Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Cadavre Exquis by Bruno Fazzolari

Total Reviews: 7
Genre: Gourmand Oriental

My wife is inordinately fond of sliced bananas, dredged in chocolate that she has melted in the microwave oven. Every so often she will enter the time on the microwave’s panel incorrectly, resulting in a plume of burnt chocolate aroma that quickly fills the house. The combination of chocolate with the bitter/animalic accord common to so many of Antonio Gardoni’s compositions is somewhat reminiscent of this burnt chocolate smell, but considerably less overwhelming. Set alongside a liqueur-like dried fruit accord, woods, and sweet spices (star anise, cinnamon), I find the whole idea compelling, if admittedly very loud. While I’m normally not a fan of chocolate gourmands, the bitter edge on this one makes it more palatable, if you will, and unlike some others, I enjoy the dissonance of the thing.

(All moot, as this was a limited edition release, and presumably long-since sold out.)
30th June, 2018
I'm the oddball who actually really likes this one. It's outrageous! It started with blood orange and camphor. Then the dark chocolate cloud blasted my nose. That, lasted for quite awhile. When it slipped away I got some kind of dried fruit thing. I thought I smelled some cypress in there somewhere. Star anise, benzoin, vanilla, and a civet thing took over and remained. Bold and brash. Spicy sweet ending.

I doubt I'll seek out finding a full bottle to add to my collection. Too many other scents I love more. I'm glad I had a sample to try.
19th November, 2017
Maybe it’s the combination of chocolate, cypress and star anise, but I get a strong hit of coffee in this. And as a coffee addict, trying to restrict my intake to one a day, it makes me happy – a sort of vicarious coffee hit, if you will. It’s a complex beast, but I like it – a lot. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried before (and thanks purecaramel for the sample :). It’s a beaut! When it first went on, the civet was a bit strong, but that settled once it dried down, and now it’s kind of like the “hired muscle” of these perfume notes – just hanging there in the background, lending oomph and a definite bit of darkness and mystery and menace. It’s sort of spicy but not (maybe it’s the tagetes?), and I’ll be enjoying that, then I’ll get a lovely waft of sweetness from the blood orange and dried fruits, along with a sort of dusty honey. The vanilla takes a little while to show through on me, but it’s there in the background now too, hanging out with the civet, and that’s what I really enjoy with this – the lovely creamy warmth of the vanilla which is in complete contrast to the civet. It works, wonderfully well. This is really well done, but it's definitely not a scent for the faint-hearted. As a total perfume fiend – or “frag-hag” as my husband says (you’re welcome ;) – well, I like it. A very definite thumbs up!
13th September, 2016
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Interesting, but nowhere near the monster I expected. Instead, it's kind of a gross gourmand.

It's mostly a vanilla patchouli, caramelised and sweet like butterscotch candy. It's nutty and reminds me of peanut brittle. Meanwhile, there's an intentionally gross undercurrent, leathery and animal but never too nasty. I have friends here sniffing me and we've decided that it's like a mix of horse and candy. It's much nicer than I'm making it sound, though not as deeply compelling or avant garde as the idea behind it. Thumbs up, but with the caveat that it's not as crazy as the press has made it out to be.
07th August, 2016

I've to say I've been a huge fan of this project since day #1. I've been patiently awaiting for the final result for quite some time now and I can only confirm that the first aspect that's clear when smelling Cadavre Exquis is that it exudes passion. Passion for perfume, passion for art, passion for sharing. The passion of people collaborating on something they love. You may either like or not what you smell but, to me, it's clear enough that the approach to perfumery that both Gardoni and Fazzolari are showing, comes directly from the way they process art in their minds as opposed to dealing with it as a mere "product".

The perfumers are both pretty well known to the most devoted perfumisti for releasing some of the most attention-grabber fragrances of the last five years or so. Gardoni, the man behind italian Bogue Profumo, enriched the perfume world with gems that now need very little introduction such as MAAI, Cologne Reloaded and, lately, the widely acclaimed Aeon 001 while Fazzolari's Lampblack and Room 237 have immediately jumped up there amongst my all-time favorites in contemporary perfumery. They gathered together to give birth to this trans-atlantic project that is Cadavre Exquis.

The fragrance is the result of a four-hands collaboration based on moulds, samples, paintings / drawings exchanges with only one theme framing the whole project: gourmand. As stated on the Fazzolari's website, The term cadavre exquis refers to the game originated by the surrealist artists of the 1920s. In the game, players collectively assemble words or images to create a poem or drawing, with each player making a contribution of his own while totally unaware of the others’. The result is unpredictable and always surprising. The name itself comes from one of the first assembled sentences as reported by surrealist André Breton: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”)

So, the fragrance is supposedly a gourmand but, with much of my joy, there's really not much edible stuff about it. It reads mainly like a cocoa-patch with a camphorous quality up-top and a dark, woody-spicy base with smooth animalic facets. Vanilla does its part too though but without driving the fragrance towards overly sweet territories. In fact, I would describe CE as quite dry in the end. I also get distant florals providing nice refinements. Given the composition process, it's also supposedly a monster, kind of a frankensiein type of composition in which isolated parts were added to the main body almost randomly but, again, the final result feels incredibly coherent and consistent that the chemistry between these two guys seems to have worked pretty darned well.

Don't get me wrong now, Cadavre Exquis is not exactly what I would describe as an "easy" fragrance but it's also far from representing the monster one would expect from the descriptions seen around. Yes, it's bold (but without being overpowering), dark, sometimes even grotesque but in the best possible ways. It has the typical roughness of most indie / artisanal products but it's also very clear that this roughness is something inherent to the style of the perfumers involved. Something completely unrelated to the skills of either. Something that's part of a treasured personal aesthetic that belongs to style and self-expression. Something I would probably compare to the artistic choice of a band to express via a rougher sound as opposed to the super-polished / auto-tuned production of mainstream pop. In other words, a visceral roughness that comes directly from passion.

I could go on and on with a more detailed description of the fragrance itself but I strongly believe any serious perfume lover should at least experience this little jewel that transcends perfumery to bring us back the love for the things we do.

Long live to two of the most interesting and kindest people to populate the current fragrance game.

Rating: no need to rate this. Maximum Support.

15th July, 2016
Cadavre Exquis is a gourmand perfume from two perfumers known for exploring ‘classy’ genres like animalic chypres and aldehydic florals. It was made following the rules of a surrealist parlor game called exquisite corpse. In an exquisite corpse the participants take turns adding words or images, or in this case accords and materials, until the project is complete. The final product might be nothing that the participants imagined. The corpse is rigged to favor unpredictability and can give rise to some wonderfully bizarre results.

Perfumers Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni’s hybrid backgrounds—the former is a visual artist, the latter an architect—establish the creative landscape where the collaboration can take place. There isn’t a roadmap for this sort of creative alliance, so Gardoni and Fazzolari had the freedom to make it up as they went. The exquisite corpse model provided a framework for the process to unfold but what defined the scope of the project was the choice to make a gourmand perfume. Genre was the gauntlet each perfumer threw at the other.

The perfume may be a gourmand, but it’s a dry one. The decision to go big must have been made early in the process because the perfume is very well finished and doesn’t appear rushed. Gourmand qualities are reinforced by not-quite-gourmand notes giving the perfume an edible/inedible balance. There’s chocolate, but there’s also patchouli, which has a strong cocoa aspect. Creamy vanilla is balanced with vanillic-woody tones that stop just short of pure dessert. The cool quality—is it herbal like licorice or camphorous like mothballs? Both? The juggling of gourmand notes generates gluttonous hallucinations: An orange that drips maple syrup when you peel it. Frozen butterscotch. A mint chocolate brownie that turns to dust as you bring it to your mouth.

Fazzolari and Gardoni didn’t just dare each other, they challenge us, the audience. The gourmand genre is derided by the indie/artisan fumie crowd, the ostensible audience for Cadavre Exquis and the perfumers play with our biases. C’mon, you know what you think of gourmand perfumes. They’re tacky. They’re beneath us. They’re tired. I doubt that it’s a favorite genre of Gardoni or Fazzolari either, but here’s the point of the perfume: risk.

A dicey process, a ballsy choice of genre, a potentially incredulous audience. This is perfumery without a safety net. There are more risks than just the creative: cost, time/labor, the creative capital, reputation. But if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing big and Cadavre Exquis is an enormous perfume that makes no attempt to tone down the ostentatiousness of the genre. It’s rightly been called a monster, but it’s not the Frankenstein version we’ve been led to expect. It’s glaring, conspicuous, undeniable. It’s frightening not because it’s ugly, but because of its candied beauty. It overloads us with recognizably beautiful features until it crosses a threshold and becomes as hideous as it is beautiful. It’s a showgirl.

Cadavre Exquis is more than two perfumers branching out into gourmand territory. It gets at the heart of the relationship between artisan perfumers and their audiences. Forget the product for a moment, do you support the process? Is it enough to buy Fazzolari’s Monserrat or Gardoni’s Maai? They are exceptional perfumes—exciting, beautiful, thoughtful—and buying them supports the artists. But Cadavre Exquis asks us to go further. It’s the put-up-or-shut-up slap to the face. I’ve whined for years about the shitty perfumes that result from low aspiration, demographic targeting, least common denominators, focus groups and flankers. Gardoni and Fazzolari are calling us out: if we want exceptional perfumes are we willing to support unconventional, experimental work? Are we willing to support the artists? Do we trust the artists?

My answer is yes. Beauty is easy, so I’m chasing the monster instead. I bought the corpse and while I appreciate its unconventional aesthetics more with each wearing, I love the ideas that it contains.
21st June, 2016
Yes! The Cadavre is positively Grotesque. Applyiing it is like Swallowing a gulp of Buckley's Mixture. It goes on like a sticky Camphourous Syrup. It takes you on a journey through an Arcade with the Greasy Butter Caramel Corn, the Indian Market choked with Fenugreek. There are breaths of the Seyrig citrus that provide a hope. The orange begins to expand, sweeten and turns to the colour of a sunripened Peach. As it dries I am able to rest in whispers of Animalic, Dried Fruit, Singular Spice above an Ambery Brulee.
The spice is reminiscent in placement as the cumin dose of a 1991-2001 Bel Ami and points to the animal but overall this is much sweeter than the Hermes. A tilt to the Anise draws my sense away from any cloyness and elevates this from the start of oily depths of Indian Sweets into the heights of dry Marigold clouds. Altogether Delicious!!!
Cadavre Exquise indeed.
A Splendid presentation of an Artist's Game.
A difficult wear for most and an acquired taste.
Most certainly it fits mine.
Oh! You need to eat the candy and lolly to understand the story.
19th May, 2016 (last edited: 15th December, 2016)