Cacharel Liberté (Freedom) was presented by the brand as a concerted effort aimed at seducing the daughters of the women who wore Anaïs Anaïs, introduced in 1978. If in the middle of the feminist wars then some people pined for softer, more passive models of womanhood exemplified by the young-women-in-bloom theme of Anaïs Anaïs and fell for the popular soft erotica of photographs taken with what seemed to beVaseline-covered lenses by David Hamilton (not the photographer for Anaïs Anaïs), it appears that in an era where the job of a stay-at-home mother in the Chicago area is valued at a little less than $100 000 a year by the New York Times and more college women apparently wish to pursue careers as homemakers once they graduate, the new aspirational fragrance better be called "freedom". Gisele Bündchen, the face for Liberté, now offers the image of an outdoorsy modern-day amazon who carries her bottle of Liberté fragrance like a flask of hard liquor in her jeans or more virtuously-put, a sports bottle. Only her romantic Cacharel shirt betrays some continuity with the old-school romantic femininity of her predecessor, Anaïs Anaïs.......
Liberté is a fragrance that oozes professionalism. Little was left to chance with that Trojan horse of a perfume sent by Cacharel into, principally the French market, but not exclusively, where it aims to rank among the top 10 fragrances. The scent will also be available in the rest of Europe and in the US, but with less of a surgical-precision-like targeted attack, necessarily so due to cultural discrepancies.
It was therefore not surprising, after the fact, to find out that there is a good dose of Thierry Mugler Angel and a little bit of Nina Ricci Nina (2006 version) in Cacharel Liberté. Both Angel and Nina are top-selling fragrances in France. Angel is actually the number one fragrance for women and Nina was extremely popular last year, garnering the title of best women's fragrance at the French Fifi Awards in 2007. These two major commercial successes are obvious quotes, to my nose at least, in the new fragrance. The oriental gourmand patchouli of Angel and the toffee fruity notes of Nina come together while being incorporated in a new-chypre perfume. The addition of a key orange note in particular is seen by Cacharel, according to Cosmetic News, as the inauguration of an unusual olfactory family, dubbed an "orange chypre". (Although Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin can be seen to have been going in part in that direction.) The fragrance is actually based on a main accord of orange and patchouli and feels at first almost as if it were a fifth addition to the Garden of Stars by Thierry Mugler.
In case it all sounds like too many diverging ideas in one bottle, I must say that contrary to my take yesterday on Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel, which felt that way to my nose, Liberté does not feel jumbled at all, but well made as the fading in and out movements, the transitions, everything feels smooth and clear. Undeniably it is a commercial scent, but it is well-done in its own genre. The scent was composed by Domitille Bertier (Lacoste Touch of Pink, Azzaro Visit for Women...) and Olivier Polge (Azzaro Visit for Women, Dior Homme....) of IFF.
The principal accord of orange and patchouli, with candied undertones and fresh subtle aniseed nuances, is the first impression one gets from the scent. As the perfume develops, it becomes creamier with notes of caramel toffee, vanilla, and honey mingling to offer an impression of general gourmand sweetness counterbalanced by the more grown-up, drier patchouli. I find the toffee accord here to be more subtle than in Nina. The heart becomes fruitier and more floral with notes in particular of what smells to my nose like litchi and peony. The pink litchi accord of Indult Manakara comes to mind. According to CGI Magazine, the perfume was actually inspired by a very popular French treat, which is a soft little glazed orange marmelade gênoise cake called Chamonix, which is quite sticky and jam-y in its texture.
Past the creamy stage, the perfume regains transparency. The citrus notes soar, creating a luminous chypre impression while preserving a comforting, slightly gourmand character underneath. It conjures up the image of a warrior-amazon stretching her whole body in the light of the morning sunshine, her arms high up in the air to salute the sun, only to discover with surprise that by contrast, her feet are clad in bootees made of fluffy white swan down.
The patchouli line is constant throughout the fragrance and its treatment is very Angel-like. It is a bit brash, but still lady-like.
The dry-down is balsamic, sweet, and smoky as the haziness of the vetiver comes through. There is also some pepper, which reminds us of the substitutive oakmoss accord mentioned by Jacques Polge based on iris and pepper, as oakmoss is currently a banned ingredient in perfumery.
Liberté appears to be a "transition" fragrance for those who would like to graduate, say, from Nina to a chypre later on. For others, it could be an everyday sporty to casual, yet feminine chypre. It can be seen altogether as an "easy chypre" combining the haughtiness of the luminous notes of a chypre, the more grown-up dryness and smokiness of the patchouli and vetiver, with the more tender, comforting notes of orange, litchi, and toffee.
The perfume contains top notes of citrus, bitter orange, grapefruit, citron, and mandarin peel. Heart notes are powdered sugar, orange peel, marmelade, white florals, and honey. Base notes are Indonesian patchouli, vetiver, and vanilla.
Liberté retails betrween 32. 80 and 62 Euros.
(Sources: Cacharel, Sephora.fr, Cosmoty.de)