Brèches as a Perfume Word {Perfume Words}

Moss Breches Tom Ford.jpg
When Tom Ford launched his Private Blend collection of twelve fragrances last spring he titled one of his perfumes, Moss Breches, which immediately lent to speculation on the part of native English speakers that it might, perhaps, be related to the word "breeches" in English. Given Tom Ford's public persona and lack of taboos in his general discourse about  perfume and sexuality, where he does not hesitate for example to describe Black Orchid as inspired by the scent of a "man's crotch", this would appear to be quite a natural association in the minds of his followers........
Honeycomb by Hi Paul.jpg
 Honeycomb by Hi Paul

The speculation was further fueled by lack of easily available information and homonymity with look-alike words that meant something else in French.  However, "breches", more often written "brèches" in French and sometimes "brêches", does not mean at all "breeches". Yes, "breches" can smell animalic, but it has to do with the natural musky, animalic overtones of honeycomb. "Brèches" means "honeycomb" or even more particularly according to a 1935 agricultural dictionary written by Tammo Jacob Bezemer, means something more specialized than that, that is an "old comb"as opposed to a fresh one.

In using the name Moss Breches, Tom Ford was making use of a rare word in French that is most often encountered in treatises on apiculture and sometimes in perfumery given the ties existing between agriculture and the art of perfumery. The lack of accent, the coupling with an English name is a bit disconcerting, yet useful to create a sense of the precious and the rare. Maybe there is note of humor in it too if ever Tom Ford himself thought he heard the word "breeches" the first time he heard the word "breches".

So Moss Breches ultimately refers to two key ingredients in the composition of the perfume, the rendering of oakmoss as it is a chypre and beeswax absolute. Similar in this regard with Comptoir Sud Pacifique Eau de Naphé, we see here an attempt to enrich and vary the vocabulary of perfumery, capture our attention by rediscovering rare traditional terms and putting them on a perfume label.

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Great scoop!! I didn't know this (although i do speak French as you know) and it makes sense.
    I bet the Texan did hear breeches, LOL!

  2. Not every native French speaker will know this word with this meaning. And in fact it is not listed in dictionaries that are references.


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