Scented writing

Lovers of Guerlain’s Chamade probably know that the perfume was apparently inspired by Francoise Sagan’s novel La Chamade, first published in 1965, and followed a few years later by a movie starring Catherine Deneuve. Deneuve played Lucile, the girl in the story caught between her rich, steady older lover Charles, and Antoine, a gorgeous, sexy impecunious writer.

Famously, Deneuve was the face of Chanel No 5 in the 1970s and in 1986 brought out her own perfume, just called Deneuve. There are a lot fragrance reverberations here, but let me suggest another. Chapter Eleven of Sagan’s novel begins with this beautiful paragraph:

Diane’s flat on the Rue Cambon was lovely, filled with flowers and, in spite of the mild weather, the opened french windows, two large wood fire blazed in hearths at either end of the drawing room. A delighted Lucile at one moment breathed in the smell from the street that announced already the approaching summer, a languid, dusty, hot summer, and at another moment the burning logs that recalled last autumn’s bitter cold, linked forever in her mind with the woods at Solonge where Charles had taken her hunting.

How perfect that is, don’t you think? Flowers, fresh air, a hint of heat and dust, against a background of woods and smoke, and even moss and leather from hunting in the woods at Sologne. The question is, can you match the beautifully blended scents suggested by Sagan with a real perfume?

Chanel’s 31 rue Cambon? Maybe, for its character is both simple and ornate, sweet and dark, warm and fresh. There is nothing languid about 31RC’s formal structure though.

What say you?

4 thoughts on “Scented writing

    1. It’s my favourite of hers, or at least the four or so that I have read. I’ve never seen the movie, but I’ll catch up with it one day.


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