Decades before you could go to sleep wrapped in your Calvin Klein sheets, serve your food on Vera Wang china or cover your walls with a Ralph Lauren paint, there was French mega-designer Pierre Cardin who licensed his name to everything. As someone who grew up in the 1970s and came of age in the 80s, I mostly remember how ubiquitous and even cheap many Pierre Cardin items looked and felt. Even the perfumes didn't seem all that special back then. Now, of course, if I could go back in time and hoard the marvelous perfumes of the past, bottles of Cardin de Pierre Cardin (launcehd in 1975) would be right there in my fantasy time-travel suitcase, sharing space with all those Guerlain, Jacques Fath, Dior and other coveted treasures.
Cardin de Pierre Cardin is an animalic chypre, just like they used to make and wear them. It has a strong creamy floral heart, the kind that's often labeled as very (or too) perfumey and even dated. It's heavy on ylang-ylang, white heady flowers and probably also rose, especially in the EDT version. The extrait de parfum is more carefully balanced and far more generous in its oakmoss and intoxicating civet. The EDT, at least the not terribly old bottle I have, smells a bit like it's trying too hard- it could use taking off an accessory (or a flower or two). The husband complains mightily when I wear it by itself, but not when I layer it with the extrait. That dirty creature (though not as shocking as Paco Rabanne 's La Nuit) does marvels on the skin, just like the effect of high heels on one's posture. You wear it and all of a sudden you can go there.
I have only a few precious drops left in my vintage extrait bottle, which makes me very sad. I'm contemplating haunting the web for more, but honestly, how many dirty 1970s chypres does one need in one collection? Can I let this one go and be happy with the rest of my herd?
What would you do?
Notes: green note, raspberry, bergamot, aldehydes, jasmine, rose, carnation, ylang-ylang, orris, honey, lily, sandalwood, musk, oakmoss, amber, civet.
Top two photos of Wilhelmina modeling for Pierre Cardin in the 1960s are from the forums at thefashionspot.com. The other picture is from French Vogue, April 1969. I found it on the Swinging Sixties blog at Tumblr. Vintage Cardin de Pierre Cardin ads from vintagepaperads.com.