Characters in Bottles: The Carons

Ayn Rand as postage stamp

Ayn Rand as postage stamp

If you read last week’s post you know about the first part of my essay on the Caron perfume house.  I was making the point that Caron,or more precisely their founder/perfumer Ernest Daltroff, created highly distinctive perfumes.  Along with Francois Coty who also used psychological marketing, Daltroff seems to have composed perfumes for different personality types, some of them quite extreme.

Take for instance Nuit de Noel (1922), Caron itself calls this fragrance an oriental though the formula is on the line between chypres and orientals, and describes it as “woody, flowery (mainly jasmine) spices (sic) and moss.”  This was the controversial writer Ayn Rand’s favorite perfume and remains a grave, almost stately scent that suits anyone who loves luxury.  The absence of any cologne or bergamot top-notes makes the the scent rich, yet not at all animalic since the base is  25% sandalwood, the rest mousse de saxe. This may be the origin of the comments about Caron’s relative “propriety” since unlike most of its competitors, Nuit did not feature civet or musk.  The scent is dignified and lavish but not in the least sexual. Nuit de Noel is a perfume for judges, executives, even Prime Ministers ( Theresa May take note). There is nothing silly about the contents of the little black bottle. Continue reading

Daffodils on the Wind

Daffodils in full bloom

Daffodils in full bloom

February is about to turn into March, it makes me think that I should clean out all my wardrobes, take the coats to the dry cleaners, wash the sweaters, and clean out the perfume closet because one day soon incense will make me recoil.  Does everyone wear perfume seasonally?  I always have, partially because everywhere I have lived there have been sequential seasons, and it was difficult to ignore their cold and heat, and wear the same thing.  You could stock a rudimentary scent wardrobe by selecting one scent for summer and one for winter, but even that strained the Spring and Fall dichotomy.  Unsettled weather, weather that changes from day to day, is hard to plan for and hard to choose for, your old favorites are too stuffy and warm or too evanescent and light.   What can you wear in between perfume seasons? Continue reading

Perfume for a Wet Day in May

renoir-the-umbrellasThe day in question would be one of those puddle jumpers of late spring, you know, umbrella and Wellington boot weather.  This has been our lot for weeks on the eastern coast of the US, where the spring has been tardy and cold.

This unexpected weather has played hob with my usual perfume choices for this time of year.  Normally, I would have cracked my Carons, and it would have been a Bellodgia fest with a bit of En Avion and Narcisse Blanc to break up the rose/carnation cabal. That is what it might have been like.  However it’s been too raw for all those scents, and frequently too wet.  I kept Coty’s l’Aimant in rotation, as the sole floral, because that smells  dry and slightly peachy, a comforting perfume for cold, raw days. Continue reading

National Floral?

Is there such a thing?  In considering all things Italian in the scented world, I tend to bump over and over again into the orange blossom.  Italians love their orange blossom scents.  Anyone who was raised in or near places where oranges are grown tends to love the smell.  Italians are no different.

There is hardly a perfume house in Italy that does not offer an orange blossom scent, usually called a Zagara*.  Santa Maria Novella does, and so do I Profumi di Firenze and the whole notion of the Aqua di Parma’s is predicated upon the orange flower and back in the day when I had a complete set of the Borsari perfumes and of the (French) Rances , they had their Zagaras too. Continue reading