Durance Fleur de Cachemire ~ Cashmere Flower: When Perfumers Joke, Silently (2014) {Perfume Short (Review)}


Fleur de Cachemire is an eau de toilette signed by Durance, a perfume house hailing from the South of France which specializes in accessible fragrances with a pretty artisanal flair, not too far off from the romantic soliflore tradition of simple, demure and fresh scents...

Their rose perfumes smell ancient; their ribbed glass flacons seem to belong in a bygone bathroom.

Fleur de Cachemire ~ Cashmere Flower launched last spring of 2014. I happened on it. The reason why I am reviewing it is to indicate to interested parties how this composition is one of those perfumer's jokes or plaisanteries de parfumeur as I shall call it henceforth. After all, noses have a right to relax and implant private jokes in their perfumes. This is not a joyful perfume, it is a gleeful one.

I was slightly puzzled at first by the name "Fleur de Cachemire" and thought 1) of a fantasy flower supposed to grow far, far away, say, in Cashmere, India 2) that it might be a woodsy take on a floral in reference to the material Cashmeran.

But the initial impression is a burst of Camphor. At this point, while I personally love the scent of Camphor wood and anti-mosquitoes repellent, I know at the same time that it is certainly not a widely shared taste as more often than not people will have negative associations with it. So, the question at this point was why Durance - a less than avant-garde name in the world of fragrances - was trying to sell a perfume unleashing a powerful and probably unnecessary accord to most of fresh, aggressive mothballs in the top?

As the scent development progressed the pharmaceutical accord turned old-fashioned drugstore accord, one in which you could distinguish the smell of rootbeer. This made the Durance eau de toilette even more leftfield. Yet, at the same time, you started thinking gourmand thoughts. And then, my olfactive memory spelled the name "Thierry Mugler" very visibly to my consciousness yet I could not put a name at first on the perfume it reminded me of. I felt it was a Mugler one. No, not Angel, even in distorted form. Well, perhaps a tiny bit.

This is when I realized that I was discovering an Alien by Thierry Mugler fantasy concocted by a facetious perfumer, apparently. In it, the camphoraceous indoles of the white florals of the original have been amplified and pushed after a while in the direction of its sibling, the gourmand Angel, while the latter's cotton candy has been replaced with rootbeer, which happens to be a good bridge between a gourmet, edible atmosphere and a more medicinal one. As the fragrance dries down you recognize the signature of Alien better but Fleur de Cachemire instead of being a perfume bent on plagiarism is like a game, a Rubik's cube where the perfumer has moved elements of two very well-known perfumes - especially Alien - to see what would take place. And this crime of plaisanterie is even "signed": "Fleur de Cachemire" is the coded, literal translation of what is inside Alien, a white floral famous for its overdose of Cashmeran.

We're not sure this is going to be their most popular perfume ever since it is also an Alien on Steroids in the top notes. The fading away of the perfume is more like a very light Alien due to its eau de toilette concentration. But while this takes place, it is fun.

Perfumistas might want to check out this OVNI of perfumery - another olfactory pun intended by the nose, no doubt. It is in the opening like a Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens gone wild. I imagine the background noise to the making of this perfume was a lot of chuckling in the lab.

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3 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. That's gorgeous.

  2. Claude. Levi-Strauss alludes to perfumery by way of analogy, arguing the importance not only of a combination of elements but as to the different ways in which they may be selected and organized, this allowing us to distinguish one fragrance from another.

    Your reading of Fleur de Cachemire is, however, the first structural analysis of a fragrance I have ever read. Closing with a comparison to OVNI really does make this gem of perfume reviews a tour de force.


    Lévi-Strauss, Claude. (1990). The Structural Analysis of Painting and Art. In Thompson, James M. (Ed.) Twentieth Century Theories of Art. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.

    Nicholas Packwood
    • Thank you - Lévi-Strauss was an unavoidable influence when I studied anthropology. I'm no doubt also contributing to mythologizing perfume, as well as analysing it as meaningful myth.

      Chant Wagner

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