Last summer, Hermès’ newest launch, caused quite a stir among perfume aficionados: Everyone wanted to have a whiff of the newest member of the Calèche family and even though most conceded the juice was not quite what they had expected it to be, most found it a very likeable, wearable scent. And while the perfume world was buzzing, Fragrance Bouquet kept quiet... I just couldn’t bring myself to love it – in fact I hated it. My own excitement about this fragrance had quickly fizzled out when one bright summer morning I spritzed this fragrance on a paper strip for the first time. Disaster. I couldn’t even bring myself to procure a little sample vial to review it – the only words that I could come up to describe this scent were ‘vile bug spray’ and my brain refused to elaborate further. And so I pushed Kelly Calèche out of my mind, unwisely remaining with that first impression I got from that paper strip for more than six months now. It never crossed my mind to try it on myself: the thought of having to live with the bug spray trail emitting from my own skin was too horrible to even contemplate. The months went by. And then it found its way to my doorstep... And I am besotted.
What a difference a spray on the skin makes... The scent of the jus sprayed on the skin bares absolutely no resemblance to the scent on a blotting strip. Where did the harshness go? This is soft, delicate, restrained even. Most have complained that the leather in this composition is almost undetectable, a mere hint rather than an accentuated accord, but Kelly Calèche’s first bloom on my skin is actually full-on leather. It is neither animalic, nor heavy as most leathers tend to be, but it is, to my nose at least, unmistakably leather. It is the whiff of leather you get that first moment when you open the door of an extremely expensive car decked with leather interior, the whiff of leather you can smell on your skin after having worn a supple, black kidskin glove for the first time. Slowly, the leathery scent subsides and gives way to a heart of cool iris, buttery and deep, colored by my mind’s eye in pastel shades of grey and pink – like a sunset that breaks through the clouds of a summer storm. It is surrounded by garlands of tiny flowers I can’t quite identify: their scent is neither reminiscent of the officially listed notes of narcotic tuberose, nor of the honeyed, magical smell of mimosas that has stopped me dead in my tracks so many times when taking an evening stroll in the summertime. The drydown is powdery and soft, with leather brought back to the fore in a subtle manner, which enhances the wearer’s own skin scent.
The overall feel of Kelly Calèche is slightly musty and very dry: those who like me, love bitter scents, are sure to fall for this one. Its finish is soft and subtle – a cultivated and refined skin scent whose sensibilities object to anything remotely vulgar. This coolly sophisticated fragrance is suited for every season, but in my opinion performs –as well as blooms- best in warmer weather, especially during springtime. It's one of those scents that reek of good breeding, quiet confidence and expensive taste. In the daytime, it begs for jodhpurs, boots and silk scarves or jeans worn with crisp white shirts and leather accessories. Those who have not considered this as a nighttime scent though, will be surprised when pairing it with a strapless cocktail dress cinched at the waist with a wide leather belt. Kelly Calèche simply puurrrs on bare shoulders...