For the last week, I've been wearing Caron Parfum Sacre. (Forgive the missing accent aigu. I am lazy. If I weren't lazy, I would post more often.) Frankly, venturing into the world of Caron made me a little nervous. Perfume fans love to talk about the dark undertones, the special character of any Caron juice. Possibly I'm too young (as a perfume fan, anyway) to "get" this, or possibly Parfum Sacre is missing the undertone that other Caron perfumes share.
Or possibly this is what all these people mean by "dark": nostalgic. Trust me, if I let you sniff this first, and then I told you that it was made in the year 1990, you'd never believe me. I wonder, too, if you'd believe that Caron, on their very own site, classifies this perfume as "Oriental Spicy." The notes are myrrh, musk, vanilla, rose, jasmine, pepper, cinnamon and coriander. Sounds spicy enough, and possibly Oriental, and yet...
Maybe I've been ruined by the heavier spice of fragrances like Opium or Citta di Kyoto, both of which I love, both of which are far heavier on the spice. But then again, maybe not quite. All week I thought about this perfume. It's the sort of scent that requires a great deal of contemplation, and still, all I could come up with was this: the silk lining of an old purse. When all is said and done, that's what I smell: a faint, spicy powder, elegant and ethereal, a dream of travel to exotic lands, a memory trapped in fine smooth fabric flecked there with tobacco and stained here by an oily smudge of lipstick.
It's the silk lining of an evening bag once carried by Katherine Hepburn, say, when she was dating Howard Hughes. I've found it in a thrift shop, plucked it from the shelf, clicked open the jeweled latch and inhaled. Amazing to think this fragrance was released into a world of Poisons and Fendis and Beautifuls, this fragrance for an old soul. It's hauntingly lovely. My thanks to Angela for sharing it with me.
2/27/07: I suppose my admiration for this perfume isn't clear. I didn't go on and on about Caron and the development of the notes because that isn't what I found striking about this perfume. Plenty of other blogs can offer you information about Caron. What I wanted to share was the impression this scent left on me, and it was this: When I think about the silk lining of an evening bag, I think about a woman reaching her hand inside the bag to grab a lipstick or a compact or a handkerchief, her wrist rubbing her scent against the silk lining as she searches, leaving a memory there, something intimate. I wonder what song the orchestra is playing, what the dress that matches the bag looks like. I wonder if the evening brought the owner of the bag love or disappointment, celebration or despair. This is what I meant when I said "hauntingly lovely." It's the sort of scent a person leaves behind that makes others yearn a little.
I'm no Caron expert; I don't know what comes from an urn and what's readily available, but I do know you can find Parfum Sacre at Fragrance Net.
*photo of Parfum Sacre from parfumscaron.com; photo of Katherine Hepburn from Yahoo