Opoponax: 4 posts

Caron En Avion : Perfume Review


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.


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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Yves Saint Laurent Opium (New) : Perfume Review


Opium. Even if you haven’t worn Opium yourself, just the name of this perfume by Yves Saint Laurent is enough to conjure its controversial and dramatic personality. Opium came out in 1977 and it marked a whole era with its spicy, fiery carnation scent. In the 1980s, when neither perfume nor hair could be too big, it held its own alongside Christian Dior Poison, Giorgio Beverly Hills and other heavy hitters.


My relationship with Opium and other big 1980s perfumes is ambivalent. I recognize their genius; I admire their boldness and verve. But whenever I wear Opium in all of its “pre-reformulation” spicy glory, it feels like I’m playing dress up. I can’t make it my own. But Yves Saint Laurent left us with no choice. In 2009, the house discontinued Opium and reintroduced a new version. The original formula of Opium contained so many ingredients considered allergenic that trying to save it was a losing battle.

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Tom Ford Noir : Perfume Review


Tom Ford must love Guerlain Habit Rouge with a passion, because we have already seen its incarnation in Private Blend Bois Rouge, and now in Tom Ford Noir. You can compare this fragrance to others perfumes in Ford’s collection or to a dozen other plush orientals, but you only need to smell Habit Rouge for everything to fall into place. From the fizzy citrus top notes to the leather, tonka bean and vanilla inlaid drydown, Tom Ford Noir wears its Guerlinade well.

But Tom Ford Noir isn’t a boring copycat; it’s polished and well-crafted–Tom Ford is known for putting plenty of money into his perfumes–with enough darkness to satisfy most fans of rich, oriental notes. Women who love Guerlain Shalimar and all things “noir” should disregard Ford’s male oriented marketing and try the new fragrance. As much as I want to say that one Habit Rouge is enough, kudos to Tom Ford for taking such a classical idea and launching it as a mainstream fragrance. In contrast to the classical but dull Tom Ford for Men, Tom Ford Noir has plenty of drama.

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Opoponax : Velvet and Smoke Perfume Ingredient

I never fully appreciated the beauty of a material with a funny name like opoponax (also spelled as oppoponax or opopanax) until about a year ago when I had to test a large batch for quality. A huge vat was unloaded on my desk and as I took off the lid and leaned over to dip a testing strip into the molasses-like liquid, the wave of warm, sweet scent washed over me. It smelled of aged scotch, mahogany shavings and bitter caramel, but it was also velvety and powdery. It was overwhelming to smell opoponax in such a way, but the tactual, almost tangible presence of its scent made a strong impression on me.

Of course, you don’t need a vat of opoponax to appreciate its suave presence in perfumes. Opoponax is sometimes called the sweet myrrh, because both myrrh and opoponax are derived from the bark of the Commiphora species (in case of opoponax from Commiphora opoponax/Commiphora erythraea). Its relationship to myrrh is mostly botanical, because opoponax smells sweeter, warmer, more powdery and smoky. Myrrh makes me think of damp stones; opoponax brings to mind the smoldering embers of a fireplace. Myrrh is a somber Gregorian chant, and opoponax is a joyful madrigal.

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