Do I have Good Taste? (Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie)

Anyone who knows me knows the answer to that question is a puzzled  – maybe?  I’m so tasteless in some things, like my love for The Real Housewives and Dance Moms, but have incredible taste in other areas, like… well, there are areas that I’m not totally hopeless as far as taste.  Listen, everyone has a picture like that laying around. It was high school, I was maybe 13, and, yes, that is white fringe and metallic red and silver pom-pons.  I think we’ve now settled this question – nobody who posts a picture like this has good taste.

Upon entering the rarefied (?!) arena of serious perfume collecting, I remember reading all the perfume writing around the Internets and feeling dangerously inadequate about my knowledge of notes and compositions and French poetry.  This is in no way a criticism of that writing or any perfume blog. I love reading them, still do. It informs me, makes me think, sends me for my dictionary, which is a hard thing to do for a Womanofacertainage who has read almost nonstop for 5 – well, it’s been awhile.

When I switched from some other writing to just perfume/beauty, picked up Miss March at the side of the Perfume Road (don’t worry, she’ll be around and probably back on some level or another even if she doesn’t know that yet), I read all the perfume blogs and was in awe (still am!) at the beautiful, evocative way they could describe perfume. Then I’d get my uneducated mitts on a bottle of The Preshus Nectar, spray it on with abandon and try and smile and convince myself it was goooooorgeous, I just needed to spend some time with it.

Being an absolute stranger to pretending, that lasted about 2-3 minutes before I’d head for the shower with a steel scrubbrush and Lysol.  Then I’d sneak up on it quietly a few days later and dab on a drop, convinced I just needed less to have The Magic revealed, but left instead wondering how something so foul could be described so lyrically.  Over time some of its beauty would become clear to me in small ways, bit by bit, even if I still hated it.  Years have passed, and some things I hated grew on me and became great loves.  Others are still huddled over in The Perfumes I Hate Corner glaring at me.

Do I have good taste in perfume?  I don’t know.  I think one thing I can do is pick a winner. Even if I don’t like a perfume personally or find it bland or overdone, I can usually tell when it will be a great seller, despite my being bored with it.  I think I normally smell great because I only put on what I love, even if it’s Pink Sugar.  Every now and then I’ve made a FragranceMistake ©.

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie was a unique problem for me.  Musette and I talked about this a couple of days ago, and I asked her if she thought I liked it or not, and she thought for a minute then said no.  Maybe because of that slightly foul open and she thinks I’m a Weak Sister.  I admit that my first run or two at it with that “wet dog” open were a little surprising, but the whole scent opened up to me when I tried the Beurre Exquise, which I’ve been told is discontinued – can that be?  There was just a little less of, well, everything, in slathering on the lotion than there was in spritzing the perfume.  Once I overcame my gag reflex, loving Cassie was easy.

Dominique Ropion created a gorgeous, interesting, captivating scent. The drydown is pure lushness with zero bland.  Floral, leather, refined, always changing.  Will I endure that horrific open to get to that sweet nectar? Oh, yes!  I keep thinking of ways to talk about Cassie, and I can’t think of any other way to describe her than she is a nasty little bitch with claws when you first encounter her, but just wait, she becomes an experience.  Bois de Jasmin as a much more expansive take from 2008 about Casse.

So do I have good taste?  The answer to that is – somewhere along the line, I stopped caring. Reading a review would often send me to try something that I might not otherwise have gone near, and that was an amazing education.  Saying that, I’m warning you -if you haven’t smelled Cassie, then leave here, go and get a whiff,  do not come running back here complaining that it smells icky.  I’ve warned you. What?!

So will you wade through a really nasty open on a perfume to get to the good stuff inside?  Or must it be, at minimum, not completely foul?

  • ChickenFreak says:

    To me, Cassie isn’t disgusting, it’s Elmer’s Glue. And then when it dries down, it’s… Elmer’s Glue. I’m tempted to wear it along with Feminite du Bois, because I perceive that as Newly Sharpened Pencil, and the combination would be a lovely kindergarten nostalgia thing. Maybe.

  • Can’t write, Gone to order!

  • Millicent says:

    I love FdeC as well, but no question that it’s challenging. For me it evokes something proper and quite formal, even though there’s all that musky, animalic thing going on. I wear it on the days I want to feel a little tougher — or at least more authoritative.

  • Cheryl G. says:

    Well, I love, love, love Bill Blass Nude.
    So clearly I will wade through nasty to get to the beauty.

  • Dante's Bra says:

    I love seamless Fleur De Cassie, opening and all, though I remember hearing that the lotion is a good way to get much of the drydown without the weird start…

    Now, for disgusting openings, I give you Strange Invisible Perfumes. They all have the same quinine-bitter, herbal opening that actually makes me angry for an hour. Then along come the lovelies (in Fire and Cream, L’Invisible, Epic Gardenia) that make me amnesiac about what came before, and it’s worth the teeth-gnashing. My sense of humor has to be pretty robust before I spray one of those beasts.

  • Tatiana says:

    Wow! Foul leather? I don’t get any of that from FdC. On me it is a fizzley, powder bomb. Nothing else. I would love some leather in there. Wondering if the buerre is less powdery, fizzley?
    I keep trying this one in the hopes that it will develop into a love. That my nose will become educated and I’ll smell something more. But nope, everytime it’s just the same as the first time I tried it. Sigh.

    • Musette says:

      for me, the Buerre amps the leather and tamps down the mimosa note. I LOVE the butter. The perfume, not so much…


      • Tatiana says:

        I’ll have to see if I can find some of the buerre somewhere to try, especially if it’s less powdery than the perfume. Thanks.

  • Jared says:

    As a lover of “foul,” the problem doesn’t really exist for me, but I found an interesting case of the reverse where I was waiting around for the foul to show up. I sprayed on some Shiseido Zen EdC, which opens nice and woody-rosy before some leathery civet shows up. Fun that the trajectory works both ways. I’m trying to think of others now where it’s all pretty for a while before something scary born from the nether regions shows up…

  • The S.A.s at Frédéric Malle say that Une Fleur de Cassie is a “connoisseur’s” fragrance, which I guess is their way of saying it doesn’t please that many people. But it’s odd, I don’t get a single disgusting thing about it. In fact, fell in love with it straight away. It’s also a fragrance that gets spontaneous compliments here in Paris — the last time, a man held open the door for me, then came back just to ask me what that beautiful scent was, and that’s really what he wanted to know (that, or maybe he was being very, very courteous and actually grossed out?) since he went on his merry way after I’d told him…
    To me it’s a modern rewrite of Caron Farnesiana, though less sweet.

  • minette says:

    no longer blogging, so don’t care about the traffic, but i really, truly love une fleur de cassie, and enjoyed expressing my love a while back…

    still don’t understand (or pay attention to) negative comments about it. maybe it’s a question of body chemistry with this one. that, and a love of indoles (lush lust jasmine, anyone?!)

  • I think it’s disgusting, too, but unlike many of you I like the opening but hated the drydown. Here’s what I said about it way back in 2005:

    “I thought this was absolutely awful, one of the worst things I’ve smelled ever. I was tempted to try it because someone on Perfume of Life described the opening notes as similar to the opening notes of Je Reviens, and that is true — for about the first 15 seconds. After that, it’s a really unpleasant rabbit-cage smell, coupled with some kind of foody yeastiness. Terrible, and I like a lot of off-beat scents, too. I don’t know what they were thinking with this one. What IS that smell?”

    Anyway, I am willing to ride out a less-than-pleasant opening if the drydown is great. But considering that the drydown is 80% of the experience, I wonder why linear perfumes aren’t more popular.

  • Julie says:

    I think I’d wait a few minutes, but not more. There are enough perfumes out there that I like the entire time to bother wearing something I dislike for part of it. And now I’m trying to remember Cassie. I just tried most of the Malles for the first time a few weeks ago in Barney’s and I always confuse Cassie and Therese in my mind (which name goes with which perfume). Obviously, neither of them made a strong impression as I can’t recall much. To be fair, I was completely overwhelmed by the number of things I wanted to sniff so it’s all pretty much a haze – Le Labos! Serges! Byredos! TDCs!

    • Musette says:

      Cassie is named after the little yellow cassie flower and Therese is, of course, named after ER’s wife – the easiest way to keep them identified (imo) is, Therese = Diorella (ER created both and there are similarities). Cassie stands alone.

      Allllll alone. :Worry:

  • Janice says:

    “Once I overcame my gag reflex, loving Cassie was easy.” I can say that about quite a few perfumes that scared me at first. I’m still not willing to wade through a really nasty beginning, but I think the more things I sniff the more I’m learning to appreciate the scents that aren’t tame and pretty, so I’m liking the scary parts more, if that makes sense. Need to try Cassie again.

  • Lisa D says:

    I’m a bit middle-of-the-road when it comes to this question. I’ll wait, but not too long, and the initial blast can be less than gorgeous, but can’t really be as nasty as all that. For example, I’m sometimes slightly taken aback by the camphorous opening of Serge Noire, but really love living in the midst of all that wafting incense any time after the first 20 minutes.

  • Musette says:

    That Cassie! I swear. If I could get my hands on a jar of that body butter I would dance the Mamooshka for days and nights on end! The perfume ooks me out just a tad, though I will wade through the gagglingly gagging mimosa opening to get to that…..whatevertheheckitis when it gets to the ‘ooooh, yeah’ part – but with the body butter you don’t have to wait. It’s just there. Great for the ADD in me!

    And that photo is absolutely adorable, as are you!!!

    xo (GIMME BACK MY ALIEN or I will send Honey Badger after you with a half-eaten cobra!)

    • nozknoz says:

      I love that honey badger guy, Musette – I’m so grateful that your post prompted me to look it up!

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    There is one perfume that had me running for the shower, that’s L’air de Rien. It smells like someone went to the bathroom in the seedy part of town and diddn’t wipe. Another scrubber is Faberge Babe along with Chanel no. 22.

    • Patty White says:

      I’m a little partial to Rien. Well, yeah, it’s just nasty as can be, but there is something so unabashedly disgusting about it, I can’t help myself!

  • CM says:

    I love Une Fleur de Cassie. I find the opening a bit heavy especially when it’s warm but Its mostly soft and powdery with a soft hint of leather and light floral mimosa. The dry down is delightful and sadly fleeting. I would another hour or two. Since its cool outside this morning, it’ll be my sotd. Not too many cool days left in Texas and I have an entire bottle to enjoy!

    • Patty White says:

      Wow, just a couple of hours? Cassie sticks like glue on me, which is perfectly okay since I do love it, but if I’m not in the mood for it, it can get rather thick. Heat would be a thickener! 🙂

  • pam says:

    Yes, I have many times spritzed something and wanted to scrub but then waited to see what would happen. But I have my limits, and a couple of hours is about all. I did wait longer for one the Tom Fords (Tobacco Vanille) and was rewarded after 4-5 hrs, but that’s too long to suffer to get there. Thought I’d pass out for awhile.

    • Patty White says:

      My youngest son, for some reason, despises Tom Ford Amber Absolute. he smelled it briefly one time and just says the most scathing things about it. I have to admit that most of the tom Fords baffle me. They are just so strong and fierce to think about wearing them more than once every 10 years.

  • Adorable picture! You look like a young Princess Diana!! That’s not tasteless; that’s classic! I think they probably have those uniforms today,btw!

    Now these Malles are funny creatures. Some I’ve thought “meh” then turned around and fallen hopelessly in love with them. Haven’t fallen for Cassie yet, but do like it. It’s a real shape shifter and I get different notes on different days. I’m too much in love with POTL to be bothered with Cassie. Now I’ll have to try again…thanks for a great article!

    • I knew that photo reminded me of someone. Yes, Diana as a teen.

    • Patty White says:

      Di? I don’t think so! probably just the way my head is pointed down like she used to pose. But thank you! I really loved that uniform. It had white knee-high boots that laced up in front to go with it. But the uniforms before these were actually much hotter – Indian princess shift with fringe at the bottom and headbands with a feather. The boys in school looooooooved those uniforms and grieved horribly for quite a while after they were retired. It was the only reason I did Indianettes, and then they changed the uniform the year I started!

      POTL! You know, that’s one I haven’t put on in a long time. and I love it so much, I can’t believe that’s true. another one I keep thinking I haven’t worn nearly enough is fifi Chachnil. Something about that sweet tobacco bottom of an ashtray just charms me.

  • HemlockSillage says:

    I love Une Fleur de Cassie. After about 1 hour 😀 I blame you guys for my willingness to sit thorough horrible, chemical, fecal top notes to get to the good stuff in a perfume. There is a post (March’s I think) and she quotes a reader about Bal a Versailles, praising the reader’s willingness to sit through cat butt and barnyard odors to get to creamy musky goodness. It cracks me up, and I reread it often.

    I love learning from you, and finding new things to explore. Hey, this stuff is no calorie, so tasting lots is better for my waistline than foodie or wine explorations, even if it is terrible for my pocketbook. It is a joy to read your thoughts about perfume, to have shared experiences, even if we hate them! It is here that I found scent twins and evil scent twins and learned their value.

    Spray on. Scrub off if you have to, but most importantly, keep having fun with this fascination with ‘fumes. Ethereal, transient, moving, beautiful, surprising perfumes that color the experience of the day certainly make my life better. Sharing them with you guys here at the ‘Posse makes me smile daily and laugh outright often. Be well!

    P.S. Your photo is adorable 🙂

    • Hey, glad you remember March’s post on Bal à Versailles! It struck me so much I put it in my book, along with that discussion on Manoumalia…

    • Patty White says:

      I remember that post. I was laughing so hard before I was halfway through it.

      there is something magical about sharing impressions of scent – everyone has a different way to talk about it or think about it. I’ve learned so much through you guys, not just about perfume – yoga, sunscreen, books – this has been my little Learning Complex for so many years, and it always feels safe.

  • nozknoz says:

    The Malles are all interesting but I find them just a bit dense or hard, as if he was always editing for masculines. I had to have this one but I haven’t worn it much, to be honest.

    Theoretically I would wade, but I’ve probably usually just scrubbed reflexively without thinking about it. There is a rose perfume I like, Jovoy Chypre (which it’s not) that smells bad in the first minute or two. I guess I wouldn’t be willing to wait two hours for it to transform.

    • Patty White says:

      You know, you might be right. He wanted his stuff to be unisex, and that must have been on the brief – none of them are so feminine that a guy couldn’t wear them. That explains a lot – some of which I love about the line and some that I’m not as happy about.

      duh. someone should take away my perfumista card!

  • I’ve had this discussion. You’re not a real perfumista if you aren’t willing to wait two hours for the gross top to wear off. OK, so I’m not a real perfumista. And I hated FdC, too. I’m happy to go from Like to Love over the course of several hours, but if I spritz it on and then immediately want to go for the Lysol, no.

    I loved your photo too, Patty.

    • Patty White says:

      Can’t say I blame you. Cassie was such an acquired taste, but one I’m still grateful for. I’m not sure I’ll go two hours in horrified smelliness!

      I just used that stupid photo because I couldn’t find anything I liked that wasn’t a stock photo I had to pay for that signified bad taste.

  • March says:

    I think Cassie’s disgusting. Now you’ve made me want to try it (again). And so, thanks for that! And I love that photo of you.

    Will I wade through something for the good stuff? I know there have been fragrances where I thought, if I have to wait four hours, no. But Lutens’ Fleurs d’Oranger – I used to loathe the opening. LOATHED it. All sweaty feet on me, drying down to something fantastic. Then I … kinda embraced the sweaty feet as part of the experience (the Lutens Conundrum). Then I got bummed out if there wasn’t enough sweaty feet on a certain day. Perfume love is strange.

    • Patty White says:

      Cassie IS disgusting until it’s not. You should try it again. 🙂

      I still can’t wade through that cumin for Fleurs d’Orangeur. I know it will be worth it, and I really don’t hate the smell of cumin at all, but there’s something that just make my stomach roll after about 15 minutes. Sweaty feet would have been welcome, that doesn’t make me urp.

      Perfume love is very strange. I’m surprised how many Malles are little freaks on my Tour.