Calèche Eau Délicate was launched by Hermès in 2003. It was intended to target a younger consumer that might not find the original 1961 Calèche appealing, and who for that matter, might find even the 1992 Soie de Parfum too old-fashioned. It was created by nose Fabrice Pellegrin, and has notes of rose, jasmine, mandarin, pink pepper, black currant bud, and white cedar.
I am always wary when I read that a fragrance has been reformulated to appeal to modern — and younger — consumers. In this case, they did all the things you might expect. They lightened it up, creating a fresh, airy, transparent scent. They smoothed out the already mild earthy notes in the base. They upped the citrus in the top notes, added some fruity undertones, and threw in the now-ubiquitous pink pepper.
The result? Very nice indeed, thank you. It does not particularly call to mind Calèche, or what little I know of Calèche, having never tried the original 1961 formula. But it is far from the overly sweet and fruity fragrance that they might have released, and in my humble opinion, it is far better to release something new with a nod to the classic than to dumb-down a long cherished fragrance.
It starts with slightly sharp citrus and a heavy dose of pink pepper. The cedar, which will continue to intensify as it dries down, is apparent within a few minutes. As the pepper calms, the black currant arrives, but it is subdued and not at all overly sweet. The floral notes are light, and as in the Soie de Parfum, well-blended. The dry down is peppery woods with a bit of musk.
It is classified as a woody floral citrus; if there is any oakmoss left, I can’t smell it. It is far more casual than the Soie de Parfum; I wouldn’t call it elegant and sophisticated, exactly, but nor is it unsophisticated, it is just a more laid back, less fussy fragrance. It is not so transparent that it can’t hold up to a cool fall day, in fact, I find the cedar a bit much on hot mid-summer days.
Perfumebay currently has a 15 ml spray for $15.90, thereby qualifying Calèche Eau Délicate for the “Cheap Thrills” category, which has been woefully neglected around here lately. It is also available from escentual, imaginationperfumery, and parfumsraffy among others.