You cannot envy Richard Fraysse, head perfumer at Caron. Much maligned by perfume lovers for his reformulations of the Caron classics (whether in an attempt to bring them into line with modern sensibilities, to match IFRA regulations, or to bring the price of the formulas down for the pleasure of his accountants I couldn’t say), but in any case his strikes me as being  something of a lose-lose situation. Caron is in a funny position: revered, adored, yet with little consistency. The new perfumes are rightfully scorned (Yuzu Man? Miss Caron? I think not…), and when the perfumes you think you are buying are not what you hoped they would be, you know that with Caron, every perfume is something of a precarious risk.


Though I often think the rumours of total and disastrous reformulation are exaggerated, I have myself owned and been highly disappointed by certain contemporary versions of classic ‘Carons’  (Poivre, Nocturnes), then, conversely,  found myself ogling at, and spraying on, the urn perfumes in Fortnum & Mason,  finding many of them strange,  glorious and in perfectly good condition. That name, ‘Caron’, still has so much cachet and appeal for me, and I can’t help hoping against hope that Mr Fraysse will, one day, somehow again deliver the goods.



Bellodgia, the legendary perfume Caron originally released in 1927, was/is a spicy, musky, creamy and very emotional oeillet soliflore that enfolded cloves and thick, cinnamon-embalmed carnation petals in quilts of roses, jasmine and musks, and it is yet another well-loved classic from the house that I have in the original perfume extract. She is, to me, the Grand Duchess of carnations, this Bellodgia:  vulnerably bosomed, sensitive, and hopelessly, almost embarrassingly, romantic. But she is also rather old-fashioned, and Più Bellodgia ( a play on the Italian words più bello, meaning ‘more beautiful’), is a decent attempt to bring the carnationy rose template back to the modern palate.


Like Serge Lutens’ unpopular Vitriol D’Oeillet, which it resembles in some ways,  Più Bellodgia is boldly enlivened and refreshed with the rosey, pink-peppered top notes we have come to anticipate in many contemporary feminines, and this stage of the fragrance, I have to say, is my least favourite. However, the more sprightly headrush of the top notes lead the perfume into more zested territory that does, basically, work: Più Bellodgia has more spine than its osteoporotic predecessor (the original Bellodgia was always so cushioned I thought), so this is not, necessarily, a bad thing.


The good news for Bellodgia lovers is that the original formula has not been eviscerated: the essential structure of carnation, clove, cinnamon, rose/jasmine and cedar wood musk is intact, the spices just that little bit spicier, the aura brighter but essentially unchanged. She may not be more beautiful, but the Grand Duchess’ great niece is still vivacious and alive, inclined towards the classically Parisian, and she has certainly not disgraced her family.








Ylang Ylang is one of my very favourite essential oils, and I get through bottles and bottles of it each year. It arouses me, lifts me, tropicalizes my senses, and in our sadly aborted mission to Madagascar, originally set for August, part of the itinerary was to have been a trip to ylang ylang distillery on the famed perfumed isle of Nosy Bé. To have seen those flowers: picked, distilled and bottled, would have been as exciting to me as encountering the vanilla we were specifically going to Madagascar to see……I love it: more than jasmine, gardenia, even possibly tuberose…for me, though it is cheaper and more readily available, ylang ylang is intoxicating.


Call me crazy but I have even drunk ylang ylang essence. I had read somewhere that one drop in a bottle of champagne was a dizzying experience, and, when I tried it one summer evening, it was. The giddiness was doubled, my nerve endings delighted.

Hiccuppy ylang ylang kisses…..



Sadly, Caron’s My Ylang has none of this. In fact, perhaps unbelievably, I can’t really think of anything to say about it. I have tried the perfume four or five times, but it makes almost no impression. Supposedly a ‘luminous, powdery floral’, with top notes of cassis and mandarin layered over a green muguet/jasmine accord and (practically undetectable) ylang ylang with a light base of green vanilla and woods, it is pleasant enough in a nineties sort of way: a light, greenish floriental, a bit going-outish, not entirely unsexy, but without any real draw to actually make you want to re-smell it. The only perfumes I can think of that it vaguely reminds me of are two obscure scents whose own characters were never very clearly defined either: Jean Claude Ellena’s mix-everything-in-blender leaf-floral Miss Arpels, and Guerlain’s weird, tea-ish floriental Secret Intention. It smells nice enough, and My Ylang is certainly not bad exactly, but it certainly is a slightly baffling release (I am not really sure who is going to buy it.) If you try it and it does make sense to you, do please enlighten me on how to approach it.


In the meantime, Your Ylang should, if do you like this flower, come in the form of Parfumerie Generale’s lovely tropical sundress Ylang Ivohibe; Calice Becker’s new perfume for Oscar De La Renta Mi Corazon (similar to By Kilian’s Beyond Love, but with a shirtier, ylang ylang twist), or, my personal favourite, the blasé, vogue-reading-girl-on-a-summer-beach, sun kissed caress of Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Ylang Vanille, a perfume I use by the bucketload when the season is right.  I have also heard amazing things about Micallef’s exotic Ylang In Gold.









There is also, apparently, a remake of Caron’s classic Nocturnes (1981) which has just been released.

The original, an aldehydic mandarin/stephanotis/vetiver/vanilla, is by far my favourite Caron to wear on myself (you should smell the base notes on a winter’s morning, glinting and magical as crystalline sunlight on snow), though (un)fortunately this wasn’t included in the package of samples I received. I wonder what they have done with that one; perhaps it is better I don’t smell it……


Filed under Carnation, Flowers, Perfume Reviews, Ylang Ylang

37 responses to “PIU BELLODGIA + MY YLANG by CARON (2013)

  1. Cath

    We really do like the same perfumes. I’m an ylang ylang lover too, and can’t get enough of Guerlain’s AA ylang vanille. I think I have 3 or 4 back up bottles 😉
    Now you make me want to try drinking it… The essential oil that is, not the perfume.
    Another heady ylang scent is Mahora. Why oh why are all those beauties discontinued? And replaced by fruity toilet freshener-like scents. UGH!!!

    • Yey, I thought I was the only person in the world who liked Ylang Vanille. It is so sun-kissed and creamy in summer I adore it. I admit there is a certain plastickness to it at times, but tant pis, je l’aime quand meme!

      As for Mahora, they DO make Mayotte (the renamed Mahora…and they were still selling it in Tokyo last time I looked…….)

      • Cath

        I’ll have to go to Isetan in Osaka, they have all the Guerlain exclusives, at ridiculous prices of course. I have never heard the name Mayotte.
        I also need to check Caron. They said they “might” have Tabac Blond from May. That one I will get, at whatever price. It’s number one on my want list now.

      • It is an amazing perfume. A REAL perfume.

      • A perfume fairy just sent me some Mahora now Mayotte. Can’t wait to sniff it!

      • Strange synchronicity!

        I wonder if it is as heavy, thick and tropical as the original, which was a kind of Frangipani Samsara. Ma-whora indeed….

      • Ma-whora? Snort and giggle! I have nothing to compare it too, but I will let you know if it has a touch of the decadently indecent.

      • To be honest, as much as I enjoy Mahora, it is not the most intelligent of perfumes. It smells like an over bronzed rich woman in Antigua who has boozed away too many brain cells….

        > Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2013 18:26:04 +0000
        > To: opoponax8@hotmail.com

      • Now I totally can’t wait to smell it! 🙂

      • Cath

        Over bronzed rich woman in Antigua who has boozed away too many brain cells….LOL.
        I wonder what that says about me who loves Mahora. I have Casper-like pale skin and only drink on occasion. Hmmm. Maybe the picture you paint is what I am aspiring at??? Or am I compensating with perfume for what I’m lacking?
        Maybe I’ll make Mahora my SOTD for tomorrow. I’m still waiting to get any kind of reaction from my colleagues, but so far nothing. I can wear whatever I want. Woohoo!!

      • I was aware of how rude this was as I wrote it (knowing you love it) BUT after all I was only trying it on myself!

      • Cath

        I wasn’t shocked or anything, I thought it was funny. I’m not offended in any way. Don’t worry about it. Hugs from Casper who wants to be tan. 😀

      • I didn’t think you were shocked. But you know I write without thinking!

    • And of course, generally speaking, one should never take essential oils internally, especially if they are of the toxic variety (eucalptus, tea tree and so on). However, ONE drop of ylang in a bottle of champagne is fine (and very exciting…)

    • By the way, when you smell Inflorescence, you will die, especially if it becomes popular…

  2. One drop of ylang ylang essence in champagne? Decadent indeed, my dear Narcissus!

  3. Ylang-ylang in champagne? Really? I have to try that! I love both the oil and the drink. 😀

  4. Dubaiscents

    “Calice Becker’s new perfume for Oscar De La Renta Mi Corazon (similar to By Kilian’s Beyond Love, but with a shirtier, ylang ylang twist)” – Oh no, now this is another one I must try! I love Beyond Love and y/y is always high on my list of favorite notes.

    • It’s quite good, but not as expensive (and ‘thus’ not as good perhaps), but quite nice in that rich-woman-in-the-tropics kind of way: I would wear it, but think that it lacks a certain poetry.

  5. brie

    WHAT!!! a remake of Nocturnes? How did I not know about this?

    Curious as to whether or not you have gotten to the sample of 40 Notes Exotic Ylang Ylang?

    • Oh yes, I had forgotten that. Curious indeed and very jungley gardenia I think I thought, but not a creamy ylang….I will do a review of it.

      As for Nocturnes, I can’t believe it. An actual new perfume with the same name, like Miss Dior…..

      I mean it might be ok, as it is apparently an aldehydic thing with a lot of the same notes, but it will certainly not be ‘our’ Nocturnes….

  6. Dear Ginza
    Quite agree with you on these two.
    Nocturnes I have yet to re-try so will hold judgement, I’ve yet to smell the new Aimez Moi, but I fear for it.
    Far be it from me to give business advice, I’m not the mercantile sort, but it seems to me that the problem at Caron is not necessarily its perfumer, but that the house as whole lacks direction. In this respect it reminds me of Guerlain during its interregnum: creative in fits and starts but without cohesion or clarity of purpose. The big problem is that Caron, unlike Guerlain, seems neither to have the budget nor the fan base to ensure that its classics are well maintained and that time is allowed to roll out new releases probably.
    One does wonder, with huge sadness, how much longer the whole thing can rumble on…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • You are right, actually. It is wrong to criticize poor Richard (although he IS the one who is rolling out the latest releases…..)

      Makes every Caron vintage perfume now seem impossibly precious……Aimez Moi remixed? NO. It is such a glorious thing that violet…..

  7. Hmm, I only got as far as sniffing the nozzle of My Ylang – I am a bit of a ylangoholic myself, you see, and always perk up when I see the note – but was not moved to spray it on skin or even card. Then I read a glowing review by another blogger and thought maybe I had missed something. Now, having read your take on it, I think maybe not after all… But I will still give it a sniff if I see it again – though I will be disappointed if there isn’t much ylang in there as you say.

    • I love the expression Ylangholic, and so much of one that reading your comments about the possibility that I may have missed something makes me want to go and smell it again myself even though I have totally dissed it here (I NEVER can’t think of anything to say about something).

      Perhaps it was trying to do Ylang in a more subliminal way; maybe there is something subliminally beautiful about it, but overall it just seemed obvious to me that with a strange, but oddly beautiful, name like ‘Caron My Ylang’ the perfume itself was a wasted opportunity.

      I did like Eau Moheli in a way, though my review was far too positive I think. On further reflection there was much more banality in that scent then I had realized, and yet it does have quite a nicely all encompassing Ylangyness about it.

      Which YY scents do you think are best? I am always on the look out.

  8. I think you are right about Nocturnes…leave well enough alone and stick to your vintage version.

  9. Dearest Ginza
    I agree with everything in this review. Certain critics seem to take a sadistic delight in scorning Caron even when the perfumes are perfectly good. I own some in old and modern versions (pre current IFRA) and challenge some writers who claim they are world’s apart to tell me which is which.
    That said these two are pretty bland. In fact, you are a model of generosity to Piu Bolldogia.
    The new Nocturnes continues the downward slide of that scent, which I would say has been perceptible rather than catastrophic over time (it was after all a work of retro-mania from the off).
    The N’Aimez Moi, however, is little touched and continues to be one of the most under-rated violets out there. Plush, gothic, velvet, teenage horror movie stuff. Wonderful.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Like you, I have sampled the Carons (for some reason I like to smell them at Fortnum and Mason’s), and not found them lacking at all. The Poivre, the Farnesiana, The Narcisse Noir were all intact. And then I have been given a REALLY bad, sharp Nocturnes (pre-formulation) and a savourless Poivre extrait; boxed, in the right bottle, but somehow just lacking what it was meant to have. And so I think there must be different batches, and some kind of inconsistency. As for these new ones……

      • Dearest Ginza
        Did you know that for a long while Caron ran two separate production lines? One in France and one in the US, where perfumes were ‘assembled’ from essences. I only discovered this fact recently looking through old advertisements and have been wondering how long the practice continued and if, indeed, it still goes on.
        That would explain a lot.
        Chanel, I believe, did the same, and ‘For Him’, the US version of ‘Pour Monsieur’ from way back when, I’ve heard was quite different apart from the Anglicisation.
        The odd thing about Caron is that some of the recent(ish) scents are none to bad… Parfum Sacre, Mantaigne (that everyone I think apart from you, me and my mother seems to hate) and N’Aimez Moi being three.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

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