Calandre by Paco Rabanne is a fresh floral with a spicy leafiness that recalls the coriander note in Jean Couturier's much bolder and heavier chypre Coriandre. Its sheer florals — rose, lily of the valley, geranium and jasmine — are so transparent they're like watercolors painted with flower petals. Top notes: Leafy green, aldehydes, bergamot Heart notes: Rose, lily of the valley, geranium, jasmine, orris Base notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, musk, amber, oakmoss
There's character in Calandre's notes, but they're in their lightest, still adolescent dilution. The perfume is, nevertheless, sensual. Rose and jasmine have their indolic training wheels on, not yet making bedroom eyes or inviting you closer but telegraphing sexuality from a distance. Musk, amber and sandalwood give Calandre's innocent character an inchoate and unknowing sensuality, the kind that is tossed off by beautiful teenage girls between adolescence and womanhood when they're not yet fully aware of their effect on others.
At the risk of sounding lecherous, I'll say that Calandre smells like the lovely sweat of a teenage girl. There may be musky notes in her perspiration, but they smell like their own kind of spicy perfume. I think of Lolita smelling like Calandre, or the scent of virgins Patrick Suskind's sad predator in Perfume wanted to bottle.
Like a Debussy piano piece that fully absorbs you when you're listening to it, but floats away just as quickly, Calandre is ever-so-slightly melancholy and heartbreaking in its fragile beauty.