Blog post by Gwen

LouLou – innocent and seductive and one of the greats

When I started this blog, I drew up a list of the fragrances I own, the ones I wanted to buy, and the ones I would never sell from my collection. One of the perfumes on that list was LouLou by Cacharel. I have hoarded this bottle until one night a few weeks ago, when a few friends for over for wine and perfume sniffing, I brought out my bottle of LouLou. Time seemed to fall away, and the discussion turned to ‘Oh, I do remember this…’ and ‘I wore this for years’ and ‘I was wearing this the night I…’ And before the night ended, I was handing out decants of LouLou. Seeing the reaction LouLou got, I thought it was time to share it with you. So, let’s start at the beginning.

Cacharel is a French ready-to-wear clothing and accessories line founded in 1962 by fashion designer Jean Bousquet. The brand became popular and well known for its colourful, youthful, feminine and refined style.

In 1975 Bousquet wanted to add a line of fragrances, so he hired L'Oréal to create fragrances for Cacharel and in 1987, Loulou was launched.

LouLou became one of the top-selling perfumes of the 1980's and a classic of modern perfumery. In his book, 'Perfumes: the Guide', Luca Turin gives it five stars, saying 'This is one of the greats.'

I bought my bottle in 1989 at the airport in Paris. Truth be told, I don't even remember smelling it, I bought it for the bottle. That gorgeous blue opaline faceted flask with the red top that looks like a flame was irresistible. When I finally got down to smelling LouLou, I knew it was something special. Smelling it now, I realize it still is.

Signed by master perfumer, Jean Guichard, the brief was to create a fragrance that was innocent, fitting with the youthful and feminine ethos of the Cacharel brand, yet seductive. Guichard found inspiration in actress Louise Brooks' performance as Lulu, in the 1929 film Pandora's Box. Lulu is a young dancer and a prostitute - a child and a woman - the perfect combination of innocent and seductive.

LouLou is constructed around vanilla (innocent) and tiare (seductive). In 'Perfume Legends' Guichard says: 'the idea of vanilla came straight into my head because we wanted something sensual that smelled of skin. In France, people say that a young girl's skin smells of caramel. That is the smell of toffee, which is a bit vanilla-like…So we started working around the vanilla-toffee notes." To make the fragrance more provocative and sensual, they turned to tiare: floral, creamy and indolic.

My LouLou opens with bergamot, not a blast, but a whisper. The bergamot is joined by a light, fruity, tangy note of black currant buds. I smell green leaves, not fresh garden leaves, but the leaves in a deep dark forest. I smell the spicy and herbal aspects of marigold, sweetened, and freshened by mandarin. Then slowly, the heart notes start to come forward. Opulent, indolic jasmine, almond/vanilla faceted heliotrope, sweet, powdery mimosa set the stage for tiare. It's sensuous, indolic and creamy. Rich, fruity ylang-ylang supports the tiare.

Once the floral heart is in full bloom, Loulou becomes irresistible. It's fresh and powdery, sweet and indolic all at once. Iris extends the powderiness to the base where Tonka bean, smelling like almond and vanilla custard, opens the way for the cozy, sweet, toffee-faceted scent of vanilla. Here it is, the sensuality of the tiare alongside the tenderness of the vanilla. What an olfactory experience this is. And just when you think it's too sweet, a note of smoky, resinous incense reins it in. Musk helps, too, by adding warmth, while sandalwood, woody, soft and rich, gives Loulou a sensuous smoothness.

The sweetness may be quieted, but that vanilla/tiare combo lingers for a long time, making LouLou so many things at once: tender, sexy, moody, resiny. I think that's what I've always loved about it.

My vintage bottle of LouLou doesn't have the big presence it used to have, but even when I wear it now, it smells original and new.  You know, I think I like it better now than when I first wore it.

Check out LouLou in our Shop.