Oh what a night…. Fracas by Robert Piguet The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

They hadn’t intended to drink so much and no one, but no one, had gone out looking for a fight.

But it had all began badly with nectarine bellinis at a quarter to four.

Champagne and fruit sugar syrup served in green clear stemmed flutes to kick off an ‘evening out’ is rarely a recipe for refinement and style.

Neither was it in this case.

Barreling out of the top floor bar an hour, two mandarin vodka chillers and a Long Island Iced Oolong Orange Blossom Tea later, our girls, ladies of a certain age to be precise, have the express lift in their increasingly blurred sights.

Puzzled to find an ‘elevator man’ inside, the Leader barks ‘Florists please’, the even more puzzled fellow passenger timidly replies ‘I don’t think we go to that floor’ knowing the store has no actual flower department. A stranger in the increasingly cramped descending room, a clean-starched lily of the valley type, remarks with disdain ‘You’ll have to get out at the bottom and try to clamber back up’.

With an art deco bell the doors open and all thoughts of elegant floral arrangements evaporate.

What palace is this in which our heroines find themselves?

Who knows, but this room is certainly its perfume hall.

The Perfume Hall

Remembering their lost blooms they scatter hither and thither in search of a perfect scent for the next stage of their adventure.

Without discrimination or discernment they try every faux flower chemists have conjured for their delight.

At the concession by the stairs some carnation, at the one in the corner iris, here an over made up assistant offers hyacinth, there her male, even more made up colleague jollily proffers jasmine. Gardenia are everywhere and our gang are not sure whether the last cocktail is repeating but orange blossom lurks ominously always.

Then ‘This is it!’ our Leader of the lift, our elevator Amazon exclaims loudly and proudly enough to alarm the manager in the attic. ‘I’ve found it’.

She grasps a flacon in her meticulously manicured fist and thrusts it first aloft and then across the pushed out sacrificial pulse points of her hoard, spraying all with her scent.


Some swoon with sublime joy, others with impending sickness.

Whether it was that most particular of perfumes or the proximity of linens and furnishing that did it, but a little little lay down suddenly seemed the most preferable position to take.

And here they were, our ladies turned girls of a certain age, draped over demonstration divans and corpsed on country chintz covered canapes when the officers of the law arrived, called no doubt by that alarmed manager from his office in the attic.

Repelled by the aromatic altercation that arrested them upon arrival our law enforcers still sought to intervene, to negotiate a retreat by our over-scented sleeping sirens.

One went to wake the Leader.

She expressly had not meant to hit a policeman.

Her meticulously manicured fist was not designed for that sorry purpose.

And as for the melee that followed…


That Fracas has a lot to answer for.

Arriving like a steam train punch in 1948, Germaine Cellier’s southpaw to the jaw still has force enough to dislocate sixty years later, despite a 1998 reissue.

This over-ripe fruit and floral explosion, an apotheosis of glittering and splendid tack, must have been ‘call an officer’ alarming at the time of it’s release.

One can imagine men asking men at their clubs whether they thought it fit for wives or servants to catch the merest whiff of it for fear of corruption.

Indeed, there is something both corrupted and frankly contemptible in a self consciously scientific fruit bowl punch opening, whose saccharine sweetness never really leaves the party. Quite an accomplishment when one considers that the next guests are a whole bouquet of every type of flower except for a shrinking violet.

Most prominent and ghoulishly got up of all a formidable drag artiste of a tuberose.

And what this lady lacks in authenticity she more than makes up for staying power. Many hours after the guests have departed and when the hosts are in their pyjamas gazing bleary-eyed at watches, this old bloom is still hitting out renditions of ‘We’ll meet again’.

Most likely we will: in the morning, because this Fracas goes on and on and on…

Excuse me if I sound churlish, but this is an aroma best experienced in anecdote.

As for the idea of men wanting to wear it?

To be frank, I would rather endure the original than the death by a thousand and one echoes (though generally without the tuberose and therefore the point) that currently assail the feminine fragrance market.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy


Filed under Uncategorized

28 responses to “Oh what a night…. Fracas by Robert Piguet The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

  1. Oh! I have a short story to go with your perfume, Fracas, “What Mad Pursuit” by Noel Coward… About an English author flung into the company of an over zealous, inexhaustible, group of Manhattan socialites…

  2. Cairo Rose

    Now I have been inspired to wear Fracas while on my fearless girls-only trip to the Khan Kalili bazaar today!!! Ohhh we shall bat our lashes and haggle like falaha (farmers) from the village, even as our fair, fragrant skin and blue eyes show us to have not a single drop of pharaoh blood. On the way home we shall buy fresh zambak baladee as they call the tuberose here for there is no greater pleasure than to sleep and have this exotic scent invade your dreams.

  3. rosestrang

    Hehe “Germaine Cellier’s southpaw to the jaw..”. Vintage! I’m terrified of tuberose and personally think it smells like extrait de petrol. An American cousin of mine, who I’m very fond of, of loves Fracas. She’s been in music showbiz since the 80s and has huge red hair (she’s not Madonna in case you’re wondering! Though Madonna does wear Fracas apparently). We had a petit fracas about Fracas recently on Facebook! Talking of which, Piguet have actually made a new version called Petit Fracas – still GRANDE to my nose.

    Ma Griffe review – look forward to it!

    • Dearest Rose Strang
      Well now, terrified of tuberose – now that is a thought. Though I know many people are very afraid of Amarige – oh the things I have heard that fragrance called!!
      Madonna and Fracas – now why doesn’t that surprise The Dandy – one would certainly require a certain presence to carry it off – huge red hair would do that too…
      I smelt ‘Petit Fracas’ as part of my research and I can only agree that there is nothing diminutive about that young lady.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Lilybelle

    I gave up wearing Fracas when a friend’s infant rejected me because of it. The shock and indignation on her face as I came close! Withering. 😦 I actually received compliments on Fracas before that. I think it needs a very light hand. I eventually stopped wearing it and gave my bottle away. What a great review! I envisioned the AbFab ladies (remember them?) passed out in the linens dept. That made me laugh.

    • Dearest Lilybelle
      Infant refection is truly the sincerest and most crippling expression of disgust. What a situation!
      To say a light hand is required of Fracas would almost be an understatement… One spray and the Dandy was away!!
      Thank you for the kind words on the review. Yes I do remember Eddy and Pats, though I have actually seen people asleep in a department store and was influenced by a tale of my great mentor bear extraordinaire Paddington… who once fell asleep in a shop window.
      Oh happy days
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Oh dear lord that review is so hysterically perfect! The olfactory orgy complete with rustling silk ballgowns and manicured fingertips! I cannot wear Fracas myself and have only tested it once. Once was quite enough. The extremity of the tuberose devoured my nasal cavities. Touche for having the fortitude to wear it a complete day!

  6. A favorite of both rock stars and barristers, seems it gets rather aggressive if not given the spotlight it knows it deserves. Brilliantly funny write up.

  7. rickyrebarco

    Poor dear Fracas, such humiliation. I still love the dear old girl even though she may seem too loud and a bit tipsy from time to time. She’ll always be lovely to me.

    • Dearest Ricky
      Oh absolutely. What kind of world would it be if one didn’t have to many sherries now and again and fall asleep on the sofas in Selfridges – I pretty rum one says I!!!
      A portrait done with a great deal of affection I hope you understand.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s