Cacharel Yes I Am (2018) // Smells of the Zeitgeist {Perfume Review & Musings}


Yes I Am, the newest scent from Cacharel is an ode to feminine affirmation as seen through the lens of the beauty industry uncovering two sociological thruths: 1) that lipstick is its star product and 2) diversity is on the rise both demographically and in terms of the wider society gaining fuller consciousness of it. Hence the slightly political only (?) sounding name for the perfume entitled Yes I Am, which echoes the slogan that Barack Obama made famous in his 2008 campaign, Yes We Can. Singer Izzy Bizu, whose mother is Ethiopian and father English, is the face of the Cacharel advertising campaign serving as further, subliminal affirmation in the here and now of momentous political emancipation and the ever recurring theme in the perfume industry of feminine chutzpah...

In 2018, on the tail of the #MeToo social media movement of late 2017, which has helped out all the pigs of the world - in France #BalanceTonPorc called to action explicitly degrading the image of nice, real, animal pigs in doing so - the scent of women's affirmation could only be sweet...


Of course, sexual predators are not necessarily just men. Within a given structure of power, women can also become the huntresses of men - or women. But the institutional, historical bias has been to the detriment of women. Conscious that we're talking about deviant behavior reinforced by power structures - not gender war - a more recent hashtag has been put into circulation: #WeToo. The "we" designates collective masculine support.

The worldwide roll-call of the names of sexual predators is still going on at press time and will continue into 2018. It is an amazing movement; it is moreover a moment of truth in human history, all the more fascinating because it is incremental in nature showing that time and maturation are necessary for women to speak out on a topic which touches - or attempted to touch - upon their intimacy, their essence and their self-respect. A birthday seems to be in order, an international day of courage and outspokenness in the face of sexual predation, with due respect paid to ancestors of the movement.


Yes I Am - a message on a perfume bottle - while related to the message Yes We Can, is altogether different in its outlook on the world. It is individualistic and places the accent on being rather than doing. Perhaps it is in this latter respect that one cannot follow to the end the program. It reveals a more egocentric slant. But you could see it as a stepping stone to a freer Yes I Can. If Obama had clamored Yes We Are, it would have felt like a stultified affirmation. If you said, Yes We Are, then it would have meant something like We Are Not Changing. We are who we are. Recognize us. Yes We Are could only yield promise in the very early stages of a group beginning to realize that they form a whole, before unselfconscious, perhaps even invisible, and now alive. Yes We Are and Yes I Am contain the assumption that the terrain of rights and personhood is quite barren. We hope that a tag line such as Yes I Am does not convey the same sort of implication, that women are so down the ladder of social affirmation that first, they must say that they exist and that once their existence is recognized, that then they will think about action and possibilities by appropriating and transforming whenever relevant the Yes-We-Can inspiration for a Yes I Am into a Yes I Can.

If lipstick is a feminine passion, it was said before that it becomes all the more ravenous in times of crisis. In every economic downturn we were told, lipstick wins. Lipstick perks you up and it's relatively affordable. In 2018, it appears that either women are perceiving the world as being in a perpetual state of crisis - TV images and stories won't contradict you - or that lipstick has become a more alluring item in times of relative equilibrium.

Lipstick as a consumer object and sign of fashion and beauty has changed; offerings are more diverse and the color spectrum, much wider. Sephora on the heels of Balmain is now proposing shades in blues, blacks, khakis - and now blue lips are not unseen on the streets. Now you can express your blues, literally, with indigo lips.


How Does it Smell?

Cacharel is taking into account this peaking feminist and diversity Zeitgeist with an invitation to think about your own bearings in life but goes for classic red lipstick to illustrate the message. The perfume does not smell of a lipstick accord. It is a very well done jus by perfumers Christophe Raynaud and Honorine Blanc of Firmenich exploring some of Cacharel's olfactory DNA while insisting on delivering a fragrance which is designed like a civilized aphrodisiac, with an addictive aspect.

Yes I Am the scent you could find déjà vu. In it, there is a gourmand, egg-shell, whipped whites, slightly rum-y, sweet-dessert accord you already smelled in Cacharel Catch Me...(2014) done by perfumer Dominique Ropion of IFF then. As part of the olfactive DNA of the brand, it is in there. There is also behind the seeming innovative accord dubbed "Spicy Cremoso" made up of a milk accord, sandalwood and cardamom, a throwback reference fundamentally to Cacharel Eden (1994) signed by perfumer Jean Guichard of Givaudan.

Ultimately however, the new fragrance is new, evolving its own path. It is one of those perfumes that make people flare up their nostrils ostensibly in public because its presence has to be acknowledged and evaluated, with a quivering nose. It is one of those scents that is a conversation starter on nice smells on the subway. The drydown is particularly captivating. The seamless blend sings in the air. It just needs time to fully show its personality. Its top notes are coherent with the whole composition rather than aimed at pouncing on you first and then fizzling down - a major issue in perfumery today when it becomes obsessed with just selling. There you have it, a new and qualitative jus - a logical offspring, but also a new being.

Fragrance notes

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