Scherrer 1: Instantly recognizable from its opening notes as a grand perfume with unmistakable Parisian flair, Jean-Louis Scherrer is, in my opinion, one of the best chypres ever made. Drenched in bergamot up top, Scherrer starts its journey sunny and bright but quickly starts singing a slightly melancholy romantic tune when the gorgeous hyacinth note is revealed. Bittersweet, delicate and hardy at once, the wonderfully erotic floral note is the perfect introduction to all that is to follow: immense attraction with that “Dare you come closer?” attitude all great chypres share. Scherrer is not shy or timid, and its intentions are clear from the very beginning. Expertly crafted to continuously underscore its animalic appeal from top to bottom, it features ‘stinky’ notes in every single stage: Cassis, with its distinctive, catty, urinous character up top, indolic jasmine and gardenia in the heart, and a glorious civet and musk combo in the base. We have a beautiful continuity thus, spelling brazen sex-appeal from the first moment of the application to the very last faded shadow in the drydown. But if the core, the skeleton of this perfume is wanton, sexy and desperate to relinquish heart, soul and trembling body to the hands of the object of its affection, so is its frame made of harder stuff, fleshed out by a holy, strict constitution of austere, disciplined greens, that look down at anyone who might make a wrong move with an exacting stare that’ll spare no one but the very best. We have unity then, but we also have contradiction: Warm gorgeous carnation and spicy rose for experience and sex appeal; lush gardenia, for the lover who discounts all cautionary tales. But then the classic chypre structure, with powerful oakmoss and green labdanum dominantly keeping everything in check. Scherrer is a beast in a forest, ravaged by passion yet always restrained by the rules, the smells of its home: Lichen, moss, earth, greens, wood. Like Paloma Picasso and the grand lady Cabochard, Jean-Louis Scherrer leaves victims in its wake, having the power to choose the most powerful gladiator. It can be worn as armor, it can be worn for warmth, like a fur coat whose scent it mimics to an extent, it can be worn as a weapon of seduction. Its beauty is the power and the unforgettable, intriguing confidence and animal magnetism it lends to the wearer.
Scherrer 2: Some beasts roar and some purr. This is definitely one of the latter variety. Created in 1986 and meant to capture the spirit of the Scherrer haute couture, Scherrer 2 has the marvelous ability to smell like a true child of its time and unbelievably contemporary at once. There are a few factors that stop this sweet oriental from smelling dated. For first, it is not a sillage monster like so many of its contemporaries. While it indeed has powerful projection and wearers are bound to leave a trail, unlike many of its contemporaries it will do so with enough modesty to not overwhelm everyone that comes in its path. In short, it ain’t vulgar. Secondly, it presents itself with fair, childlike candor and such girly innocence that it manages to completely remove itself from the powersuit associations of its decade. The opening features very fleeting bergamot notes and a touch of green over sweet, boozy aniseed. Very briefly, the scent turns fruity – plumy in fact, with a beautiful wine aspect and then it’s all about the honey. I am used to honey notes smelling sharp and acidic in modern perfumes, something I do not enjoy at all in fact, but if these same reasons have kept you away from honey scents, don’t let them stop you from sniffing this one. The honey note here is smooth and innocent, with beautiful floral hints wafting in and out. As has already been alluded, this might be a scent that makes honey its true focus, but it’s certainly a complex, multifaceted honey. There are hints of flowers: a very innocent jasmine and lily, most recognizable to my nose. There is soft, warm beeswax to be found in its depth, when sniffed closely. Most salient however, is the fact that this is not honey alone, but milk and honey together. Those of you that like me have had the comforting treat made for you while growing up will readily recognize the warm and peculiar, sweet combination. Once it reaches this stage, Scherrer 2 remains like this for hours, generously perfuming the body with the scent of honey and undergoing only minimal changes. With time it does become rather less innocent as the musk starts revealing itself and its sensual ambery base becomes stronger. At the end of the day the skin will smell of soft, powdery heliotrope, sandalwood and warm, soft amber.
Edit: It just struck me just now that Scherrer 2 is really going to appeal to Boudoir lovers. The two don't smell alike -aside from sharing in a prominent honeyed character- but something tells me this is going to be a winner for those who adore Westwood's love it or hate it gem.
Images: The images in this post belong to www.okadi.com and the originals can be bought directly from the OKADI website.