From the description of Fazzolari and Gardoni's experimental concept and process, you might imagine Cadaver Exquis is some weird, nauseating concoction of sugary foodstuffs and random scents from the olfactory junkyard. If so, you would be quite wrong. Rather, blood orange is balanced by star anise and anchored by dried fruit into a surprisingly tolerable sweetness for one as gourmand-averse as I, and unsweetened dark chocolate mates with cypress and camphor to evoke something akin to freshly ground espresso beans. And it all mellows in the drydown. So, as opposed to drinking the new wine, this exquisite corpse is dipping anisette biscotti into its caffè normale with a twist of orange rind instead of the usual lemon.
It may be that I've sniffed too many fragrances to judge how this might come across to the average nose, but to mine, the weirdest thing about Cadaver Exquis is that it isn't weird at all. If I didn't know its genesis, I might have guessed it was one of the better offerings from Serge Lutens. I'm not going to seek out a unicorn FB, but I'll keep my sample.
You know that time you bought a fragrance blind and spritzed it and fell immediately in love? That moment when you realize that someone somewhere knew exactly what formula would make you swoon and salivate all at once?
That. That's the experience I had when I applied a small amount to my wrist after finding a nearly full bottle for sale after searching for one for 4 years. Others may disagree (and they do) and perhaps the quest to own colors my senses (it doesn't) but to my nose, this is a hands down masterpiece and my only regret is that it's too scarce to wear on a regular basis.
All the listed notes are there, blah, blah, blah (previous reviews pretty much nail it so why rehash) but the overall impression of after a few hours is of a slightly sweet, camphorous aromatic resinous anise and wormwood blend with a drydown that reminds me of volatile Absinthe more than anything. I know I want more. Good luck hunters.
Cadavre Exquis (2016) is a joint venture between indie artisinal perfumers Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni. The former is known for his styles totally irreverent of time or trend, while the latter is known for some rather quirky hallmark accords, so the product of collaboration is almost guaranteed to be a wild ride. Well, I'm here to report that this indeed is - or should I say was - a wild ride, since it is a strictly-experimental limited release that is long since sold out. Much like folks who lucked out on early Bortnikoff or Areej le Dore releases before the doors were blown off (and supply vacuumed up) by the small clutch of fans that have come to obsessively hover over every release announcement, early adopters of the Fazzolari brand who were treated to this little weirdo of a frag probably enjoy this on it's sheer uniqueness and exclusivity alone, aware that they're likely the only ones who ever will. It's the ultimate hipster taste maker braggadocio to say one of your signatures is a single-batch one-off handmade fragrance collaboration from two perfumers made "before they were cool", but I'm not prone to such thinking (for better or worse), so I can't say this is some amazing unsung treasure even if I agree it is indeed interesting. Both perfumers would create far more-redeeming works than Cadavre Exquis, but the collaboration here both looks and smells of mad scientists run amok in the pefume lab, which I feel was the intent. I also think the kind of obtuse-for-the-sake-of-it taste one needs to have in order to enjoy this scent commands some level of respect.
The name of this scent literally translates into "Equisite Corpse" from old French, so the stuff is meant to smell like death (of sorts), and although I can confirm this doesn't really come close to the smell of corporeal decay (long story), it does smell like a bowl of rotting fruit intertwined with some stale coffee poured into a trash can and leather notes. Put another way, if you mixed the drier gourmand aspects of Thierry Mugler A*Men (1996) with some of the mascerated fruit over leather from Maxim's Pour Homme (1987), added a whole bunch more animalic stink from castoreum and civet, but softened the dry down with vanilla, cocoa, and anise, you'd about sum up Cadavre Exquis. Yeah, read that back to yourself a few times if need be, it's a doozy. Orange peel and camphor opens this up, with a bit of dark chocolate and a dry unidentifiable woody note. The heart of Cadavre Exquis brings in the styrax of benzoin with some star anise and birch tar smoke. It's rather hairy even before the base of castoreum, civet, and that leather note appears, with the aforementioned vanilla patting you on the back saying "there there" for making it through. Final moments on skin remind me of an animalic flanker in the A*Men line, but the ride to the bottom isn't worth it to experience that result in my opinion. Wear time is appreciable but sillage is tight as per the norm with an EdP. I don't know where or when you'd really find a context to wear this, so I won't bother mentioning suggested usage. If I smelled this on somebody outside, I might wonder if they had just spilled old coffee on themselves while taking out the trash, but upon finding this out to be a perfume, would have amazing respect for the gall it would take to sport this in public.
Chances are if you are an owner of this and enjoy it, my words will fall on deaf ears, and they likely should because situations like this usually mean you didn't find the perfume, but the perfume found you instead. For everyone else curious but without any to sniff, my words as guidance are probably in vain since the stuff has long since passed into obscurity due to such a limited run being released, unless it is re-released and you have found my review for reference before purchasing the stuff from a new batch (assuming it is even made the same way if reproduced). In any case, Cadavre Exquis is an astonishingly confident "avant-garde" experiment into the world of perfume, and is truly (painfully) as niche of a perfume as the term "niche perfume" gets these days. I applaud the sense of adventure here, and I don't absolutely hate this stuff, but I'd never seek it out even if given the chance. If you're able to find out how Cadavre Exquis smells on your own terms, I suggest giving it a sniff just for kicks, but be in for a shock since this one has no pretense about smelling good in the traditional perfumery sense. If you're looking for a challenging scent, this has you written all over it, and is the only "rotted fruit gourmand oriental" I'll likely ever have the pleasure of smelling, so I don't regret trying it. Solid neutral for being a blast to sample, but recommended only to the morbidly curious, Cadavre Exquis is or was the perfect scent for people who have run all out of care to give about what others think about them.
I bought a sample of Cadavre Exquis right after it came out, in hopes of experiencing the freakshow that everyone else seemed to be getting from of it. I love perfume freakshows, because I love weirdness and actively seek it out. Hell, I live there. I bought property there.
Back to the fragrance. I don't know what happened, but I'm obviously hyposmic to something in it, because all I smelled was the strongest public urinal note I have *ever* smelled--and that is saying something. Stuff like Absolue pour le Soir and Kouros fades in comparison. Then, as often happens with urinous notes, it got louder and more unbearable as it stayed on my skin, until about half an hour later, when I finally had to scrub it before I started retching. It was that realistic.
I know my sample was fine, because I passed it on to HouseOfPhlegethon, whose review jives with the general impression of "zany and inedible but compelling gourmand." Burnt chocolate? Spices? Curried Tootsie Roll? I wish. My Cadavre Exquis smelled like Paris Pissoir 1938--perfect for feigning homelessness, or maybe Jean Genet cosplay.
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.)