I love shopping for vintage perfumes. I mean, physically going to antique stores and estate sales to find those hidden gems. One of the down sides of living in Mexico is that there are neither. Yes, once in a while I can find a vintage perfume online, but it’s not quite the same of the rush of finding a treasure hidden in some dark cabinet in the back of a store.
We recently went back to the US to the outskirts of Seattle, Washington. We love Mexico, but getting away from the heat every once in a while is essential and that part of the country is incredibly beautiful and the weather this time of the year is perfect. But one of the best things about going back to the US, even in this time of COVID, is the ability to go shopping for vintage perfume. What a treat!
Of course, these days, not all of the antique stores were open. And in the ones that were, the the pickings were rather slim , unless you were looking for the random celebrity perfume. But I did manage to find a bottle of 1980’s Hermès Calèche Eau de Toilette. The perfume was used, came in a weathered box and was not the greatest bargain. Even with given all of that, of course I had to purchase the perfume!
WHAT I SMELL: Calèche opens with bright aldehydes, mixed with the lightest of soap tinged soft and tender florals. Quickly, a light oakmoss begins to appear from below and the perfume becomes a bit more muted with a cottony finish. In short time, the florals, now warmer, come forward with a richness and radiance that is pure luxury. And as the perfume continues to settle, a light leather pins itself under the dusty florals. Calèche is never heavy, nor sweet, but is an understated confident beauty that radiates a elegant aura.
From the Hermes website:
Written in 1961 by Guy Robert, Calèche was Hermès’ first fragrance for women. A highly feminine, woody, chypre floral, its name refers to the horse-drawn carriages that are emblematic of the house. Calèche is a novel that dazzles with the beauty of its raw materials, from the joyfulness of citrus fruit to the modernity of aldehyde notes; from the floral heart embellished with ylang-ylang, rose and jasmine to the woody, chypre sillage underscored by the nobility of the iris.
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: 1970’s sophistication.
THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE CALÈCHE: dusty, easy, tailored
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CALÈCHE: The Black Narcissus, Yesterday’s Perfume, The Vintage Perfume Vault
BOTTOM LINE: I have no regrets with my purchase and surprisingly it seems that the top notes have held up better than I had anticipated. Calèche is a beauty that is easy to wear and thankfully perfect for the hot Mexican weather as the sun and heat make it bloom without being too heavy.
- Bone Rating: 4.5 out of possible 5 bones
- Scent: Floral Aldehyde
- Nose: Guy Robert
- Classification: Leans feminine
- Expense: Prices for vintage vary. Review based on the eau de toilette version.
EPILOGUE: When I transport vintage and used perfumes in my luggage, I typically use Parafilm to ensure that the perfumes don’t leak. If you haven’t heard of Parafilm, I suggest you read the wise words of Undina who has helped me save many a perfume throughout the years. However, this time, even though I carried Parafilm with me, I failed to use it and the bottle leaked. I didn’t lose a great amount of perfume, but just enough to ruin the already tattered box as well as to rub the finish off the perfume’s cap. Of course, this does nothing to take away the beauty of the perfume…but I, like most other perfumistas, would rather have a pristine bottle sitting on my shelf. Lesson learned!
VINTAGE GUERLAIN MYSTERY PERFUME
When I travel to the US to visit friends, I typically will purchase a few items on eBay before I go, just because I can’t do it here in Mexico. Prior to going to the US this time, I noted that there was a 100 ml vintage Guerlain cologne bottle for sale at a very low cost. The bottle had no label on the front and no label on the bottom. On the plus side the perfume was sealed. And I should say that I love Guerlain colognes as they’re perfect for the Mexican heat. So, for a mere $35, I purchased the perfume. So what was in the mystery bottle? Or was it just a factice?
The mystery perfume turned out to be Shalimar. The really wasn’t a surprise as it seems to be the most widely available vintage Guerlain cologne on eBay. I have no complaints as the bottle is in great shape and the perfume smells fabulous. For $35 would you have purchased the perfume even without a label? As for me, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
August 19, 2020 at 9:19 am
I’m glad you were able to take a vacation to the US and that your vintage perfume shopping was fruitful! I probably wouldn’t buy a mystery perfume online unless I were willing to pay for just the bottle in case it ended up being a factice, but again glad it was a win.
August 19, 2020 at 9:28 am
I figured for $35 I could take the chance, especially since I could see the seal in the pictures. I also figured that if it was a factice, the bottle probably would have been much bigger. I’m not a gambler, but every once in a while you just want to play the lottery 🙂
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August 20, 2020 at 3:49 am
Great finds! I’m glad you were able to use that trip to do what you enjoy doing – and got what you like.
Probably a month ago I would have answered “No” to your question. But for the last 2-3 weeks I’ve been browsing eBay for a bottle of Shalimar. I don’t like this perfume! And still I’m considering buying a vintage sealed bottle hoping perfume inside will be good… Don’t ask me why 🙂 I won’t wear it, but for whatever reason I want it. Maybe I’ll end up buying an empty bottle and pouring some inexpensive modern cologne in it… We’ll see 🙂
August 20, 2020 at 12:28 pm
Interesting. I know that with Shalimar, I have to be in the mood to wear it. It’s not something that I can wear on a regular basis. As for the bottle, the iconic perfume bottle is exquisite I would agree. Maybe you can find a large factice online?
August 20, 2020 at 12:01 pm
This sounds so lovely. Lucky you, congratulations!
August 20, 2020 at 12:28 pm
Thanks…I was pleasantly surprised 🙂
August 23, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Sounds like you made some great finds!! I have a few vintage perfumes, Je Revien, Arpege, and Shalimar. They are so lovely to wear and it’s such a thrill to find one in good condition as well. I have never tried vintage Caleche. I shall have to find a sample now as your review made me want to try it.
August 23, 2020 at 4:12 pm
I have a tiny Arpege which I love. And the bottle is just like a jewel. I don’t know why, but when you get your hands on such vintage classics, I treasure them more than my newer perfumes!