Calèche Eau de Toilette 
Hermès (1961)

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Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

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About Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

People & Companies

Fragrance House
Guy Robert

Reorchestrated in 1992.

Composed by Guy Robert in 1961, Calèche is the first women’s fragrance from Hermès. It is a very feminine woody, chypre floral, whose name refers to the horse-drawn carriages that are emblematic to the house.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Where to buy Calèche Eau de Toilette

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Reviews of Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

There are 43 reviews of Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès.

Calèche by Hermès (1961) isn't the first women's perfume from Hermès but might as well be, since the precursor scent was a strictly-limited affair composed by the same perfumer as a dry-run for testing the market. Whereas Hermès Doblis (1955) is often hysterically lauded by collectors for its insane rarity a la antique Guerlains, Calèche seems to get more "real" praise by those of trustworthy taste for being the classy Hermès take on the popular aldehyde floral chypre of the age. Unfortunately, Hermès would very much end up staying in the mid-century style with successive releases through to the end of the 90's, developing a "stodgy old handbag" vibe that undermined the reputation of a house otherwise praised by high society for its quality and exclusivity in other luxury goods. The success of Calèche perhaps was a cause for this, since Hermès was never one for taking risks or trying to join the relevance rat race like most designers, due to that very same old-world quality luxury goods heritage. Lovers of classic aldehyde florals will rejoice in finding Calèche , although probably a bit more with discontinued examples of the eau de toilette than current eau de parfum or flanker offerings. I count myself as a fan, even if this feels a tad rote in design.

In other words: If it ain't broke, don't fix it; and that's exactly the way Hermès carried itself with this perfume and its progeny up through 1992 when a slightly re-tooled eau de parfum variant was added alongside eau de toilette and extrait versions. Key differences between the 1961 formula by Guy Robert and his later 1992 edit really come down to toning back animalics and indolic elements more en vogue in 1961 than they would end up being by 1992. The opening is a trustworthy golden aldehyde shower a la Chanel No. 5 (1921) or Joy Jean Patou (1930), backed by lemon, bergamot, and soapy neroli tones. This soap is furthered by a bit of orris in the heart, again copying No. 5 by flanking that orris with rose, jasmine, and geranium. The point of separation comes with lily of the valley and gardenia being star players, reminding me greatly of cheapie grande madam Avon Topaze (1959). The kitchen sink chypre base of woody and musky aromatics is anchored in oakmoss, labdanum, civet, olibanum, sandalwood, and vetiver, so expect more green mossy savon vibes. Crank the musk, santal, and frankincense a bit higher in vintage, and crank the soap factor higher for the 1992 version. Wear time is long and sillage is also durable throughout. Something like Calèche feels unisex to me as well, but I'm in the minority.

Calèche is the kind of fragrance that even by 1961 was feeling dated, as younger women wanted prettier, more girly things with pink bows and fruity opening notes; while women entering their thirties (and at least in the uber-conservative US were consigned to homemaker status) were yearning for wilder, more green, or more overtly-sexual fare. The prim powdery florals and roaring-twenties aldehyde fragrances that once represented femininity in the pre-WWII era were getting long in the tooth by 1961, and with the rest of the world catching up to the US post-war, the conservative cultural lockdown its wealthy middle class had on fashion was about to fall, taking fragrances styled like Calèche along with it. Luckily, there were enough old-money buyers into Hermès to keep this one selling alongside the Roudnitska-penned shock and awe of the house-launching leather scent that is Eau de Hermès (1951). With absolutely no disrespect to the masterful blending of Guy Robert, who revisited this theme when working on launch perfumes for Amouage in the early 1980's, Hermès Calèche is a scent most of us have smelled before, without ever knowing exactly what we were smelling. Luckily, Calèche is also one of the best extant examples of the genre it represents, so there really isn't much to complain about unless this style of perfume is too "in the past" for your nose. Thumbs up

There is a big difference between vintage Caleche and the current version. It is not a completely different scent like Miss Dior or Shiseido Zen vintage vs modern, but current Caleche is a pale shadow of its former self. I recall that Luca Turin described it as having gone through several wash/rinse cycles, which describes the current Caleche pretty well. If you like V&A First, Chanel No 5, and/or orange blossom/woody chypres, it is worth hunting down a vintage bottle. Pure parfum is the best, but any vintage Caleche is glorious, provided it has been stored well. They just don't make 'em like this anymore, alas.

If the painting of "The Garden of Earthy Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch had a smell,it would smell of Caleche.a very sensuous and the mother of Hermes fragrances. It's about same intimate as unbuttoning a shirt on someone you love.Caleche is the softest, most ethereal cloud of soapy powdered heaven.

The opening is elitist and grand, with a chilling effect,a huge blast of fatty the middle the white florals are strong,just the way i like them and together with the powdery iris,ylang ylang they lend throughout the creamy,soft vintage texture that this beauty is known for.the dry down is extremely soapy and woody.have you ever been struggling in life,and then someone comes along and gives you a hug,or lightenes your load?that's how you feel when you smell this.Absolutely lovely scent.

In the original formulation the opening is a citrus l-based mix in lemon, orange, mandarin and a good dose of neroli on top of it. In spite of an Initial assumption to the opposite, this is not a refreshing citrus mix, but a bit darker and settles.

Most prominently, however, is an aldehyde that is very sharp and crisp initially, and makes its mark not only during the top appearance of the top notes, but throughout Calèche's whole longitudinal development.

The heart notes are a floral potpourri: I get a lot of muguet, a bright and elegant rose, and an ylang-ylang that manages an intense creaminess that is nonetheless neither thick nor cloying. Iris and jasmine underscore the importance of traditional floral underpinnings in the extensive drydown, and whiffs of oleander round it off. Clearly the florals are at the core of the matter in the longitudinal progress of this olfactory journey.

An incense note, enforced by coumarin and oakmoss - the latter neither harsh nor loud but fitting in well - mark a turn to darker regions, enhanced by a bit of amber and musks in the background, whilst a tonka impression adds more sweetness to what the floral basked already provides - but still steering clear from being too heavy. Towards the end woody notes appear - cedarwood mainly on me. Apart from a dimly glowing vetiver in the back room the base is not such a bright affair. For the second half there is an civilisedly sumptuous powderiness accompanying the mix.

I get moderate sillage, excellent projection and eight hours of longevity on my skin.

Whilst this deliciously rich and complex scent for evening outings in spring and autumn is of classic and confident elegance and grandeur. In all its richness it never ceases to be refined. The only drawback is that the sheer load of ingredients - all of excellent quality though - makes and appreciation of all the details nigh impossible. Overall 3.75/5

Finally I found an open bottle at the duty free. Calèche is a nice powdery vintage floral with a soapy, itchy feel. I like the good performances it has, without being too empowering.

Calèche hails from a time when a word like grandeur could be used to describe a perfume and it wouldn't be written off as empty rhetoric.

Guy Robert's original formulation was an opulent chypre, the like of which has long disappeared from the mainstream.
Two reasons for that are : 1) this sort of quality is not cheap to make, and 2) a perfume of this stature needs to be worn by someone whose age is greater than their hip size.

Smart, beautiful and classy, Calèche had everything going for it - except that most precious quality these days - youth.


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