Ernest Daltroff: 10 posts

Caron En Avion : Perfume Review

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I’m not sure why exactly I decided to revisit Caron En Avion after so many years, but it might have been inspired by my reading of Miklós Bánffy’s The Transylvanian Trilogy. An epic novel set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before the First World War, it paints the vanished world of the Hungarian aristocracy, the era that was quickly coming to a close. There is something equally poignant and nostalgic about En Avion, a perfume created by Caron’s owner Ernest Daltroff in 1932, just a year before Count Bánffy started writing his masterpiece.

caron

En Avion, as the name suggests, was inspired by the first pilot women such as Helen Boucher and Amelia Earhart. It was a luminous but dark orange, dipped in the sweetness of jasmine and the incense-like warmth of opoponax. It was spicy but also cool and mossy. The kind of fragrance that could only have been the product of Daltroff’s eccentric pairings and the era’s penchant for perfumes thick as fur coats.

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Chanel No 22 Les Exclusifs : Fragrance Review

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Pearl

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

In many ways, Chanel No 22 is the quintessential aldehydic* fragrance. It is difficult for me to envision a better classical treatment of aldehydes. While No 5 is much more well-known and praised, I find the delicate beauty of No 22 to be particularly exquisite. Vivid and tender, it alternates between elegant aloofness and sweet warmth, all the while being polished and seamless. If pearls had a scent, their lustrous smoothness would be redolent of No 22….

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Caron Pour Un Homme : Perfume Review

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Pour_un_homme_11_2

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The clear soup, suimono (literally meaning “something to drink”) can serve as the measure of a Japanese chef’s talent, proving that the simplest ideas are often the most challenging ones to execute. The classical combination of lavender and amber seems straightforward, yet smelling Caron Pour Un Homme which was created in 1934 by Ernest Daltroff, one realizes the genius of this pairing. …

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Caron French Cancan : Fragrance Review

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French_cancan_1937

Original:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Reformulation:

Rated 4.5 out of 5.0

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Playing up the stereotypes of Paris, in 1936 Caron’s perfumer Ernest Daltroff created a fragrance specifically for the American market. The fragrance was christened French Cancan in a slightly naughty allusion to the infamous cabaret dancers of Moulin Rouge, the shadowy image of which appears in the 1937 ad accompanying this review. Only in the postwar period did French Cancan returned home to Paris.

Whenever one describes a fragrance as sensual, visions of rose petals strewn across vanilla, amber haze and opulent night-blooming flowers come to mind. However, Daltroff manages to create a sensual fragrance by exploring the unique juxtaposition and slow development. French Cancan peels off one layer after another, first exposing a froth of jasmine and violet, touched by an almost gourmand almondy sweetness. Next comes a dark earthy rose, which sheds its petals slowly to reveal an arrestingly innocent touch of orange blossom. Like layers of transparent fabric change colors when arranged together, jasmine manages to darken the radiant sweetness of orange blossom.

As the fragrance dries down, cold iris dust melds the elements of the composition together. The final drydown notes take about two and a half hours to reach, although the dark Caron undercurrent is already manifesting its presence in the heart of the composition. French Cancan leaves one with silky richness of amber, sandalwood and oakmoss trio, and by endowing a composition with a degree of coolness, the effect is  alluring.

Notes: jasmine, lilac, violet, lily of the valley, rose, orange blossom, patchouli, iris, sandalwood, amber, oakmoss.

Note on reformulation May 2011: The original was a heady blend of various floral notes (jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, lilac) on a warm musky base. The new version is a cheaper variation on the theme. The Eau de Parfum is even less interesting.

Caron Bellodgia : Perfume Review

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Look closely at the Lady with the Unicorn tapestries. Among flowers intertwining around the woman, unicorn and lion, and creating an enchanted atmosphere, tiny dianthus, clove pink, is the most prominent. Likewise, Caron Bellodgia is a fragrance of dreams. It bridges the light and the dark and creates a masterful olfactory chiaroscuro. Bellodgia is a memory of a traveler, capturing the vision of an Italian town on Lake Como, Belladgio. Created in 1927 by Ernest Daltroff, genius perfumer and the founder of Caron, the composition features carnation, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, violet, sandalwood, vanilla and musk.

Lady with unicorn

The top notes are of the powdery carnation which gains a slight peppery bite as the fragrance settles. The jasmine, lily of the valley and rose undulate out of carnation accord one after another creating an interesting composition that changes over time, from one note to another and back, like piano bars being hit by an impatient finger. The dry down is an interplay of warm and musky against cool and mossy. The dark Caron undercurrent whispers of dusky cloisters of medieval churches and throws into relief the gentle sweetness flowers, still hot from the midday sun. Bellodgia may seem soft and simple at first, but over time it reveals its sensuality.

I forgot to add that my preferred concentration is the extrait de parfum; the Eau de Parfum is bland in comparison. As Octavian noted in the comments, it was introduced in 1996, after being reformulated and augmented with the green tea notes.

Note on reformulation May 2011: A carnation gold standard, Bellodgia has been made less spicy and dark over time, but it still preserves its petal rainstorm impression. While I miss the original’s smoldering spicy darkness, I still enjoy the bright rose-carnation accord in the current version. The parfum is richer and warmer, while the Eau de Toilette has a pleasant green note adorning the spicy floral heart.

Image: The Lady and the Unicorn, “Sight” silk tapestry on wood, end of the 15th century, Musée Moyenage, Paris. Discovered by Prosper Mérimée in 1841 in Boussac castle, the tapestries became famous due to the works by George Sand. The amount of detail on the tapestries, as well as hidden allegory, is breathtaking. I must have spent more than an hour at the tapestry gallery, amazed by the vibrant colors and the delicate expressions on the faces of the lady and the mysterious animals. Interestingly enough, the bottom end of the tapestries, which currently appears dark pink underwent restoration. However, synthetic colors could not match the vibrancy of the vegetal dye used by the Flemish weavers. Over time, the restored part faded, while the original remained vivid.

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