Caron, ’tis the Season

Before we get to perfumes, did you guys read this, Pammie Anderson and Kid Rock divorcing. So soon after Reese and Ryan, and considering they just got married in July, it’s disheartening — even for Hollywood. They are both so odd, they almost seemed perfect for each other. A shame.

Winter always turns my ever-forgetful mind to Caron. It’s inevitable. First snow hits in September or October — you snowbirds just stop that snickering, we don’t always get snow in September, and the sun is out the next day, and it’s not real snow like they get in Chicago or Buffalo — and my mind starts thinking… Caron. Doesn’t necessarily matter which one, though I have my favorites, but something about Caron whispers cozy and winter and warm hugs.

Since we’ve been organizing bottles splits recently, I’ve decided to devote one day a week through December to my great love, Caron, and especially the urn perfumes, though I do have a couple of others that I love as well. BTW, if anyone in Paris runs across the new Violette Precieuse at the French Sephora, please, please, please snag me a bottle or two, I will gladly pay for them and be your best friend forever and ever. I’ve even gone so far as to try and set up a French Sephora account, but they won’t let me set it up with a U.S. address.

I think they’re being a mite too particular on this rule. I’m about to say some especially bad words because it is so close (meaning online), but I can’t get it shipped to me. Tantalus’ fruit and water had nothing on this Sephoran evil torture.

Recently I’ve been contemplating what a horrible world it would be if the Caron urns passed out of it. Love them or hate them, they are unique and special in a world full of Curious by Britney Spears and Paris Hilton’s Whoress Heiress. Daltroff must be rolling over in his beautifully scented grave thinking of those two having their names on a bottle of perfume available at practically every 7-Eleven while the Caron urns are harder and harder to get. Too many perfumes are made now for the money, especially the celebrity scents, as we all keep lamenting. Made from cheaper and cheaper ingredients, more sugar and vanilla thrown in to cover up the cheapness of the raw materials, they remind me of the “low fat” things you find in the grocery store — they took out everything good to taste and good for you and put in more sugar to fool you into thinking it really wasn’t cardboard covered in sugar.

Many of Caron’s perfumes are not classically beautiful, though many were, but they held tight to that Caron base that is slightly revolting when you put it on instead of throwing some frilly top notes in the bottle so the casual sniffer would buy it on a top-note whim and be horrified when they found a very dark, randy narcissus in the bottle later. They didn’t sacrifice what they knew would sell well for what they knew to be a unique and beautiful perfume. Now, March can’t wear Caron, the base is just awful on her sweet-eating skin. I don’t know why. For me, the base is awful, for about ten minutes, and then it warms to my skin and turns any Caron into a thing of beauty.

Caron Parfum Sacre EDP — notes of Myrrh, musk, vanilla, rose, Jasmine, pepper, cinnamon and coriander. If this is not the ultimate snuggly blanket scent, I don’t know what is. This perfume is like the perfect Courtesan, nothing harsh, loud or jarring, but all smooth corners and soft embraces. What makes me so terribly sad is that the extrait of this is gone… hopefully not forever. If there is one thing Caron could bring back into existence — after Violette Precieuse in every 7-Eleven — that would be it. Victoria described the extrait here. I’ve never smelled it, but if it is more potent than the EDP, it is a smaller, less interesting world with the extrait gone. The best thing about Parfum Sacre is you can pick it up for a great price. This is the one I reach for when my head is all fuzzy and I’m stressed and I just need to feel like someone loves me.

Caron Coup de Fouet — The EDT of the much more potent, but quiet Poivre. Notes of red pepper, black pepper, carnation, ylang,ylang, opoponax, sandalwood, vetiver, oakmoss and giroflore. I have already waxed on eloquently about Coup de Fouet last year about this time (told you my Caron obsession is cyclical). It is a great introduction to the urns, and it is much lighter and frivolous, but no less lovely, than Poivre. This is the one that I spritz on with abandon and find it lingering on my coats and sweaters for weeks. If the whole urn thing has you nervous, especially the price, the Coup is a great place to dip your toes in.

Next week — Poivre and Nuit de Noel.

  • assorted raisins says:

    I’ve recently been bitten by the Caron beast (or beauty?) and must say they are getting along well with my chypre loving skin. I can’t say say I discern any tar notes or what exactly the Caron base is–is it supposed to be slightly sweet and powdery-musky? The only one that didn’t seem to agree was Montaingne, which on me smelled like bubble gum mixed with flowery musk (I say that in the best way possible!) It’s wonderful to finally smell the real tabac blond when all you had to go on before was a sadly turned mini of it. Carmencanada, hook me up with some of that Farnesiana, my sample is getting low. :d For those of you it doens’t work for, keep trying…there must be some classic or niche that will work awesome for you. 😉

  • BBliss says:

    Ooh – this almost makes me want to try more Carons – but honestly that Coup de Fouet was just like flesh that was slowly rotting on someone still alive – me! It was horrible and cleared the room. Any other recommendations for something that didn’t seem to agree with me…maybe I should go for the men’s like March does…

  • Patty says:

    L — blanc is in the urn, Noir is in the premade bottles. I have heard, having never smelled blanc, that blanc is a little more powdery.

    Noir is just smut in a bottle, isn’t it? Have you ever read those Beauty porn books Anne Rice wrote under another name? Well, you don’t need to admit it here. But NN is the perfect thing to put on if someone were to read those.

    Which is your favorite of the ones you’ve tried? I’m slowly learning to love Farnesiana, and I can’t wait to come back in possession of some N’aimez because I have such fond memories of it from a year ago when I tried it.

  • Patty says:

    D — more Caron love for everyone! Thanks for the info, that’s an excellent idea. I know the Caron boutiques sometimes have sample vials and sometimes not.

  • Patty says:

    March, remember, you completely forgot about the skanky Amouage you smelled in Chicago. You should at least sniff it one more time, especially when you are not knee-deep in lust for some other perfume.

  • Patty says:

    J, you must be pale. I’m naturally dark blonde, light brown on the hair, but have that English/Irish ruddy complexion. I’m not that fair, though I’m not dark complected either, sort of a medium? Do you love that foundation? BTW, they have sparkle mascara too, and I couldn’t seen the sparkle in the store and didn’t buy it, but got in the truck and, voila, sparkly eyelashes, they look simple stunningly trashy.

    I think I agree on the CdF and Poivre differences. I love them both. CdF is like Poivre’s tarty younger sister who laughs too loud sometimes.

  • Patty says:

    T — definitely time for you to dive in. I hope you fall in love with them all. 🙂

    I agree on that. But you know, if the whole world smelled like Poivre or Or et Noir, I think we’d all be much happier, yes? It would certainly make up for some of the other crap I keep smelling around me every day.

  • Patty says:

    Flor, ditto. At least we can still get them, even if it’s hard and for a dear price. I assume the tide will eventually turn, and the celebrity cheapie scents will stop selling, and people will return to the classics, and then they’ll be more available. I hope!!!

    I look at what Andy Tauer is doing, and he hits a great middle ground, doing innovative, beautiful things, some of them more of a challenge to “get,” but still accessible.

  • Leopoldo says:

    I’m a bit dumb when it comes to Carons – which of the two Narcisses is the urn? noir? blanc? I’m sure March’d love the dirty Noir one. It’s all knickerless vixens erotically pleasuring themselves with feathery tassles…

    And, fwiw, the base is ever so slightly mildewy to me too. Not that I’ve experienced more than, oh, 5 or 6. Love both Coup de fouet and Poivre though.

  • carmencanada says:

    I’ve been off the Carons for a while after a real passion for them but you’ve inspired me to give them a try again.
    By the way, I’ve got a 7 ml of French Cancan extrait (with the flacon) and decants of Coup de Fouet up for sale on eBay, and I’m willing to do a couple of 5 ml decants of Farnesiana, so if anyone wants to dip their toes in the urns without going the full monty, please contact me! My handle on eBay is also carmencanada.

  • March says:

    Perfume Scare. Well, if Sariah said I tried it, I’m sure I did. I DO remember the bathing-in-Amethyste part, which horrified Sariah so much — I think she referred to it as “Kryptonite” and not in a GOOD way…

    but you know how dim I am. I’ll go back and respray myself. I just don’t want to do it right now, I think my nose is off.

  • Judith says:

    Well, I love Caron extraits, and (although March and I usually concur), I find the Caron base absolutely lovely (sweet-enhancing skin here, too, like L). Sacre is different from the urns, so M. might like it; many do love it; I like it fine but it’s far from my favorite. I like Coup de Fouet very much–but I LOVE Poivre! Last year at this time, you guessed that this difference between us might reflect your being “ligher,” but after rereading your post on Armani foundation (which I love), I have discovered that while you have lighter hair than I, your skin is darker (unless you have a tan:); I was a 4 in the Luminous Silk and a 4.5 in the Shaping Cream). So go figure. For some reason, Coup de Fouet smells more like black pepper to me, Poivre more like red. But they both, in fact, have both, so–go figure!

  • sariah says:

    Hey P – I agree with your impression that the first 10 minutes of lots of the classics is tar. I get that tar smell from Farnesiana, Narcisse Noir, and Tabac Blonde to a lesser extent.

    March – P tells the truth, there is no tar, um, caronaide, in Parfum Sacre, it’s much newer and a different type of scent all together, and it’s really great. BUT, I think I tried it on when we were in Saks and you didn’t like it…….too busy bathing yourself in Cuir Amethyst.

  • tmp00 says:

    I’ve got a box of 10 Caron samples lying aroung begging me to try them and now that it’s cold (well, as cold as it’ll get here) I am going to dive in.

    As for the challenge of finding the “real thing” I am really of two minds there: while I want everything I want a mouse-click away, dammit, I also would be upset if some of these became too popular. I don’t want Lindsay or Paris or Britney wearing this stuff. And if in their private life doing so, I want them to shut up about it. Because what will happen is there will be a momentary huge demand for it and then it will die out.

  • Flor says:

    Your passion for this subject is refreshing. I, like you, don’t understand why some inferior-in-every-way perfumes are readily available while the real perfumes, the ones that really count, are more and more a challenge to find. It’s really very frustrating. We have to be creative in finding ways to buy them, pay enourmous duties and shipping fees, it’s just not right. Do “they” think we are not worth the real stuff? Do “they” think we’re fools and can no longer tell the difference? Must we all be force-fed this mediocrity. Are we a dying breed? God help us if we are.

  • Patty says:

    Sorry, E, didn’t mean to scare you there! No, I think they’ll always be around, at least for our lifetime. If not, we will storm the store at rue Montaigne. 🙂

    I don’t find the smell of the base unpleasant either. I like tar, and I like Tubereuse Criminelle’s opening too, which just goes to show you very little bothers me. And I think I have the same sweet amplifying skin, which is why so many gourmands are hard to wear.

    However, I maintain that ALL the Caron urns were meant to be spritzed, not dabbed. Dabbing leads to people sniffing it close, and that’s just not the way it was meant to be done. YOu have to cloud the air and leave Or et Noir trailing you as you walk by.

  • Patty says:

    Pam, you are so welcome. PS as va-va-voom? Well, it’s snugly in a little bit of a
    “hot wife” kind of way. I don’t think of it as being a nun scent at all, but sexy comfortable, like lounging around with your husband on a Sunday in PJs and playing Cribbage and footsies.

  • Patty says:

    Oh, eek, Nina, I can’t believe PS does that, that’s very wicked of that scent! Have you tried Poivre?

    Montaigne is pretty modern, and it may work for you. I suspect narcisse Noir would turn to potpourri too. Do you like almonds? Farnesiana might work.

    Or do like March does, try the men’s scents. The urns can be difficult if they don’t work for you.

  • Elle says:

    OMG. I can’t even begin to contemplate a world w/ out the urn scents. Surely Caron would never do that to us. Surely. Crosses self, throws salt over shoulder, knocks on all wood in sight, goes to check ebay for Hand of Fatima amulets and cornicellos.
    I swear the Caron base is never even remotely unpleasant on me. I wonder if it’s due to the fact that I have sweet amplifying skin (which is usually very annoying).

  • Pam says:


    From one Caron lover to another—what a great post! ITA with you that the world would be less interesting if the Caron urn frags were to tragically and suddenly disappear.

    I may be odd man out here, but Parfum Sacre strikes me as a va-va-va-voom scent. That may be a sacrilege of sorts, but that’s the way it strikes me. One Sunday (on the way to church, no less) I stuck my Parfum Sacre smelling arm in front of my husband’s nose. He about ran off the road, he was so distracted by the fragrance.

    I think the liberty bottle referred to is the one for Lady Caron, housed in a Statue of Liberty bottle.

    Looking forward to more Caron posts, P, and many thanks again for doing these bottle splits.@};-

  • Nina says:

    Your enthusiasm inspires me, Patty – perhaps there’s a Caron for me out there? Parfum Sacre (I typed it ‘Scare’ and I think that’s a Freudian slip!) produces an overwhelming sense of melancholy and misery in me – to the point of tears – have no idea why! Coup de Fouet and Nuit de Noel just turn resolutely into potpourri oil on my skin. The only two I’ve encountered so far that might work if I give them a fair trial are Or et Noir and Rose – and as I’m not a rose fan I find this very strange! I’m toying with the prospect of Montaigne and French CanCan at the moment – would you recommed?

  • Patty says:

    I always thought the base smelled like tar. Weird. Parfum Sacre is newer and does not have the traditional base. ALL of the urns have it, at least the ones I’ve smelled so far. Now, with the urns, I tend to get that tar smell all the time it’s on if I smell it up close, but get back and waft a little, and it’s magic.
    Not sure about N’Aimez, I think that was VP I sent you. I’ll put some more together for you.

    Why did you not like Coup? It’s not nearly as bad with the base as the others.

    what in the hell is a libert bottle? This is in the tradiational roundish with the dot bumps on it bottle.

  • Patty says:

    Marina, absolutely! I think you were the person that introduced VP to me, so I’d absolutely send you some!

    But can we not talk about “reformulation” and “almonds” when we talk about VP’s new iteration? (putting hands over years and singing lalalalalalalalalla)

  • Patty says:

    Helene, I agree. I’m so worried that Caron will find them unprofitable at some point and make them go away, and that will make me so sad.

    They are a little inaccessible just because they are hard to get to and expensive, but I think they are well worth it for any perfumista worth their salt to explore some of them, even if they wind up not working.

  • March says:

    PS — I’m not sure I’ve tried Sacre. 😕 Is that the one in the Liberty bottle?

  • March says:

    P — mostly (unless you’ve sent it to me) I’ve only tried the dozen or so that are imports — the ones sitting on the Saks counter. Clearly my problem is the base — the most Caron-ish ones, if you will. Victoria F says the hommes are newer and don’t have the traditional base, which is probably why they work for me. (I finally did figure out what that base smells like to me: mildew. I know, heresy.) I’m ready to give it another go, though. I’ve always wanted to try Farnesiana and CanCan, the other notes of which sound so appealing. I think we’ve tried (and failed) with Montaigne, Coup and N’aimez — that’s the violet one, right? That was gorgeous, except for the base…;))

  • Patty says:

    March, we will find a CAron urn for you. I think you have less trouble with the bottles. Have you tried Parfum Sacre?

    I’m trying to think of all the ones we have tried. Coup. Did you try Poivre? Or et Noir? En Avion, I know you tried that and Montaigne parfum. N’aimez? Farnesiana? WE’ll find one!!!

  • Marina says:

    I am dying to try new Violette Precieuse. If someone does CP it for you and you let me try a drop…I’d love you forever and ever :d:x

    I only read one single report of the new VP, and they way the person described it (sweet, almondy, powdery) did not sound like the VP I know and love. *sigh*

  • The old-school Carons are really something special. I was sniffing them the other day and thinking how almost incredible it is to see that they are not discontinued as they refer to such a different idea of womanhood. The kind of woman who takes no prisoners. When some people complain about women’s scents having gone down the drain of insipidity I think just get ahold of a Caron, they’re still out there and they can still do all the damage that you can dream of.

  • March says:

    You know, P — I am such an idiot when it comes to the Carons. Your post only inspires me to keep trying to open up to them — the world would be a far poorer place without them. Beautiful post!

    (Okay, I do get a lot of love from the Caron hommes… and Reglisse, which doesn’t really count.)