Parfums Caron Perfume House and Its History

Established by Ernest Daltroff in 1904, Parfums Caron was originally located on Rue de la Paix in Paris. Daltroff purchased the perfumery from Anne-Marie Caron and kept the original name.  At the same time, he met Félicie Wanpouille, who became his partner and an important contributor to the rise of the house.  While Daltroff created fragrances, Wanpouille designed bottles and served as an artistic director.

caron

From the beginning, Parfums Caron was the house dedicated solely to fragrance, unlike houses like Chanel or Christian Dior that were first and foremost fashion houses. While the perfume houses produced more fragrances than fashion houses, by the 1920s women started to look at perfume the same way they regarded new fashion styles as Marylène Delbourg-Delphis noted in her book Les Sillages des Elégantes (1983). However, as the couture fragrances became more and more popular, they provided a stable point in the ever changing world fashion, therefore the pace of perfume production began to decline.

Daltroff was a true experimentalist when it came to fragrance creation in his departure from the traditional reproduction of floral scents.  He used synthetics and rare absolutes daringly, and would not shy away from combining rose and jasmine essences with phenyl acetic acid and terpineol.  Although Caron fragrances are rather diverse, despite being created by the same perfumer, many of them share a wonderfully dark undercurrent, which is based on a blend of geranium, licorice, leather, iodine, and vanillin. This accord gained the name of “Mousse de Saxe,” revealing its mossy, dark and cool edge. When creating Nuit de Noël, Daltroff daringly incorporated this dark accord both in the heart and the base of the fragrance, which made the finished composition very unusual. ….

Ernest Daltroff’s creations (in this case, I shall use bold font to indicate fragrances still in production):

Royal Emilia (1904)
Bel Amour (1906)
Chantecler (1906)
Modernis (1906)
Ravissement (1906)
Affolant (1908)
Isadora (1910)
Parfum Precieux (1910)
Rose Précieuse (1910)
Elegancia (1911)
Jacinthe Précieuse (1911)
Narcisse Noir (1911)
Infini (1912)
Radiant (1913)
Violette Précieuse (1913)
London Paris (1917)
Mimosa (1917)
N’Aimez Que Moi (1917)
Tabac Blond (1919)
Narcisse Blanc (1922)
Nuit de Noël (1922)
Bellodgia (1927)
Pois de Senteur de Chez Moi (1927)
Acaciosa (1929)
En Avion (1929)
Bichon Fard (1920s)
Pocahontas (1920s)
Les Rocailles de Caron (1933)
Caron Pour Un Homme (1934)
Fleurs de Rocaille (1934)
Les Cent Fards (1935)
Madame Peau Fine (1935)
Adastra (1936)
French Cancan (1936)
La Fête des Roses (1936)
Alpona (1939)
Rose de Noël (1939)
Voeu de Noël (1939)
Royal Bain de Caron / Royal Bain de Champagne (1941)

Daltroff was instrumental in shaping the image of Caron, and his legacy is still strong, not only in terms of Caron fragrances, but his influence on the perfume world at large.  According to Perfume Legends by Michael Edwards, Guy Robert, a nose behind Madame Rochas and Caleche, used Nuit de Noël’s base notes in his compositions. Chanel N° 19, Bois de Iles and Habanita were also profoundly influenced by Daltroff’s unique “mousse de saxe” accord.  In 1939, as Nazi Germany began to rise, Daltroff escaped to the United States. He died 3 years later, in 1941.

Michel Morsetti’s creations for Caron:
Farnesiana (1947)
Tabac Noir (1948)
Caron Pour Une Femme (original) (1949)
Or et Noir (1949)
Rose (1949)
With Pleasure (1949)
Muguet de Bonheur (1952)
Coup de Fouet (1954)
Poivre (1954)

Gerard Lefort for Caron:
Infini (1970)
Eau de Caron (1980)

Vincent Marcello for Caron:
Yatagan (1976)

Roger Pellégrino for Caron:
Nocturnes (1981)

Jean-Pierre Béthouard (Firmenich) for Caron:
Parfum Sacré (1990)

Dominique Ropion for Caron:
Aimez-Moi (1996)

Richard Fraysse for Caron:
L’Anarchiste (2000)
Lady Caron (2000)
Caron Pour Une Femme (new) (2001)
Miss Rocaille (2004)
Tubereuse (2004)

I am not sure about the authorship of these creations:
Number 3 / Le 3me Homme / The Third Man (1985)
Montaigne (1986)
Fleur de Rocaille (1993)
Caron Eau de Cologne (1994)
Eau Pure (1996)
Eau Fraîche (1997)
Eau de Caron Forte (1999)

The current nose for the house is Richard Fraysse. His fragrances are marked by innovation paired with classicism, continuing the traditions of the house. Originally, Caron perfumes came in the bottles, especially designed for each individual fragrance by Félicie Wanpouille, who was responsible for most of the creations. However, a few years ago Ales group, which now owns Caron decided to discontinue the individual bottles and instead provide the same classical shape for all fragrances. Although these bottles are lovely, the original bottles were very unique and memorable, and I hope that the house brings them back.

Caron boutiques are styled as veritable jewel boxes, with the sumptuous décor, featuring pastels and satin. The extrait de parfum of most classical fragrances are decanted from gorgeous Louis XV-style Baccarat crystal urns, which is why some Caron fragrances are called urn perfumes. Even if one does not find a true love among Caron dark and slightly nostalgic creations, whispering stories of times long gone, of cocottes and countesses, the visit to any boutique is a true fin-de-siècle experience. Another favorite part is the selection of beautiful atomizer bottles and candy colored dawn puffs. I managed to obtain a powder box and a fuchsia colored puff on a recent visit, and whenever I use them, I feel either like a seductress or a countess, depending on the state of mind at that particular moment.

References for perfume creator and year of release: Basenotes.

Other references: Delbourg-Delphis (1983), Morris (1984).

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12 Comments

  • Diane: Dear V, what a marvelous post! Oh, how I would love to have in my possession those fragrances that mark the beginning of the 20th c. (incidentally, the fin de siecle has always been one of my favorite historical periods due to how it shaped modernity; it is always the transitional periods that intrigue me). On the whole, I am happy to report that I have had fantastic luck with Carons and like a good many of them. Not on the first try, mind you. Like Serge Lutens, I believe Carons should be revisited. June 1, 2005 at 6:34pm Reply

  • N aka parislondres: Thanks so much for this darling V! I have this great book on Caron I got as a gift from a friend (from their boutique) and I really enjoy browsing and looking at all the creations by E Daldtroff. The flacons of the perfumes were/are gorgeous.
    I also love their powders. Look forward to more Caron reviews.
    xoxo June 1, 2005 at 4:32pm Reply

  • N aka parislondres: Another thing dear V – I love French Cancan extrait (just a spritz will do). Excuse my typo last night (very tired and sleepy) when I typed the magnificent Daltroff’s name. Have also begun to appreciate Narcisse Noir and Narcisse Blanc extraits. They all take a while to grow on me – but they DO grow on me! Another magnificent rose is Or et Noir. I tested this over ten times to really start liking it. One has to keep at Caron – they are NOT crowdpleasing perfumes! 🙂

    xoxo June 2, 2005 at 2:49am Reply

  • Muzot: Hi V- I have been fascinated by the description of the “Mousse de Saxe” since I read about it in Michael Edwards’ book.
    I know it was made by De Laire once upon a time- but do you know if it- or anything like it- is still available? (I wonder who acquired De Laire and their formulae?)
    …any info greatly appreciated. September 25, 2005 at 12:00am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Muzot, I have recently been coming across a number of references to De Laire’s formula of Mousse de Saxe, and I assumed that it is still being produced. However, I do not have more precise information on this. I also like some other De Laire bases, such as l’Ambre 83 and le Bouvardia. September 25, 2005 at 2:19am Reply

  • Muzot: Thanks for that information Victoria. I assumed it was no longer being made because Google never brings anything up from any chemical/aroma material suppliers. I will keep looking. 🙂 October 2, 2005 at 1:01am Reply

  • cjblue: What a wonderful and informative post! Thanks so much for it – I am just beginning to really get to know Carons. November 14, 2005 at 11:22am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: I am very glad that you enjoyed it! Caron is one of my favourite houses, and their compositions appeal to me very much. November 15, 2005 at 1:28am Reply

  • Lisa: Ach! What have you done to me? I stumbled onto your blog because on holiday I read a book about Luca Turin and wanted to know more about those perfumes he describes so evocatively. Now I’m the proud – and slightly bemused – owner of a decant of Bandit (and can’t stop sniffing myself) and I’ve just discovered the samples service at lessenteurs.com and am awaiting the arrival of six scents you all seem to rave about, including Caron’s famous Tabac Blond and Poivre.
    Where will it all end? I’ll be sniffing people in the street next… April 13, 2006 at 10:16am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Lisa, welcome! I am very happy to hear that you are exploring the world of classics. Where does it end? It did not seem to for me. 🙂 I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Caron fragrances. I recently acquired a vintage bottle of Caron Tabac Blond, and it is simply stunning. Poivre is another favourite, as you might have gathered from my review. 🙂 April 13, 2006 at 10:22am Reply

  • Althusa: I was smitten at a young age when my aunt returned from her Paris vacation with a handbag full of Caron samples. I soon became the only six year old on the playground wearing Narcisse Noir extrait (I was also the only girl wearing either a pale blue tutu or a seafoam chiffon dress on the playground – my poor mother gave up on me ever being a “normal” kid). To this day I love the classic Caron & Guerlain fragrances. Also the Rue Cambon Collection and most Serge Lutens. I want to say that I’m thrilled by your blog – finally someone whose prose is as haunting and evocative as the scents she reviews. You have the soul of a poet (and the chops of a chemist)! March 10, 2007 at 9:24pm Reply

  • Patricia: I was delighted to find your web site. I am a long time admirer of the House of Caron’s Parfum line. I still have .25 oz of the Tabac Blond. And, for fear of not locating more am loath to use it. Do you have or have knowledge of a parfum which might be comparable?

    Hope to hear back. August 31, 2007 at 8:14pm Reply

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