Christmas Perfumes

Roses in frost

Roses in frost

It’s one of the very first things that I do every December: change perfume.  Christmas is one of the best times for perfume, there are so many smells on the air anyhow that perfume only raises the resonance of the season  a little.

That however is the easy part, the hard part is deciding what you  feel is worthy of wearing for a month or so.  That’s not so simple.  I suppose I could do the sensible thing and simply wait for Spring to change my perfume, but I like to have something that is Christmasy on my wrist, and so get into this difficulty right on schedule every December 1st.

This year I’m going to do a little exploring as regards Christmas fragrances and report back on my efforts once a week.  This week I’m wearing a genuine rarity, Caron’s Voeux de Noel.  Here’s a picture of the original bottle in milk glass.  Lovely isn’t it?  An excellent choice for those who collect bottles btw.   As far as I can tell Voeux went out of production sometime in the 1980s.  As it is still listed in my Jean Gaborit Perfumes of 1985, I assume it was the more than half past that era of excess when Caron ceased making it .

Voeux de Noel from a recent Ebay listing

Voeux de Noel from a recent Ebay listing

The perfume is sometimes also called Rose de Noel but seems to have nothing to do with actual Christmas roses.  Voeux is  floral and the only notes I can find are rose, lilac and carnation. There’s a distinct similarity to Nuit de Noel  which if you have never smelled it is largely predicated on roses, incense and sandalwood and features the signature Caron dry down worked out by the essential oils supplier de Laire back in the day called Mousse de Saxe.  This is a rich, dark oriental accord which features some licorice and wood is what gives several Caron perfumes that luxurious nap, thick as silk velvet against skin.

Lilacs in snow

Lilacs in snow

Here the textural effect is provided by massed flower petals, the most prominent part of Voeux.  Lilacs to start with, and what lilacs they are.  That is the beginning of Voeux de Noel.  Unlike many other Caron perfumes, this does not begin awkwardly, but envelops you  in flowers from the very beginning all the way to the end like some kind of flowery alternative to fur.

You begin with icy smelling lilacs.  They warm up on skin and then slowly the perfume begins to thaw into an impressive array of roses.  On me the reference to other more famous Caron perfumes is hard to miss, but is principally to the spicy incense roses of Parfum Sacre.  They remind me faintly or rugosas which always have an undertone of clove to them. This makes a fine transition to the late stages of the perfume which are all about carnations. Big, expansive carnations from the garden rather than from the florist’s.

Candy striped Carnation

Candy striped Carnation

I suppose that when the decision was made to discontinue this perfume the management at Caron thought that they already had plenty of carnations and roses, and saw no point in a second Christmas perfume since they already had Nuit de Noel.  I think this is rather like saying why should we keep “Once in Royal David’s City”  in the Hymnal if we already have  ” Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”.  To my mind, variation is not the same as repetition.

The end is all spicy mousse de saxe and more carnations, and the duration on me is perhaps three hours. Voeux is largely natural and like so many natural perfumes, somewhat fleeting.  If you find a bottle, wear it.  This is one of the best of the old Carons, less tricky than Or et Noir or En Avion, less cerebral than Nuit de Noel,  and  less formidable than Narcisse Noir.  This is as charming as chimes on a winter’s night.

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11 thoughts on “Christmas Perfumes

  1. This sounds lovely, icy lilac, you had me there! Like you, I feel that December is such a great month for wearing fragrances, and yes, two Caron are right up there top of the December list; Nuit de Noël and Parfum Sacre.

  2. If you know those two I guess that you would like Voeux de Noel but also (comfortingly) you are smelling something akin to this lovely old frag.

    I do wish that perfumers would come out with a few more Holiday perfumes- they make enough flankers- what would be the harm in a few seasonal ones?

    • I agree, too few Noël perfumes. And how about a new year one too now we’re at it. I normally wear Champagne de Caron and layer with either Vega or arpege- that’s very bubbly.

      • Oh wow, I love the idea of Vega layered with the Bain de Caron. I’ll bet that’s bubbly.
        Yes a new year’s perfume would be nice too only nothing austere, booze and flowers please!

  3. [ I think this is rather like saying why should we keep “Once in Royal David’s City” in the Hymnal if we already have ” Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”.] Yes! Love both. (And am already UTTERLY UTTERLY sick of Rudolph and Frosty and Santa Baby and their ilk on the radio.)

    Voeux de Noel sounds lovely, though I find that I am not a big fan of Mousse de Saxe. I also don’t specifically change perfumes in December, preferring to just rotate my perfume usage with the weather. (My Christmas perfume seems always to be Alahine.) I will be switching out some of the “autumn” ones soon for “winter,” but we haven’t reached that weather yet – it’s still occasionally getting up into the low 60s here.

    • Hi Mals, glad to see you back. And it has been December here in fits and starts too. It makes a gal late with her Christmas wreath.

      This is a good Caron, and although it’s rather like Parfum Sacre, it still has more florals than PS. I find that I like it better than Nuit de Noel (though I do like that and find the deciding factor is a good vintage and edt is fine if from the 80s or early 90s) but this is just fuller and less dark.
      Alahine is one I must try again. I think my original sample must have been off because I could not detect anything that other people described.

  4. Wow, what a pretty bottle! I am not a fan of carnations or mousse de Saxe, but I love Parfum Sacre and am intrigued by icy lilacs as well, so would certainly give this a spin.

  5. The lilac note is one of the prettiest things about this fragrance, but I like the soft lilac/rose/carnation development of Voeux. Modern perfumes often don’t have that silky quality although they do have a scintillating flash to them. I guess you can’t have pizzazz and peau de soie at the same time!

    If you do come across this stuff (and worth it for the bottle alone which collectors like) it might be called Rose de Noel in Europe.

  6. Pingback: The Greatest Perfumes Never Made – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens | The Sounds of Scent

    • Yes it is made by Caron but not in edt concentration. You can only buy the perfume strength from the company itself. if you check on Ebay or Etsy you can find some bottles of edt.

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