Vintage relics of youth (and Cabotine de Grès)


What to say? The days (weeks, months) have blurred together for the most part, punctuated by shocks around the world. Somehow I don’t think the events, buffered by time and news medium, will anchor me to today’s mundanity as distinct from yesterday’s mundanity—as such, despite the erosive effects of banality, the quotidian is a gift.



Perfume-wise, for the last few months I’d been in a frenzy of using up my sample vials from discovery kits, etc. It brought little joy, and I realized I was quite tired of sampling and missed my small rotation of full bottles. Enough reactive perfume selection behavior; I decided it was time to go back to the ones I chose in the first place. Ironically, most of these were purchased after a first sniff in a physical store. (This pattern of buying was during a stage of exploring perfumeries in depth and building up an initial collection—I can’t recommend it as a usual practice!)

It’s good to cozy up to old friends again.



Watching old sitcoms and browsing antique stores are ways for me to indulge in escapism into another place and time, enjoying the aesthetic benefit without the social baggage of their originating environment. It therefore struck me as funny to see characters from a 70s show visiting an antique store, as in a scene from The Good Life where Margo spots a spinning wheel in the window display and decides she must have it.

Screenshot from episode The Weaver’s Tale


Perfume in antique stores

During the Labor Day weekend, I had another opportunity to visit local-ish antique stores. At eye level on a shelf stood a half-full bottle of Cabotine de Grès. My first encounter with it. I smelled the cap and spray nozzle (through my mask) and was instantly transported to the memory of my first ever real perfume. I was maybe 12 years old when I was given a decant of something light and girlish in a lovely mini perfume bottle with a glass stopper that had a horse head shape on top. Dabbing it on made me feel special somehow, and the fragrant juice seemed magical. I never knew its name. (I don’t remember what happened to the frosted glass bottle, but I remember at that age not appreciating cute bottles as much after they were emptied…)

I don’t think the perfume was Cabotine, but it’s the same genre, so I took a spritz as I was already feeling pretty committed. And then, regardless of what happened next, the words “you spray, you pay” floated into my consciousness, increasing in font size as I felt the sillage trailing longer and stronger around the store. I paid USD$20 for half a bottle, and I’m not sure why because full bottles are sold online for less than that. Maybe it’s one that hasn’t been reformulated, but I haven’t smelled a newer one to compare.

I can believe that it contains civet, which is listed as a note, because it has an undertone that some people probably describe as “raunchy” and cuts into the innocent bouquet of white florals and green springtime freshness (via the top note of blackcurrant buds). Feels anachronistic for today, but wearable.

Sometimes, wearable is enough.






9 thoughts on “Vintage relics of youth (and Cabotine de Grès)

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever tried this perfume: I’ve never across a tester anywhere, and I don’t buy cheap bottles unsniffed just to try, even when it costs the same as a 1 ml sample from a niche store: I know that I’ll have a hard time letting a bottle go if/when I’ll dislike it, and there are only that many unloved bottles that I can bury in my house ;). But I see that it’s very popular on Fragrantica.

    About your childhood perfume: Avon used to make that type of bottles – you can check them out on Etsy (“Avon” and “horse” should give you enough hits, though, it won’t help with figuring out what perfume it was).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t buy cheap perfumes just to try either, unless I really fell for the bottle design (but then if I don’t like the smell much, it doesn’t feel worth it). A lot of comments on Fragrantica noted that Cabotine is similar to Tendre Poison, which I haven’t smelled.

      I looked up the Avon horse bottles—they do come up with some weird and interesting shapes!—but the mini bottle I had was sold separately from the decant (so people could choose any perfume in any container). Thanks for the suggestion though!


    1. In that case, we have about the same! Apparently that’s nothing compared to many perfumistas, but my accumulation of any type of thing seems to be self limiting. We’ll see how it goes in a few years…

      Liked by 1 person

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