Saturday, October 11, 2008

Loulou by Cacharel

It was the summer of 1987, the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school. I was lucky enough to get to Europe for a month to visit family and travel around. My friend and I spent two weeks in Paris. When we first arrived in Paris, I bought Loulou in the airport. I was already a budding perfumista at the age of 16 and had Diva by Ungaro, Poison, White Linen and Joy in my suitcase. But something about the dreadfully tacky box and bottle containing Loulou captivated me, so I had to have it. I wore Loulou every single day for the rest of the trip.

I’ve been wearing Loulou more and more over the past year. Since wearing it exclusively in high school I haven’t worn it or even smelled it for at least fifteen years. Loulou and I are having a reunion of sorts. I admit it was Perfumes: The Guide that made me find Loulou again. For all the fragrances where I felt Turin & Sanchez didn’t get it right, they made me happy by getting it exactly right with Loulou.

Loulou is a diva. But she isn’t a cold, manipulative, demanding or selfish diva. Instead she’s the lovely warm, curvaceous diva that everyone on set loves. If Marilyn hadn’t professed her love for wearing Chanel No 5 to bed (and if Loulou existed during Marilyn’s time) I would say Marilyn wore Loulou.

Loulou is a loud yet soft, powdery floral oriental. Somehow, Jean Guichard, the perfumer, manages to keep Loulou from going completely over the top and makes you want to smell it again. I’ve read reviews that call Loulou a “grandma” sort of fragrance. I guess if you consider your grandma a sultry, exotic a burlesque sort of way...then it could be a grandma fragrance. Loulou is the sort of abstract perfume where I won’t even begin to describe the notes. It’s a well blended soft floral-oriental which creates an aroma that’s altogether it’s own without any realistic florals or spices exposing themselves. I think Loulou smells vintage, it gives a big nod and bow to classic, full-bodied and complex perfumes. I’ll put the list of notes below but I don’t think the list would help anyone figure out what it smells like.

I have a soft spot for under appreciated fragrances. Loulou, to me, is an underdog. She’s stuck in a cheesy 80’s box and a light blue and burgundy plastic bottle. The house of Cacharel has created some beautiful perfumes; Anais Anais, Eden and Noa come to mind, yet most seem to think Cacharel is an awful drugstore brand. Sometimes you really have to look beyond the packaging and just smell the juice.

I couldn’t agree more with Luca Turin’s final statement about Loulou:

“This is one of the greats.”

Longevity: forever
Sillage: huge – no more than 2 sprays please

Almost everywhere I checked had a different set of notes. This is what I believe to be the correct (or very close) list ~
Notes: Jasmine, bergamot, mimosa, apricot, cashmeran, marigold, Tiare lily, iris, sandalwood, vanilla & incense


lady jicky said...

I never wore Lou Lou but we bought a sweet little pekingese dog a long time ago and as I name all my pets after perfume , she became Lulu (easier to spell and explain at the vets-LOL). We had her for 17 years. I still miss her and when I see a bottle or an article about Lou Lou I think of her .

Olfacta said...

It sounds wonderful! Something like Bal a Versailles. Will have to try it.

I too get annoyed when I read about "grandma" perfumes. My own, who wore Tangee lipstick and cut her own hair, would never have dreamed of wearing a heavy perfume. Nor have I ever known a grandma who did (although Auntie Mame comes to mind -- are these grandmas all fictional?) Maybe we should replace the word "grandma" with "sultry" or "worldly" and then we begin to approach what the classics are all about.

Abigail said...

Lady Jicky - Awwww, your dog named Lulu :-) what a perfect name! You should have a bottle - or even just a mini since she was a small dog - in her honor...

Olfacta - me too, I don't get the grandma reference. My grandma certainly didn't smell like any of these supposed "granny" 'fumes - she smelled like baby powder and honeysuckle or sometimes lily of the valley. I agree with you, I do think "vintage" or "classic" or "sultry" or "complex" are a much better label for the supposed grandma 'fumes.

lady jicky said...

Abigail - that is a great idea! I am going to keep my eyes out for a mini to put next to a photo I have of her. Lovely, thanks.

Tania said...

I tried it in a shop a few weeks ago, and it didn't smell like I remember it. You don't mention reformulation, but maybe there has been one? Or maybe my memory is faulty - which it could well be, because I'm not getting any younger... ;-)

Abigail said...

Hey Tania,
None of us are getting any younger!
I don't know about reformulation. Did you think it smelled better or worse? I think Loulou smells less powerful but maybe I'm much more conservative with application than I was as a "kid." (At 17, there was probably a mushroom cloud of Loulou following me around!)

Tania said...


I thought it didn't smell as nice.

I used to wear it a lot, and I figured I had a good memory of it, but it was not the same. I wonder if my skin chemistry has changed with age? I think if Lou Lou had been reformulated, I would have read that in a blog somewhere.

Sandi said...

Turin would have bashed them in the guide if they had reformulated. I was glad to see it given 5 stars since it's been my favorite since it was first released in the US(and I had to wait a whole bloody year for it to get from the east coast to the west so I could buy it.)

GeM said...

Agree 500%, Abigail! An absolute underdog.
LouLou is my absolute all-time favourite from Cacharel without a shadow of a doubt! and also I've realized that it's one of the few big-true love perfume stories I ever had in my life. I recently rediscovered and revived and it's flourishing among so many others to the point I feel like it's the end of the road in my perfume research. Of course I'll continue to love and being interested in fragrance world, but at least now I'm not desperate in finding my HG. It's been a long way from what I was to what I'm now, and the result is the same scent I wore twenty-some years ago during a short period of my teen age, that always has been handy just round next corner, but for some weird (unbelievable) reason I didn't think serioulsy of it any more... I always supposed that my love for LouLou was an overdimensionated memory of mine, but when I smelled again just a few time ago on the store... OMG!! I wanted to kill myself! and now ♥I'm dead!♥
For the closest match I ever smelled --> Penhaligon's Cornubia (although I've heard it's being discontinued? I still find it in shops).

For a totally different suggestion, easily to be included into that 'Vixen Sultry Set', please consider Montana's Parfum de Peau (another 80's Hit, it seems I'm currently obsessed with them!), which curiously happen to share the marigold/orange blossom & certain fruity accord & musky incensey notes with LouLou... but it's a total different fragrance because there's absolutely no trace of vanilla, but chypre-leathery-ambery one, it's another bomb... I mean sexy to the bone, don't you think?
So bye for now! Glad to hear from you at Ari's blog!!!

GeM said...

PS: I mentioned Montana's Parfum de peau because I think it's another big under appreciated!

I would just add that I also associate LouLou to winter/snowy/Xmas time -as I've seen that you included it in 'Best for Winter' set!-. It's my particular kind of 'comforting scent' when it's cold outside.

Abigail said...

I wasn't sure what I would wear today but in honor of your comments here on Loulou I have decided to wear my love for over 25 years...yes, of course, Loulou.

Isn't is grand? In some ways I wish nobody else knew of it and then I worry about discontinuation so I do want others to wear it (and buy it). Within the past few years I also purchased the parfum and it is also fabulous. The parfum has less sillage and it's smoother (like most parfums usually are).

Glad you know and love Loulou, too :)

I think Brian is also a fan of the Montana you mention and he probably sent me some awhile back. I'll have to find it and give it a spritz later tonight.

GeM said...

So do try it! it's a bit underrated and from the 80's, so = Cool Great Stuff, that's guaranteed!LoL. It was also originally composed by Jean Guichard (later reformulated by Edouard Flechier, but to my nose it's the same scent overall)...People talk about a certain similiraty with Balenciaga's Rumba but I never tried this one, so I really don't know. Most important thing to me concerning Parfum de Peau is that, although it's quite a potent stuff, happily it seems to be one of the perfumes my husband doesn't complain about when I wear it. He thinks everything else I use is too strong although I always follow a rule from a friend: "not to apply perfume until I can smell it -which means everybody can smell it 3 miles away". Well, I'm afraid my nose always can smell it, mostly while applying, so what a shit rule!?¿! so I simply apply it with a very light hand --- Anyway, when my husband is not complaining it's a good signal; it means Parfum de Peau is resting lighly around me, really like a second skin in a non-perfumey sort of way. He also loves LouLou, but I think he likes more when I'm wearing it in special occasions (not everyday & at home!).

I'm so glad you're honoring it... and I'm so excited to have found a real LouLou fan like you. It's so unusual that I still can't believe it!

With all the other fragrances at the large department stores LouLou seems like a forgotten gem in the shelve, and quite a little the same concerning its 'Internet' presence.
I'm really worried about HER (oh yes, SHE!) future, let's cross our fingers. I hope LouLou will not be missed by now, I don't find that has gone out of fashion in fragrances! In my opinion it's still rockin'!: beautiful, soft yet intoxicating.
But, what to do in the worst case? well, it's the kind of thing that I guess I'll still able to find in an old style obsolete shop/Hair Salon of a ghost town in the middle of nowhere.

Oh My! Congrats to have some in the extrait version in that wonderful Art Deco look, opaline blue bottle with the red stopper ...!!! so hard to find, right...? :(
and I also think the secret to LouLou is it must be DABBED, not sprayed... So that pure parfum version sounds the best, I guess. You lucky girl!

Loulou said...

i love love love this perfume!! my aunty wears it allll the time! it's addictive!

Anonymous said...

After Loulou there is nothing...nothing gets near may think you like a new perfume a lot, but after little while everything is boring and you need Loulou again...some days you even hate it and wonder why you thought you liked it so much, but after a couple of hours you love it again like it was just a moment of confusion...I fell like if a man would wear it, I wouldn't even notice it's a for woman perfume...many times I feel like I don't even like it that much, but keep using it anyway because I miss it and other perfumes make me feel 'alone'...

Annka said...

After Loulou there is nothing...nothing gets near may think you like a new perfume a lot, but after little while everything is boring and you need Loulou again...some days you even hate it and wonder why you thought you liked it so much, but after a couple of hours you love it again like it was just a moment of confusion...I fell like if a man would wear it, I wouldn't even notice it's a for woman perfume...many times I feel like I don't even like it that much, but keep using it anyway because I miss it and other perfumes make me feel 'alone'...