Gres Cabochard: And Suddenly It All Made Sense…


Cabochard (meaning “stubborn” in French), was orchestrated in 1959 by Madame Gres herself, along with a little help from Nose Bernard Chant of Aramis and the iconic Aromatics Elixir fame, to name but a few of his prolific creations.

This is one of those interesting fragrances that I smelt out of context and initially disliked. By that I mean I smelt it away from its natural environment, which is of course alongside other Leathers and Tobaccos. Having smelled a few mainstream modern florals that day. Cabochard smelled old fashioned, and very powdery in a talcum powder way that was not good. In fact, I was missing the point first time round.

However, as with Caron Tabac Blond (see my earlier review two days ago), when smelled alongside its peers in the same group, this is impressive and a little addictive.  I bought my bottle (a very nice anniversary frosted glass bottle) from my local Bodycare store on the High Street. On the bottom shelf, out of the eyeline of all but the nosiest of customers (i.e me), is a line of Cabochard boxes, coasting a mere £8.99 for a 100ml bottle.

The first spray is Ginger Wine or Sherry, very loud and very swiftly over. Then you get the talcum powder again, but when I waited for ten minutes I was rewarded with a fabulous Incense/Patchouli Leather fragrance that was worth about five times what I paid. Naturally it’s been reformulated into submission, but I don’t have the vintages to compare it to. When this has jumped out of the bottle it’s not so good, but when it’s gone to sleep on your skin, it’s divine. It reminds me of Leather that has been worn to Church, with a hint of papery dry Tobacco. The Tobacco note is not one of toxic exhaled smoke, but more one of the smell inside a Tobacconists, where the pipe smoke and cigars rub shoulders, giving off an aroma of dark, dried leaves.

Overall it’s good Spiced Leather, but I can’t help thinking that I wouldn’t be so positive about this had I smelt the original, rather than this reformulation, which has deeply disappointed critics. (Luca Turin is practically in tears about this one). However, I have to work with the materials I’ve got. For my money, and there wasn’t much of that needed, this is a very good, aromatic Leather with a few shouts of Chypre Green notes and a schooner of Sherry before it finally calms down into its warm leathery base note.

This will never be my signature scent (I’m down to about twelve of those, oh the irony!…) but it will always be in my scent wardrobe, especially for Winter.

7 thoughts on “Gres Cabochard: And Suddenly It All Made Sense…”

  1. Dearest Iscent


    What a dreamlike perfume – fantasy on the Left Bank Paris of the 50s for me at least.

    It was the first I chose when I started my own humble musings on the subject of perfume.

    I can agree with pretty much everything that you’ve said – you’re description of the ‘ginger wine’ of the aldehyde and spice of the opening is quite inspired.

    I have tried vintage versions and there is no point in pretending that they are anything other tha many times better. However, at the price one struggles to think of a more complex and elegant perfume so readily available as the current reformulation.

    You may be interested that Bernard Chant, though uncredited, was also the nose behind Estee Lauder’s Azuree, which I hope you will have the chance to discover soon…

    I am so enjoying your journey.

    Yours ever

    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dear Mr Dandy,

      I deeply appreciate your erudite remarks, always witty and articulate. How perceptive of you to acknowledge that this is indeed a journey for me and since Day One I have encountered learning curves, disappointments, delights and unexpected emotions. This blog is opening my eyes in so many ways and I am so grateful for wise commenters such as yourself from whom I am learning so much.

      Yours warmly

  2. Hello IScent,

    Vintage Cabochard is my signature scent. I cherish a beautiful concave bottle with a faded beige velvet bow. Every time I put it on it takes me to another place in time. It reminds me a bit of a tamed down version of Bandit.

    I so enjoy your posts.


    1. Thank you Teena, I am so pleased you like the blog. It would be nothing without readers and commenters though, so your input is warmly appreciated.
      You are very lucky to have the vintage Cabochard, I am green with envy. I have heard the modern one, while still lovely, shone much brighter in the past. A friend of mine is gleefully excited about lending me some Bandit! It was reputedly Edith Piaf’s favourite. Watch this space for future reviews.

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