Quiproquo by Grès is one of the sharpest, greenest floral chypres I've ever had the pleasure of smelling.
It opens like Estee Lauder Aliage (1972), with what smells like a huge dose of galbanum and peach; blooms like Diorella (1971), with fresh florals, aromatic herbs, and a bit of funk; and it dries down a bit like Grès’s Cabochard (1959), with a subtle leather accord that pulls the fragrance together like a tough leather belt around a diaphanous summer dress.
The writer for perfume blog Black Narcissus calls Quiproquo "Cabochard’s little sister," and a Fragrantica commenter agrees, derisively describing Quiquopro as “1/4 Cabochard, 1/4 lemon cologne.” It’s true, lemon slices through Quiproquo like a golden ray of sunshine, but once its puckering intensity dies down, the floralcy and woodys/chypre/leather base take over. Raiders of the Lost Scent blogger Andre says of Quiproquo, "Sweet, gentle, almost ethereal, it seems to ask permission before appearing."
Huff this stuff long enough, and you can sniff out the isobutyl quinoline that made Bandit and Cabochard great, giving Quiproquo a dry mossy leather finish so characteristic of 70s perfumes of either persuasion.
At times, Quiproquo’s greenness comes not only from bitter galbanum, but also from what smells like a fresh cut leaf accord contrasted with a tiny bit of milky sap. This might explain what in Quiproquo smells, momentarily, like the tonka in Aviance’s drydown, softening its greenness with a wonderfully weird green fresh/milky combo. Comme des Garçons took a similar riff and extended into an entire perfume with their fragrance from 2000, Calamus, by Bertrand Duchaufour.
Quiproquo means “misunderstanding” in French, mistaking one thing or person for another, as well as the hijinx that can ensue from such a comedy of errors. As Gaia from The Non-Blonde notes, this is a strange name for a perfume, but perhaps it refers to the fact that Quiproquo billed itself as unisex, and “misunderstanding” can arise from its usage by both men and women. Or..something! (Note the man’s hat and the woman’s hat in the ad.)
Apparently, Quiproquo’s perfumer is Robert Gonnon, composer of some of the best late 1960s/1970s fragrances: O de Lancome (1969); Courrège Empreinte (1970); Lancome Sikkim (1971); Cacharel Anais Anais, (1978, with Roger Pellegrino, Paul Leget, and Raymond Chaillan); and Paco Rabanne Metal (1979).
It’s clear Robert Gonnon loved the scent of green — of galbanum, leaves, aromatic herbs, and citrus. Like Germaine Cellier, he returned again and again to work with green, fresh notes, retaining their fortitude while giving them a lightness, an insouciance. There's something to be said, of course, for overdosing, as Cellier did with galbanum in Vent Vert, but Gonnon seemed to specialize in creating — out of wild and sometimes harsh perfume notes — subtle fragrances with quiet intensity.
I searched far and wide for information on Gonnon, at times not even sure if his last name wasn't Gannon, which is how some people spelled it. And yet, I could come up with nothing but his dates of birth and death (1926 - 1988), and a list of his perfumes.
Not a photo, a bio, an interview. How did he get into perfumery? Who were his favorite perfumers, his favorite perfumes? I'm still digging around, and hope to upate this post if I find something out.
After some time, if you collect perfume, you may find yourself at the point of your perfume connoisseurship — or obsession, I'm not sure they're distinguishable — with a single perfumer's entire oeuvre. I didn't realize until I found out that Gonnon composed Quiproquo that I'd smelled every scent listed that he ever created. In a way, I guess I already know Gonnon really, really well.