Câline (Jean Patou)

Run the words "Mod girl" through Google Image, and it seems that all you get are pictures of Twiggy. True, she was exemplary of the late Mod look adopted by Swinging Londoners from 1966 onward and "liked" by loads of Pinners and Tumblrweeds today. But I'm talking about the original Mod subculture-- a world not made for delicate Twigs.

From the vintage pictures I've seen, early Mod girls favored a tough, androgynous look free of "soft" feminine touches. Boyish cropped hair, little if any makeup, men's Oxford shirts worn with pegged trousers or straight skirts, plus the obligatory anorak or London Fog raincoat to fend off the elements. No dreamy-eyed dollybirds here: these young women did not accept the usual passive, subordinate female role. They held their own jobs. They bought their own clothes. They danced with each other, or alone, if they chose. And forget riding pillion or bringing up the rear-- mod girls gunned the engines of their very own Vespas and claimed a place at the head of the formation.

In French, câline means 'affectionate'. God help the person who expects a cuddle from Câline by Jean Patou, billed as the first perfume designed explicitly for teenaged girls. Could perfumer Henri Giboulet have been thinking of Mod girls when he created this 1964 style-conscious aldehydic chypre? It seems he had somebody other than the regulation female-of-the-species in mind.

Câline explodes onto the scene with one of the most audacious bergamot openers I've ever encountered. This top note really takes no prisoners! It stands alongside Coty Imprévu for greenness, sharpness, and crystalline clarity-- but whereas Imprévu heads off into leather territory, Câline tears through the flower garden as if chased by angry bees. (Or is she the bee, hungry for nectar and disinclined to stand in line for it?) There's a good deal of herbal freshness and pretty petals camouflaging these mossy depths. In classic chypre style, they're unsettling and just a bit cruel. If you like that sort of thing -- lord knows I do -- you'll gladly (and carefully!) embrace Câline's brand of sublimated aggression.

Welcome to the bitch seat. Ready, steady, go.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, aldehydes, orange blossom, galbanum, rose de Mai, jasmine, iris, cyclamen, ylang-ylang, carnation, basil, coriander, spices, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, labdanum, musk