Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Fougère and chypre are the fragrance families that share some similarities in their classical interpretations, the main of which is the reliance on the fresh top notes and the somber richness of patchouli and oakmoss in the base, which result in a surprising juxtaposition of sensations. While both possess quintessentially masculine notes, the fougères tend to be more common in men’s fragrances. Indeed, masculine perfumery includes plenty run of the mill fougères (usually copies of highly successful Cool Water by Davidoff), which are so ubiquitous that one can hardly be excited by them. Yet, the best of this category present such a fascinating olfactory journey that they must be tried just for that experience. Such is Equipage, created by Guy Robert and Jean-Louis Sieuzac in 1970 for Hermès. The list of fragrances attributed to these perfumers reads like a compilation of perfume legends: Robert created Hermès Calèche, Christian Dior Dioressence, Madame Rochas; and Christian Dior Dune, Fahrenheit, Yves Saint Laurent Opium were composed by Sieuzac. Not surprisingly, Equipage is another treasure.
Equipage has a multifaceted top accord spilling in cascades of sweet spices accented by the slightly medicinal pungency of herbs. The dominant note of clove gently merges into the floral softness of carnation, slowly leading one into the chilled cavern of vetiver and oakmoss. The duskiness of the base set against the radiance of spices conjures a vision of sunshine refracted through the opaque glass of old churches–its glow is dimmed, and yet it is enough to illuminate the outlines of the kneeling figures painted in burnished gold.
Equipage has a conservative air, restrained and elegant. The lush note of carnation blossoming in its heart adds a floral touch that prevents the composition from attaining an overly virile presence. It is a great fragrance, and although it’s marketed to men, it can be worn by women too.
Equipage was relaunched in 1992, and while the formula has not been changed dramatically, it is softer than my older version. As I compare them side by side, I notice more leather and oakmoss in the 1980s edition, while the new sample is mellower. Either way, it is a great example of the elegance and complex beauty of classical fougères.
Equipage features notes of marjoram, clary sage, tarragon, carnation, lily of the valley, cinnamon, pine needles, hyssop, liatris, patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, amber, coumarin, and tonka bean. It is sold at the Hermès boutiques and other retailers carrying the line, such Neiman Marcus.
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