Bruno Fazzolari + Antonio Gardoni = Cadavre Exquis

I've to say I've been a huge fan of this project since day #1. I've been patiently awaiting for the final result for quite some time now and I can only confirm that the first aspect that's clear when smelling Cadavre Exquis is that it exudes passion. Passion for perfume, passion for art, passion for sharing. The passion of people collaborating on something they love. You may either like or not what you smell but, to me, it's clear enough that the approach to perfumery that both Gardoni and Fazzolari are showing, comes directly from the way they process art in their minds as opposed to dealing with it as a mere "product".

The perfumers are both pretty well known to the most devoted perfumisti for releasing some of the most attention-grabber fragrances of the last five years or so. Gardoni, the man behind italian Bogue Profumo, enriched the perfume world with gems that now need very little introduction such as MAAI, Cologne Reloaded and, lately, the widely acclaimed Aeon 001 while Fazzolari's Lampblack and Room 237 have immediately jumped up there amongst my all-time favorites in contemporary perfumery. They gathered together to give birth to this trans-atlantic project that is Cadavre Exquis.

The fragrance is the result of a four-hands collaboration based on moulds, samples, paintings / drawings exchanges with only one theme framing the whole project: gourmand. As stated on the Fazzolari's website, The term cadavre exquis refers to the game originated by the surrealist artists of the 1920s. In the game, players collectively assemble words or images to create a poem or drawing, with each player making a contribution of his own while totally unaware of the others’. The result is unpredictable and always surprising. The name itself comes from one of the first assembled sentences as reported by surrealist André Breton: “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.” (“The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.”)

So, the fragrance is supposedly a gourmand but, with much of my joy, there's really not much edible stuff about it. It reads mainly like a cocoa-patch with a camphorous quality up-top and a dark, woody-spicy base with smooth animalic facets. Vanilla does its part too though but without driving the fragrance towards overly sweet territories. In fact, I would describe CE as quite dry in the end. I also get distant florals providing nice refinements. Given the composition process, it's also supposedly a monster, kind of a frankensiein type of composition in which isolated parts were added to the main body almost randomly but, again, the final result feels incredibly coherent and consistent that the chemistry between these two guys seems to have worked pretty darned well.

Don't get me wrong now, Cadavre Exquis is not exactly what I would describe as an "easy" fragrance but it's also far from representing the monster one would expect from the descriptions seen around. Yes, it's bold (but without being overpowering), dark, sometimes even grotesque but in the best possible ways. It has the typical roughness of most indie / artisanal products but it's also very clear that this roughness is something inherent to the style of the perfumers involved. Something completely unrelated to the skills of either. Something that's part of a treasured personal aesthetic that belongs to style and self-expression. Something I would probably compare to the artistic choice of a band to express via a rougher sound as opposed to the super-polished / auto-tuned production of mainstream pop. In other words, a visceral roughness that comes directly from passion.

I could go on and on with a more detailed description of the fragrance itself but I strongly believe any serious perfume lover should at least experience this little jewel that transcends perfumery to bring us back the love for the things we do.

Long live to two of the most interesting and kindest people to populate the current fragrance game.

Rating: no need to rate this. Maximum Support.

Note: Just because I realized I sounded like I was actually blowing these dudes, let me add I'm not particularly fond of the presentation of Cadavre Exquis that looks a bit too much like a post-Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle / stock-bottle type of thing. Just a minor aesthetic issue, mind me.


  1. Loved the postscript!! So funny how it is when one gets their own sense of "ok wait...was I just over the top?" : ). Thanks for the great review as always.

  2. Hello,

    could you provide me your e-mail address, please?

    Thank you.

    Best regards,


    1. You can contact me both via Basenotes and Fragrantica. I'm Alfarom over there...