The story began in 1958, when Jean Bousquet – who was qualified as a tailor – created a collection of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories in Nimes, where he worked in a tiny studio. He named the company after a small duck, locally known as the ‘cacharel’. (Bousquet was literally born into the fashion industry: he was the son of a sewing machine seller.)
His very first collection was a smash – and Bousquet soon moved to Paris. When French Elle featured a Cacharel seersucker shirt on its cover on 8th November 1963, the world woke up to this stylish, wearable line – which was soon showcased in department store windows around the globe. As the 60s continued to swing, Cacharel‘s Liberty print shirts and dresses – which captured the prevailing spirit of freedom – could be spotted at 50 paces on all the stylish shopping boulevards, from Paris’s Left Bank to Fifth Avenue, via (of course) London’s King’s Road.
Cacharel became synonymous with femininity, lightness, refinement – and the use of bright colours: romantic, fresh, with a real zest for life. And that’s as true of Cacharel today, almost 50 years on. Over the years, designers have included Agnès B, Azzedine Alaia, the Brit design team Clements Ribeiro – and since June 2011, Ling Liu and Dawei Sun.
What put Cacharel on the map for many women, though, was the 1969 launch of a fragrance that became the signature for millions of women – and remains their go-to scent, today: Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs. One of the first ‘accessible’ designer fragrances, its sheer white floral beauty has kept it on the fragrant bestseller list, ever since – and it is mentioned, time and again, as the very first fragrance ‘love’ of well-known women worldwide… The Perfume Shrine blog calls it ‘one of the most influential perfumes in history…’
Stunning visual imagery from photographer Sarah Moon added to Anaïs Anaïs‘s romance –but the fragrance itself is what has kept women faithful. It opens with bergamot, hyacinth, honeysuckle, orange blossom and a great, green gust of galbanum, before the white flowers burst into life, in its heart: lily, lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang, tuberose, carnation. An in the base of this feminine daytime classic, you’ll enjoy cedarwood, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss, incense and vetiver, delivering its long-lasting sillage.
Subsequent launches have each become classics in their own right. There’s soft Oriental LouLou, with an iconic turquoise bottle like no other – and an equally memorable scent, a soft Oriental inspired by the beautiful 20s film star Louise Brooks, with the message ‘LouLou – It’s Me’ communicating the individuality of its wearer. By perfumer Jean Guichard (featuring ingredients you can see in the visual right), it blends the sweetness of vanilla bean with the heady opulence of Tahitian gardenia, or tiaré – and according to perfume expert Michael Edwards, is the forerunner of the edible gourmand fragrances that we take for granted today.
Eden is the ‘forbidden perfume’, awakening the senses and conjuring up a vision of nature with top notes of lotus flower, mandarin and waterlily, fruity elements of pineapple, peach, violet and melon alongside powdery mimosa, at Eden‘s heart. Once again, Eden is the creation of Jean Guichard, who underpinned Eden with patchouli and sandalwood. (We still vividly remember the launch of this fragrance, in Cannes, where an entire tropical rainforest, complete with lake, had been recreated for the night-time party. One of the all-time great launches, actually…)
Noa reminds us of a favourite cashmere sweater, cocooning us in white petals and powderiness, with layer on layer of petals: rose, violet, lily of the valley… Authentic and pure, this soft floral is transparent, and very wearable, offering a vision of a serene and harmonious world.
And there’s Amor Amor, seducing a whole new generation of Cacharel-lovers: sensual and sexy, passionate and impulsive. It had blogger Boisdejasmin raving: ‘If I were to select the best fruity floral perfume, it would be Cacharel Amor Amor… It veers into the Oriental family with its notes of vanilla, sandalwood and amber, but it’s such a good example of fun and bubbly that I find it hard to avoid overstatement. Amor Amor is both lighthearted and sophisticated…’ And if you’ve never tried it? Definitely one to spritz, next time you’re scent-shopping.
‘Proud to be romantic’, declares the Cacharel website. And rightly so: in a crazy-busy world, Cacharel has always brightened our lives and teased our senses. And for that we say: ‘Merçi, Cacharel…’