Cabochard by Grès EDP Perfume Review

Cabochard by Gres

Mainstream Monday: Sniffing a Popular Perfume

Grès was a French haute couture fashion house by Germaine Émilie Krebs, later known as Madame Grès. This fashion house is the epitome of decades of Old Hollywood drama – drapery, hoods, capes, dramatic sleeves… Cabochard, the house’s first perfume, was inspired by trips to India – sandalwood and salt air. It may be inspired by India but it’s evocative of French perfumery and fashion of the time. It’s more like a casino in Monaco.

Cabochard is a musty green scent with galbanum, salty vetiver and oak moss. It’s a green leather chypre from the beginning. Citrus aldehydes are in the opening but they fizzle within a few minutes before Cabochard embraces its signature darkness. The heart includes thorny roses and somber florals being consumed by dirt and moss. Animalic leather and smoldering tobacco are in the background, reminding me of a vintage poker room. The dry-down is a mossy, dirty, animalic leather-patchouli with a sharp sandalwood.

I imagine the classic “femme fatale” wearing Cabochard, walking through an elegant casino in a dramatic evening gown. The air is filled with cigar smoke and French perfume. Cabochard could fit into so many film noirs or even “film gris”. It’s dark and bitter, so iconic.

I’ve reviewed the modern formula. I expected for it to be horrible, as many from this era that are still available have been reworked into unwearable messes (see my Worth Paris post). Well, I was surprised. Cabochard is excellent. It’s a leather chypre that reminds me of “greener” Clinique Aromatics Elixir and a “softer/smoother” Piguet Bandit. I’m sure the vintage is much better but considering that you can find a bottle of the modern version for about $20, I’m not complaining. This is one gorgeous perfume, especially for the price.

Sunny Hartnett 1954

Notes listed include galbanum, ylang ylang, rose, jasmine, oak moss, vetiver, musk and patchouli. Launched 1959. PERFUMER – Bernard Chant

Give it a try if you like leather chypres. Or if you like perfumes like Estee Lauder Azuree, Natori EDP, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Balmain Jolie Madame, Piguet Bandit and/or Paco Rabanne La Nuit. Being a leather chypre, it’s unisex. It’s a must-try if you are attracted to vintage fragrances.

Projection and longevity are above average.

The 3.3 oz EDP retails for about $20 at Fragrancenet. I also see it chain drugstores.

Victoria’s Final EauPINION – A dark and bitter green leather chypre. I love it. And if you are attracted to vintage fragrances, you’ve got to try it.

Want more reviews? Try…

Now Smell This

Bois de Jasmin

Yesterday’s Perfume – Review of the vintage

The Scented Hound – Review of the vintage

Perfume Shrine

The Perfume Dandy

Scent of the Day


*Perfume purchased by me. Product pic from Basenotes. Sunny Harnett wearing Grès from Harper’s Bazaar 1954 (from Styleite). Post contains an affiliate link. Thanks!



4 thoughts on “Cabochard by Grès EDP Perfume Review

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. It is a wonder of perfumery. I’ve been on smelling trips to Nordstrom wearing it and realized nothing in the store was as good. I bought my bottle at Marshall’s for $7.99.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call it mainstream, though. My non-fumie friends think it smells old lady and really weird.

    Everyone says the modern versions are far inferior. I deliberately don’t seek out vintage juice so I don’t know whether that’s the case. It’s pretty outstanding as it is.

    1. There is no way that you could smell any better for $8, heck, it beats out many $80+ perfumes.

      “Mainstream Monday” is a feature that I do for mass produced perfumes – designer ‘fumes, cheap thrills, etc. I find that so many blogs focus on the hard to find niche/indie that I wanted to spotlight more attainable fragrances (and I should add “more attainable” in the US as that is where I’m based). It’s not really about the % of people that wears it but more about accessibility – things carried by Sephora, Macy’s, drugstores…If I limited it to the top 10 best-sellers in the US, I’d get bored and run out of Monday content in only a few months 🙂

      Oh, that’s the vintage game. Vintage is always better, yadda yadda yadda. Once again, I like to focus on accessibility. I don’t seek out vintage, that sort of hunt doesn’t appeal to me. It does to some people but I don’t have the patience.

  2. Oh wow, thanks for this review! Cabochard is one I’ve wanted to try but despaired at being able to because, like you, I assumed the modern version would be terrible and whenever a vintage bottle pops up on ebay it’s like $400. I’m so glad to hear it’s lovely, and very inexpensive!

    1. I thought like everything else from the era, that it would have been destroyed by reformulations. And the price made me think this too. It’s a wonderful surprise!

      The EDT is readily available as well. I haven’t tested it but there is a review on NST and it sounds good too.

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