It’s always so rewarding when a writer and perfume connoisseur appreciates our inspiration for a scent, in this case the classic film starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Behnke’s rather academic interest in the social history of fragrance is part of what makes him a particularly discerning and astute writer.
For me, Charade was always going to be the one which I gravitated towards because Ms. Baker called out Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
I admire Ms. Baker’s choice to make perfumes in this style. These are perfumes which carry an enveloping time machine quality without feeling dated. Charade makes me want to dust my blazer off and take Mrs. C out for dinner and a movie while being wrapped in a Movie Star chypre.
For Sarah, the creative process of developing a scent begins with social history. A movie genre, a literary character type, a popular soap opera, a pop song, a painting, or certain period of art history.
above are stills from the 1963 film Charade
When I visit Sarah’s London studio I always find a mood board consisting of images culled from magazines, books and the Internet. A reproduction of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus next to a 1980’s Ralph Lauren fashion spread. The Elgin Marbles next to a Versace bikini. A screenshot of Alexis Colby next to a portrait of Germaine Dulac. Sarah aims to transport us to another place and time, be it a holiday in the 1960’s French Alps, a yacht in the 1980’s Mediterranean, or a raunchy Hollywood nightclub tonight.
For Charade, Sarah worked with Andreas Wilhelm (Swiss perfumer and founder of Perfume Sucks) to create an old Hollywood classic with the unmistakable elegance and sophistication of Grant and Hepburn.
Behnke applauded Wilhelm’s creativity:
If you’re going for that old school style you almost must think chypre. Hr. Wilhelm uses some of those classic ingredients of the fragrances I think of from that era. Predominantly tuberose and leather along with the chypre accord.
Charade opens with tuberose in all its extroverted charm. Hr. Wilhelm ups the ante, using ylang-ylang to add a fleshy supporting floral while he drenches it all in a sticky matrix of honey. The heart is a rugged leather accord given a polish through styrax and benzoin. The animalic aspect of the leather reverberates against the indolic heart of the tuberose. Hr. Wilhelm then puts together a chypre accord that carries all the dark green charm which makes it so compelling. Sandalwood, patchouli, and moss are all present. They are balanced into an excellent version of the chypre accord.
We always enjoy Colognoisseur and are so very grateful for this informed critique.