Robert Piguet Fracas ~ an appreciation

Robert Piguet Fracas advertPiguet Fracas perfume bottle

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.

Shop for perfume

Luckyscent Parfums Raffy

62 Comments

Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Okay, here's a Piguet that I can sink my teeth, and my flesh, into. :)

    I love Fracas. She is such a diva. I wear her on the most diva-like day of the year, Mother's Day. I slather the lotion and dab the EdP all over, and just luxuriate in her radiance.

    Hugs!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I still think La Chasse is too floral and essentially boring, like most florals, but I adore Fracas. Sa Majeste La Tubereuse, Fracas :-)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I had my bottle of Fracas for a long time until recently. I gave it away, along with the powder and body lotion. I really tried to “fall in love” with this fragrance but I just don't think its for me. I do agree that this is the ultimate tuberose scent but very elegant.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If I could wear tuberose, I'd wear Fracas.

    I never thought of tuberose as the scent of bodies after sex, but now that you mention it, my man's body–or at least part of it–IS rather tuber-ose at that time. *snicker*

  5. Anonymous says:

    Interesting also to look at the years of the creation of the two fragrances. It's a quite strong social statement of women and their place in the post war dream. Bandit? 1944 and it was about rationing to the bone, hunger, desperation, grabbing onto a life that was almost lost and the blood was not yet washed off all the boulevards of France. Anger and strength prevailing over tyrrany and an adrenaline rush zapping through it all.

    Flash forward to 1947-1948 and the “New Look” that retrussed women in corsetry and so engulfed them in crinoline that fighting would be well nigh impossible if not unthinkable. A fragrance for a kept woman rather then one who did the keeping and fighting.

    Interesting sociology. Says a whole lot about the infantilized fasions in fragrance and clothing on the mass market today methinks as well.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love this perfume, it is one of my most favorite EVER perfumes (of all the ones i've smelt so far anyway)! Thank God for Harvey Nicks because I don't know where else I could buy it if I couldn't get it there. I like tuberose perfumes and I had been wearing “Fragile” by JPG but had bought a book which contained a review of Fracas: I HAD to try this perfume from the moment I read it!! I love everything about it. For me it has a real history and a vintage feel and it is just so distinct. I am really excited to smell “Baghari” aswell. Last but not least, I apply way more than 2 sprays of this perfume! But when you are in the “Fracas frame-of-mind” all those whispers and glances are in admiration anyway!

  7. Anonymous says:

    R, you are right, it is the perfect diva perfume. Will have to try the lotion!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ouch, sorry you had to give away a 3 piece set! But if it isn't you, it isn't you. It is probably too elegant for me, for that matter…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sa Majeste is right. I thought the same of La Chasse at first, but now I love that too. Diet Fracas, and all that :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    LOL, no comment…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Interesting analysis, thanks for commenting. Somehow Fracas doesn't quite strike me as the kept woman, but I'll have to give some thought as to what does. Not Bandit, that is for sure.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Baghari is quite different from Fracas & Bandit, do give it a try! And I understand the “Fracas frame-of-mind” perfectly :-)

  13. Anonymous says:

    I know…. I had my set for quite a while and I was doing some serious cleaning last week. I couldn't justify keeping Fracas. ;(

    Perhaps this is making room for another great fragrance to covet…..

  14. Anonymous says:

    I like white florals just fine–they aren't my favorite–but I love Fracas, and I'm waiting for my bottle to arrive as I write this. Fracas is the (very sophisticated) little black dress of fragrances. If tuberose doesn't wollop you, then you must have it in your wardrobe! I can't wait…my sample of Bandit is in the same package, and your review of that was wonderful as well.

  15. Anonymous says:

    My Fracas, my true love! Actually I wore it on a party yesterday. I combined it with my black satin corset and a crisp, white shirt, beautifully tailored black pants and the highest heels in my wardrobe. I used to be a tomboy but with Fracas I'm a femme fatale. IMHO we were stunning last night!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I like some tuberoses – I love Carnal Flower and La chasse and I enjoy Tubereuse Criminelle but Fracas is one of the few fragrances that I actively find revolting – it smells of rotting fruit on me. I suspect I don't find it so unpleasant on others as I've never noticed that particular smell on anyone else and enough women wear Fracas.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well, then good for you. I can never make myself get rid of bottles, LOL…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hope you will enjoy your bottle, and even the bottle itself is a “little black dress” — I love the packaging.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Wow, you were dressed to match, and I never am. I'm sure you were stunning!

  20. Anonymous says:

    You're not alone. I think, like Bandit, it is a love it or hate it kind of fragrance. Well, you have the other 3, anyway :-)

  21. Anonymous says:

    wow, can order free samples of Fracas from somewhere.

    It's my love, i swear. I live in England and I found out about it about 5/6 years ago…yet it took me several more years to actually find it….finally 2 years ago i discovred it in Harvey Nichols in London (but i couldnt buy it) and then a year later i convinced my mother to by the much smaller bottle of it – the one in the pink bow box with the miniture lotion…. i used Fracas on about 6 ocassions until my mum found out that i was using hers and hid it from me!!

    i miss it terribly and oh, how i need it!! <3

    so please, please give me suggestion on where i can gather some samples from? (at Harvey Nichols) they've told me they never have them.

    can someone be kind enough and post me some?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Lusciouscargo sells samples in the US, but they don't ship overseas, and sorry but I have no idea who might.

  23. Anonymous says:

    As a newby, I am so enjoying your reviews. A trial spritz of Fracas is an education in itself…if you're confused about top notes vs middle notes vs drydown…all you have to do is try on Fracas. There's no mistaking what's happening with it! Something in the mid notes knocked me back a little – maybe the tuberose? I hated it. But once it got to the drydown, I decided it was love. I'll have to give it another trial before actually buying it, but I'm thinking it's something I will have to have.

  24. Anonymous says:

    So glad you're giving Fracas another chance, it really is a lovely scent.

  25. Anonymous says:

    My first encounter with Fracas was last Sunday. I was doing a shoot (I'm a photographer) of this play and in my moving around I ended up taking some photographs next to this young woman. She smelled divine. Being an olfactory junkie I had to find out what she was wearing and yes, it was Fracas.
    I agree the silage was impressive, but it projected a haze of delicate florals that was a delight to be in the presence of. The last perfume that did that for me was Coco Mademoiselle.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Just to clarify about my last post the last perfume that “did that to me” remark was to imply the last perfume that caused me to ask someone what they were wearing because I like it so much.

  27. Anonymous says:

    So glad to hear there are still young women wearing Fracas! It is a gorgeous perfume.

  28. Anonymous says:

    What is the final drydown like with Fracas. I tried a sample of it and washed it off immediately. Some fragrances have an emotional effect, such Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare, which makes me smile like an idiot. Fracas made me want to weep, I just found it so oppressive and gloomy. Having said that I can appreciate it for what it is, just that in the subjective world of perfumery, it wasn't for me. Was I too hasty to scrub off?

  29. Anonymous says:

    The opening is sharp & sweet — it calms beautifully. But I love the opening, even, and find it massively happy, so if you found it gloomy you might have done the right thing!

  30. Anonymous says:

    I love tuberose but can't stand “Fracas”. Would it be too difficult to create a real tuberose smell that is not oversweet and cloying? The flower itself isn't, if you really get its complex nose. I've been buying these flowers for my house for many years now, and I do get the absolute and wear it, but it doesn't last. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Two possibilities: i Profumi di Firenze Tuberosa di Autunno (I am butchering the spelling I'm sure, but you'll find it). And have you tried the Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle? Harder to come by, unfortunately.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the suggestion! I've found that a place here in Santa Barbara sells the Tuberosa di Autunno, so I”ll go and try. As for the Criminelle, I'll look for it. I just read its review and sounds pretty intriguing! Thank you so much! :)

  33. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know the difference in smell between the pure perfume and the Eau De Parfum? I have worn the Eau De Parfum and found it a bit strong. What about the Pure perfume?

  34. Anonymous says:

    The extrait is softer, but not what I'd call lighter — it's still a very strong scent. You might find it preferable, but I wonder if you'd like the solid perfume? I find it softest of all — very true to the scent, but stays closer to the skin, less of a “blast” of sweet floral.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the input…I'll try that. Related, one other question… have you/anyone smelled Annick Goutal's Gardenia Passion? I hear that is pretty good as well. Thoughts and comparison to Fracas? I like Fracas but just wish it were “lighter”. Thank you.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I have tried it. Not sure you'd find it any lighter. If you want a lighter tuberose, you might try Diptyque Do Son. Frederic Malle Carnal Flower is also arguably a bit lighter, although it isn't a light scent either.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the post. I'll try that as well.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I was reading the Wikipedia article on Indole's chemical composition the other day, and it noted that indole is naturally occuring in human excrement (I can only assume this includes sweat and other forms of human waste), and in small quantities, has a flowery scent (white flowers). Jasmine oil is 2.5% indole. Mystery solved. That's why tuberose/jasmine compositions smell like sex.

  39. Anonymous says:

    It's usually described as smelling fecal, and it does in high enough concentrations.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I just ordered a 1oz. I'm so excited to wear this perfume! Thanks for the detailed review.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Hey, you ordered it unsniffed? Hope you'll love it!

  42. Blimunda says:

    I am trying Fracas for the first time ever. It’s on my wrists, dabbed from a vial. I’d prefer a spray. However, it is gorgeous and I am loving it. It is very paradoxical….. youthful yet womanly, cute and girlish yet carnal and sensual, fun and flirty but with an unusual twist that gives it depth. It is sweet and bubble-gummy, yet gutsy and bold. Germaine Cellier is quickly becoming an idol of mine. I cannot wait to try Bandit.

    I’m trying to find a floral, as I don’t own one. I am a leather/tobacco/woods/vetiver/musk/incense girl!! So I am often bored by pretty florals. So far, Ta’if and Fracas are rocking my world. I’m going to try SL’s Rose de Nuit too. Robin – if you have any florals to recommend that would appeal to someone with my tastes, it would be much appreciated………I find your reviews and suggestions to be a very good compass. Thank you for always finding the time to reply to each and every post.

    • Robin says:

      Have you tried SL Tubereuse Criminelle? Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose? Also wondering if you should post this in today’s open thread, other people might have great ideas!

      • Blimunda says:

        Thanks Robin – i posted, and got some great ideas. I put together a wee list and am off to Roja Dove soon!

        One last question……is there a great difference between Fracas in EdP and Parfum? Or is it more difference in lasting power? I’m assuming that Roja Dove will have all formulations of this, so I guess I should try both.

        • Robin says:

          Oh good! I’ve only tried the vintage Parfum, so couldn’t say what the difference is now, sorry — but let me know if you find out!

          • Blimunda says:

            I didn’t notice too much difference – other than it seemed richer and creamier, with more depth straight off the bat. The EdP has a sparklier beginning and deepens in the dry down. I prefer the EdP, happily, as it is cheaper! (Although they have an amazing offer on extrait right now – £100 for a purse spray and two refills. You get more juice for less money, compared to buying a regular bottle of extrait.)
            The Bandit in extrait was more worth while, I found. It didn’t seems quite as brash as the EdP, but the spices and animalia were oooh-la-la!!!! Again, since times are hard right now, I would probably go for the cheaper EdP. But I’d happily invest in some extrait when it runs out! Bandit is totally my kind of girl.

            BTW – on a completely different subject – I heard that Muscs Koublai Kahn is being introduced into SL’s export line this xmas. have you heard anything to support that tantalising rumour?!?!?

          • Robin says:

            Thanks for the detailed description, that helps!

            And have heard the same rumor; don’t know if it’s true but they usually are…people always find out early what the next LE export will be.

  43. SusyClemens says:

    Funny how perfumes do different things to different people – I’ve been reading the comments here: “youthful yet womanly”; “sensual fun and flirty” etc. “Diva”, however, might come close… I couldn’t use any of these words to describe my experience with Fracas. The odor of gardenia on the drydown was too prevalent for my taste. I bought it because it smelled so heavenly on an acquaintance, but it was not so on my skin. Too bold and too old, Fracas is a perfume that wears a woman – not the other way ’round.

    • Robin says:

      Ah well, plenty of other fish in the sea, right?

  44. SusyClemens says:

    Yes, & thanks to your blog, I’ve discovered many more!

  45. sonichke says:

    Fracas reminds me of Carolina Herrera by Carolina Herrera. The one in a box with black dots. Is it possible?

    • Robin says:

      Sure, the CH has lots of tuberose too.

  46. RedKitten says:

    I’ve been on a mission to buy a proper, grown-up, womanly scent after years of wearing Body Shop stuff and perfumes given as gifts. So I ordered some samples, and one of them is Fracas. I just put it on about 10 minutes ago. I’m still not sure what to think about it…I’m intrigued. I’m not at all used to flowery scents, but I’m definitely not turned off by it. I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.

    • Robin says:

      That’s a big step, from TBS to Fracas! If it turns out to be too much, there are lots of “intermediate” options.

      • RedKitten says:

        I figured, “Go big or go home.” : ) I asked my husband what he thought of it, and at first he wasn’t keen (mind you, I had only applied it 5 minutes beforehand). After an hour, I got him to smell it again, and he said it was pretty nice. For me, it wasn’t a “Oh my god I love this” perfume, but more of a “Hmm….I want to try this a few more times and see how it grows on me” type of scent.

        • Robin says:

          Well that’s a pretty good start!

  47. Schwpz says:

    A couple of months ago I realized that I had only used one perfume most of my adult life, and that thought left me feeling deprived and with an urge to get an olfattory education.
    Thankfully my mother (an avid lurker of yours) reccomanded me your fantastic blog which has been not only incredibly fun to read but also of great help with orienting myself in the fragrance world <3
    I just received some perfume samples I ordered and among them was Fracas. Now, I must stress that I'm a complete newbie, but I must humbly admit that I fell completely and outterly in love with this fragrance!! It's just so incredibly delightful – I can't help but sniffing my wrist all the time! I know that I should at least try it on a second time, and perhaps give some other fragrances a shot as well before running off in search of this perfume bottle but… I'm not sure I'm strong enough to resist this temptation! xD

    Unlike other florals I've received as gifts this is a fragrance for a real Woman – not a sticky teenager or anything of the sort.
    Fantastic perfume and fantastic blog review as always! <3

    • Robin says:

      So glad you found yourself a wonderful perfume! But do try it a few more times before you buy, and hope now you’ll try some other tuberose scents.

  48. Tapshoe says:

    Odd but important question needs a response!

    In 1982 on vacation in the Carribean, I followed a woman to ask the name of the scent she was wearing and it was Fracas. I immediately purchased a large bottle and loved it.

    Back in the US, my manicurist was nauseated by me wearing it. Young and more influenced by others then, I never again wore it.

    That same bottle, despite several relocations to different states, is still with me. It’s the Eau de Toilette, 6 1/4 ounces, not the spray. It still smells wonderful to me. Is that possible or am I just too unskilled?

    Recently, I chased another woman, first time since 1982. She said she was wearing Prada, the original in the pink box. I purchased and returned it. I’ve been to countless stores to try it again, each of Prada’s varieties. None remotely resemble the delicious fragrance she wore.

    Yesterday, I spent too long in a perfumery, having the sales person allow me to smell endless fragrances based upon my signature fragrances for too many years being Passion and also Paris. Nothing made me thrilled! I purchased Escada, enjoying the clean scent of grapefruit (I also like Jo Malone) but I have never loved a fragrance as much as Fracas and whatever the Prada woman was wearing.

    Advice?

    Will the Fracas Police arrest me if I wear my bottle that is now 18 years old?

    Thank you for prompt responses!

    • Robin says:

      It is absolutely possible that it still smells wonderful. Some perfumes “go off” after 6 months, others age beautifully….in fact, many people pay a premium to buy vintage fragrances.

      Sorry I can’t help you with the Prada though!

  49. mrs.peloquin says:

    My mom wears Fracas as her newer signature scent (she’s been wearing it about 6 months now) — I ADORE IT!!!! But I don’t want to smell like my mom, and I have been shopping for a while for my own signature scent, I strong floral, I love the “vintage” smell Fracas has that I can’t find any wear else. Also my husband doesn’t like it — and he definitely won’t think its sexy if he associates it with his mother-in-law.

    HELP!!!! Any suggestions, I have tried, Michael – Michael Kors, Kim Kardashian, and Very Hollywood by Michael Kors — none of them are quite hitting the mark for me. Any suggestions??

    • Robin says:

      You could try Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, Diptyque Do Son, By Kilian Beyond Love, Frederic Malle Carnal Flower.

Leave a reply