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Madness – Chopard’s hidden gem – January 18, 2013 New Fragrance Listing



Photo - Chopard Madness bottle -

The Oscar nominations have been announced, which means I’ll be glued to the TV on Sunday night, February 24th. Every year I try so hard to resist, but it’s useless – I HAVE to watch the broadcast from beginning to end, especially the Red Carpet interviews. “Who are you wearing?” is crazy-stupid, but I love it - stars gushing about their dress, their shoes, or jewelry, all of which they’ve begged or borrowed, or been "graciously lent", for the Big Night.

The niche jewelry houses, like Bulgari, of Italy, and Chopard, the Swiss jeweler and watchmaker, make certain that their fabulous pieces are on parade on Oscar night – the big stars wear emerald, sapphire, ruby, diamond, gold and platinum creations that go far beyond the definition of bling, and into the realm of very expensive art. When I think of these luxury brands I also think of their fabulous frags, like Bulgari’s Black, and Omnia, or Chopard’s Casmir, or Wish, all launched in the 90’s and now regarded as classics in our world of niche perfumes. Many new successful frags pale in comparison.

Chopard’s Madness is a fabulous niche scent, too, and you’ve likely never heard of it.  Done by Christine Nagel, the nose who created Fendi Theorema, Narcisco Rodriguez for Her, Délices by Cartier, and many scents for Guerlain, Thierry Wasser, and Jo Malone, Madness got off to a really bad start when it was launched in Fall 2001. The print ad featured the gorgeous Selma Hayek – a good choice – silhouetted against the lower Manhattan skyline – a very bad choice, after September 11. Have a look at it hereMadness disappeared from sight in North America, except for the countertops in Chopard boutiques, the numbers of which you can probably count on one hand. It quickly became a hidden gem.

The note list includes pink lychee, kumquat, pink pepper in the top, hibiscus and rose in the middle, and cotton flower, Brazilian rosewood and Palisander rosewood in the base. It’s a surprise right from the start. The pepper is well, peppery, and has a citrusy bite at first sniff, but soon there is a sweet fruitiness, like perfectly ripe raspberry which comes from from the lychee, softening the sharp blast. A sharp sweaty note emerges which becomes a dry woods sensation – the pepper again mixed with hibiscus – and then I begin to detect spicy rose, and Madness starts to expand into a warmer, darker velvety space. Rich and woody from the earthy rosewood, musky from the hibiscus, softly floral from the rose, Madness dries down after an hour or so into a smooth, polished, arresting scent, with a incense-like edge. It ends with a comforting, almost contemplative feel – the madness just goes away.

Madness seems to be a love-it or hate-it scent, provoking strong reactions. You could consider it bi-polar – maybe this inspired the Madness moniker - due to its “mood swings” between the aggressive start, then fruity retreat, then dry spicy attack, and finally the richly warm woody, but quiet, dry-down. 

If this scent were launched today one by one of the new niche brands, or by a celebrity nose, it would be lauded as unusual and unique, an example of supreme artistic confidence and maturity. It’s square, ruby-red modern glass bottle, which was not well-received in 2001, would be praised for its cool off-the-wall aesthetic.

This fragrance is not for everyone – I can’t see young or inexperienced perfume lovers swooning over Madness - but if you happen to have a well-developed perfume appreciation, like to experience life off the beaten path and follow the road not taken, then you will appreciate a little Madness.

Why should the Oscar stars get all the good stuff?

Madness is listed in out Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.