When I first heard about Cadavre Exquis, I thought the name sounded rather morbid and I didn’t think I’d be interested in it. Then I heard it was a gourmand and, being the gourmand-a-holic that I am, I suddenly had to try it. As it turns out, the name isn’t actually morbid. It comes from a parlor game played by surrealist artists in the 1920s where each player would add to a story without knowing what the other players had added. The story would then be assembled at the end. Antonio Gardoni and Bruno Fazzolari adapted this concept to assemble a fragrance composition without knowing what the other had contributed. As you might imagine, the result is very interesting.
I wasn’t surprised to see camphor listed in the notes because the opening here is extremely camphorous, to the point of harshness. The blood orange also comes in like a sharp shock of citrus, so the opening here is not a gentle one! It’s sharp and medicinal. It had me wondering how this would develop into a gourmand scent. Fortunately, the camphor effect is short-lived, so you won’t walk around smelling like cough medicine while wearing this perfume.
The blood orange citrus gradually develops into the dried fruit note for me. There is also a yellow honeyed note, which I attribute to the ylang-ylang and the tagetes (otherwise known as marigold). This honey-fruit effect is very appealing. It’s soft and sweet without being too much. Then things amp up. The dried fruit takes on a boozy feel, like rum cake. And then my favorite, the chocolate, makes an appearance. This is a rich, earthy, and quite dark chocolate. This is a gourmand to sink your teeth into.
The civet in the base comes in to amplify the darkness, the earthiness and, it has to be said, the naughtiness here. The base of Cadavre Exquis is sensual, dirty in a sexy way, and verging on the rotten. Is this the morbid part? It will definitely be too much for some people, but I like a bit of civet. The vanilla helps to balance and keep things on the sweet gourmand side of things.
Taken as a whole, Cadavre Exquis is a weird one. It’s certainly compelling and never boring. The main question is: is it wearable? The answer is yes, it’s surprisingly very wearable. It’s wholly inappropriate for the 90 degree weather we’re having right now but, like the gourmand addict I am, I find myself craving it. Needless to say, a little bit of this goes a very long way. I would use some discretion about where you wear this one since it is so odd. But it’s strangely addictive and ultimately beautiful.
Cadavre Exquis is a collaboration between Bruno Fazzolari and Antonio Gardoni. The fragrance is limited edition and there were only 99 bottles produced. It appears there are still full bottles available on Luckyscent‘s site, which is where I got my sample.
The picture and info on notes are both from Luckyscent.