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Cèdre - What's in a name?

The first time I smelled Cèdre was from the bottle I owned. It wasn’t a blind buy; it was a gift from a very generous friend who thought I would like it. Well, I love her so I was sure I would like it, at least enough to honour her gift.   

You have to admit, it’s kind of gutsy to buy someone a bottle of juice they’ve never smelled before. I mean, as well as you think you may know someone or love someone, scent is very intimate. What you like the smell of might not be what they like to smell on themselves. This is really what sampling is for – it’s an inexpensive way for people to discover what scents they like. Gifting someone scent samples can save wasted money on blind buys. But my friend just rolled the dice. So how lucky was she? How predictable am I?

Launched in 2005, Cèdre was created by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens and is marketed as unisex. So far, so good. My friend, she knows me well – my partiality to Serge Lutens, my love of cedar and my disregard for gender designations in fragrance meant the ‘unisex’ recommendation made me laugh.

So far, I loved this gift, after all, she had put a lot of thought into choosing it, it cost a fair bit and she made an effort to get it, so in some ways, it didn’t matter if I liked the juice or not, but really, I should smell it, non?

A gift like this should be savoured, so I waited for the right time to give it the time it deserved. End of the day, chores done, quiet, uninterrupted time to myself.– no distractions, no demands, just time to experience. Spritz, spritz, spritz…both wrists. I always like to be generous with that first try. It’s hard to get a read on a meager dab. I like to smell it, feel it, see it on my skin so I can get to know it. I like to think of this as a sort of fragrance ‘Scentsurround’.

Well, the first whiff was a real corker. Instead of the hit of cedar I was expecting, I got the camphor/menthol notes of Tubéreuse Criminelle, not a blast of it, but just enough to make you think ‘That’s weird’ and look at the label on the bottle again – nope, it says Cèdre. By the time you turn your attention back to sniffin’ the camphor/menthol phase has died down and gorgeous, fleshy, rich tuberose starts to bloom against a backdrop of cedar. The heaviness of the tuberose is balanced by cool, dry, woody cedar. Clove and cinnamon add warmth and spice, while at the base amber gives it a sweetness that is just right on me and musk  gives it rich finish that mellows beautifully and lasts and lasts Oh, oh, oh!

But is Cèdre really the best name for this frag? Well, first of all, I don’t name ‘em, I just smell ‘em, but if you were to buy this EDP thinking you were getting a full on cedar scent, a walk in the conifer woods, a hint of Christmas, you would be buying a bottle of disappointment. Cedar is there the whole time, make no mistake, mostly in the background at first, balancing the tuberose, highlighting and playing off its rich fleshiness, showing up a little stronger later on, but on me, tuberose is the most pronounced note beginning to end. Personally, I think this should be called ‘Kryptonite’, it smells that good.

Did I tell you my friend was a carpenter? Yep, she nailed this one. She knows I love tuberose and cedar, clever girl, and a few bottles of Cèdre later, I’d say luck had nothing to do with this gift, she just knows me.

Cèdre is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Critical let-downs

Gwen and Kay--I love reading your reviews--smart, funny, personal, real. But I have a question about how you approach reviews in general, based on a recent experience I had. I was in Ottawa on the weekend visiting friends, and we ended up spending an hour (okay, maybe longer!) wandering around a giant garage sale/antique/collectibles sale. At one of the stalls, I found an unopened, sealed and boxed bottle of perfume by Givenchy. Didn't have my Turin/Sanchez review book with me, but since the price was low, thought I'd risk it. Later, I opened the box, pulled out the bottle and spritzed it on my wrists. Top was not as smooth as I'd have liked--citrusy and sharp--but the dry-down was quite nice--woody and not quite vanilla but something smooth and a bit spicy. Anyhow, I was quite happy with my purchase--until I got home and read the Turin review: one star! A mess! Stay away! And my enjoyment deflated. I started second-guessing whether I really liked it or not (and if, maybe, after all, I just have bad taste!). It wasn't until later, after I'd spritzed on some other samples I'd brought to let my friends try out, that I caught a whiff of the inside of my wrist again and thought "What's that one? It's really nice" and realized it was my junk sale find: Givenchy Pi. I tried it on naked arms the next day, and after shaking the review out of my head, thought, "You know, I do like this." So, here's the question: Do I have really bad taste? Or should I ignore reviews and trust my nose--or read reviews but still trust my nose? What do you do?

Re: Critical let-downs

Critical let downs are the worst! I like Turin and Sanchez’ book a lot. It’s great fun to read - informative and a bit bitchy at times - and you can learn a lot from it. We went through a stage of using that book as a sort if bible – “What does Luca say about…..” After a while we realised that rather than guiding us, we had let the reviews influence our purchases and our pleasure too much. We arrived at the point where you are now. So, do we pay attention to reviews? – absolutely. Do we buy perfumes based on reviews? – absolutely not. I mean, where is the fun is buying something someone says is a must-have if you don’t love it? And, let’s face it, juice ain’t cheap. I might read a review of a $30.00 wine and then buy it and drink it in an evening and if I don’t like it, there is very little harm done. But perfumes cost more and hang around longer.  That’s why we have a sampling program.
Reviews should pique your interest, and if you trust the reviewer, you should to get a sample and try the juice. Scent is highly subjective, it smells differently on different people and is difficult to describe in words and, so ultimately you should follow your nose. Does it smell good to you? How do you feel wearing it?
I don’t know if you have bad taste or not, but it sounds like you are gaining some confidence around scent and learning what you like and what you don’t like. Congratulations, you are no longer a lemming and enjoy your Givenchy Pi.