Grand Fracas and Petit Fracas

fracas1Are there people who wear Fracas straight through from the Junior Prom until the Heavenly Rest Funeral Home?  I’ll bet that there are.  I can’t remember a time when Fracas wasn’t part of the crowd on any perfume counter.   It was also a staple south of the Mason-Dixon Line, there is just something about Fracas that appeals to the most feminine women in the world, some of whom are from the southern US.

It’s the tuberose in Fracas that creates the ruckus in the first place.  Tuberoses speak in a big unapologetic voice about mating, and they get even huskier voiced and more come hither at night, and are often used in moon gardens, which 19th century ladies roamed in order to preserve their complexions from the sun. It calls up the irresistible image of Mae West vamping her way up and down a gravel path somewhere, about equally lethal to her lovers and their bank accounts.

If there was ever a negative connotation about tuberoses (and therefore Fracas) it probably came from their use at the aforementioned Funeral Homes. “Tuberoses,” Tovah Martin writes in The Essence of Paradise, “always seemed to turn up at funerals. They were as conspicuous as calla lilies at gravesites.”

Is this true?  Are tuberoses in fact the flowers of love and death? Are we looking for biological perpetuation and extinction at the same time in this one little flower?  Or are we just looking for love in all the wrong places- as per usual?  Martin goes on to say that since gladiolus turns up at funerals in stead of tuberoses, their rehabilitation has begun.  But for southern women, Fracas, like the tuberoses they can grow in their gardens till October, never went out of style.  I can count on it, every time I visit Savannah as a fixture of the atmosphere, even at a brew pub lunch.

Fracas, however, was never small or shy.  The term sillage monster might have been coined for it.  Actually Fracas has an olfactory tail coiling along behind it rather than a sillage, a tail almost as large as Nagini’s, and similarly capable of knocking a grown man off his feet. This, potentially anyhow, is where Petit Fracas might wriggle in.

Petit is smaller than Fracas, and it’s sweeter.  The beginning is a typical fruity composition: pear, bergamot, mandarin orange, only then do you have tuberose, gardenia and jasmine and the base is sandalwood, musk and chocolate.  The chocolate note, I ought to say, is perceptible from the beginning, if you don’t like white flowers and chocolates, you won’t like Petit.  But it does do a fairly good job of bringing Fracas up to date. That is, if you feel that Fracas needs updating, or if you feel dated wearing it.  My guess is that if you are a serious Fracas fan you will not like it, but that if you’re not, and you like fruity florals, then Petit may be for you.

The other possibility is to use PF in the morning, when Fracas itself, the old tuberose typhoon is too much for you, your yoghurt, and your granola.  Then Petit might come into its own.  I can see it with a latte, actually. Maybe even two.

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12 thoughts on “Grand Fracas and Petit Fracas

  1. Haven’t run across Petit Fracas yet, but you can bet the barn I’m going to try it when I do. I *don’t* love Fracas – it’s so… thick, and almost soapy (that’s the OB showing up on my skin) – but I love tuberose and white flowers in general, and they just make me happy. I recently bought, unsniffed, someone’s partial bottle of Escada Margaretha Ley, which is a big ol’ white flower BOMB, let me tell you, and I love it. I spritzed that one and went right out to the grocery store.

    • The Escada’s the one in the concentric hearts bottle? That one? Very opulent, big bouquet. Great stuff, and haven’t smelled it in an age.

      Petit Fracas is choclate-y. I like it, but would have to pass it along to my daughter at this point, because I think it would come off as a Hershey Bar binge on me (but I amp up sweet stuff). Still, think it’s a viable daytime option for diehard Fraconistas. Definitely worth a try, though not typical of your taste- I would think.

      • Yes, the concentric hearts one. I would think it would be an absolute nightmare for BWF-haters, honestly.

        I was all interested in the Petit Fracas until you said the chocolate was prominent… I hate chocolate in perfume. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

        What did you think of Vamp a NY, if you’ve tried it?

        • Well, if it’s Olivia Giacobetti I tend to like it. Vamp a New York I enjoyed, though it was darker and sweeter on me than I had bargained for, so I wear Idole.

          Did you see the new de Nicolai site btw? There seem to be no more Le Temps d’une Fete or Vanille Tonka. I’m hoping that they’re not discontinued. Ack!

          • WHATTTTT?!? I never check their website, it’s so gawky.

            Ermahgerd. (Dies. Plans purchase of sixty-’leven bottles of LTdF.)

  2. Fracas was among the perfumes that started my obsession for white floral fragrances!
    The first time I wore it (5 years ago), after reading about how polarising and BIG it was supposed to be, I was struck by its friendliness: it felt easy, and elegant and lovely…and, if not exactly modern, certainly not dated. Timeless!
    To day, I still do not understand what people are talking about when they describe Fracas!!!
    I don’t know if it is my favorute tuberose (I think it is) – but suffice it to say that it is the tuberose perfume I use the most. To me it is a comfort scent, go figure! I am wearing it today.
    It feels cool and easy like the breezy outfit I’m sporting in this cruel heat!

    p.s. No, I don’t think it can be improved upon. But I’ll test the petit if I get the chance. No, I have not any hopes about it: I hate chocolate in fragrance. I mean, I’m even picky about chocolate as a food! ;)

    • Fracas as comfort scent, OK, I believe it. Always smell it in the South, and think Fracas must be compatible with heat and humidity because why else would so many Southern ladies wear the scent? It’s nice to hear though that Fracas, which I think of as fatally femme-ish, is friendly and pleasant on others.

      Petit is both very fruity and very chocolate and if you are fussy about chocolate (and who isn’t?) I would say the chocolate note is as nice as the one in Montale’s Chocolate Greedy but not the equal of Vanille Orchidee’s. The perfume is very recognizably kin to Fracas, Petit smells like a flanker, the fruity gourmand variant of Fracas.

  3. Blacknall, I experience Fracas very similar to the way you write about her (yeah, perfumes have genders to me :) ). And I do love her! And love, too, the very fascinating things you brought up in this post. I had no idea that tuberose was ever a funeral flower, but probably wouldn’t, living as I do in Pennsylvania and never having been in the South for longer than a week.

    I don’t think Petit Fracas would be for me, not because I don’t like chocolate or fruit in my perfume, but simply because I find Fracas to be perfection (and also because I don’t really chase down too much that is new anymore. :) )

    • Fracas is one great big girl isn’t she? I read somewhere that for a long time Fracas was a favorite of Madonna’s which makes sense as her perfume is all about the enormous white flowers.

      Petit strikes me as not being your sort of thing. It’s charming but that foodie element is really front and center,to the point of making you think you have just gotten one of those edible arrangements. In fact that’s pretty much Petit: Edible Arrangement with tuberoses.

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