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June 16, 2005

Fragrance Review: Robert Piguet Fracas


Tuberose is a sensual flower, redolent of dusk and warm skin. Its extreme and often shocking sensuality is likely to evoke diametrically opposed responses in people. While some recoil in horror at the thought of being smothered in its heady embrace, others lose themselves in its sensual layers. Fracas, as its name indicates, is nothing short of stirring powerful emotions. Created by a perfumer genius Germaine Cellier in 1948, the composition dominated by an arrestingly sinister tuberose.

After the initial overture by citrus and orange blossom—an olfactory calm before the storm, the darkness begins to gather forces. Tuberose undulates slowly and sensually, emerging under the veil of sweet delicate notes. It overshadows the radiance of orange blossom, which nevertheless remains in the background, glowing like traveling lights in the marshes. The sweet creamy note of tuberose is ornamented beautifully by jasmine, violet and iris, which lend a somber introspective quality to the composition. Lily of the valley is a surprising touch of spring-like freshness, teasing and evanescent as if carried by the wind--one moment it is distinct, the next it has vanished. The composition is ornamented by a filigree-like panel of woods and oakmoss, which provide a dark counterpoint to the lush floral orchestration.

Germaine Cellier (1909-1976) was also responsible for Bandit by Robert Piquer, Vent Vert, Jolie Madame, Monsieur Balmain by Pierre Balmain and Coeur-Joie by Nina Ricci. She was born in 1909 in Bordeaux and subsequently came to Paris to study chemistry. Her unique talent and utterly original vision place Cellier among the most avant-garde perfumers. Fracas was discontinued and then eventually reintroduced in 1996. The original is more aggressive and animalic, but the current version is very close. The notes are bergamot, orange blossom, greens, peach, tuberose, jasmine, violet, iris, lily of the valley, carnation, sandalwood, musk, oakmoss, and cedar.



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