Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Recognizing women’s newfound love for sun and summer sports, Jean Patou was one of the first fashion and fragrance houses to introduce suntan oil which was named Chaldée, after an ancient Sumerian city. In 1927, Henri Alméras reinterpreted Chaldée in a fragrance form with notes of orange flower, hyacinth, jasmine; narcissus, lilac; vanilla, opoponax, amber.
Composed in a classical 1920s manner, Chaldée is a blend of white flowers on an ambery base. The initial accords are dark and heavy with the oily richness of hyacinth dominating, however the composition lightens as soon as the sunny mist of orange blossom and jasmine weaves in. Powdery warmth of amber made deliciously sweet by a haze of vanilla constitutes a base upon which delicate white blossoms fall. It has an appealing richness that could translate as powderiness, however smooth greenness of hyacinth provides a beautiful counterpoint, which balances out the dark warmth.
While the EDT is well-done, I would love to try the parfum version, which I would imagine to be even more stunning. Chaldée was available as a part of the Ma Collection, a set of classical Jean Patou fragrances released between 1925-1964. It can still be found fairly easily at various online discount stores.
Update on the 2014 reissue: a warm, sweet white floral that takes on a musty, pungent twist. It’s a pleasant blend overall, but the drydown is a let down.