Whereas certain aldehydic perfumes seem to be forever looking to the future regardless of when they were created, Calandre, in my opinion, is one of the unfortunates firmly rooted in the past. It’s like an exploding vintage powder compact at the start, the kind of perfume one imagines has sat on someone’s dressing table since the 1960s, used once in a while, aging rather than maturing.
This is perhaps unfair, as there is actually quite a punchy, if somewhat syrupy, floral with grown up green accents behind that veil of powdery aldehydes which comes increasingly into focus. The rose is central, supported by fat, heady jasmine and lily of the valley. This strong floral bouquet is mediated by some soapiness in the background which injects air into the creation and a sharp and mossy, somewhat bitter green note which cuts the concentrated sweetness. But it’s difficult to shrug off the air of old make up which is Calandre’s opening statement.
Roja Dove hails this "hot, metallic" scent as reflective of Rabanne's use of plastics, metals and synthetic materials in his Pop Art clothes designs. He also notes the use of a new isolate, called Evernyl, which occurs in oak moss and "when added to it, sublimates its naturalness."
Turin follows suit, calling it an "aldehydic floral" and giving it five stars. He compared it favorably, in the long run, to the similar Rive Gauche, but does note its contemporary reviews, running from "a mess" to "brilliantly simple."
Barbara Herman called it a "fresh floral," which reminded her of Courturier's rose chypre, Coriandre, and called it "heart-breaking in its fragile beauty." It reminded her of "the lovely sweat of a teenage girl."
So what does it smell like? I get a woody floral, slightly metallic, a but unpleasant, and nothing to spend good money on, or God forbid, actually wear.
Top notes: Bergamot
Heart notes: Rose, Muguet, Geranium, Jasmine, Orris
Base notes: Sandalwood, Vetiver, Musk, Amber, Oakmoss
Genre: Green Floral
Dab on Calandre and you get a quick aldehydic, bittersweet, green floral kick in the pants, soon bolstered by a whiff of fleshy indoles. The aldehydes subside to some degree over the next few minutes, as Calandre settles down into an indolic green jasmine and white flowers accord. At this stage I find Calandre rather ordinary in and old-fashioned “perfumey” manner.
Happily Calandre’s floral blend is eventually joined by a honeyed, evocatively hay-like note that I read as green narcissus. Beneath this emerges an intriguing smoky/salty caramel component that quickly drags the composition out of the conventional white floral territory. In the course of hours Calandre pares itself down to the faintly smoky green narcissus over a soft and somewhat sweet musky base. Throughout its evolution Calandre projects well and offers plenty of sillage, with better than average lasting power. I like the surprising destination that it reaches after its nondescript start and consider it a useful scent for everyday wear – and unisex to boot!
Under my nose Calandre is a classic rose chypre with sheer hints of aldehydes and a woody mossy dry down. The first blast is all bergamot, soft herbs and aldehydes on me and the cologny lemony vibe is vintage and evocative. I smell something reminding me many fragrances as La Perla, Giorgio Beverly Hills and yes, probably Rive Gauche which i agree is darker and more angular in my opinion. Some sharp floral patterns (geranium, jasmine, orris?) flank the rose and the herbs in the middle fase while the dry down adds musk, some mossy amber and powdery woods (sandalwood but also cedarwood) which morph in an almost soapy opaque old-school mélange really classy and discreet. More a feminine fragrance in my humble opinion. Respectful.
13th December, 2012 (last edited: 11th February, 2013)
Calandre was my signature scent for decades, literally. It warmed beautifully on my skin and had excellent sillage. I could wear it day and night, summer and winter, and it was always luscious and haunting. It smelled like me, and I smelled like Calandre. The fact that it has been discontinued is a source of heartbreak to me, and I am still hunting around for a "me" fragrance.