Perfume Review: Robert Piguet Cravache and Visa
Owing to the facts that Cravache and Visa are being re-issued together, that I first tried them at the same time and that I am a romantic fool, I will now forever imagine them as a couple. He is sophisticated and sensible, significantly older than her. She is young, impossibly pretty, feisty and capricious. He is tenderly protective towards her, she worships him. They are on a honeymoon, cruising exotic lands on a white liner. It all takes place no later than in the 1960s, while the world is still gallant and glamorous.
Anthropomorphizing the scents aside, Cravache is what I always think of as an archetypal masculine scent, refined, bracing and charismatic without being macho. The copy describes it as a “warm elixir”, but I perceive the new Cravache as a cold scent, done in understated hues of gray and green. The vintage Cravache is warmer and deeper, its sharply-aromatic top notes have a more pronounced herbal undertone, its heart is a complex affair, woody, earthy, slightly piquant, the base is the wonderful, dark mix of leather, moss, tonka and amber. (And if it is this interesting and alluring in a vintage sample, how amazing it must have been freshly bought some 44 years ago!) The new version, “rebalanced” by Aurelien Guichard “to blend tradition and modernity”, lost the greenness of the herbs, the warm spiciness of geranium and carnation, and practically the entire base, including leather (and thus the name, Riding Crop, doesn’t fit that much anymore). The old Cravache is still recognizable here, but as a ghost of its former, more audacious self. After the chilly citrus top notes subside, the new Cravache becomes practically all-lavender on my skin, cool, brisk but not sharp. The lavender is delicately spiced by nutmeg and rests on a dry, similarly cold foundation of vetiver and patchouli. The new scent is simpler but still very elegant, perhaps even more sharply tailored than its adventurous predecessor. It smells well-bred and noble, and, despite the typical declaration about the “modernity” added to the composition, it seems to me more “traditional” than the old Cravache.
The new Visa, on the other hand, does smell as if it was infused with a generous dose of “modernity”, i.e. sweetness. I have not had a pleasure of smelling the original Visa, created for Piguet in 1945 by the legendary Germaine Cellier, for “a sophisticated woman [who] travels the world but never gets lost in the crowd”, but my first reaction upon smelling the new version is to say that it is too fruity to be a true replica of the 1940s creation. Then I think of Mitsouko with its peach, Colony with its pineapple and Le Fruit Défendu, that cornucopia of succulent fruits, and I am not so sure anymore. Besides, prominent as peach and pear are, they don’t have that annoyingly sparkling, über-youthful feel that haunts most of the contemporary fruity fragrances. These are ripe, almost over-ripe fruits, starting to darken and decay. Still, smelling the top notes, I am tempted to pronounce Visa too sweet for my tastes. But then surprises start to happen, the first of them being the appearance of immortelle, which smells green and meaty and totally unexpected amidst the fruits and the creamy flowers. It is a hint of masculinity in an extremely feminine, sultry and languid middle stage of ylang ylang and orange blossom, it is a Twist, and I love it.
As the fragrance develops, a leathery accord- surprise No. 2 – becomes apparent. It is not smoky or tarry or harsh, this is the soft, supple leather of a chic clutch that absorbed the fruity and floral perfume of its glamorous owner, but it is still leather, and as such – infinitely alluring to me. The base of Visa has a rich, nutty, cuddly quality that vanilla brings to a scent when it is judiciously blended with darker, woody and earthy notes, in this case, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver. It is a luxurious base of considerable depth, certainly worthy of an older creation. Visa can not be an everyday scent for me, this capricious beauty demands An Occasion.. If I were to go on a cruise around the world with the wearer of Cravache, I would use it with much pleasure.
Visa and Cravache are scheduled to be launched in October and will be sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Le Bon Marché in Paris and at Harvey Nichols in London. Visa will come in Eau de Parfum, $65.00-$95.00, and Parfum, $190.00 for 1oz. Cravache will be available in Eau de Toilette, $55.00-$85.00, Hydrating Body Wash/ Shave Gel, $38.00, and Aftershave, $65.00.
Please click over to Bois de Jasmin, to read Victoria’s review.
Image sources, art-dept.com, ffandcltd.com.