Cachet Jaune: The Real Vanilla

Cachet Jaune in the stopwatch bottle

Cachet Jaune in the stopwatch bottle

It’s curious that fond of vanilla as most of the world seems to be we are mostly unfamiliar with the actual scent in perfume.  Most of the time we are smelling vanillin, the old molecule responsible for so much vanilla flavor and fragrance.

Cachet Jaune or Yellow Seal from 1937 is one of the obscure old Guerlains that contain the real thing. It is also among the perfumes that have been resurrected  through the work of Thierry Wasser and one of his assistants Frederic Sacone. Cachet was an unusual Guerlain because it was never released as a perfume, instead the formula came as a cologne and was offered in the stop watch bottle design presumably to be more affordable to Depression era shoppers.

Here the story becomes a little hazy.  What is certain is that Jean Paul Guerlain the last of the great in house perfumers of Guerlain was born that same year.  It may also be that Cachet Jaune (or Yellow Seal) was kept in the perfume concentration only for Jacques Guerlain’s family and never released to the public in such a voluptuous perfume form.  Instead the buyers got this dark golden juice that is the most delicate vanilla cologne ever created. Jean Paul Guerlain’s mother wore Cachet Jaune.

Lemon and Vanilla Bean

Lemon and Vanilla Bean

In a way I’m not surprised.  If good girls never danced the tango or wore Shalimar, they could wear this lovely cologne which smells as though a bottle of the latter had crashed into a bottle of Eau de Cologne Imperiale.  There is the rosemary opening of Imperiale, and there is the bergamot lemony Guerlain signature along with the creamy vanilla but then a carnation (the carnation of Guerlain’s No 25 and Fleur de Feu) shakes itself free of the tincture of vanilla which, scattering amber drops everywhere, briefly appears in the scent.

This carnation gives Cachet Jaune sparkle and lift.  C J is a bright and witty companion in its carnation phase and when it relaxes does so into a familiar rose and jasmine languor fueled by orris and musk. The perfume is still light but has lost its vivacity and become almost sleepy.

I wish Cachet Jaune had been released in its original perfume form because the end faint as it is, has that wonderful Guerlain lilt of vanilla to it once again. This vanilla underwritten by an amber and tonka bean accord is recognizbly that standard clause written into any Guerlain contract with the smelling public, but what a warm and charming contract!

C J is never suggestive, there is vanillasomething respectable, even innocent about this little vanilla cologne as well as something tender in the way that it circles from a vanilla beginning right through to a vanilla ending as though it were too gentle to subject the wearer to a harsh change of tone.  Then too Cachet has the warm vanilla familiar  from L’Aimant or Arpege both vanillas for refined tastes. Cachet Jaune though is completely Guerlain only quietly so, a soft spoken, unemphatic Guerlain with perfect manners and all memories of Jicky-ish raunch bannished.

Compared with something like Spiritueuse Double Vanille you have an altogether more mellow floral composition, but the flowers are never allowed to overwhelm the vanilla at any time.  Even the carnation is kept in a subordinate position so that the scent is wearable by men or women equally well in the way that Eau de Guerlain would be.  Cachet Jaune has all the subtlety of the best colognes and like them goes back and forth over gender lines with ease, it just doesn’t cross the line by means of citrus, instead it’s vanilla that bridges that gap.

Possibly this makes Cachet Jaune the missing link between the L’Heure Bleue mellow vanilla and the lively Shalimar vanilla; a fragrance both factions could love. Anyway Cachet Jaune is a small golden treasure- maybe one day Guerlain could bring it back? Please?

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6 thoughts on “Cachet Jaune: The Real Vanilla

  1. Beautiful post. And I agree wholeheartedly: bring it baaaack! I was lucky enough to try the re-edit, not for sale one, which is as great if not better than my tpc sample. It’s funny how those old Guerlains with carnation truly are magical, the flower works exceptionally with the guerlinade.
    I wanted to comment on your mouthwatering Mitsouko too, but didn’t have the time, so just a note here on how much I enjoyed it :-)

    • Thanks Asali :-)
      I love the Guerlain carnation as well. It’s odd because other houses are famous for carnations but Guerlain does some of the very best of them and only Terracotta or Mettalys are recent examples. (I mean old Terracotta Voile d’Ete since you and I both liked the new more tropical floral Terracotta).

      Wouldn’t it be nice if Guerlain put some of these great old numbers back even as LEs? I would definitely buy Cachet Jaune!! Was the perfume version lasting I wonder?

      • Hm, good question. I can’t remember, but will check if I have enough/ any left to do a comparison.
        How I wish they would, TV d’E, Metallica, Oeillet, Fleur de Feu, and actually L’HB has a gorgeous carnation note, luckily we still have that one :-)

  2. Love the phrase ‘rose and jasmine languor’, and indeed the whole description of this perfume, especially if the carnation is held in a subordinate position, hehe, not being a fan of that note. Vanilla I could sniff by the bucketload, and would be intrigued to smell the real thing…

    • Rose and jasmine often don’t come off as languid, but do here :-)

      I think you’d like Cachet Jaune. It is beautiful and has a really rich and subdued amber vanilla ending that is not typically Guerlain although the rest of CJ is quite Guerlainish, indeed almost a tour of Guerlain notes until you get to that ending which seems to have switched houses. If I’d only smelled the end I’d say early L’Artisan Parfumeur actually…

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