Skip to main content

Chamade – Two perfumes in one – a masterpiece.

Champs Elyseée, Paris

Last week Gwen wrote about Patchouli Ardent, a Guerlain fragrance, which you can read about - just click the link. 

After loving and wearing perfume most of our lives, and testing hundreds and hundreds of perfume samples, we both have come to the conclusion  that Guerlain, which was founded in Paris in 1828, truly is the foundation of modern niche perfumery. The House of Guerlain on the Avenue du Champs Elysée has created so many of the world’s most beautiful perfumes that are now iconic, the benchmarks against which modern scents are measured. 

Starting with the founder, Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain, the family of Master Perfumers were, first of all brilliant artists, and secondly, fearless innovators who kept moving the perfume industry goal posts.  Aimé Guerlain’s Jicky in 1889 was the first scent described as a parfum instead of an eau de Cologne, one of the first fragrances to use synthetic materials, such as coumarin, in combination with traditional natural components. 

And there is the famous Guerlinade, the magical powdery accord of ambery vanilla that is the unique proprietary imprint in all Guerlain fragrances. This smooth warm accord that almost glows is most noticeable in the dry-downs, which brings me to tell you about Chamade…

Chamade was created by Jean-Paul Guerlain, and launched in 1969. In French, the word “chamade” refers to the rapid beating of the heart, or moment of surrender, and Chamade, the fragrance, is said to symbolize a total surrender to love. In The Book of Perfumes, John Oakes writes that Jean-Paul Guerlain spent seven years and made more than 1,300 trial versions before he perfected it. According to perfume critic and historian, Michael Edwards, Jean-Paul said: “For me, Chamade was Guerlain’s first modern perfume after Shalimar and Mitsouko. I am still in love with it. ”

The first spritz on my wrist is assertively green, just like leaves and green buds and stems crushed and rubbed between fingers, the distinctive pollen smell of galbanum and tart limey bergamot mixed with soapy aldehydes. This deep green accord soon takes a big breath and relaxes, sweetening with vibrant notes of sweet hyacinth and ripe blackcurrents. Slowly, the green opening diminishes, gradually revealing the feminine floral heart, a bouquet of white blooms, roses, perfect jasmine, and lilacs in full bloom, all dusted delicately with the scent of clove. No single note dominates, the accord is delicate and lush, with hints of the verdant opening accord with its dusty pollens and oily leaves. 

The dry-down into the base begins after two to three hours. It takes a long long time to appear, and when it does, the accord is Guerlain magic. Creamy resinous sandalwood, dark vanilla, aromatic tonka and benzoin, earthy iris and vetiver blended to perfection, sophisticated and elegant but unexpectedly sultry and sensual. This is the Guerlinade effect writ full. The tender beating heart surrenders to the warmth of love.

Charade was a game-changer. It’s really like two separate fragrances, a beautiful contrast between cool and warm notes, with the assertive and distinctive green opening, and delicate heart, and the sophisticated balsamic  sensual dry-down for which we are made to wait, and wait….but the gorgeous base accord lingers for hours and hours so the wait is worth it. 

Reviewers and critics through the years since its launch fifty years ago have lauded Chamade as a masterpiece. All versions have undergone reformulation, with the current versions being the closest to the originals, so that Chamade still retains its masterpiece status. It is definitely one of the iconic Guerlain classics that you should try. 

We list two versions:

Chamade EdP  – $7.00 for 1 ml.

This version is richer and more complex than the EdT from top to bottom, with some of the strong green and aldehydic notes softened slightly, making the sillage perfect for social occasions. 

Chamade EdT – $5.00 for 1 ml.

This version is greener and more aldehydic in the opening than the EdP, which some may prefer, but the heart and dry-down are very close to the EdP. Overall, the EdT wears lighter because the formula is less complex.

Image-wikipedia.com - Avenue du Champs Elysées - by Benh Lieu Song