Monthly Archives: July 2013

Everything to declare… Poivre by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

If anyone had taken a moment to truly observe that hat they mistook for a jester’s, they might have entered an entirely other world.

For the old woman who wore sharply tailored pin striped suits in city banker navy blue and was never without a red carnation for her buttonhole was anything other than the bum they assumed her to be.

She knew her make up was too white, her lips and rouge too red, her auburn hair dyed too bright.

She didn’t care, far from it, that is what she intended them to be.

A statement of intent.

To live apart and differently from other people, to be who and exactly what she wanted to be.

If they asked her, and no one ever did, she would tell them everything.

Of the life she had led among the elite, the fashionable, the artists, the artistes, the stars and singers, politicians and public figures.

Royalty, even.

How she had been the face of a generation that everyone had forgotten.

How she had gone from front page news to ‘saveloy and chips’ wrappers and tool drawer linings in just a few short years.

Too many nights on the tiles, too many boyfriends, too many rumours of girlfriends.

Once being named as a co-respondent in a divorce in the decade before it was nearly respectable.

Now she goes about her business, revelling in anonymity and the money she was given to keep quiet.

A little mountain of money to keep her in clove cigarettes, spiced coffee in the Turkish style and fine tailoring still smelling of the cooking of the immaculate Indian born women who run things up for her these days.

Cash that has grown into a small fortune.

Wealth enough, in fact, to allow her to talk now, if only there was anyone around to listen.

But she is reconciled to allowing the rest of her time on Earth to evaporate away silently in understated sweetly scented luxury, until all of her is gone into the air.

A man, pink socks and plus fours, silk chemise and fair isle tank top stops her as she makes her way along Mount Street,

“Isn’t that a Schiaparelli?”

“It is” she smiles “And you may buy me coffee.”

Vintage Poivre by Caron is an eccentric grand dame of a scent.

An immaculate once fashionable living memorial to an age of elegance, self-assurance and discreet debauchery.

The fiery start, which is what everyone remembers, is as much carnation as bell or black pepper. A floral flame to set the nostrils alight delightfully.

We are escorted through this ring of fire by cloves, who shall be our unceasing companion throughout, and taken to a floral core where roses, ylang ylang and feint tuberose come and go.

Here the perfume settles finally and begins a long wistful decay into a whisper, though the word on its lips very much remains ‘clove’.

Beyond this lies the familiar oppoponax, animalic silk powder and slight green of the distinctive Caron base, made more like makeup by a carrot tone that might be unlisted iris.

Poivre is a passionately hot affair of the heart that cannot possibly last.

It is a weekend away at the British seaside for a man and wife who are most definitely not married to each other.

It is elicit and exciting, knowing and nubile and splendidly not as young as it once was and not as well behaved as it should be.

In short it’s a naughty, dirty, fiery but ever so fanciable fragrance.

Unfortunately, this ‘little bit of what you fancy that does you good’ is in short supply, having been sadly discontinued in recent times.

Luckily, The Dandy does know where one can try, and more importantly buy, the most recent, and really pretty pleasant version. Of which more to come later in the week.

In the meantime… a bientot.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The marriage meadow… Nocturnes by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

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She remembered the smell of grass so hot it shimmered.

The lawn a sea of blades with bridesmaids bobbing like boats upon it.

A bouquet thrown aloft by the bride that seemed to stay in the air a short eternity before arriving in her open arms.

And though it came as no surprise, for the flowers were aimed in her direction, the relief when they landed was a shiver running through her body.

The blooms buoyed her up despite their weight, lifting her shoulders, her head with confidence and hope: she is made a ship sailing higher in the water.

Soon, she thinks, she will find safe harbour too.

Raising the arrangement to her nose and breathing in deeply, her chest swelling within unused-to corsetry, she senses white roses, orange flowers and jasmine.

And in between the lightly worn innocence of lily of the valley.

She recalls a time before disappointment when the world was forever on the up, mere moments, as they appear across the years, ahead the let downs and the lows.

The other members of the matrimonial sorority kiss and congratulate her, aware to varying degrees of why she should receive this special favour.

She tastes the flavour of make up and scent in their kind attentions: sandalwood and musk, sweet resinous iris fresh from the compact.

Then they are gone to attend on the new bride and groom or their own significant others and she is left alone in the long grass of the meadow they have chosen to get married in.

Sinking.

He throws her smile like a life jacket.

His full lips lending his face a youthful air, belying the fact that he has known pain.

“He lost his wife within months to cancer.”

“They must have known on the day.”

“So sad.”

She has heard the whispers and takes his hand more surely for them.

After all it might be a single best man’s duty to escort the unmarried bridesmaid, but perhaps she can be his support too today.

Their arms intertwine to form an accord as perfect as the music that accompanies them in to dinner.

Something by Debussy, she thinks, as the heat dissipates and the sun begins its descent.

The night awaits.

Caron’s Nocturnes is a reassertion of a classic composition made a new with enthusiasm and elan.

Like a wedding, the form, the shape, the ritual and ceremony remain largely the same. 

It is in the detail that the fragrance asserts its own personality.

Nocturnes, despite its name, has a decidedly sunny disposition.

Possessing more than a dash of good-humoured defiance, this is a perfume with an air of optimism about it.

Perhaps it is waiting patiently for the day when it will be properly appreciated.

The beginning is all about aldehydes, mixed conventionally with citrus and citrus flower.

The impression is of a very refined sparkling orange squash made with carbonated rosewater.

The heart is undeniably floral, forming an accord that is seamlessly blended, neither jasmine nor tuberose being allowed to play their usual dominant role.

Developing from this core is the scent’s most striking facet: a chemically enhanced, pleasantly pneumatic vetiver.

This is lawn at its very lightest, as though it might float away were it not tethered to a somewhat tenuous base of sandalwood and musk, the part of the whole I like least.

Within the constraints of floral aldehydes, the strict metre poetry of perfume, this fragrance is quietly original,  pairing flowers with meadow.

Nocturnes has an outdoors, daytime informality that is refreshing, airy and unquestionable highly attractive.

It is a scent one can imagine falling in love to.

Quite like infatuation, this fragrance suits all sexes equally.

By the way for the sake of clarity, I wore the version of Nocturnes pictured above, not the original and certainly not the 2013 edition, which, quite frankly, is a disaster, robbing the scent of all its elevation in the opening and taking an age to get to the sunlight flower meadow that is its joy.

Beware.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Lust in a cold climate…Tabac Blond by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Classic Collection

I tempted fate rather when I claimed winter in July the other day, for the weather changed almost instantly here. So whilst the winds blow and the rain falls, let’s be transported once more to the other end of the year…

The Perfumed Dandy.

The winter comes in early and hard to these northern ports where France ends suddenly and the blank-faced Atlantic begins.

In storm surges sideways rain slams the little parade of quayside shops. At night all are battened down except for M. Caron’s, the red cedar stained exterior lit by one lamp. It casts its beam across the familiar sign ‘bar-tabac-bierres blondes’ and Pelforth’s pelican looking on.

Inside, cutting a swathe through the thick sweet cloud to reach a table, the scent is not of the acrid shavings smoked by sailors, stokers and stevedores but of the honeyed, clove-infused, golden hued stuff of the officers’ mess. Imbibed through pipes not papers.

Defying the sign you order a bierre brune: dark amber in a glass, brewed from English yeast brought over to the conjure comfort of home for soldiers on their return from the front.

Long stemmed carnations in clear glass carafes…

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Once a gem, now hit into the rough… Emeraude by Coty The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday (Evening) Scent

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Is it heresy to enjoy a little spice on a balmy summer’s eve?

The Dandy certainly doesn’t think so, therefore it should come as no surprise that I have been reaching for my trusty new “old” bottle of Emeraude by Coty of late.

Sometimes erroneously called “Shalimar’s little sister”, as Chypre is to Mitsouko it could be argued, Emeraude is to it’s more famous Oriental sibling.

Francois Coty venturing in 1921 where Guerlain would follow some four years later.

Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to try a version from before the 1960s and my present edition shown above is much more contemporary.

Nevertheless, even from vintages as recent as this, Emeraude is a perfume that lives up to its precious name.

It has a splendid citrus and pepper opening, turning resinously spicy before billowing into the great vanilla powder puff clouds that it is rightly famous for.

Emeraude is an easy, enveloping and lovable scent, youthful even as it approaches its one hundredth birthday.

I’ve always been surprised no one has suggested I review this fragrance, perhaps it’s because the present incarnation is just so, well, plain.

Talking of suggestions, don’t forget there’s still time to vote in The Hit Parade this weekend, and help decide what I should wear come Monday.

Pip pip.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Winter in July… Nuit de Noel by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Christmas is being imported this year.

It will come in a crate by boat and be brought, a little piece of Europe in a box, up from the harbour to our room at Raffles Hotel.

On opening it, I “must be careful” not to unsettle the contents lest one item has been broken and is spilt upon and spoils the others.

The pre-fabricated festivities will have as little to do with Christmas as our lives in this heat and 70% humidity have with a happy marriage.

The box is all flashes and flickers of the world I once knew, before Singapore, before the War even.

Candied fruit, heavy English rosewater – slightly turned, vanilla essence just good enough for custard and a cologne that promises Scandinavian forests and delivers the sweaty, peaty, mossy mass of wet woodland floor in early German spring.

Biscuits shot with caraway, aniseed and oats remind one of the cheeses, hams and cold cuts that we do not have to go with them. They draw an outline around the absence, forming a shape where Christmas and love should be.

These gifts from home serve only to unsettle. Hallowed by sea wave salts and ambers, they are little relics of lost happiness.

The hamper but half emptied, I turn away and fix a gin with something pink and something holy and something local.

How I wish this dress was more loosely fitted.

I raise the glass, a foaming mousse the liquid’s head, to my mouth and inhale the whole in one measure.

The emptied vessel returned to the cabinet I charge another and walk out onto the hot and balmy balcony drink in hand.

Ylang ylang and jasmine fill the air, sharp and distracting, they feel like passing dangers soon supplanted by the reek of the real cancer within: my chest and its presents from the past.

I should shut it up and lock it away, but know the scent it gives off and the pervading sense of an incomplete existence will remain.

I surrender to the smell of passed contentments, long to clamber inside the crate, wrap myself in padding and packaging and be posted back a steerage stowaway in time for Easter.

I will decide tomorrow, it is, after all, the eve of a day of great import.

Nuit de Noel by Caron is no Christmas as we know it.

It is a strange, apprehending and unnerving fragrance that brings forth a variety of notes all slightly off key and not what they should be.

It is an unfloral-floral, a savoury Vanilla, a wintery Chypre a Western oriental.

It is in fact a foreigner abroad, the perpetual expatriate.

It gathers around itself all the talismans of celebration and success: a little animalic, some rose, jasmine, oakmoss and leather.

But rather than a self confident Paris-dressed woman at the height of European chic the effect is of a lonely glamorously tragic gin-soaked figure carving out an existence in place of living a life, somewhere far off and unhappy.

This is a precise and beautiful perfume, done great disservice by reviewers who perceive only its sweeter and more flowery notes.

They are like the local diplomat who intentionally misses the melancholy in the eyes of his colleagues wife, just to save inconvenience.

Like many sad smells it is eminently wearable, yet fearfully beautiful.

The Dandy knows this review comes at just the wrong time of year, but as this is a perfume composed of paradoxes it seems entirely appropriate…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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A Perfume for a New Prince… Any suggestions?

Dearest All

In the midst of all this maternal mirth, it would seem churlish for The Dandy not to suspend normal service – like all the rest of the media – and turn to the matter of…

George Alexander Louis, HRH Prince George of Cambridge

Others may worry about the trivialities of child rearing, I am concerned with matters of import: specifically what fragrance the, no doubt, fine fellow should wear.

Now, apart from the obvious above I am a long term fan of this rather superior Spanish splash…

Almost too incredibly clean and refreshing to be reserved for infants, though in this royal case I shall make an exception.

So friends, what scents would you suggest for our new Prince?

I’d love to hear….

Fear not, normal service will be resumed tomorrow, and give yourselves all a extra vote on The Hit Parade to celebrate the birth!!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Deep purple haze… Aimez Moi by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“Strangely”

She said it sternly, with that single-mindedness that only brides to be seem to be able to bring to bear.

“Strangely, I haven’t forgotten that I have elected to get married in August and on the Algarve.”

She looked around at her assembled brides maids, her mother, her mother in law to be, her wedding organiser and assorted bridal wear suppliers, then straight ahead at the middle distance.

“But I still chose to wear a purple velvet dress and will happily accept the consequences whatever they may be.”

There was a general hush, a collective sidewise exchange of glances. Her look remained resolute, unflinching, implacable.

Too scared to even whisper a word of contradiction, gradually party’s pursued lips relaxed and melted into smiles, nervous laughter filled the air and the tension ebbed way as they accepted the simple fact.

The lady was not for turning.

When she insisted the outfit be cut in the shape of a Balenciaga ball gown, even though it was to be a beach-based ceremony, no one spoke up.

The bouquets of heavily scented violets and irises complete with roots revealed beneath the gathering bow, were allowed to pass too without by nor leave.

That the page boys be dressed in multi-coloured suits that had them resembling the liquorice sweets she adored was agreed by all to be a brilliant idea, a way of persuading small boys to dress smartly without squirming protest.

A toast of Pernod and blackcurrant cordial was met with silent resignation.

Only when it came to the vows was any dissent heard.

The celebrant, she had no truck with religion, swallowed hard when she ‘suggested’ that rather than the usual ‘Will you take this woman…’ tediousness, she address the groom directly, commanding him to swear unending fidelity to her.

The former curate faltered that perhaps this was a little ‘unconventional’, that it might be seen as a touch ‘pressurising’, that some people might even find the tone somewhat ‘domineering’

She looked him up and town then fixed her eyes once again into no man’s land. Saying only one word:

“Precisely”.

When the day arrived the weather was not as hot as it should have been.

A brisk wind came in persistently from the sea playing havoc with the bride before in a fly away dress.

Not for her the same fate.

Her silhouette in near starched, stroke-me satin velvet remained perfect.

Against the overcast sky her female attendants in lilacs and fuscias formed a human flower arrangement.

Alongside the little boys in rainbow raw silk suits and bow ties were gem stones scattered across the sand.

The profound purple of her dress sequestered what little sunshine there was, seeming to shimmer: a radiant darkness at the shoreline.

Then the moment.

In a voice of perfect nerveless clarity she elocuted:

“Do you agree from this day forth to take this woman to have and to hold, to cherish and adore, to honour and obey… to love me?”

All those brought together on the bay in unison mouthed…

“Yes”

As he alone and petrified spoke the word.

Aimez Moi by Caron is a supremely single minded scent almost to the point of being downright scary.

It is a profound, heavy, unerring perfume that takes a core accord and extends it into a peerless operatic piece of work.

At the opening it is a tale of two lovers: anise and violet.

Yet any of the usual sweet, sentimentally romantic notions one might have of either note are instantly nullified.

The violet is dark, as tangible as cloth, as otherworldy as the Gothic.

The anise meanwhile is savoury, earthy, dirty almost, bringing forth the root of the iris, the third member of this love triangle, who appears in the second act.

Our protagonists’ brooding passions are played out with an accompaniment of spicy cardamom, a peppery mint and an amber that seems to be the near unsmelt structure holding the whole thing together.

Somewhere in the maelstrom, as so often in such affairs, there is a suggestion of alcohol.

The whole effect is indeed intoxicating, not least for its strength and gasp-inducing sense of bravado.

This is a hard liquor Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and Debbie Reynolds sort of a scent.

Not to be taken lightly. Certainly not for minors.

Beware, for this could prove to be addictive.

A life long love affair.

The Dandy adores violets and savoury liquorice too, so in languid and lustful mood he’d be more than happy to wear this.

Whether all men are up to such emotional endurance sports is another matter altogether…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Pour une femme ou… Pour Un Homme de Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Weekend Scent

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Continuing my celebration of all things Caron…

This might appear at first sight to be something of an odd selection, for The Dandy normally picks perfumes that are equally suitable for all sexes.

Well, I think Caron’s Pour Un Homme is just so for just about everybody and, remarkably, most so in the diluted, airy almost-not-there-after-an-hour-or-so “After Shave” formulation.

Here the picturesque impressionist landscape of lavender which the lotion paints so perfectly, is softened and blurred beautifully around the edges by a delicate, near diaphanous almond-edged vanilla.

Exquisite, but ephemeral… it is gone all too quickly, though to my mind this makes a fine fragrance for the morning, refreshing reapplications in the heat, or even when heading off to sleep.

Delicious almond creme brulee, devoured in the sunshine of a lavender field.

Don’t forget, you can still vote for what The Dandy will be wearing Monday over at The Hit Parade, and there’s more to come from Caron this weekend.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The fine art of fine fragrance… Advertisements of Beauty by Caron

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Dear Friends

A Friday trip to the archives as we peruse some of the delicate, delectable and sometimes slightly deranged images that have been used to promote the perfumes of the House of Caron for over a century.

Have fun…

Narcisse Noir (1911)

N’Aimez Que Moi (1916)

Tabac Blond (1919)

Nuit de Noel (1922)

Acaciosa (1924)

Bellodgia (1927)

En Avion (1932)

French Can Can (1934)

Fleurs de Rocaille (1934)

Pour Une Femme De Caron (1934)

Alpona (1939)

Royal Bain de Caron (1941)

Farnesiana (1947)

Or Et Noir (1949)

Le Muguet Du Bonheur (1952)

Poivre (1954)

Infini (1970)

Aimez Moi (1996)

Montaigne (2007)

Parfum Sacre Intense (2010)

The House of Caron (from 1904)

The Dandy does hope that you enjoyed our skip through the past as much as he did!

Do let me know which ones are your favourites…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The Love for Three Oranges… Montaigne by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

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The relief in the street was palpable.

Rising like a giant sigh from every household

The sound of the communal exhalation of joy.

The road cleaners were coming and, after weeks of heat,

Pavements would be washed, dust jetted from walls

Gutters would run with water again, the tarmac glisten.

Their whirring brushes heard as a silencing stage whisper

‘Hushed’ them from three blocks away, and bid them ready

For the sweepers sweeping through and the sanitation

Of their neighbourhood for the public health and good.

The first thing was the coolness as the new saturated atmosphere

Sank two degrees in temperature, then came the chemical

Bright sunshine in a bottle smell to fill the air and quell

The stench that no one had thought to talk of since it started.

Too soon the tankers were all gone and all knew the moment was

Theirs to seize, or be once more beseiged by the heat, dust and

Smell that smelt just like disease.

Rushing down tenement stone stairs with buckets of bitter orange

Macerated in what water could be found, young mothers sought

To drown the odour of despair with simple, sparkling, spiced scent.

Widows, angular, brown handed and black veiled despite the sun

Brought forth the remnants of narcissus scents from their own youth

Happily they saw them flow from crystal flacon to flooded storm drains

Anything, anything to replace what had hung about and between them.

An Indian family drew applause throwing whole coriander seeds onto

The cobbled stones and encouraging children in wooden soled sandals

To dance in the streets releasing their aroma with each snap and crack.

The women who shared the large house on the corner with their

Paying by the hour guests, made a great parade of spraying French perfume

In the air as they rehearsed their nightly dance in broad daylight.

And everyone laughed, and thought what fun it was when a grandmother

Threw an unused puff and its powder from an upstairs bedroom window.

And when the sun fell behind the half derelict horizon

And the evening came upon them they reflected that it was a good

And silly and special and decadent thing that they had done.

All in the name of cleaning.

Montaigne is a simple scent that offers an honestly contrived idea of bohemian cleanliness.

It is the sort of perfume that most people who like perfume will like, but probably only a few will fall in love with.

Anyone expecting modernity or a fragrance in the manner of Caron’s grand operas of the twenties and thirties will be disappointed.

Setting expectations apart there is much to be enjoyed in this bright and entertaining aroma.

A tart, even sharp aldehydic orange matched with yellow florals and jasmine opens.

The florals then dissipate while the oranges paired with tangerines and then multiplied by berries and coriander take the floor, slowing their pace to a marmalade thick waltz.

Narcissus returns and the fruits and flowers form a pas de deux that is charming without ever threatening to be moving.

The conclusion of the piece is a slow fade out to amber, vanilla and powder that is entirely pleasant.

The overall effect of Montaigne is a little like bathing with the highest quality soap (the kind that fails to smell soapy) after a too hot for its own good summer’s day.

Clean but decidedly deluxe all at once.

And in the heat, there is much to be said for that.

The Dandy only wishes they made this for whole cities.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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