Fracas was launched in 1948 by Robert Piguet. Like yesterday's Bandit, it was created by perfumer Germaine Cellier, and like Bandit, it eventually disappeared from the shelves. In 1996 it was reformulated by perfumer Pierre Negrin and relaunched. The notes are bergamot, mandarin, hyacinth, tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, lily of the valley, jonquil, violet, neroli, rose, orange blossom, iris, musk, vetiver, cedar and sandalwood.
Fracas, love it or hate it, is indisputably the queen of all tuberose fragrances. "Every single person making a tuberose fragrance is trying to knock off the classic, which is Fracas," commented Frederic Malle when discussing the creation of his own tuberose scent, Carnal Flower (via Women's Wear Daily, 9/30/2005). Roja Dove notes:
Fracas is the big tuberose reference of perfumery, and tuberose is the most carnal of the floral notes. It smells like very, very hot flesh after you've had sex — that's the bottom line. It's very much in fashion just now, but current fragrances don't use such an incredible concentration of it. While they may nod towards something carnal, Fracas is carnal all the way. (via The Independent, 12/14/2002)
Fracas, as the name suggests, is not a subtle fragrance. It is in-your-face tuberose. The top notes are sweet and strong, and teeter dangerously near to being cloying. Happily, it never quite crosses that line; the sweetness is cut by a touch of green, and it has a vivacity and sparkle that carry it through and keep it from feeling heavy despite the masses of white flowers that follow. The dry down is creamy and lush, with pale woods and just a touch of earthiness.
It is as uber feminine as perfume can possibly be, and yes, very, very sexy, although in quite a different way from Bandit. They share a kind of mischievousness, but Fracas has a bright, joyous feel that is miles away from the rebel Bandit. If Bandit is the bad girl, Fracas is Woman (very surely with a capital W), still causing trouble, perhaps, but on her own terms now.
While Fracas doesn't feel heavy, it packs a hefty sillage. It is exactly the sort of perfume that leads to no-fragrance rules in large office buildings. Some time ago I read a funny story on one of the fragrance forums: the protagonist sprays on 2 sprays — no more — of Fracas, and goes off to the local Starbucks for a coffee. The ladies behind the counter start coughing and gasping for air, then laughing and whispering and eyeing the poor offender, who wonders if 2 sprays could reasonably warrant such an exaggerated reaction? Well, I tend to wear my fragrance very lightly so am perhaps not the best judge, but 2 sprays of Fracas can make quite an impact, especially when recently applied. Be warned.
Oddly enough given its less than muted presence, Fracas is the fragrance that converted me to white florals in general. If you can imagine it, the first time I tried L'Artisan's La Chasse, I thought it was simply too "floral"; if you feel the same, Fracas might be just the shock treatment you need. My admiration has if anything increased since I first smelled it, but I have to admit that I do not wear it often, and when I do I often have the sinking feeling that I am underdressed for my perfume. All the same, I'd hate not to have any in the house.
Fracas comes in Eau de Parfum and Parfum. It is easier to find than Bandit, and comes in a wider array of matching products, including Solid Perfume, Body Wash, Creme, Lotion and Powder. For buying information, see the listing for Robert Piguet under Perfume Houses.
Note: this is a reworking of a post that originally appeared on 2/19/2005. Image via Images de Parfums.