Here is a correction: Chaldee, the perfume, was not created by Henri Almeras. Chaldee was a cosmetic oil, a deep, dark red oil that had the particularity, as did most cosmetics in the 1920's, of being quite fragrant. The pigment it contained was so red that when rubbed into fair skin, a kind of glow was obtained. Up until the late 60's, when it was discontinued, certain types of breezy women used the original Chaldee as foundation on their faces. It was sold in a bottle that Serge Lutens would later have copied point for point, and give it a name: That which is now known as the "Bell Jar." This bottle was designed by Louis Sue in 1926 and made by Verreries Brosse. It was Jean Kerleo who in 1985 created the perfume "Chaldee," based on this oil. Though it became known as "the first suntan oil," it was in fact purely a cosmetic: During the war French ladies used it on their legs, then carefully drew a line up the back of them to imitate hosiery. It was re-launched as a perfume in the "Ma Collection" series, then, a few years later, a newly packaged, modernized "Chaldee" suntan range was developed. The original oil, called "Huile de Chaldee" came in two shades. The scent that we know today is lovely and intoxicating as would be expected from Patou, who made arguably the finest perfumes in the world. Smelling the fragrance this oil inspired harkens a kind of "Bal a versailles" vibe, though not nearly as epic: It is a dryer, softer, more feminine scent. In its flight, Amouage Gold Man also comes to mind. It is true that of all of the Patou scents this is the one that seems ironically closest to something made by the Guerlains, whom Patou considered chemists, as it does have a bit of a Shalimar lilt, though it is noticeably brighter, and has a citrus quality to it that is vastly different than that found in Shalimar. An absolutely gorgeous scent: Chaldee is named after a Sun Goddess: In it, one can perceive hints of light and warmth. As with all Patou's, its' sillage is the most exquisite part. The relaunched "Chaldee" sun product line enjoyed some success, but, ironically, the best selling product in the range was the original dark, indian red oil that permanently stained the skin, imparting a fragrant, satiny glow. Chaldee the fragrance, as conceived by the Poet Jean Kerleo, is a delicious thing, suitable mostly for brunettes. Interestingly, the oil of its origin was very popular with blondes. I would imagine anyone who likes Tabu, Bal a Versailles, Shalimar, Habanita, and these kinds of comps would cherish Chaldee, though it could only be defined as a very soft, very sexy hymn to this "kind" of scent. Absent: All the tawdry elements inherent in the previous ones named: Chaldee is, after all, a Patou, and no Patou could ever be perceived as overly libidinous: With Jean Patou, unfailingly, there is always a kind of distance. Translating this into the olfactory was the hallmark that set this house on a plane that was so far removed from the rest that, during its lifetime, before Proctor & gamble destroyed it, Jean Patou was considered "Hors Concours."
03rd April, 2012 (last edited: 04th April, 2012)
Interestingly, I found another fragrance of Ma Collection to remind me a lot of suntan lotion and skin. It was Adieu Sagesse. Chaldee here smells very Guerlain to me and clearly reminds me of Vol de Nuit (narcissus, which I smell a lot in the very new Vol de Nuit extrait) in its heart. As Baykat pointed out (due to the opoponax and other notes) this is steering towards Shalimar territory in its drydown, but even more so Caron's Farnesiana, which is also rather sweet. A fantastic fragrance, which slightly loses me in its drydown. This review is for the EdT!
I wasn't expecting to like this, so I put it on and went about my evening; getting caught up in packing for a big trip.
The whole time I've been returning to my wrist for a sniff, trying to recall which Caron I put on. This has a soaring, floral midphase that never gets too loud, and is joined with an ambery base that is oooh... so very sensuous.
Chaldee is a bullseye for me, and I think anyone who likes a good amber scent would want to try this. Yes, it lists hyacinth in the opening, but I do not get any 'green' from this scent.
I would be curious to hear from Shalimar fans on this one; I'm not saying it is similar, but the drydown experience is the same (very comforting and you will detect the vanilla.)
Jean Patou Chaldee
You have to love the internet because without it I don't know if colognoisseurs would be able to try some of the vintage classics. Now that the whole world is one big Estate Sale we can find ways to expereience these classics. Jean Patou is a House of many discontinued gems and it is mainly through the mechanisms described above that I am able to wear these creations. Chaldee was created in 1927 by the in-house nose Henri Almeras. In the mid 20's sun tanning and looking brown had been made chic and Patou wanted to create one of the first sun-tanning oils and did that in Huile de Chaldee. M. Almeras took that beginning and turned it into Chaldee the perfume. With that inspiration you might be thinking Bain de Soleil ( for that go to Bond No. 9 Fire Island) or Coppertone (for that go to CB I Hate Perfume At The Beach 1966) or cocoa butter (for that go to Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess) and you couldn't be further from what Chaldee smells like. The top of Chaldee blows in with a light bouquet of orange blossom to start. Then like a florist adding to his bouquet M. Almeras begins to add lilac followed by jasmine and then finishes with narcissus all deep and thick. At this point Chaldee is a deep floral melange that floats airily above my skin. You would think the combination would be heavy but instead it is light and beautiful.The base of this is perhaps one of my favorite amber accords ever as it is combined with oppopanax to create a warmth that seems only appropriate for a scent which was inspired by the sun. I grew up in South Florida and cherish the smell of the beach, from the surf to the tanning products, but Chaldee definitely doesn't smell like any beach I've ever been on in my lifetime. The one thing I do know is if the beaches of France smelled like this in the 20's I want to find myself a tricked-out DeLorean to take me there.
Chaldee is simultaneously retro and modern, if that makes sense. Its modernity lies in its simplicity - there are only a handful of notes involved (orange blossom, hyacinth, narcissus, jasmine, opoponax, amber, spices) and they combine to create a clean, spicy and warm blend. The retro aspect has more to do with the imagery Chaldee brings to mind for me; specifically, Cairo in the 30s a la "The English Patient." This IS the scent Katharine Clifton wore, I'm convinced of it. It's a fine-boned variety of exotic, delicately defiant, a fragile bloom fighting to live in the middle of the desert.