WHAT I SMELL: Imprévu opens with lemony tinged aldehydes that quickly become entrenched in the most beautiful oak moss in addition to a more rounded citrus. Soon enough, the perfume moves from the citrus and becomes lightly creamy with pulsating florals. There’s also a spiced note that gives the perfume a bit of exoticness. At this stage, Imprévu’s heart is deep, warm, a bit mysterious and incredibly alluring. After some time, a light soapiness emerges, but that soon dissipates and that’s when the real magic happens. Around 10 minutes into wearing the perfume, a light rich leather melds with the deep and warm florals and the perfume begins to dry with a powdery oakmoss. The perfume is so beautiful at this point with its warm, in charge and take no prisoners personality. Imprévu in french means “unforseen” or “unexpected.” The perfume is exactly that… but in the most wonderful of ways.
Imprévu was launched in 1965 as an intense female perfume that ideally balances the chypre, wood and leather aromas. Absolutely mature and opulent, it opens with aldehydes and citruses like bergamot and bitter orange. The heart is composed of leather with traces of clove and floral notes, placed on a wooden base with oak moss.
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: Tina Louise…pretty and glamourous in a B-movie kind of way.
THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE IMPRÉVU: warm, deep, confident
BOTTOM LINE: Imprévu is a hidden gem of a drug store perfume that made smelling glamourous and chic affordable. And there’s nothing here that smells inexpensive except for the slightly soapish drydown finish that you can sometimes find in the over-the-counter fragrances. But all you need to do to remedy that is to re-apply. I found this little gem for under $25 online and I’m so glad I decided to make it mine.
Bone Rating: 4 out of possible 5 bones
Scent: Woody Chypre
Classification: Leans feminine, but very wearable for men
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
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.
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.
WHAT I SMELL: Habanita has a dramatic opening that is glowingly sweetened, with a blast of fruit followed quickly by a warming floral mix that is highlighted by lilac and rose. The perfume is so deliciously inviting as it seems to envelops the wearer. Habanita has a sweet edge to it, but it’s not a perfume that I would categorize as sweet. Maybe because as it develops the dryness of the oakmoss, the fresh tobacco and sheen of leather tone down the higher pitched notes. As the perfume settles down, the various notes even out creating this incredible balance between the spice, florals and woody notes. Habanita is sexy without being dangerous, but it draws you in making you want more.
1921 – Habanita was born in the exuberance of the Roaring Twenties. With trailblazing spirit, Molinard revolutionized perfume codes, creating the first women’s Oriental fragrance featuring vetiver, an essence hitherto reserved for men. From perfume extract to the essence of the femme fatale, Habanita’s innovative style was eagerly embraced by the garçonnes- France’s flappers – and soon became Molinard’s runaway success and an icon in the history of French perfume.
Top notes are orange blossom, raspberry, peach and bergamot; middle notes are lilac, orris root, jasmine, heliotrope, ylang-ylang and rose; base notes are leather, amber, musk, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss and cedar.
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: Cyd Charisse
THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE HABANITA: whirling, energetic, dynamic