Grès Cabaret, 2002

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(vintage cabaret photo, Richard Avedon)

Perfumer Michel Almairac

Transparent, woody rose. I’ve seen Cabaret described this way a number of times. I’ll take the transparent, and even though I can’t really describe how a fragrance is transparent, Cabaret is. I do smell a boozy rose, particularly at the opening. But overall, Cabaret smells of incense, lily of the valley and musk. These notes bounce off each other and form some interesting combinations as they evolve. Green apple candy? Badgely Mischka-style fruity floral?

The early drydown (a fairly long stretch) smells of lily of the valley and fruity musk. Later in the drydown, the tone is a cool cedar-like, incensy musk. This last bit stays close to the skin but lasts the length of the day.

Again, I have trouble with the word transparent here, as I can’t really nail down what I mean. But here’s a point of comparison: Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely, similarly a musky, woody floral is blunt and gooey, whereas Cabaret feels coated in a glossy clear varnish. This lacquer seems to temper the rest of the perfume similar to the way aldehydes modify a floral. However it’s done, the effect is lasting and lovely.


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  1. Andrey M says:

    Dear jtd,
    on “glossy clear varnish”: please do find and smell some pink pepper CO2 extract (I have Schinus terebinthifolius, but common Schinus molle is also widely available and can be smelled as an example). Well, if you like, of course))
    I believe that will be the varnish coating of Cabaret you feel. (Clearly enough we both read Turin and he definitely mentions the pepper, but this particular material is just so full of surprises. And besides, pink pepper itself is a fun in cooking as well -what it does with plain stewed beef is just a fairytale)

    1. jtd says:

      Thanks for reading, Audrey. I’ll try to get a hold of some pink pepper CO2. Thanks for the tip! This is the aspect of Cabaret that appeals to me the most. It has a balance of softness/hardness that gives the perfume intrigue.

      1. Andrey M says:

        Aha-ha! The second time in my rather a long life I’ve been called Audrey (I’m ANdrey in fact with a stress on “e”- the Russian name for “Andrew”) Never mind, it doesn’t matter really (a russian saying translated freely as YOU CAN CALL ME EVEN A POT, JUST DON’T PUT ME INTO THE OVEN can explain things a bit )
        What DOES matter in this case is pink pepper CO2 (WhiteLotus Aromatics has to have it in their catalogue if I remember right). Smell it once, and you’ll miraculously smell it’s special effects in a huge number of fragrances, especially not very old. (Not always a thick layering of transparent varnish it gives to Cabaret, but sometimes it is a sensation of “cherubic singing” in upper registers a perfume has in the very beginning, you’ll see everything by yourself)
        It’s just like mushroom tone in gardenia smell – feel it once and life will never be the same again )))

    2. jtd says:

      Sorry for the name-mame, Andrey. Clearly I need to pay closer attention! Your description of the pink pepper CO2 extract is interesting. I find materials that are used more for ‘effect’ than ‘aroma’ per se very interesting, and I think “cherubic singing” meets that criterion. And ditto about the mushroom note in gardenia. It’s hard to miss once you know it’s there, something I’ve actually heard people complain of. I think that points to something interesting about the neurology of olfaction. We may not have much of a language for scent, but our brains are primed to sort and categorize scent in complex ways.

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