Guerlain Chamade : Perfume Review

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Created by perfumer  Jean Paul Guerlain in 1969, Chamade was a homage to Françoise Sagan’s novel La Chamade. Symbolizing a quick beating of the heart of those in love, “Chamade” is another enchanting name given to the Guerlain creation.

Cd

It is a blend, dominated primarily by hyacinth and blackcurrant. As Moslih Saadi, Persian poet who lived in 13th c said,

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And from thy slender store two loaves (of bread) alone to thee are left
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

Although hyacinth is one of my favorite flowers, I find that its lush exotic scent is often rendered as oily and heavy in perfumery. This is the case with Chamade, which starts out with a heavy green hyacinth note, however blackcurrant adds a tangy green layer, which cuts through the richness.

The extrait de parfum is miles away from the lighter eau de toilette. The green note gives way to a beautiful accord that seems to shine like a diamond in the sunlight. Chamade takes its time to develop completely, but the wait is worth it. It is elegant and sensual like Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour. Even though Belle de Jour is more of a Nahéma character, I imagined prim and proper Séverine Serizy to be wearing Chamade. Every time I smell it, I envision her walking down the street in a chic black Yves Saint Laurent coat and a buckled shoes, gazing around surreptitiously before stepping into her other world of Belle de Jour. Moreover, the bottle is beautiful, and I would acquire Chamade just for that multilayered heart-shaped flacon designed by Raymond Guerlain a year before he passed away.

Guerlain Chamade includes notes of Turkish rose, ylang ylang, jasmine, lilac, blackcurrant bud, lily of the valley, hyacinth, cassis, galbanum, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, musk, amber, iris and tonka bean.

On Reformulation  (added 12/17/10):
The parfum smells thinner and more attenuated compared to the original version, with a stronger vanilla note coming through in the drydown. That being said, it is still a great composition and its green floral character set against a modern oriental accord is beautiful. Nice sillage. Chamade Eau de Toilette is excellent, with a nice tenacity. Compared to the older (1990s) versions of the EDT, the new one is good, green, vibrant, exhibiting the beautiful contrast between cool and warm notes.  It is thinner, but overall, it is a good reformulation.

On Reformulation Continued (11/23/13):
The new batch of Chamade has gotten its curves back, and all versions are excellent. The Eau de Toilette is graced with a sparkling green top note that feels richer, brighter and more faceted. The same green note that smells like crushed leaves and sticky buds (galbanum) gives the extrait de parfum more complexity. Chamade feels closer to the original than it has in years. A fragrance that truly deserves its iconic status.

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32 Comments

  • N aka parislondres: You know V – I have tested Chamade for past several years (on and off) but never loved it till a few months ago – it is finally hitting home. Like you, I adore the extrait (most Guerlains except Jicky) and the bottle is so beautiful – a work of art. I may get the parfum one day soon. May 26, 2005 at 1:55pm Reply

  • Romina: First of all, love your site and you all are in love with perfume!

    Want to comment on Chamade. Being a writer, I naturally loved that it was inspired by a novel of Francoise Sagan’s. A movie was made of the book in 1969, featuring Catherine Deneuve :). She gets a lot of Guerlain play, yes?

    Tried it and it’s lovely, but it doesn’t work on me. Dommage. June 23, 2006 at 10:03pm Reply

  • Grahame: Hi, love your reference to the inspiration behind Chamade. I like the fragrance for myself, I first discovered Chamade in 1976, and yes I did say for myself. I think by todays standards many of Guerlain’s fragrances have a unisex quality, you only need to know Jicky to understand this. That said for me I prefer the EDT. December 28, 2006 at 3:52am Reply

  • Kathy: I wore Chamade exclusively in the 1980s, always using the tall fluted non-refillable bottle that was either EDC or EDT–probably the latter. Recently, though, I’ve tried to return to the scent and found it much heavier than I remember. I don’t know if this is due to the reformulation several of you have spoken of or whether my body chemistry has just changed. Any insights? April 22, 2011 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Ellen: Loved this in mid 70s and it was symbol of my love at that time! wore it for years whenever he and i reconnected. alsways fabulous memories. May 11, 2011 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Beatis: I wept when Parure was discontinued, but thank God there still is Chamade… February 17, 2012 at 9:21am Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: I want to try Chamade! However, the only version I can find at the moment is “Chamade Habit De Fete” and I didn’t want to purchase it in case it was a flanker… June 29, 2012 at 3:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: That sounds like a flanker, J! June 29, 2012 at 4:35pm Reply

  • GeM: domestic goblin, I believe IT IS Chamade. “Habit de fete” just refers to the luxury refillable metal holders of some classic Guerlain’s. July 4, 2012 at 3:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Thanks so much, GeM! Very good to know, as I had no idea that the containers had a special name. July 4, 2012 at 3:42am Reply

      • GeM: You’re welcome Victoria, I also knew it recently!

        PS. I’m your super fan!! I’m reading your reviews devotionally, I think our personal tastes are close relatives! July 4, 2012 at 4:53am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much for your kind words! I’m glad to find a scent twin too. 🙂 Very helpful to narrow down the sea of choices out there. Looking at the list of new 2012 launches leaves me bewildered–close to a thousand! July 4, 2012 at 5:33am Reply

    • Domestic Goblin: GeM, thank you for clarifying that! 🙂 July 4, 2012 at 8:23am Reply

      • GeM: 😉 Like you, I’m also tempted to purchase it! I’m torn between two choices: ‘Chamade’ or the flanker ‘Love, Chloé Eau Intense’, as I’ve already been enamored of my ‘Love, Chloé’ original one, I am still deciding if I should complete the range or just going for the one I’ve got my eye on for such a long time… Chamade has never failed to make me happy every time I tried it, but I’m afraid it’s the type of scent you can’t place right away, and I have some doubts due to its glamourous and sophisticated associations. I tend to prefer same überfeminine type of scent but in a more funny spontaneous form… Anyway, I’m soooo tempted… July 4, 2012 at 9:48am Reply

        • Domestic Goblin: (Chants) Cha-made! Cha-made! Cha-made! ;-p July 4, 2012 at 10:23am Reply

          • Victoria: Joining in chanting! Chamade may have glamorous associations, but it is so modern and fun. I don’t find it overly hard to match even with my most casual outfits. Yoga pants go well with it! 🙂 July 4, 2012 at 11:11am Reply

  • Jean: I’ve used Chamade since 1969, I always had people ask what I was wearing, even men, But have ahard time finding it. I live in the suburban area of Chicago. I bought it on line, had to return because it was old. July 23, 2012 at 4:19pm Reply

  • rh: What’s in there to require reformulation?
    I enjoy your blog very much! Rachel August 24, 2013 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Alicia: Oh, thank you, Victoria, for these excellent news! I Iove Chamade, who wouldn’t? And congratulations to Bois de Jasmin re l’Osmotheque publications. This is just wonderful. November 26, 2013 at 4:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m wearing Chamade today (one of the earlier reformulations), and it’s such a beauty. Plus, the way it wears on skin is fascinating–every hour it’s slightly different, but always stunning. November 27, 2013 at 11:03am Reply

      • Kat: Finally tested Chamade today and you are right–t is stunning! My quest to get through all the 5-star perfumes on this site has led me to discover some real beauties. 🙂 July 14, 2014 at 9:18pm Reply

      • Kat: Finally tested Chamade today and you are right–it is stunning! My quest to get through all the 5-star perfumes on this site has led me to discover some real beauties. 🙂 July 14, 2014 at 9:19pm Reply

  • Emma: Hi Victoria,

    Would you know which batch you tested? I went to B&G last week, their batch code for the extrait was 3R01 or April 2013.
    I was immensely disappointed. The perfume smelt half between some diluted version of the original formula and half between some sort of fruity powdery like Guerlain Meteorites. The cassis now smells more like raspberry and candied violet. I have smelled the vintage extrait from the 1970’s, I recall the Guerlinade to be quite potent, but here it’s barely to be found at all.
    My overall impression of the 2013 Chamade extrait, a pretty fruity powdery floral, nice but not worth the $350 or so. March 10, 2014 at 2:00pm Reply

  • kayliz: Hi, I discovered Chamade only recently and am in love with it. To my very much untutored nose it immediately feels orange rather than green — I think it’s reminding me of freshly grated turmeric root. Definitely need to do a side-by-side sniff! This would also be the perfect excuse to buy a bottle… July 19, 2014 at 4:03am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s just a fascinating comparison, and I can see what you mean–that same earthy, green tinge that you notice in turmeric root (only the fresh, though) as in the top notes of Chamade. It never occurred to me until you pointed it out. July 20, 2014 at 12:05pm Reply

      • kayliz: Hi Victoria,
        I’m very pleased it’s not just my imagination (and feeling quite bashfully proud) — many thanks for coming back on this!
        This is a whole new world for me, and such an enticing one. Not least because of your blog, which is absolutely beautiful. July 21, 2014 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Liz: I had the impression that Chamade was discontinued for a while. I wore it all the time in the mid to late 70’s. I loved it because I was always asked which fragrance I was wearing. Now I am not so sure about it. I tried a spray of it in John Lewis recently – didn’t strike a chord with me at all. I think it must have changed quite a lot. November 29, 2014 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s one of Guerlain’s classics, so they never discontinued, but you’re right, they did tweak it a bit. This applies to all of their perfumes. November 30, 2014 at 10:10am Reply

  • Karen: Decided to take a break from a project and trek up to Neiman Marcus try some L’heure Bleu and any other Guerlains. Was a little disappointed in the selection, but did try Chamade and – Wow – absolutely stunning on me. They only had the EdT for sampling. Works much better than L’heure Bleu – which on me is very sweet. So glad I was going through the 5 Star list earlier, not sure I would have tried this. January 13, 2015 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Wonderful! The EDT is really beautiful, and I’m enjoying the current version very much for the sparkling, effervescent top. January 13, 2015 at 3:26pm Reply

      • Karen: I hope to try the EdP – my skin just seems to eat up the EdC. However, 6 hours later, the faint end of L’heure Bleu has me turned around! I’m wondering if the EdP will bypass the super-sweet notes on me.

        On a separate note, I finally identified a note in Mitsouko! Normally, I am basically like Homer Simpson and donuts – yummmmm. But, yesterday while emptying a bag of cinnamon in to a glass jar, I was like – Wait! That smells like my wrist! Smelled my wrist, smelled the cinnamon and what do you know! I could smell the cinnamon note in Mitsouko, so very proud of myself! January 13, 2015 at 4:18pm Reply

        • Victoria: Isn’t it cool? I love making these kind of discoveries, which feels so exhilarating. 🙂 January 14, 2015 at 11:23am Reply

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