One of the things about perfume I adore is the sense of social history within. I know I am probably hypersensitive to this after reading Michael Edwards’ Perfume Legends II. When you think of all the classic perfume styles, they reflect the times they were released in. It tends to allow those of us who wear perfume the luxury of choosing an era to spend the day in when choosing one for the day. There is something about the extroverted perfumes of the 1950’s and 1960’s which carry an appeal to me.
It was a time when the world was expanding again post-World War 2. It was time when the style was driven by celebrities using the visual medium of movies and television. You dressed up to go out. that meant a jacket for men and a dress for women. For certain men and women it also meant perfume. Those perfumes carried the same dressed up aesthetic. I was reminded of all of this by a new perfume from an independent brand, Sarah Baker Charade.
Sarah Baker is an independent perfumer who released her first perfumes in 2016-2017 collaborating with perfumer Ashley Eden Kessler and Sarah McCartney on two each. I admired the line for an immersive style of perfumery. This is not transparent constructs for those who don’t enjoy bold fragrances. At the time they reminded me of those fragrances which seemed as classic as a blue blazer for men.
When I received the newest four releases that aesthetic has been more firmly refined. All four still have an immersive quality where you sink into the perfume. They are all worth seeking out if you enjoy that style of perfume. For me, Charade was always going to be the one which I gravitated towards because Ms. Baker called out Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It is the style they represented as the inspiration for perfumer Andreas Wilhelm to use for Charade.
If you’re going for that old school style you almost must think chypre. Hr. Wilhelm uses some of those classic ingredients of the fragrances I think of from that era. Predominantly tuberose and leather along with the chypre accord.
Charade opens with tuberose in all its extroverted charm. Hr. Wilhelm ups the ante, using ylang-ylang to add a fleshy supporting floral while he drenches it all in a sticky matrix of honey. The heart is a rugged leather accord given a polish through styrax and benzoin. The animalic aspect of the leather reverberates against the indolic heart of the tuberose. Hr. Wilhelm then puts together a chypre accord that carries all the dark green charm which makes it so compelling. Sandalwood, patchouli, and moss are all present. They are balanced into an excellent version of the chypre accord.
Charade has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
I admire Ms. Baker’s choice to make perfumes in this style. These are perfumes which carry an enveloping time machine quality without feeling dated. Charade makes me want to dust my blazer off and take Mrs. C out for dinner and a movie while being wrapped in a Movie Star chypre.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Sarah Baker.