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.
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.”
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.
The Perfumed Dandy.
14 responses to “The marriage meadow… Nocturnes by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter”
Mr. Dandy, that was so lovely and poignant it made me catch my breath and brought tears to my eyes. I love your characters. I love the painting of the harbor. Whose is it? Is it Chinese? Is it Kowloon Harbor? Which version of Nocturnes did you wear? Too many questions. 🙂
The painting is by your compatriot James Abbott McNeill Whistler and entitled: Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Cremorne Lights.
You are quite right though it is painted in a deeply oriental style, though it is in fact of the Thames, next to which it lives today in Tate Britain (for we have adopted Whistler so he gets to go in our National Gallery of ‘British Art’.
The other point you raise is very apposite, indeed I may go back and amend the review to include it.
I wore the version of Nocturne 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…
Thank you for the reminder I will now go and amend!
The Perfumed Dandy
Oh, I’d forgotten that Whistler adopted as his signature the rectangular seal that you see in Asian art. That was what set me off. But it certainly looks very Whistler, now that I know. I think I’ve seen something similar by him in the Frick. Of course he must be in the British Art section, if he painted there! 🙂 And before I saw the seal, I was reminded a bit of J.M.W. Turner, one of my very favorite painters.
I will be sure to avoid the most recent version of Nocturnes when I sample. I had a bottle of Nocturnes in the 80s, but I don’t remember much about it except that it didn’t excite me (I think it was a little too boring for me then, though I’d probably like it now). It was a different bottle than the one in your photo above. I think it had a black cap. Too many lifetimes ago!
Though we have many Whistlers here in London, some of the finest I have ever seen were at the Freer Museum in Washington DC where they were in rooms nearby to Thomas Dewing’s works, which would fit Nocturne just as well.
There’s a definite connection between Turner and Whistler, like on water, boats verging on the abstract, the quality of air. I do hope you have had the chance to visit The Turner Galleries at Tate Britain, for once our National Collection holds an unrivalled selection ( bequeathed by the artist).
As to Nocturnes, I’m sure that the black top (with a strange geometric pattern) would be the original, with the older looking art nouveau gold top coming later. Both should be equally lovely, it’s just the grey and glass cuboid of this year’s re-imagining that’s to be avoided!
The Perfumed Dandy
Nocturnes is such a wonderful blended fragrance. I agree about the name might be misleading but if I remember correctly the vintage version gave me the impression of a bright and sunny, green and fruity fragrance that devolped into a woody, ambery tuberose. It is like saying goodby to a wonderul summer day, reliving it’s beauty when the day is done and shadows fall.
I also recall reading somewhere it was considered to name the fragrance “Zelda” which is a variaton of the Yiddish “Selde”(happyness) – but that’s maybe too much of a stretch.
Dearest Miss Misty
I had a hunch you would understand and appreciate this somewhat enigmatic scent.
Yes, much of the beauty does derive from the skill of the blending and yes it is bright and sunny with a grass green in clear view.
Mine didn’t end with as pronounced an amber note, but maybe that was a question of vintages.
As to the matter of names, *Zelda* would have been much better, conjuring happiness from it etymology and chic, intellectual sadness if the shape of Zelda Fitzgerald.
Both concepts the scent could contain.
The Perfumed Dandy
Each scent a character study and a moment caught in time — such a fascinating narrative you’re spinning…
Yes, it is beginning to feel like a tale and more and more the characters, in The Dandy’s head at least, are talking to one and other, are perhaps the same people at different points in time.
Something is …. coalescing.
The Perfumed Dandy
I have a sample of Nocturnes (though I have no idea of which one… probably NOT the latest) but for whatever reason I didn’t try it yet. Now, after reading this beautiful story, I’m much more inclined to dig out my small sample and give it a try.
I know some people are left decidedly underwhelmed by Nocturnes, feeling it too slight an addition to the class of floral aldehydes to which it belongs. But something about it is so hopeful, defiantly so, and that vetiver note is so clean.
Well, I just enjoyed it so much more than I ever expected to.
The Perfumed Dandy
Thank you for your beautiful expositions of my favorite perfume line. Nocturnes is my all-time favorite, although I no longer wear it as my signature. There is a poignancy and stillness to the fragrance which I think you have expressed nicely. Regarding all the mean words written about the line, I think that the perfumer for Caron must have annoyed Tanya Sanchez. Her perfume reviews of the line are spiced with character attacks on the gentleman, and a number of perfume reviewers simply fell into lock step with her assessment. I also happen to think a lot of people come away confused because the older product is so rich and deep, compared with the the new. My private opinion is that the Caron base ages very well, like fine wine or good whiskey, so that the depth and richness in the older perfumes are a result of aging. It isn’t that the new product is inferior. It is just that it is new. But I can’t prove this. It is really true, the old saying, only time will tell . . .
Frstly… Welcome to The Dandy’s, do make yourself at home.
I’m delighted that you’ve been enjoying our journey through the back catalogue of Caron… there are a few places yet to come!
‘Poignancy’ and ‘stillness’ are two perfect words for this perfume, the moment, an apparent age, when the bride’s flowers are in the air an all eyes are upon them.
I can easily see how this would make a rather splendid signature, it has the air of a familiar fragrance slightly twisted making it fresh and bestowing upon it a unique personality.
As to the hostility directed at Caron from many quarters, I’m somewhat perplexed by it.
The accusation that all the scents smell the same. Really? Aimez Moi, Narcisse Noir and Nocturnes? Not even similar.
Some do share a beautiful accord, the ‘Mousse de Saxe’ but why should this be a cause for criticism when the Guerlainade (which I adore equally) is lauded?
On the key question of reformulation, yes, there have been changes, as there have been to many if not all perfumes of a certain age. But has the maintenance here been as drastic and cack-handed as is made out? On my direct comparisons of old and new Tabac Blond, Narcisse Noir and Nuit de Noel I would have to say ‘No’.
There are many reasons why some people find the house of Caron difficult, too many to go into here, but ‘difficult’ should not necessarily mean ‘bad’.
Shakespeare can appear challenging at first, Chaucer almost impenetrable does that make either not worth reading. Again I would say ‘No’.
What I say ‘yes’ to is celebrating one of the grandest, greatest and most influential producers, no, creators of perfume the world has ever known.
And yes, I believe they age rather well to.
I raise a glass to you in toast then Mary…’To Caron’!!
The Perfumed Dandy
Raising my glass: to Caron, to Miss Mary, and to The Dandy!
Dearest Lily and Mary
Sante! Iechyd da! Cheers!
The Perfumed Dandy