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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Perfume Review: Jean Patou Caline

Câline was released by Jean Patou in 1964 as “the first perfume dedicated to the teenage girls”. In 1984 this elegant “tribute to youth” has been re-issued as a part of Ma Collection, only to be subsequently discontinued with the other eleven wonderful scents. On the subject of Câline being a perfume for “teenage girls”, I have to say that, as much as I hate to generalize (when I was 13, I wore Poison, not a typical teenage choice, is it?) it seems to me that an average teenager accustomed to pinkety-pink, sugary-fruity, Barbie-esque concoctions and rather bland citrus fragrances, which are these days considered to be “youthful” and teen-appropriate, might find Câline to be rather too mature and sophisticated. This is a scent from an entirely different epoch, for very different teenage girls. In the context of here and now, Câline smells like a refined, understated, neutral in the best sense of the word fragrance that a woman of any age (and since it is not in any way overly feminine, a man too!) would find appropriate to wear in practically any circumstances.

The top, aldehydic, notes of Câline are fresh, a little green, slightly bracing. They set a rather solemn tone for the rest of the composition, a tone, which I find very enchanting. The heart, in which I mainly smell silvery, shimmery iris, with maybe just a hint of sweet orange blossom, has unexpected piquancy, a certain mossy earthiness even. The base is dry and ambery, with a surprisingly resinous, even somewhat incensey undertone; the whole effect is simple, uncluttered. This is not a complex scent, but it is one of those fragrances, the seeming simplicity of which is supremely elegant. Delicate, graceful, just a little bit aloof, charmingly somber, Câline to me is a poised young lady with a gentle oval face and serious eyes. She wears gloves and a small hat; she is a ladylike vision from the time that is gone forever. There is a certain melancholic feel about the scent, a certain sense of it being a little out of place in our robust, largely unladylike era, but its understated beauty, the timeless appeal of its elegant notes are the factors that at the same time make it so appealing and so very wearable over 40 years after its release.

Câline has been discontinued, but can sometimes be found on eBay.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I never expected to see a review of this one! You got it just right too; it is a shame that it is no longer in production. It is a wonderful summer scent, but it is also seasonless and unfailingly pleasant.

11:42 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

*wish I could edit comments*

Wow- where did you get this one? I remember this one as the scent of freshmen at Smith: girls who went to Spence and wore pearls and twinsets without irony. Girls who thought a walk on the wild side was moving on to Cristalle (this was the late 70's) or wearing Je Reviens or Norell, because they are, like rebels.

The only thing that I wish to come back from that culturally and (for members of my tribe and most other minorities) morally arid time would be that sense of decorum. That recognition of the undersated, the refined, the classic.

After all, there's no fun in flaunting the rules if you don't know them in he first place.

12:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

You make it sound so gorgeous and so fitting that image. :) I don't think I've ever smelled it. Must check my sample stash. I heartily second your sentiments on the lack of ladylike beauty these days... Thankfully, we still have fragrances that evoke such images.

12:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sniffed my way through the "Ma Collection" coffret with a few friends only last weekend. The scents were all stylish and beautiful (I couldn't dislike a single one), and all of them so very different from each other! Instead of conforming to some general fuzzy idea of "what the public wants", they are true to their name and the idea behind it - the crushed grass note of "Vacances" makes you think of summer picknicks, the sparkling "Cocktail" of Martini glasses and opera gloves. And "Caline" seems to me to contain all the charm, sweetness and freshness of Leslie Caron in "American in Paris" or Audrey Hepburn in "Funny Face". The idea of "young girl" as opposed to the reality of pimples, puberty, rebellion and trying to make sense of it all?

4:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elegant, understated, melancholy - sounds just right!

5:31 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhhh ... from an epoch when teenage girls wanted to emulate grown women, rather than vice versa... :-P It does sound wonderful.

7:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes, seasonless, timeless, always pleasant, always appropriate, yet not boring.
I have the whole lot of Patous I want to review, and they keep being pushed back.

8:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have the ma Collection box, and will eventually make my way through it. What I would love is to get my hands on a bottle of Caline. Some of the scents from Ma Collection is much harder to find than others, in full bottle form. This seems to be one of the harder ones.

"...that sense of decorum. That recognition of the understated, the refined, the classic..." - I absolutely agree!

8:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! Yes, I agree, at least we have perfumes to make us feel ladylike ...or whatever else we want to feel like at that moment :-)

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I absolutely agree with everything you said! And yes, every and each scent in that collection is a story all of its own. I mean, between Caline and something like Que Sais-Je lies a world of a difference.

8:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

...and the aldehydes here are not scary at all, I swear. :-)

8:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

They still want to emulate grown women, but since grown women want to emulate teenage girls...where does it get us? :-)

8:32 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful review. I wonder how many teenagers these days would appreciate this scent. I have not smelled it, but it sounds exquisite. You know, this makes me wonder if there will ever come a day when people will wax nostalgic about the "refined" scent of Pink Sugar!

8:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Probably some would. I must honestly say though that when I was a teen, I probably would have thought Caline to be boring, too quiet...I mean, I was a Poison wearer, hello! :-D

8:46 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I only discovered Caline last year (sends kisses to Jaime)and am totally hooked. It's one of those scents I wear now when depressed and am trying to imagine I live in a far more graceful, ordered world - one decorated by whoever did the set design for To Catch a Thief and some other uber stylish late 50s, early 60s movies and where Dior designs clothes just for me and....umm...yes, I have to go email a client now and get ready for meetings. :-( But I'll wear Caline and daydream.

8:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Sorry to crush in on your dream, but in my fantasies I live in that world too. New Look? Was created for me. And everything that Roudnitska have ever done too. :-P

9:01 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I do have this in a mini, but I don't believe I've smelled it yet--must do.

Elle's fantasy sounds great, but Tom's post reminds me that, although there were great clothes and perfumes then, this is NOT a time I would really like to return to. Much better in fantasy--or in movies--than it was in reality.

11:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am sure you are right. Absolutely everything is better in a fantasy :-(

11:31 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I have never tried Caline, and actually it sounds like something I would like.

11:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I think it IS something you would like!

11:33 AM EDT  

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