgotten their heritage after insisting on the ad copy for this that they were revisiting their "roots" etc. :-(

  7. I am not even vaguely demure or timid- perhaps that's why I think it's quite nice sometimes- like popping on fancy dress!

  8. I so much loved the name, the japanese bottle, the idea. The scent is made in a certain way that i am really afraid to sample on skin, to be honest. On paper it was awully bland.

  9. K,

    it certainly can be! I like a certain degree of timidness sometimes (especially in flirting, although not coyness, there's a difference I think)

  10. N,

    I was expecting this with some sort of optimistic anticipation because of all the reasons you stated. Sadly it's only angry soapsuds on the skin as well...Nothing to write home about. A pity!

    Hugs to you! :-)


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