The Scented Hound

Abbreviated perfume & fragrance reviews from one man's perspective


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Vintage Shopping: Hermès Calèche and the Guerlain Mystery Perfume

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.

Jane Fonda

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  1970’s sophistication.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE CALÈCHE:  dusty, easy, tailored

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT CALÈCHEThe 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!

The damaged Calèche and the Guerlain Mystery Perfume.

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.


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New Release: Vivacious – Hiram Green

WHAT I SMELL:  Vivacious makes its entrance with a full-bodied sunny bergamot and a sweet and lilting violet which quickly gives way to a waxy carnation full of energy and a boldness.  I find the opening unexpectedly rapturous and exciting.  As the perfume warms on the skin, the cool violet pops it head out from under the carnation.  Here, the perfume feels as if it resides on two planes, the violet happily skips upon the rounded carnation as if the perfume is full of mischief, but not so much as to take it over with flippant silliness.  As the perfume continues to develop, a rich, round, waxy mix of warm carnation and powdered spiced florals make for a lightly leathered hue.  Vivacious is as pretty as it is bold, but it’s not demure by any means.

From the Hiram Green website:

Vivacious is a violet-themed perfume that takes its cue from those prim Victorians who adored this precious flower so much. Updated for the 21st century, this scent has a happy and carefree flair.   

The fragrance opens with bright and joyful bergamot that seamlessly merges into a floral bouquet of flirty violet and spicy carnation. Waxy orris smoothly anchors this boisterous heart and soft, powdery amber adds a warm and luxurious finish.  Vivacious is an exuberant and joyful perfume. Perfect to zing your life.

Notes: bergamot, violet, carnation, orris, amber 

Flapper Joan Crawford in “Our Dancing Daughters” – 1928

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  Vivacious is the quintessential 1920’s flapper.  It’s a modern perfume that comes out of the Victorian era with the just the right amount of old and newly bold.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE VIVACIOUS:  waxy, full-bodied…and of course, vivacious!

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT VIVACIOUSA Bottled Rose, CaFleureBon, Colognoisseur

BOTTOM LINE:  Vivacious is a lively perfume that brings forth something new every time you draw the perfume to your nose.  Sometimes fresh, sometimes spicy, but all of the time bold and beautiful.  This is a lovely new direction for perfumer Hiram Green, and its one that’s very welcomed.

  • Bone Rating: 4 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Floral
  • Nose: Hiram Green
  • Classification: Unisex
  • Expense: $165 for 50 ml eau de parfum

* Sample provided by Hiram Green.  Opinion my own.


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Sarah Baker Perfumes – Lace

WHAT I SMELL:   Lace opens head on with a sweet and candied ozone and a swirl of notes that feel as if they are wrapped up in cotton candy fluff.  In seconds, the perfume is a mix of coconut orange cream and light buttered cookie.  But as soon as I say that, the perfume turns to an uplifting cedar.  I know this all sounds strange with the written word, but trust me this swirling mix really works in the loveliest and liveliest way.  As the perfume continues to develop, the creaminess turns from the coconut to the vanilla.   Here, Lace is oh so smooth and slightly custard like.  But soon enough, the perfume decides to move towards the sweet and what was once more creamy is now sprinkled with sugar.  Still delicious, I have to admit I love that creamy custard phase.  After quite some time, the gourmand cookie moves to the floral with a beautiful jasmine coming to the forefront.  Lace is a fun and delightful ride that settles into a frisky floral vixen.

From the Sarah Baker Perfumes website:

Not the lace of the boudoir. Here regal elegance is ideally suited to occasions that call for discretion and restraint. Butter wouldn’t melt on the buttoned-up top layer. But underneath a devil-may-care spontaneity and luxuriant desire for pleasure is revealed.

Notes: Musk, Coconut, Hedione, Ambroxan, Vanilla, Calone, Jasmine, Cedar 

WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME:  Jasmine infused vanilla cream cookies.

THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE LACE:  delightful, scrumptious, temptress

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT LACEMegan in Sainte Maxime

BOTTOM LINE:  Lace was a great introduction to Sarah Baker Perfumes.  It’s fun and easy to wear and one of those perfumes that defies being in a bad mood when wearing it.  Who doesn’t love a fun perfume?

  • Bone Rating: 3.5 out of possible 5 bones
  • Scent: Floral
  • Nose:  Sarah McCartney
  • Classification: Unisex
  • Expense: $140 for 50 ml eau de parfum