La Chamade...

We all have things in our lives that we cannot do without ~ our loved ones, our fur babies ~ and us girls have those little things that we think we cannot do without too. Chocolate perhaps, or high heels, or lipstick? I love chocolate but know I could, at a push, do without it. And I rarely wear cosmetics (other than my homemade lip balm). Although I do love shoes, I much prefer to be barefoot, and I'm no fashionista and have never mastered the art of looking perfectly groomed. No, the one little thing I cannot possibly do without is..... my perfume

Unless I'm wearing perfume I feel undressed ~ I spray a little on every morning and evening, as soon as I jump out of the shower. And the perfume I wear is very important to me too ~ there is only one, nothing else will do, and it has become my “signature”. I love its scent, and I can never be without it ~ I always carry some with me wherever I go, indeed it has been a part of me since I started wearing it almost 30 yrs ago

Chamade Perfume
My “signature” scent is Chamade, a beautiful but very expensive perfume that was created by the French perfumier, Guerlain in 1969. Actually, I mostly wear the slightly less expensive Eau de Toilette for every day and save the perfume for special occasions. The Chamade perfume bottle is an upside-down heart, with a stopper inspired by Cupid’s arrow, but it costs $313/£194 for 30ml! Chamade is increasingly difficult to obtain and I have to order it especially. It is not a perfume you will ever find on the high street - but then I've always preferred to set my own trends rather than follow the crowd :)

Disaster struck the other week when I almost ran out of perfume! I always order two bottles at a time to ensure a constant supply, but my system clearly failed this time, and I was pondering my dilemma while I was playing the church organ at our Sunday service. As I played I had one of those rare (for me) “lightbulb” moments, when I saw a connection between the organ and the name of my perfume! On a pipe organ, En Chamade refers to pipes that are fitted horizontally instead of vertically, so they stick out on their sides like a klaxon horn rather than upright, and produce a very loud blast of sound

The word chamade was a French military term for a particular rhythm of drumbeat or trumpet call, which was sounded across the battlefield to communicate a signal to the enemy. Literature lovers may also recall that La chamade is the title of a novel by Fran├žoise Sagan ~ a story of lost love, about a woman who chooses the man who loves her for who she is and doesn't try to change her. One of the phrases used to translate her title is “the rolling of the drums heralding defeat” which is interesting, as according to Guerlain, La Chamade was the rhythm sounded to beat a retreat. However, in his fascinating The Book of Perfumes, John Oakes writes that the word chamade is ambivalent. It can mean the rapid beating of the heart as well as the total surrender of it

Chamade White Bee Bottle
'only' $519/£321
Anyway, back to my perfume… This is what Guerlain has to say about it:  “Who can say that their heart has never capitulated and beat a retreat to the rhythm of La Chamade?  A heart that beats La Chamade is translating the effervescence of love, the moment when the heart capitulates in the face of emotional intensity. This perfume is a hymn to love that unfurls like the spring with equal grace, femininity and attraction. A concerto of flowers mixed with fruit, orchestrated by the softness of vanilla and oriental notes”. Well, I'm definitely musical!

In brief, the perfume is “Oriental, fruity, floral, dynamic, assertive, seductive. Oh yes, definitely me, LOL!!! Hmmmm - well, I can certainly be quite fruity! Oh, and this is how Guerlain describes the scent: “flowers in a thousand nuanced shades, this perfume speaks of romance. The green and fruity accent of cassis buds, freshened with a green harmony of hyacinth. Lastly, this symphony is embellished with Guerlinade, in which vanilla, iris and Tonka bean reign in majesty

Purple prose indeed, but Chamade is a gorgeous scent that is always with me. Fortunately Escentual had 2 bottles of Chamade in stock and were able to deliver to me next day ~ phew! So what perfume do you wear and why? And what does your perfume say about you? I'd love to know!


  1. Another beautifully written, educational and delightful post, Erika!

    When I was young, I wore Cody's l'Origan, which was all I could afford at the time. When I 'grew up' (read married Joe), I discovered the joy of selecting just the right fragrance for me and after many experiments (some disastrous) chose one by Hermes (shame on me, I can't remember what it was called).

    Now, living way out in the country and being a devout homebody, I usually smell of marigolds, tomato vines and dandelions in the summer and woodsmoke and pine pitch in the winter. ;)

  2. LOL, Mollie! Perfume is my one indulgence (apart from red wine, of course!) but like you I'm a country girl at heart and know just what you mean - despite the Chamade today I've smelled first of freshly mown grass and then of freshly picked strawberry jam! Oh, and that winter woodsmoke smell is very familiar too :)

  3. La Chamade sounds amazing! I don't wear perfume, but I do like scented lotions. Japanese Cherry Blossom from Bath & Body is one of my favorites.

  4. People tend to forget how important a sense scent is!


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