Indulge Me

I guess the game in haute perfumery is this: always ratcheting up the exclusivity level. You can do this in a couple of ways: charge a lot, like the Clive Christian in the $215,000 bottle. Or you can do what Indult has done – limit supply, in this case releasing 999 bottles of each fragrance at French Sephora on January 8 for 160 euros per 50ml bottle, with that being the entire production as far as I know.

According to my usual, extensive, blindingly thorough research (Wikipedia), “an indult is a permission, or privilege, granted by the church authority” (I believe this is exclusive to Catholicism.) Indult Catholics have been allowed by the church to continue to attend Mass in Latin rather than the current liturgy. I´m assuming this is also at the root of the concept of Papal indulgences, which I´m pretty sure you can´t buy any more since either the Middle Ages or the French Revolution, or maybe it was Vatican II, but what do I know?

There are three fragrances, each showcasing a particular note:

Tihota – vanilla. It smells like my bottle of good vanilla extract when I pop the top of the vial off. I want to hate it. But I can´t, because on the skin it has a strong note of smoke – not some disgusting barbeque, or even wood… more like burning leaves. It´s not even remotely foody. It lasts all day, wearing fairly close to the skin. That´s pretty much the entire story.

Isvaraya – patchouli. Jekyll or Hyde? Half the time the opening note is an almost mentholated blast of high-end patchouli (good), the alternative being an opening salvo of what smells disconcertingly like paint thinner. The fragrance moderates after five minutes or so into patchouli underpinned with some sort of fruity tart-sweetness, like raspberries, only a little boozier. Then, just when I´ve mentally written the whole thing off as Very Pretty but ultimately not worth the effort, the jasmine shows up, which is lovely — unless it veers wildly back in the direction of Vap-O-Rub with a little urine-y finish.

Manakara – rose. Sometimes when these reviews are taking shape in my head, I play a game where I try mentally to mimic the style of another fragrance blogger (all of them have fairly distinctive styles.) If I were X, my review of Manakara might contain a phrase that sounds something like this: “While the rose is readily apparent upon the first application of the fragrance, ultimately the composition fails to take shape in a well-developed fashion.” Okay, hers would be much better (and would actually make sense) – but my point is, I live for those reviews when she has, with the most delicate precision, eviscerated some fragrance. I’m me, so I´ll just say that this opens with a boozy, vaguely Glade-esque note and eventually takes on a bit of mildew, sort of like the rose bushes in my humid Washington garden, assuming the blooms themselves were made of Play-Doh and scented with the rose potpourri oil I bought at Michaels craft store in 1978.

Anyhow, I’m not feeling the love here. To whatever degree you arrange your must-try list to positively (or negatively) correlate with what I like – maybe the real problem is winter and the full moon, but if I were in Paris I wouldn´t be standing in line the morning of January 8 to buy these. I´d be in my hotel bed, fast asleep. Then I´d be eating one of those amazing baguettes (do French people in the U.S. survey our bread options and want to kill themselves?) and drinking a dark, muddy, delicious coffee before hoofing it to the Louvre – or just a random stroll around Paris in the mist. Wearing … Bois de Iles, maybe.

light-up plastic rose:

  • kuri says:

    mmm… French baguettes and croissants! I love the butter too. Simply divine. The bakeries in Japan are excellent, but not quite the same.

  • Terri S-B says:

    Hello all,

    I now have a Caron mystery on my hands.

    I received in a swap, from someone who received in a swap, a 2.5 ounce bottle of Fleurs de Rocaille. The swapper doesn’t know anything about the history of this bottle.

    It appears to be vintage. Very retro bottle style screaming 60s/70s. The lettering on the front states “Fleurs de Rocaille parfum de toilette spray. Caron New York”

    On the bottom of the bottle there is an adhesive label that states:

    “Blended for Caron Corp. New York, NY 10019”

    I have not been able to find a photo of a bottle like it online.

    Would this likely be the original Fleurs de Rocaille or a reformulation?

    I have tested the scent, the notes appear intact. It is different and it is lovely.
    More of a smooth blend without really discernible notes.


  • March says:

    Cait — I do have perfume overload. So then I (gasp!) just don’t wear any for a day. Or even two. Or sometimes what I need is the comfort of the familiar.

    I don’t think that was the problem with the Indults, though — with the exception of Tihota, they just smelled bad on me. Now, I should add I am a HUGE believer in skin chemistry issues (I have a friend who does terrible things to Andy’s Orris, I smelled it) so maybe, as they say, it’s just me.

  • March says:

    Cait — the Cheese takes those super-long flights to Asia and basically (with the help of a cocktail and Valium) renders himself unconscious for the appropriate sleep part of the trip.

    For my trips to Europe, I’m fine the first part of the day, take a nap for an hour or two in the afternoon (usually when the hotel room is ready) then stay up, and am good to go the next day. But I think your flight is longer by a fair amount, so maybe sedation is the way to go.

  • March says:

    Tom — thanks! I’ll keep you posted.:d

  • March says:

    Judith — I meant to test that yesterday but got derailed by the MCDIs or whatever they’re called … will get there today. I forgot about that layering detail…

  • March says:

    Madelyn — thanks for sharing your fantasy.

    Today it is going to be 70 and sunny — which is, oh, 30 degrees warmer than normal. Global warming? I don’t want to complain — I am a warm-weather person — but it’s just weird.

    I love basic French cafe food. And those street creperies, which gross out the Big Cheese but the rest of us are wild for them.

  • Cait says:

    When I go to Paris lately I am awake at strange times of day like a little Alaskan jetlagged vampire. I think I’ll drug myself this time to start off right and awake. I will miss this release by a couple of weeks though.

    D’you think that testing so much perfume can just sour you on the whole thing, from time to time? Like eating too much rice crispy treat spoils you for those fabulous rue de rivoli chocolates you adore?

    What’s your cleansing purging perfume when you reach that kind of overload? Mine used to be Cologne Sologne. I need a new one.

  • tmp00 says:

    the spam filter got me- twice.

    the answer was go for it.

  • Judith says:

    Ok, this is it. I like the vanilla one, but probably not enough to buy a FB. I WOULD like Isvaraya, if it weren’t for the fruit. So I am congratulating myself on a financial bullet dodged when I discover that (just as Marina said), the two layered together are fabulous! :((

  • Madelyn E says:

    Dear March !
    You are a riot ! Loved your plastic roses, also probably will NOT be running to get any of the abovementioned 3 scents. Sometimes you gotta tell ut like it is .
    And, yes . All the perfume boggers review with a distinct style.
    Oh, I can so relate your your idea of a Paris morning… Uhuh,, yes, ever so comfortable sleeping in bed .tucked in real tight. Apres midi, upon arising following a nice hot bain ou douche (fragranced , bienssur ).. I would promenade my little (figuratively now) over to the CLOSEST cafe and inhale a Grand Cafe au Lait intersperesed with ever so delicate bites into a melt in your mouth , watm butterly, croissant au chocolat ! I would be sitting in this cafe mesmerized by the marvels of a Parisien street cafe.. in a state of utter hyperglycemic bliss.. This may or may not be followed by some rumination (Oh, why did I have to be born in Queens and not any petite ville en France . After some cafreful pondereance and acceptance I would meander over to hit some choice parfumeries , checking out the Musee D’Orsay, or L’orangerie…..
    Then, I wake up .. and it’s all a dream.
    And March, after every one of my French visits, my husband and I mourn the loss of the unsurpassed cuisine a la francaise .
    C’est la vie.
    Thank you March for allowing that reverie !

  • March says:

    Bliss — well, I try all the artisanal ones, too. But they all weigh 10lbs and are full of sunflower seeds. I actually think our local climate is a lot like Paris — how hard can it BE to make a d@mn croissant? Huh? Huh? The Cheese says our bakery ovens are wrong and the bakers don’t proof correctly. I’m suspicious of the ingredients, myself.

  • March says:

    Tom — in this case, a Glade is a Glade.

    BTW — did you get my emailed longer question? Haven’t heard back from you, wonder if the spam filter got me.

  • March says:

    Elle — I dunno…. go back and read some of the other reviews and your heart will go pittypat/:)

  • March says:

    Aim — well, yeah. This is your dirty vanilla, a little. I was just happy not to smell like a cupcake, either.

  • March says:

    Karen — busted!:d

    Very funny. Although BdJ would never use the word “buttcrack.” She did use “outhouse” recently, though — referring to MH Rien. That’s my girl.

  • March says:

    Gaia — catbox! Now, there’s a note I don’t recall smelling in any of the recent releases…

    The Tihota was a sleeper, the only one I liked, and quite a surprise for me, because I am not the vanilla queen. It’s the interesting smoky aspect that makes it work.

  • March says:

    Judith — vanilla is not my favorite, so the Tihota surprised me. I’m feeling a little vindicated by your comments about Isvaraya, though.

  • March says:

    Flor — what I should have said, and didn’t, although I suppose it’s clear from my review, was that Tihota is the one I’d pick to wear. But I still wouldn’t buy it.

  • March says:

    Marina — well, I am actually somewhat relieved to see that Judith is waffling. I dunno … they made me cross. Like the new “improved” VP (although that is a MUCH larger crime.)

  • March says:

    Patty — yeah … I do kindof have my bitch on. Just ask the Cheese. Poor man.

  • March says:

    Maria — goose.

    heh. :-“

  • March says:

    Chaya — hey, it’s okay — we don’t all love the same things all the time. You know me I’ll probably be eating my words in April. Of course by then it will be too late…

  • March says:

    Sariah — dude — :d — sometimes I have trouble selecting the images. But when I saw that one, I knew it was The One.

  • BBliss says:

    Great decriptions – visual and verbal! Not tempted in the least on these – too much trouble! Now that Parisian morning sounds divine – but I prefer a brioche or pain au chocolat. Baguettes go all the rest of the day, though. If I was French I would kill myself just over the reams of wonder bread that abound here, not to mention the lack of truly substantial loaves. But I’m not…so I just mope and whine over this and am always testing the latest artisan bakery around town.

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — thanks so much — I am SO looking forward to my Goose!:x

  • tmp00 says:


    I live for when you mow down bad scents with comparisons to Glade and Vicks. I love that bloggers delicate precision (and envy her descriptive powers) but sometimes you have to call a Glade a Glade. :d

  • Elle says:

    My cc is crying alligator tears of relief. It’s refusing to let me pay attention to any other less budget helpful reviews.

  • aimtx says:

    Ooooooh, a non-foody, smoky vanilla intrigues me much. ‘Cause I love vanilla, but I don’t like smelling like a cupcake. I want to smell like the cupcake’s dirtier, more experienced big sister, the one whose bra is hooked together with a safety pin.

    Now I have to go have a good cry because I’m not in Paris.

  • Karen says:

    To whatever degree I arrange my “must-try” list, I sure as h*ll am not going to include a fragrance with a Vicks Vapo-Rub note! Oh! the stench of it! But it’s great if you have a severe cold, bronchitis, or pneumonia. (And I come down with bronchitis or pneumonia every winter – don’t know why. Have since childhood.)
    Anyway, I loved your made-up quote “While the rose is readily apparent upon the first application of the fragrance …” That sure sounds like the lady who writes “Bois de Jasmine” (giggle!) Here’s a quote from Karen the Vicks-hater (with apologies to Bois de Jasmine) “While the rose is readily apparent upon the first application of the fragrance, it quickly devolves into an annoying Vicks Vapo-Rub stench that obliberates all the well being sense of comfort of being in Granny’s rose garden. All too quickly, I am filled with dread of another bout with pneumonia — the high temperature of 104 degrees, the rerentless hacking cough, the waste basket quickly filling up with used tisses. Horrible memories of being deathly ill at Christmas or the New Year (and certainly over the winter break) fill me with a terrible sense of dread. After several minutes of this, the fragrance changes to … butt-crack! There is the definite aroma of the outhouse coming through. Oh, (fill in the blank — Serge Lutens, Guerlain, who-ever, guess who –) you can’t fool me. I spent too many days as a Girl Scout, playing war games in Germany, and at the Appalachian Mountain Club “resorts” to mistake that impossible odor for anything but what it is — Eau de Latrine!

  • I can’t get over the plastic roses. They scream “Paris”, don’t they 😉
    I could so go for a real Paris morning right now. But the next fragrant thing on my to-do list for today is the cat box. The stuff dreams are made of.
    I’d probably not hate the first one. Vanilla and burning leaves are good for the soul. The others sound quite unappealing. Lately, almost anything with jasmine smells to me like Glade or other stuff from the same aisle in Target.

  • Judith says:

    Sigh. I’m afraid I may end up with March on Isvaraya. I like it–but that fruity thing bothers me; perfumers: just say “NO” to fruits. Will try again–haven’t made it to the others yet! Great reviews, in any case!

  • Flor says:

    I loved the review! Tihota sounds very interesting. I do hope I don’t fall in love, though – I can’t afford to.

  • Marina says:

    Well, March…you are the first person not to fall under the spell of Isvaraya. More for me! Actually, no, that wouldn’t work, because where the heck would I get these??

  • Patty says:

    Yeah, no buying indulgences anymore, which is a damn shame.

    I liked these a lot better than you did (saying this a lot lately!), didn’t I?

    But… plastic light-up roses? You are snarky today. 😉

    L — TEASE!

  • Maria B. says:

    Hysterically funny review, March. The light-up plastic rose photo is the perfect accompaniment. =))

    Lee, I hope you enjoy your special delivery goose. Do share the recipe. (Rousse isn’t available already, is it?)

  • chayaruchama says:

    Well, dearest, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this, ‘cos I LOVE the first two.

    I don’t want to, but I do.

    I just view my little vials the way I view a pebble from the Pont du Gard I filched about 10 years ago…
    A marvellous memento that I have NO business having in my possession-
    And all that I’m going to have.
    I’d best be satisfied with that .

  • sariah says:

    Those light-up plastic roses really scream exclusivity. Good one March.

  • Leopoldo says:

    Except for your cedar thing (which I know relates to your skin rather than your hatred of the note), I’m often in line with your choices. Not always, but often enough to know that these hold little in the way of mystery or excitement for me. If I’m in Paris; if Sephora still have them as I stroll the Champs-Elysees either going to or from Guerlain (to pick up the bottle of Derby with my name on it), I might well give them a haughty sniff (one nostril only though darling).

    Okay, must dash. Parcel at post office with a special delivery that rhymes with mousse…