Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jean Patou Chaldee: More Like a Tribute than a Review

Wearing Chaldée gives me visions. Composed in the 1920’s, Chaldée makes me think of this period of time, in the early 1900’s, when an obsession with the Orient and a fixation on all things exotic swept through Europe and the Americas. My friend, the one who enabled me to find all these gorgeous Patou’s, likens Chaldée to a kitten, whose fur has been warmed by the sun, sitting atop your arm. I like to think of this kitten as my dearly departed cat, her name was Payton, and she was an exotic & rare breed, called a Havana Brown. Payton’s silky brown fur had a softly sweet scent especially when she could be found languishing by the window in a stream of sunlight.

The name Chaldée refers to the Chaldean dynasty of ancient Babylonia. The Chaldeans were Semitic people, with golden skin and dark hair, living along the coast, near the sea, close to what is today the Persian Gulf. This is a fitting name for the fragrance; given the house of Jean Patou was the first to create suntan oil. Chaldée parfum is meant to be Patou’s interpretation of suntan oil as a fragrance.

I often read others lamenting the discontinuation of certain perfumes or suggesting that reformulations (particularly Caron) are nowhere near as good as the originals. I must admit to being rather annoyed by Luca Turin’s nonstop complaints about Caron perfumes in The Guide. I’ve never smelled the original Caron’s so when reading The Guide, I wished he would just let it go. However, when I smelled the fragrances of the Jean Patou Ma Collection, I suddenly, very deeply, understood these complaints. There aren’t many perfumes as gorgeous and yet as wearable as Chaldée.

While Jean Patou had suntain oil, the beach and the Orient in mind when he asked Henri Alméras to create Chaldée, it smells nothing like a modern day “beach” scent. Chaldée is a soft oriental fragrance; it is warm and welcoming and literally melts into your skin. It is one of those perfumes where the notes tell me just about nothing because I don’t smell particular notes, except perhaps the most perfectly balanced amber with opoponax (myrrh); a not-very-sweet vanilla with florals. Many have called Chaldée powdery, and it just isn’t powdery to my nose, perhaps the powdery aspect is meant to describe just how smooth and velvety the fragrance is.

Chaldée is soothing, warm, hypnotic and mesmerizing. It is not edgy or unusual or overpowering nor do I think it smells dated or old-fashioned. I now understand the wails of those who lament the discontinuation of gorgeous vintage gems and while I think I have enough to last me awhile I feel panicky about its dwindling status and find myself furtively searching the net for additional bottles…

Notes: orange flower, hyacinth, jasmine, narcissus, lilac, vanilla, opoponax & amber

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