Tag Archives: Caron

Our Agent Above… Tubereuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

It seems almost inconceivable, sitting here in this age of aluminium and steel that we could ever have dreamt of taking to the air in those paper thin things.

Of being held aloft by pairs of petal-like translucent wings, only part enclosed in their cloth bodies, slight and taught as skin pulled tight and glued across skeletons of softwood.

“Moths” we called them, and in truth they were as insubstantial and transient as the beasts from which they took their names.

But my how they soared, and turned, looped and dived, swerved and survived especially in his hands.

Except that one plane, a French “Goliath”.

She was built to hold a literal tonne of bombs, but came into being only as The Great War ended and the fashion for killing was coming to a finish. Luckily she could carry any cargo, incendiary or sentient. Short-fused twenties people with their insatiable, expensive appetites for adventure, risk and thrill would do as well as high-explosives.

And though “Goliath” was no aerial gymnast, she was made to fly, far.

Perhaps that was what gave him the idea, an idea that, years later sat in a Tangiers bar serving as his sitting room and travel bureau prompted with enough cheap spirit, he would propound to anyone.

“I wanted to take her down to Yucatan.”

He’d had enough of New Mexico, arid, dry and dust.

“There are no flowers outside of Albuquerque, and all my time was spent outside of Albuquerque.”

His job was to push the plane for as long as she would go, sailing the currents from dawn to dusk to morning and night again. Making the motors whir in ever increasing numbers of circles, forever going nowhere.

Counting minutes and miles and never moving from within sight of the hut where the men from the military kept their logs. Books and books of figures and sums, fuel coefficients and calculations on effectiveness.

“I longed to see the forests. I’d read there were jungles on the peninsular and that native peoples still held sway down there. I figured a free spirit might fit in.”

He chances a still winning smile, his face just hanging on to handsome despite sun damage, it is decayed but debonair, its beauty not yet quite destroyed by the wrecking ball of alcohol. The kind of look one could forgive someone who’d fought a war.

Every half hour he squeezes out a miniscule amount of ointment from an unmarked metallic tube and in tiny rotations rubs it into the sliver of a scar that runs from his wrist to his elbow along the soft inside of his left arm. The wound itself appears entirely healed, the procedure a small act of habit perhaps, or maybe the strange, dirtily medicated smell is a sign it is intended to hold infection at bay in this hot, contagious place.

So, he recalls with a start, one day with a compass, map and heap of hard-earned courage he swung out of the constrained concentric, took the plane up and on an arc south west, first across vast Texas, then the sea.

Their calls from the ground were gone in an instant, the space where the radio should have hissed was silent, for they’d taken it out: superfluous in a flying machine not meant to skip the aviary.

Above the Gulf the gauges gave way as he knew they would and all official idea of fuel remaining was gone. He had simply to judge what was left on “how weightless we felt, how unencumbered and released.” Oh, and, of course, on scent, how much kerosene there was in among the scarce clouds.

Some people are scared in the air above water, here he felt he cheated gravity most surely. Caught between the two amorphous elements. He was flesh inside an ephemeral exoskeleton: a floating human insect. A physical impossibility.

And all that blue below, oh that “Goliath” were more nimble now, he tried a few swoops at the water, but his ship wasn’t for it, she was made for the steady path and so he contented himself with the patterns of the tide on the surface and the occasional shoal of flying fish, a school of dolphins, and the sun to keep his course.

It was after the second morning that land came into sight.

Soaring out of the sea: cliffs, palms, wetlands, waterfalls, and a few miles inland a second ridge, of trees this time: the rainforest. The jungle canopy two hundred feet tall. A lush and levitating carpet of green leaf.

When the engine spluttered, spat and choked to soundlessness, for a moment he imagined he could set the great bird down upon the treetops as though they were an elevated lawn, solid and safely close to the sky.

Then the first branch tore through a wing, an indifferent implacable trunk snapped the propeller, another bough punctured the fuselage, he thought with calm horror his body would be next to be broken.

And so it was they told him afterwards, a sinew of vines opened up Goliath on her descent and then the small workings of the massive plants did their work on his tissue ripping at his exposed flank, a thousand tiny fissures caused by twigs and thorns.

The first miracle was that he escaped being impaled, decapitated or too mutilated. The second that the low drone of the plane drew a group of tribesmen just close enough to track its final fall. The third that they were not too fearful or rightly cautious to walk or run away from this unheralded, inexplicable visitor to their world.

“Were you swaddled as a child?” he says, incongruously, as if the baby Jesus had any place in the International Zone.

“I mean, do you have any memory of being wrapped so tight you can’t move?”

I shake my head. His voice is raising and a few eyes turn in your direction, narrow in recognition of the narrative and then return to their very dirty martinis. After all this corner of what was once Morocco is the place for which the maxim live and let live was invented.

He shakes his head in turn.

“I didn’t think I remembered either, not until I was on that stretcher.”

For reasons never explained the quiet invisible people of Yucatan, living in the shadow of the rainforest and the ruins of their ancestors, took pity on him. This man who fell to earth.

“Perhaps it was written in their scriptures. Do they have scriptures?”

He recalls that they wrapped him tightly, of being afraid that they were mummifying him alive, then they bound him to a pallet and carried him above their heads for “days”. He felt, could feel, nothing. No sensations. He doesn’t know if they gave him a potion, some “sleeping draft” or if the pain subdued, confused his senses. He is, in truth unsure whether they travelled for days or if what he took for nights were merely lapses into unconsciousness. It is not, emphatically, not like a dream, but like something that happened to someone else, something read about and remembered second-hand.

Except, he remembers the smell.

The profound and inescapable odour that surrounded him throughout.

An aroma that blocked the excreta of his body, the decay of his wounds, the verdancy of the forest, the unfamiliarity of these people, joined now by the exquisite painted women of the tribe.

A fragrance of healing intensity, neither pleasant nor ugly, but irrevocably, and here looking around at the room for of misfits in what was once an Arab merchant’s house, he laughs at himself “undeniably holy”.

When they removed the bandages at the hospital much later, he has an image in his mind of them peeling layers of wet petals from his skin, interleaved with spices. He believes, truly believes, the lacerations had been packed with resin, that scented and saved him.

“Though all that could have been the morphine. They were dead keen on it and I don’t know how to say no!”

A signal to the barman and another pichet of indistinct spirit a little like pastis arrives, a plate of almonds on the side.

After the opiates, the hospital was clean, too clean, bright and cheerful.

White, white-toothed nurses in white starched uniforms, white washed walls and white jasmine flowers.

“Hell, I might as well have gone to heaven.”

The only colour came from some blue hyacinths that the “only other living creature in that place” a Mexican woman working as an orderly brought in.

How, I wonder, did a man in search of Yucatan end up here on the Sahara’s Mediterranean shore?

To sharp for me, he senses the question to follow and foils with his own.

“So, did you say you still wanted the ride down to Marrakech?”

He takes the tube of ointment from the table and begins his every thirty minutes ritual.

That Serge Lutens’ iconic Tubereuse Criminelle opens with an enormous anti-floral near antiseptic intensity that can take the unsuspecting wearer’s breath away is the stuff of perfume legend.

Sadly, that this overture accord has an emphatic and contrary beauty is all too often over-looked on account of its formidable apparently camphorous novelty.

This clamorous arrival, the olfactory equivalent of the opening of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 is achieved by means of the balance it expertly strikes between the healing and holy: the marriage of tuberose in overload with bug-eating clove by the bucket, all preserved in styrax.

The effect of this intensity can almost be anaesthetising, but pleasantly so, more like full Latin Mass with bells and smells (to an unbeliever). As much a consuming act of theatre, as mere ornament or proud sacrament.

Yet there is familiarity here, not only to the endless mouthwashes and ointments and poultices and remedies that reviewers – myself included, I smell ‘Germolene’ – quote, but to an adventurous strain in perfumery that is now almost dead.

For me, Tubereuse Criminelle references the playful intensity of a certain sort of scent of the twenties through to the fifties. Fragrances that married intense emphasis on an individual or pair of floral notes with unusual or unexpected spices or animalics.

Germaine Cellier did this for Robert Piguet and Balmain; Michel Morsetti and, in particular, Ernest Daltroff for Caron, and they were not alone.

None of this is to say that Tubereuse Criminelle smells like Jolie Madame, Visa, Poivre, Bellodgia or even Fracas… it doesn’t.

It shares with all the above a dual personality of frivolity and seriousness, of tough exterior and yielding flesh, of astringency and assuaging. It is intellectual and sensual and with a sense of self-aware humour.

The meld to the middle part of the structure, where the smell becomes creamier and more classical is slow, with constant references to the striking opening. Every time one comes to believe that an easier simpler tuberose has arrived, as though in a Nouvelle Vague flashback, we are transported to the baroque cathedral of the commencement.

Finally, in drydown, another musical metaphor springs to mind, that of Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony No. 45, in which each player of the orchestra in turn departs the stage leaving at last two sole violinists who simply stop playing then quit themselves.

Here those notes are a tuberose made at the termination moist and shimmering and a whiter than usual jasmine to keep the melody aloft until the moment it extinguishes itself.

From orchestral flourish par excellence through complex central passages writ with allusion and irony to a faltering tender conclusion, Tubereuse Criminelle is never anything short of great music made fragrance.

It is olfactory art.

It leaves the unerring sense of a creation seeking to tell a story through a medium other than words.

Great. Truly great.

Tubereuse Criminelle was the first of three perfumes to tempt The Dandy most severely at Serge Lutens’ Palais Royale store in Paris.

Scented letters to follow soon on the other two… and then perhaps we’ll guess which one I chose!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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A Dozen More Fragrant Reflections On Paris… The Perfumed Dandy’s Picture Postcards

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Sweetly Smelling Friends

More moments from my recent sojourn across la Manche.

And the aromas to match.

Empty Streets, Vivid With Colour

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Gold and Bright : Caron / Montaigne

Surprisingly Modern Gothic

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Smoke From The South : Comme des Garcons / Avignon

Open Mouthed, Green Door

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Drumbeat Knocker : Guerlain / Chamade

Flowers On A Window…

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Are They Geraniums? : Creations Monsieur Dior by Dior / Dioressence

Chandeliers, Balconies, Boudoirs and Love Affairs

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Consummative Kisses : Jul et Mad / Amour de Palazzo

The Gate To The Archives

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Key To The Past : Jardins d’Ecrivains / George

Pink Parisian Roses 

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Pale, Almost Without Smelling : Fragonard / Emilie

Palace Garden

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Brought From The Chateau : Sisley / Eau de Campagne

Modern Maghreb

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Marrakech Leather Souk : LT Piver / Cuir

Left Bank Child In A Labyrinth

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Juvenile Intellectual : Byredo / Baudelaire

Art Deco Temple

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Angular Aromaticals : Guerlain / Vega

The Opera In Bronze

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Music, Sculpture, Scent : Lanvin / Arpege

Too much to divert one.

Yet all paths seemed to lead to the same place.

Where? We shall find out in a flight of three scented letters this week.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Premature Muguet Elation… Muguet du Bonheur by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scent Today

IMG_20140405_104959 Okay. OK!

One admits it’s not May….

And therefore technically not the season for lily of the valley. IMG_20140405_103915

But heavens to betsy, on occasion one simply can’t resist!

And what’s perfume for if not to play with the seasons anyway? IMG_20140405_103233

In vintage cologne form, Caron‘s Muguet du Bonheur is a golden bar of gently aldehydic faux florality.

Antique, fleeting, savon pur and utterly, if momentarily, prepossessing. IMG_20140405_102106

There’s the usual talk of soapy, dusty, short-lived and, at once, elderly.

Nothing of the sort.

As light and bright as late Spring sunshine filtered through white blossom, this is nonchalant perfume for longer, warmer days and walking with no purpose other than being outside.

A scent worthy of its golden lid and splendid insignia. IMG_20140405_111206

Whilst I have chosen my own aroma on this occasion, another opportunity to place a new perfume on The Dandy‘s skin will arise with the next instalment of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade.

In the meantime if you would like to thrust forward a fragrance for future fame on The Hit Parade simply visit ‘Suggest and old scent or recommend a new one’ and leave your suggestion there.

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Have an especially fragrant day.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy. The Perfumed Dandy

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Which ‘ladies’ scent’ will this gent wear come Christmas? The Perfumed Dandy’s Yuletide Hit Parade

Dearest Festive Fairies and Fellows

The Dandy adores Christmas.

I’m sorry, but I do, and over the next week or two I shall be devoting these pages to my own particular form of celebration… details of which to follow anon.

Apologies to the ‘bah humbugs’ among you, but The Dandy says ‘bah humbug’ to your ‘bah humbug’ and that’s enough humbugs to fill a sweet shop with. Now, to kick things off… A Very Special and Seasonal Hit Parade.

I have selected twelve perfumes, one for each day of Christmas, that have never made it to the top of our little chart (though they may appear on it currently).

You, my Santa’s elves, have between now and The Big Day to decide which scent will next my skin come 25th December 2013. So, all you have to do is pick from the sumptuous list below and cast your…

… wait for it…

… 12 Special Time of Year Votes for your favourite or favourites. Here goes, the big list…

French Can Can by Caron

Yresse (formerly known as Champagne) by Yves Saint Laurent

Phul-Nana by Grossmith

Visa by Robert Piguet

Joy by Jean Patou

Rouge (formerly known as Parfum d’Hermes) by Hermes

Diorling by Dior

Tom Ford Black Orchid by Estee Lauder

Chantilly by Houbigant

Louve by Serge Lutens

Parure by Guerlain

Mandragore by Annick Goutal

Well, twelve festive belles there if I may say so. Now The Dandy’s Noel aroma is in your hands… … do spread a little cheer in this direction!

Yours ever festively

The Perfumed Dandy. The Perfumed Dandy

Post Script

Don’t forget that’s 12 votes each, to be dispensed and dispersed as you see fit… use them wisely.

Voting closes at a moment before midnight GMT on Christmas Eve, the winner will be announced when The Dandy’s done opening presents!

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All the fun of the fair… Last of the Summer Scents Part II An Essay in Fragrances and Photographs

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A public holiday in London today… the last one of the Summer.

The last one in fact until Winter is with us and we celebrate Christmas.

So what better way to go out than with a bang, a whoop, a scream, a whirl and a whoosh of steam?

The whoosh in fact of Carter’s Steam Fair which took up it’s customary place on ‘the East End’s lungs’: Victoria Park today.

Do enjoy the colours, and a few perfumed proposals, some serious, some just fragrant fun… just like the fair itself.

The Swing Carousel

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The Spitfire

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The Motorcycle Carousel

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The Dodgems

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Ice Cream Van

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The Octopus

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Candy Floss?

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The Shooting Gallery

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The Motorcar Carousel

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Cuddly Toy Prizes

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The Coconut Shy

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The Grand Carousel

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So there we have it… a few scented snaps.

I wonder whether all the connections are evident?

Perhaps some are a little puzzling.

But then The Dandy does like a riddle…

“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The end of the affair… The House of Caron: A Retrospective The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letters

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Dear Friends

It is with a heavy heart that I write to say our month as visitors in The House of Caron has come to an end.

Never one to dwell on unhappiness though, The Dandy instead prefers to concentrate on jolly memories… a clutch of reviews, a few personal picks, a visit to a beautiful NYC boutique and a flick through the back catalogue of Caron’s advertising campaigns.

So that all these Caron ‘cuttings’ are not lost into the mists of time I have compiled this ‘scrap book’, which also serves by way of a series of links to all the Caron-related material in The Dandy’s archives.

Do scroll down and peruse my delights and if any perfume or piece of writing tempts, simply click on it and you will be taken to the object of your desire.

Happy hunting!

Narcisse Noir (1911)

Tabac Blond (1919)

Nuit de Noel (1922)

Bellodgia (1927)

En Avion (1932)

Fleurs de Rocaille (1934)

Poivre (1954)

Aimez Moi (1996)

Nocturnes (1981)

Montaigne (2007)

Parfum Sacre Intense (2010)

The Advertisements of House of Caron (from 1904)

Some Scented Picks…

Pour Un Homme (1934)

Muguet du Bonheur (1952)

Le 3e Homme (1985)

L’Anarchiste (2000)

And one outing…

The Caron Boutique, New York City (2013)

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The Dandy does hope that you’ve enjoyed our little soujourn at 34 Avenue Montaigne as much as I have…

And don’t forget there are a whole host of fragrances that I’ve not tried yet… get a feel for the range at the Caron website and if you feel any are deserving of my attention then Go on! Suggest a new scent or recommend an old one…

In the meantime though, charge your glasses, and raise them high as we say a toast…

“To Caron”

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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There’ll be bluebirds over… Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

His hair has the silver white hue of the chalk cliffs he walks each morning.

Following his path implacably, without regard to the weather, his eyes are fixed in the middle distance looking out towards where the sea is, though he does not see it.

In the warmer months he appears a little happier, it’s hard to tell: his face changes so little with the seasons.

Arrested in an air of benign, bemused detachment it is the visage of a kindly if disinterest god.

Only his body gives away that things are better in summer, he holds himself more upright and alert, his whole being seeming relieved not to have to fight against the wind and rain that will battle him all winter.

From your window you have watched him steer this same course for years and as the years have passed you have seen him grow more fragile, his path more perilous.

The cliffs are slowly folding into the sea. Yielding back to nature that which is properly hers.

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And so, regardless of whether he knows or not, his unbending path winds closer to the precipice each day.

One dry August, when the soil is its most friable he gets too close to the abyss.

A little of the ground gives way under him, his foot falters, an ankle twists, finally a leg fails and he falls.

This time he lists inland and his collapse is cushioned by the long wind-grown grasses that fringe the outer edge.

Soon though, if nothing is done, the ocean will have him.

You are unsure at first how to reach the fallen man.

Your voice is strong, your mind unbowed, but the body no longer willing or able.

It is so long since you were out there on the edge.

Wrapping a scarf around your head to shield rice paper thin skin from the sun, you are enveloped in the high-pitched note of the pre-war perfume the daily help dutifully douses your clothes in.

It is 1941 again and you are on your way to work, smelling of Paris, dreaming of its liberation.

Throwing the door open bone dry air brings rockery flowers to your nose, a tough briar rose, ylang ylang, the only thing your Dutch sister-in-law got out of the East Indies in time, some late flowering violets, and the draw of the lilac tree just by the gate.

You fix on its purple pine cone flowers and the sweet near edible smell.

If you can get that far maybe there will be the chance of getting help.

You allow the lilac to draw you in toward it.

Every step is an effort, you a toddler learning to walk again, this time on old legs.

Eventually, with a fortitude forged seventy years before you reach the wall.

Leaning against the dry crumbling stones, breathing heavily, aware of the deathly beautiful bitter aroma of desiccated moss on the rocks you see him, still lying wounded in the grass:

A flash of white hair and a spark of red.

Is it blood?

You can go no further.

Looking left, looking right.

There is no one.

It is 1941 again, you are at work, the scent of bottled flowers surrounding you and you must guide them home.

You raise an imaginary radio handset to your immaculate red lips.

“Peter. Peter! Can you hear me?”

The even tone returns, the training never undone.

He is an airman to be brought back across the constellation between here and the coast.

“Peter. You need to concentrate on my voice.”

“I’m going to bring you home…”

There, at the cliff’s edge, you see a hand emerge from the grass.

You continue, knowing there is no physical way he can hear you.

“Peter. You’re still alive, we can get you back safe but you must follow instructions.”

Slowly, a Lazarus, he rises from the rough lawn. Silver hair first then after the immobile face that flash of red.

It is no wound but a wonderful bright carnation.

“Now follow my voice, Peter, I need you to follow my voice. Let it bring you back.”

He begins to walk toward you.

“That’s right, just keep your course steady, let me guide you.”

But he is unsteady, the path unfamiliar and at every mound and dip he falters.

You fear he might fall once more and be lost forever.

If the spell is broken there may be no way to summon him again.

“We’ll get you home, you’re nearly there, just keep coming.”

“Follow my voice.”

He approaches.

Five yards out a cool breeze catches him from behind and whispers soft clove and sandalwood cologne to you.

A carnation. Clove and sandalwood cologne.

He is in the garden now, walks past you unawares.

You see his grey unseeing eyes.

Examine the plastic sheen of his reformed skin as it shimmers in the bright light, the reflected red of the flower recalling the flames that did the damage as he fell from the sky.

“You’re coming in to land now Peter.”

“I’ve got you back.”

He walks through the door and into the whitewashed house.

You follow, every footstep feels a fathom deep as heavy legs carry you home too.

You enter.

Your eyes adjusting to the darkness you realise there is no flash of white hair here.

Nothing old, or injured or infirm.

Just a young airman with a flower in his flying jacket buttonhole, sitting on a settee, holding a teapot aloft.

“You’re just in time!” he says.

And you feel your old legs become young beneath you.

Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron is a thrilling, stoic yet utterly fragile fragrance.

It recalls so much of the history of perfume, of which it is itself an important part, that it seems at times to be both present and past.

It is a confluence of memories and current experience, a sensation bordering on the transcendent.

Wearing Fleurs de Rocailles is like taking tea with elegant ghosts.

The opening has the hallmark champagne freshness of the 1930s floral aldehyde it is, but with a welcome otherworldy intrusion.

It may well be a dry musk, but the sensation is neither exactly powdery nor dust-like. It is best imagined as fine white chalk or unsweet icing sugar, the effect is assertive yet porcelain brittle, a magical paradox.

Fortunately the broad floral accord that emerges after this overture has faded is so excellently blended, to the extent that individual flowers seem to come and go within it, that there is no time for disappointment.

One flower, however, does remain discernable throughout and that is carnation, its slight spice lifted by Caron’s signature clove and forming a soft counter melody to the main sweep.

Indeed in the long dry down it is this softer, sweeter tune, combined with rose and sandalwood, and made more memorable by an underscoring of oakmoss that plays the perfume out to its tender conclusion.

Fleurs de Rocailles is undoubtedly a fragrance that one can imagine people in other eras wearing even as one wears it oneself.

Yet like a great novel or film, it remains, relevant, not just as a living lesson in the development of the olfactory arts but as a delicate and beautiful work of art in its own right.

Caron, can like to confuse, and it should be noted that whilst undoubtedly related Fleur de Rocaille, released in 1993 is a different, more simply floral, perfume.

It lacks the aldehydes, the chalkiness and the moss of its near namesake.

Subtractions one assumes made to make it more ‘relevant’ to modern buyers, to The Dandy it simply makes it less of a scent.

Likewise the Fleurs de Rocaille of today, though recognisably the progeny of the original has had many of its features smudged over the generations to form a more anodyne, if still attractive a face to present the world.

Again, something of a shame for those of us who enjoy strong and original looks and scents.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Paradise above Lexington… Caron in Manhattan The Perfumed Dandy’s American Adventure

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Quite a display isn’t it?

Glass amphorae filled with the finest extraits, pink puffs for sweet smelling powders and crystal flacons everywhere awaiting decants of the prized perfumes.

And as one might expect there’s a story behind it…

Today, by pure chance The Dandy came upon a business card (shall we say ‘calling card’, it does sound so much better?) that one thought one had lost forever.

Which would have been such a shame for it was given me by the splendid Ms Diane Haska who reigns supreme over the beautiful scene we see above.

For it is The Caron Boutique at Phyto Universe in New York City and Diane more than ably fills the entirely appropriately named position of Caron Ambassador there.

Whether that is Ambassador to the entire United States or merely the Empire State The Dandy is unsure, either way the diplomatic nomenclature could not be more apt: Diane is gracious and wise, graceful and discreet and utterly charming.

Everything one could ever hope for in an ambassador and attributes far exceeding those normally possessed by persons involved in the sale of scent.

Meeting Diane was a highpoint of My American Adventure, her passion for the house of Caron and its products shines out of her and informs the manner in which affairs are conducted in this petit palais of perfume.

Helpful and knowledgeable in equal measure, though charmingly camera and interview shy, in the flesh she is an animated, elegant and witty figure replete with funny tales of fragrance critics and reminiscences of days gone by when the Big Apple’s big stores would hire models to parade their perfume halls promoting the latest smells from Paris and beyond.

So entrancing is Diane in fact that The Dandy almost lost track of time and forgot that he was at Caron on an emergency errand to acquire a bottle of le 3eme Homme for his own brother’s wedding which was less than an hour away!

Fear not friends, the fragrance was found and, unlike the bride, I was not late for the matrimonials.

If ever you are in NYC and have a little time to spare, or indeed can make some time spare, do be sure to visit this sumptuous shrine to seriously beautiful perfume.

Oh, and for those of you who were worried that it was gone forever, a certain someone still has a supply of perfectly lovely Poivre

Do tell Diane The Dandy sent you!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

Diane Haska is Caron Ambassador at
Phyto Universe
715 Lexington Avenue at 58th Street
New York
NY 10022

T: 212 308 0270
W: phytouniverse.com

The Perfumed Dandy

Post Script:

The Dandy should make clear that he paid for his own prefume that day and any enthusiasm shown here is the genuine article and not bought and paid for!!

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Clean linens in public… Bellodgia by Caron The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

“Take a corner with each hand and lift your arms up, then shake it through with me to make waves.”

But the white linen sheet did not resemble the sea, instead it looked like a silk parachute being prepared for packing.

In this moment it smelt almost mythically clean, an advertising man’s dream of ‘daily laundry fresh’.

Then sensory sparks begin to fly.

With quick, brisk flicks of her wrist sharp, sizzling clove oil is dispensed from a tiny brown glass bottle via a dripping nozzle.

“He used to say that if you apply it straight onto the cavity this stuff takes the toothache away…”

Her voice has the friendly firmness of a primary school teacher and its volume too, though she is addressing a class of one adult across a spare bed in a box room.

“I’ve been applying it for years and still it’s never eased the pain.”

She laughs at her own remark, a little rebuke for even the slightest show of self pity.

As she does so her immaculate teeth gleam and you know it wasn’t any dental decay she spoke of trying to salve.

“Now, lay it flat and pull it tight…. okay, we can let go.”

She turns around and from a tall clear glass jar glistening on the window sill of the in-the-eaves room, she withdraws a handful of claret coloured petals.

At first you think them roses.

 There may be some mixed in.

But as she throws them in the air, like a farmer sowing seeds for hens to feed on, first their corrugated form then the pepper of their scent reveals them as part of the carnation’s crown.

“Quickly”

She says, eyes bright, a sense of urgency crackling in the air around her.

“Bring your corners in to mine, then take two more and fold them into me again.”

“We are folding everything in, like a sponge cake mix, to keep the scent safe and strong, you see.”

“Why?”

You ask, almost in a hiccup, involuntarily.

“Clove for his cologne, carnation for his buttonhole. Clean musk for memory.”

She whispers more to herself than you, taking the neatly squared sheet off the bed as she does so and placing it in a linen box with her right hand as she deftly removes another identical item from the bottom of the pile.

A movement made almost automatic through repetition.

“Watch…”

And with two strong movements of her thin, sinewy upper body and arms she unfurls the fabric like a new flag in fervent weather.

“Now breathe.”

She commands.

Inhaling as dessicated petals from a past pleating session sail through the air, you find the odour nears overpowering.

The spice of cloves has just survived, the carnation with it is hot and heady, but the musk, a spotless dust wins through.

Looking at you, with her old ageless eyes… she smiles.

“That’s how it smelt the morning after.”

Clove, carnation, and hard fought clean.

That is how Bellodgia by Caron goes.

The original vintage is a survivor’s scent, that has unfortunately not itself survived reformulation.

It is a brave, bracing smell replete with assertive spice in a clove laden opening.

The pepper of carnations is then used as an olfactory stepping stone to a more floral core, with that most military of blooms as its signature note.

There are roses and violet and some jasmine to hold the whole together, but it is the carnation that you will remember.

Muguet appears, rather later than is usual, and signifies a gentle dry down into a sweet powdery
musk that has the air of the finest laundered linen in the days before industrial detergent took over the home.

It is sweet, slightly powdery, but never allowed to be entirely domesticated on account of the clove and red flowers that remain.

Bellodgia is a fragrant aide memoire on best writing paper, a jotting down of one the finest points of perfumery from an age now passed, when florals could be formidable and clove truly, but beautifully, combative.

Hold on to a little of the memory while you still can…

Thankfully, dearests, you did not ask me to write on Piu Bellodgia, the unforgivably thin, detergent like concoction that Caron have allowed to sequester the name of this great scent. Others have written eloquently on that perfume, so I will not.

Save to say that even though I am not as dismissive of all the latest versions of Caron’s that one is truly unworthy of both your time and the name it bears.

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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