Perfumer Rewind: Jacques Cavallier 1998-2004- Postmaster General of the Dead Letter Office

1

For all of the series I have on Colognoisseur there is a long list of potential subjects which I choose from when I am ready to write a new entry. For the series called Dead Letter Office which is about discontinued perfumes which I think are incredible pieces of olfactory art I recently noticed an interesting thing. When I started the blog in February of 2014 I made up a list of discontinued perfumes and the perfumer for each. When I look over the list of about thirty there is one perfumer who is responsible for five of the entries. All of them were released from 1998-2004. All of them were composed by perfumer Jacques Cavallier who I now dub the Postmaster General of the Dead Letter Office.

Those five perfumes are Issey Miyake Le Feu D’Issey, Yves St. Laurent Nu, Yves St. Laurent M7 (co-created with Alberto Morillas), Alexander McQueen Kingdom, and Boucheron Trouble. If there is any similarity between the perfumes it is that they failed for being out of step with the prevailing perfume trends at the time of “fresh and clean” or fruity floral. None of these followed those trends and thus the marketplace rejected them to eventually be discontinued. If you think M. Cavallier himself was out of step that also isn’t the case as he is the perfumer behind Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey which could be said to be the standard bearer for “fresh and clean”.

jacques cavallier

Jacques Cavallier

The reason M. Cavallier is associated with these discontinued perfumes is because the Creative Directors for each of them was willing to take a big risk. These are all perfumes which flew in the face of the market forces attempting to shift the trends onto something different. Those two visionary Creative Directors were Chantal Roos and Tom Ford who are responsible, in part or together, for the creative direction of all five. If there is anything I repeat over and over is I want a brand to take a chance on breaking away from convention; these perfumes do that.

M. Cavallier has provided truly unique aspects to each. The raw coconut milk accord of Le Feu D’Issey. The cumin based human musk of Alexander McQueen Kingdom. The fantastic green cardamom of YSL Nu.  The contrast from lemon meringue to wood infused vanilla in Boucheron Trouble. Finally, most famously, the first prominent use of oud in western perfumery in YSL M7.

This is the soul of creativity and what turns a perfume from fragrance to olfactory art. That M. Cavallier can seamlessly create mega-hits like L’Eau D’Issey and any of these five perfumes mentioned above shows how talented he is. Even if he does spend an inordinate amount of time in the Dead Letter Office.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of all of the fragrances which I purchased.

Mark Behnke

One thought on “Perfumer Rewind: Jacques Cavallier 1998-2004- Postmaster General of the Dead Letter Office

  1. Mark,  I so love reading your thoughtful, well written (and well researched) posts.  I had no idea that this perfumer even existed, let alone that he is responsible for so many groundbreaking fragrances.  and…say what you (or I) will about Tom Ford – he is definitely a risk-taker (imo).

     

    xoxoxoA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*