Spring Haze – Review: Guerlain Chamade

By Tara

When you first meet someone you are violently attracted to, it can feel a lot like panic. Your fight or flight response kicks in as your senses heighten and your heart begins to race.

Historically, in war, a chamade was a quickening drumbeat which signaled retreat. Similarly, the fragrance Chamade seeks to capture the moment you capitulate and give in to those overwhelming feelings. You stop resisting; succumbing to this person who has claimed your heart and thereby turned your world upside down.

Appropriately, the beautiful extrait bottle symbolises an up-turned heart pierced by an arrow.


Chamade was created by Jean-Paul Guerlain and launched in 1969. Notes include Turkish rose, ylang ylang, jasmine, lilac, blackcurrant bud, lily of the valley, hyacinth, cassis, galbanum, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, musk, amber, iris and tonka bean.

Spring is the time when we are supposed to be most receptive to falling in love. The sap and temperature are rising. Everything feels new and full of possibilities.

Chamade encapsulates that dreamy, romantic feeling.

My first thought on spraying is that this really smells like an old-school Guerlain. It starts with that classic French perfume-y aura. This could be off-putting for some, however the aldehydes are rounded and soft rather than harsh and spiky. I can also sense the distinctive Guerlinade rising up through the haze.

I imagine the opening of the EDT is a lot greener and fresher than my EDP. Once the aldehydes eventually subside, I get pollen-coated petals as well as plant stems. It’s such a delicately lush, quietly symphonic bouquet that no single element stands out. The effect is gentle and diffusive.

Hyacinths are the flower I associate most with spring. They are present here but they’re only one part of the scene the perfume paints. I see an array of spring flowers in shades of white and lilac. I hear the low buzz of bees, busy pollinating the vernal display. The heart focuses as much on oily pollen as it does on fresh blooms.

When it finally arrives, the base comes as somewhat of a surprise. I wanted something mysterious in my spring perfume and here it is: a warm, oriental accord that verges on the sultry.

The day is ending and the mood has changed. Chamade is now hinting at surrender of a more passionate kind.

I love this unexpected twist just at the point when most perfumes take a turn for the banal. It makes all the difference for me.

This is a fragrance which is unlikely to woo those who only favour modern perfumes or ones with big personalities. Chamade is a gentle thrum which is the perfect accompaniment to bright spring days when I feel relief at finally leaving winter behind.


I just want to enjoy the feeling of renewed hope and optimism the arrival of this season brings.

Have you tried Chamade? If so, in which concentration?

If not, what are your spring fragrance loves?


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50 Responses to Spring Haze – Review: Guerlain Chamade

  1. Sabine says:

    What a beautiful review. I haven’t tried Chamade, but now I want to.

  2. Lilly says:

    I’m so glad to see this review of Chamade! I love it and have been wearing it consecutively for the past 2 or 3 days – been craving it actually, as a more intense way of experiencing spring. I love its cold formal opening and the way it so gradually reveals its warm heart. I wear the extrait and it is sublime.

    • Tara says:

      It fits so well with early spring weather, Lilly. It really does intensify everything. I love the way you describe it. You have me really curious about the extrait. I bet it is wonderful.

  3. Asali says:

    Beautiful Tara, I dare say you’re in love 🙂 I think by now perhaps I can even be a little bit proud since I think I might have pointed out 2 perfume-loves for you?
    Chamade is gorgeous, as you say, the whole difference being that it isn’t predictable. I have an EdP which gets the most wear, but I also have vintage extrait which has a bit more temper and sophisticated darkness and that a take out for special spring days.

    • Tara says:

      You should be very proud! Especially as I’m so hard to please. I bet you will score a hat-trick before too long 🙂

      I really wasn’t expecting Chamade to change so much and it’s totally what sold it to me. I went for the edp in the end but will try the edt and parfum when I get the chance. You make the vintage extrait sound swoon-worthy. Fabulous.

  4. profumina says:

    Lovely review! I have a 7,5 ml parfum spray where the opening is quite green, almost surprisingly so and then it veers towards powdery. A bit like Parfum d’Hermès but drier and less sweet. The powderiness is unexpected after the opening (the plant stems is a good way of putting it!). It is a cool-warm contradiction and definitely non-linear. An exquisite classic.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience of the parfum, profumina. Sounds fantastic.

      A spray parfum would be perfect for me because then I’d get round to wearing it. I rarely make the time to bother with dabbing extraits in the morning.

  5. Vanessa says:

    Gorgeous review! Love the phrase ‘gentle thrum’, keeping the drum theme going. I had absolutely no idea about the meaning of Chamade or the reason for the bottle shape, so your post has been most educational!

    I have several of the accounts of him mad (‘decants of Chamade’ according to Siri) and I am now going to find out what they are, though I have a feeling it doesn’t say on them, so I may be none the wiser. Will report back!

    • Tara says:

      Thanks V. Here at OT we aim to educate as well as entertain.

      Looking forward to your follow-up report on your various forms of “him mad”. Good old Siri.

  6. Ines says:

    Lovely review Tara! 🙂
    I know I tried Chamade but for the life of me I can’t remember what it smells like.

    My spring perfumes this year are mostly irises in whatever form I can find them.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks Ines!
      Oh dear, it does sound like Chamade didn’t make much of an impression on you.
      Please share your spring iris perfumes if you have time.

  7. annemariec says:

    Chamade was one of the perfumes I bought when I became seriously interested in perfume five or six years ago, and I bought vintage EDT (quite blackcurranty) and modern EDP (a lot of lovely vanilla in the base). I don’t wear them much now. It’s hard to say why, although with the EDP the hyacinth grips the perfume all the way through and irritates me a bit. But also, the complexity of the perfume is a just a bit too much. I sense that there is a lot going on in there, and I only comprehend a little bit of it. So I tend to shrug my shoulders at Chamade these days, sadly. You know that feeling you get from a book you can’t get into? Something like that.

    • Tara says:

      annemariec, I completely get where you’re coming from. It’s a very “perfume-y” perfume. Not something you just spray on and forget about it. It has a diffusive presence but it’s a presence nonetheless.

      You make me really want to experience the vintage edt though!

    • annemariec says:

      But thanks for the review. You’ve made me think again about a perfume that I had dismissed. Chamade would be a hard sell in today’s perfume market I reckon because it’s not as legible as people probably expect in perfume these days. It’s hard to categorise.

      • Tara says:

        Yes, absolutely. It’s very old-school and hazy, until you get to the base anyway. I guess that’s why it’s not displayed on the Guerlain counters but tucked away 🙂

  8. hi Tara! lovely review as always! I haven’t tried Chamade yet, but I can definitely share with you my lovely perfume this Spring! it’s Rose de Rose by Rance, a “grown up” scent created around the rose and a base of sandalwood and vanilla. delicious and not overpowering at all!
    have a lovely day, Annie

  9. anitathepianist says:

    When I was in France in1993, I bought two fragrances – “L’Heure Bleu” and “Chamade”..I was passionate about “L’Heure Bleu”, but had little interest in the “Chamade”.. That is probably because one totally eclipsed the other. Now I wish that I had paid more attention to it. Now when craving
    a soft fragrance, my hand goes to my Hermès collection.

    • Tara says:

      I don’t blame you for getting caught up in L’Heure Bleue. It’s such a distinctive fragrance that something like Chamade would find it hard to compete.
      Hermes is hard to beat for soft fragrances.

  10. Thank you for a lovely and accurately descriptive review, Tara.I adore vintage Chamade in Eau de Cologne and parfum, but haven’t tried the current version.


    • Tara says:

      It’s very nice to hear that you agreed with my view of Chamade, Caro. You must know it so well, being a fan of both the vintage EdC and the parfum.
      It’s new to me and I haven’t tried the vintage, but I think the current version is very good.

  11. Anka says:

    Ah, the feeling of renewed hope and optimism sounds good!
    What a nice coincidence, I wore Chamade edp yesterday and love it, to me it always smells a bit similar to Nahema but with more emphasis on the Hyacinth than on the rose. Another favorite Guerlain spring fragrance is Champs-Élysées.

    • Tara says:

      Anka, even if those feelings come to nothing, it’s nice while it lasts 😉
      I will have to do a comparison with Nahema next time I’m at a Guerlain counter.
      Nice to hear you wore Chamade edp yesterday. I love a bit of perfume synchronicity.

    • annemariec says:

      I agree – hyacinth is present in both Nahema and Chamade but less so in Nahema. For that reason I think I like Nahema more, though I’m relatively new to it (only been testing it oin the last few weeks).

      • Tara says:

        Thanks, annemarie. I even more intrigued to get to know Nahema now. I’ve only tried it very briefly and it wasn’t what I was looking for at the time.

  12. cookie queen says:

    My sister used to wear this but I cannot remember for the life of me I must try it as soon as possible. You have seriously got me going. I know Vero loves it too. Hugs. xxx

  13. spe says:

    The vintage parfum and EDT are the formulations I wear. The oriental drydown is my least favorite part. Fortunately, it takes a while to get there!

    • Tara says:

      Ha! Yes, it takes a while to evolve. That’s one of the nice things about ti.
      By all accounts the vintage edt and parfum are pretty fab.

  14. Ingeborg says:

    I think I have said it on some other blog, but to me Chamade is mainly about the green notes. Luckily I do not get too much of the traditional type of powderiness. I have the EdP, received as a gift last year. Maybe I would be able to detect more of its facets if I wore it outside the allergy season, only it seems so well fitted to our cool spring! It is also better liked than MMM Untitled by several of my friends, so something I can spray on liberally. I would be interested to know how long the EdT and EdP lasts on skin for other people;

    • Tara says:

      I was very interested to read your experience of Chamade, Ingeborg. It is a pain about hayfever season because I agree it really does suit these cool, early spring days.
      I’m looking forward to trying the edt and seeing how it lasts.

  15. Sandra says:

    Lovely review Tara. I have never tried Chamade but have the need to do so now. Xo

  16. Suzanne says:

    Tara, I was introduced to Chamade extrait courtesy of the lovely Undina, and your review is beautifully fitting. Your description of “pollen-coated petals as well as plant stems,” and then of that lovely oriental base, is how I experience it too. (The starch pollen smell of it mixed with the greens reminds me of daffodils.) It’s a beauty and you totally captured it.

    • Tara says:

      Suzanne, so sorry I’m late with my reply it obviously didn’t post yesterday.
      Lovely to hear you chimed with my review. It’s great to get validation from people you admire and who know the perfume better than you do.
      There are totally daffodils in there!

  17. Hey Tara? Has your heart quickened this Spring? I find Chamade moments all year, doesn’t need to be spring. Love the story of the arrow pierced upside down heart, I’d not heard that before. The Chamade bottle is in the APJ header, a photo taken by Evie who I started the blog with, looking out at sunrise to the North Heads of Sydney Harbour.
    I have a parfum tester of Chamade that the top notes have gone greasy in but after a few moments settles down to play nicely and I thought I had an EdT but it seems not so I’m wearing only the parfrum today in honour of your post. I feel re-sprung.
    Portia xx

    • Tara says:

      I thought that was Chamade in your header Portia! So nice to hear the whole story.
      I love associating scents with the seasons but it is rather restrictive.
      How lovely that you have some vintage parfum. It seems to be the best version. Lovely to think of you wearing it today.

  18. Undina says:

    What a beautiful review, Tara! (and, as V. said, very educational 🙂 )

    I love Chamade and own a bottle of extrait (the modern version). I’m not sure if I tried any other concentrations, actually. Chamade is a spring perfume for me but I’m not sure if I came to it on my own: I have a vague recollection that I got that idea from somebody else… Maybe Mals? But since then I always want to wear it in spring… I’ll wear it tomorrow – in honor of your review.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks Undina!
      I think I recall you doing a post where you were asking for a Guerlain perfume recommendation for yourself and I suggested Chamade (not that I was the only one or the reason you own it of course). I can just imagine it really suiting you.
      Guerlain relate the perfume to spring so I wonder if it was made with that association in mind.
      Lovely to think of you wearing it tomorrow.

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