“Is it morally wrong to want home grown pineapples on tap all the year round?”
They were used to the eccentricities of men with too much money and too little taste, inexhaustible budgets and a fetish for as many European architectural styles in a single building as the whole state of Idaho could boast.
But she: She was something else.
“I want to create an Earthly paradise” she declared to the two Californian architects newly in her employ, “It is my desire that the whole affair should have a decidedly prelapsarian air.”
“You understand, of course?”
They smiled, blushed, nodded and patently did not understand.
As it turned out what she wanted was as incongruous as her voluminous desires would have been in the garden of innocence itself.
One was to enter the house through a conservatory constructed of cedar, the pillars of which would be sculpted, at her instruction, in the manner of “pineapple palms”…
“But pineapples grow on plants…” architect A began.
“Great pineapple palms as they have in the Caribbean.” she continued over him without hesitating over a syllable.
Once inside the glasshouse all would be replete with planting of citruses, a pair of ‘melon palms’, a large aquatic feature: she was thinking “The Hanging Water Gardens of Babylon”, with a pond lily floating somewhere to announce “classical symmetry”.
There must be flowers too, “all the time”, tuberose, mimosa blossoms (“do they hang from a tree?”), jasmine, roses and something for an “an Oriental twist”… lotus.
“But mainly tuberose and mimosa”, she impressed.
Of course, she didn’t really mind if it was all “really, real”, no “just real enough” would do.
So they set about their task, building her a botanical garden to rival Kew, all as vestibule to house that was, as of yet, little more than a shell.
Taking her at her word, they took liberties with fact.
Home grown pineapples were flown in from Hawaii to ‘grow’ on cedar palm trees where they were placed by the staff daily.
Plastic cantaloupe melons hung like coconuts from their sandalwood arboreal sisters around a Thai style pool with a fake porcelain floating flower at its centre.
Ah yes, the ‘lily’: it doubled as a fountain pouring fourth liquid scented with genuine imitation Eqyptian lotus oil from a store back East, no one, not even she, remembered why.
The tuberose at least were real, though not really growing as they were pre-cut and sat in vases of water concealed in the wood flake ‘not-soil’: they were refreshed twice weekly by a contract florist from Downtown.
The Mimosa trees (truly they were acacias, but by this point who was to worry) were “really real”, even so they needed a little help and were dusted with scented yellow confetti out of season so that they remained forever in bloom.
Only poor patchouli, lurking around the shady corners, concealing the machinery of this ‘natural’ wonder needed no assistance.
With space and moisture enough to expand, it reverted to family type and grew mint-like: extravagant and everywhere.
The whole effect was a Technicolor triumph: an unreal vision of Eden worthy of the Fox back lot.
But she loved it.
Loved it and lavished on it the thousands it cost to keep the whole unholy show on the road.
And what if the rest of the house never got finished? What if she was banished to play endless comeback shows to pay for whole charade?
Hell, it was worth it for pineapple palm trees and ever flowering mimosa.
Cacharel’s Eden is to perfumery as Carmen Miranda’s headgear was to millinery.
It is a triumph of structural engineering and sheer chutzpah over anything so petty and awful as good taste.
It is a vibrant, vulgar, un-beautifully brash affair and utterly brilliant with it.
The briefest opening of mandarin, peach and citrus is busied out of the way by a giant over ripe pineapple aroma that will see the composition through.
This is no mean achievement for this prince among fruits is joined by practically every other note that the nose can think of… acacia blossom in abundance, tuberose on top, some water lily, which, whatever it may have been intended to smell of, has the effect of adding sweetness.
There is a determined jasmine to keep the whole confection from toppling over, more blossom, a pyramid of melon balls, a little rose and a definitely discernible lily of the valley.
All of them fake.
All self-conscious olfactory effigies, designed to smell enough like but not just like the things they resemble.
All for magnificent effect.
Rumbling underneath keeping things just green and strange enough is an actually not too artificial patchouli that will assist with the segue into a wood-effect finish.
This fragrance has as much to do with that first garden as Henri Rousseau’s primitive Parisian pictures have with the actual jungle.
But like those fantastical visual musings that are in paint what this is in perfume, taken as a whole this Eden is seriously unsettling, disarmingly whimsical, magical even, and utterly unlike anything else.
Unique and strangely splendid.
Like jungles in Paris.
Of course men and women can live in Parisian jungles, but they will need to be advised that their experiences may well be with them for a long time into the future.
This is a fragrance with a half life seemingly longer than uranium…
The Perfumed Dandy.
11 responses to “ Jungles in Paris… Eden by Cacharel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter”
Have sampled many Cacharels and their flankers but never this one…after reading your review I don’t believe that I missed out on anything!
I do hope I haven’t put you off at least trying this, in a way I think everyone should: it really is a one off.
In its own, very counterfeiting way, its also very well made.
To be honest, I can imagine this bizarre backwater of fragrance becoming the a fans’ favourite, if only it got a little more attention.
Go on, you might like it!!
The Perfumed Dandy
I haven’t tried it either, but now I would like to just to experience it. I love Cacharel’s fragrances (those I’ve tried). I can’t imagine that it is bizarro by accident. Their track record is too good. I love all the colorful images, Mr. Dandy! Your reviews are not only great reads but treats for the eyes as well. Penwythnos hyfryd i ti!
Your and Brie’s comments have prompted me to slightly tweak the review to make clear that I do like Eden.
I like it because it is bizarre and artificial and slightly mad. Most of all I like it because it knows it is all those things and is quite happy being so.
I can’t say The Dandy would wear this every day, or even every season, but once in a while it is a fragrant fantasy worth unleashing on the world.
Penwythnos bendigedig i ti hefyd cariad Lilybelle.
The Perfumed Dandy
Dear Mr Dandy,
You have stolen a march on me. I was going to review this today after trying it out, but not only will I delay it, but I can see that the bar is set high, so I may shelve it further. Great minds…
Whilst your description and illustrations are as vividly colourful and true as ever, I am afraid I disliked this one. I grimaced aloud in Boots (imagine a sound crossed with “bleurgh” and “Oh!”). I even got looks.
I agree wholeheartedly with your descriptions of its artificiality and strangeness. Indeed, there is room for both or either in a fragrance. This reminds me of workplaces past, I guess I must have had an Eden loving colleague once.
This was vinyl and high pitched fake jasmine with stale dried pineapple on me. But you’re right…someone somewhere will make the strangeness work.
I look forward to your wise words on this one.
Isn’t it peculiar?
I imagine it must be rather like Amarige in terms of the reaction it elicits. They are both massive agglomerations of odours pulled together into bursting at the seams scents.
And I can understand entirely why so many people react with visceral dislike to te two of them.
Where they differ is in Cacharel’s out and proud artificiality. I feel this is intentional and a statement and to be admired, though the result is not the most wearable of fragrances for sure!
I’d go so far as to say that in terms of daring composition, at this price point (it is ludicrously cheap at the moment as I’m sure you noticed), there’s nothing quite like on the shelves.
But fair dos it’s pretty tricky.
The Perfumed Dandy
“This is a fragrance with a half life seemingly longer than uranium…” Diabolical and damned funny. I have a wonderful friend who tends to the gardens of movie stars – and this captures to perfection her general air of bewilderment and belligerence over certain horticultural demands 😉
I think it was the wonderful photographs of all those amazing Hollywood homes over on your site that sparked off this little flight of fancy for The Dandy.
That and memories of the madness of the Hearst house that I visited many years ago.
I can only imagine was some of today’s stars must demand, they would make anything Carmen could demand pale into insignificance I don’t doubt.
The Perfumed Dandy
Such a brilliant post Mr Dandy! I am a huge fan of this fragrance for the sheer bizzareness of it’s composition. This is a wonderful insight into this fragrance. Thank you!
Welcome to The Dandy’s, do make yourself at home won’t you!?!
It is a perfume both sheer and bizarre that’s for sure, and I too admire it.
Out of curiosity, is it one that you wear regularly?
The Perfumed Dandy
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