Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jean Patou Câline

Jean Patou Câline is a Green Floral with a mossy-woody Chypre character. It was created in 1964 and fits into the timeframe perfectly, with other Green (Aldehydic) Florals and Chypres like it such as Guerlain Chant d’Arômes (1962), Christian Dior Diorling (1963) and Yves Saint-Laurent Y (1964). It was Jean Patou's "first perfume marketed to teenaged girls", although the scent itself probably wouldn't be considered as such today. Reminiscent of a time in perfume herstory (late 40s - 1970s) when the conservative New Look style of green perfumes was not only the norm but the overwhelming choice for women's fragrance (although there were some Florals with strong characters and spicy Orientals on the scene as well, the '60s brought a new olfactory quietude focused within the Green family, many of them smelling as if they appealed to less sweet, masculine taste), many young women, and even not-so-young ones like myself, would find Caline too silent a fragrance to feel comfortable in. Still, the tenderly sweet jasmine heart of this fragrance captures my interest in 2009. The ad featured an illustration of a delicate young lady leaning to her right side, over the bottle like a windblown flower. She is adorable, shy, her image very much in tune with another ad from the era I've seen for Revlon Intimate with the caption: "Intimate is for any girl who recognizes the beauty of being shy. And there's a bit of that shy girl in every woman" (1979).

It seemed the closer women got to finding their voices of dissent against the sexism of their day, the quieter, and less swoonworthily sweet lest women ever were allowed to feel satisfied, the scents became, the more divisive the age-casting (division between Miss and Mrs. served well for those opposed to the concept of Ms.), and the quieter and more submissive the women on the advertisements seemed. Long gone were the siren calls of the seductive scents of the past (Youth Dew, Shalimar). The sixties scents seemed hell bent on keeping women back in the fifties mentality, to strive to become housewives and serve her husband as even a loyal pet would for a lifetime - the fifties, when even a genderless scent like Yardley English Lavender was marketed as a scent to make a woman feel "more" feminine, with a photo of a babydoll to sell this voiceless, lifeless (and therefore non-threatening) manmade femininity with. Jean Patou Caline, like conservative early sixties pop music, was appealing to those who didn't want to rock the boat in quite the way The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix did for their generation and generations to follow.

That said, Caline is a fantastic perfume, rife with precious essences (I'm especially impressed with the vintage parfum), simultaneously effervescent and dazzlingly rich in its sillage, similar to the way Deneuve or Givenchy III used to be - cool and calm with a drop of golden sun finding its dainty way through the shadows cast by tall, phallic trees. I might compare Caline to Caron Infini crossed with Jean Patou Cocktail (a crisp Fruity Chypre). Somewhere in its depths, I sense a harkening back to Miss Dior for its classical structure and serious, dour presence, but Caline carries itself with a hint of whimsy in its powdery, honeyed oakmoss base, evoking a youthful, optimistic bounce in its step as if the young woman who wears it just might forgo the fussy, corset-like high-waisted long skirt and free herself into that Mary Quant mini dress instead.