A perfume from another world and time, En Avion was created in 1929 by Caron to celebrate the birth of flight.
This spiced, solitary cuir is an extremely interesting and unique perfume that doesn’t resort to cliché, a subtle evocation of an independent lady from that era, a flapper who has taken flying lessons, and goggles and hat firmly on, is ready to take to the skies.
You can almost smell the cool leather of the pilot seat as she climbs aboard, breath visible on this cold winter afternoon; the clocks and dials of the wooden lacquered dashboard.
A smooth, rich, light grey scent, dry and cool; the principle notes of leather and violet, carnation and a dark orange blossom combined irreverently with spices and old-fashioned oakmoss: perhaps a difficult scent to wear today – especially in vintage – unless you are blessed with the right be-damned-with-it panache.
If you can find a good batch of En Avion, though, with its elegant, piquant aridity, you will have the enticing possibility of wearing a scent that is taut, melancholic and beautifully strange.
The most exciting thing on childhood summer holidays was our enthusiastic exploring of the dunes. I loved the sea and the beach, the sun in my eyes, and especially swimming underwater, but there was always something, up close in the strange roots of broom and other beach plants; dampened, insect-laden, away from the dry ease of the sand granules, that always perturbed, drew my brother and I in; into those dark, cool, salinated shadows. The strange, tunnelled canopies where we would stop arguing for a while and just crawl along together, stopping to examine this and that, our senses and imaginations stimulated.
As soon as I sprayed on Eau de Moheli by Diptyque, it felt very familiar to me, and I immediately got some of this feeling again. A fresh, commercial summer floral it may be, but there is also something quite potently tropical there (despite that freshness); the haze of the midday sun atop the dunes, the plants, alive and drinking in sun, just being…
The idea behind Eau de Moheli was apparently to encapsulate the whole ylang ylang tree and its surroundings; an in situ, ‘solar’ take by perfumer Olivier Pecheaux: the scented vibrations of the tree and its roots; the leaves and the flowers, and the scent, to me at least, is not ylangishly identifiable straight way (it is certainly not a ylang ylang soliflore).
Yes, there is ylang, and orange blossom perhaps, but all is overlayered with a fuzzy, peppery, gingery incense accord that twists the usual ylang profile into something slightly more savoury, arboreal. The result is quite pleasant, and it immediately pressed my mental ‘like’ button with no hesitation, a citrussy cologne-like brightness chiming nicely with its uplifting island florality. It is familiar (a ylang-ish Chasse Aux Papillions, perhaps, if slightly more feral), and certainly nothing spectacular, but it is also, on a hot summer’s day, enjoyable, comforting. It is the kind of perfume I would put on early on a hot summer’s morning: that shimmering, unfurling, time, early, before the heat sets in, when you feel the promise of the day, the flowers about to rise.
Oops : bird in my champagne glass…
A lovely, witty tuberose that has equal proportions of fresh tea rose for balanace, Acqua Di Tuberosa, available only in minature, is a giddily cheerful, sweet summer scent, perfect for someone who veers towards the frivolous; at a garden party, glass of bubbly in hand, laughing, to a sunny, glittering backdrop of birdsong.
Yesterday I wrote about the wonderful experience that is the Shinagawa flea market in Tokyo, and I forgot to mention one of the scents that I once found there….
And I was thinking. Are these vintage classics that I am so excited to find in their original incarnations mere museum pieces; dusty relics that smell so dated they become laughable?
Or can classic perfumes still be sexy? Can they appeal in the modern age?
It would seem so. One Sunday, a few years ago, our dinner guests, Penny and Terry, sampled the myriad delights of the perfume cabinet and its latest acquisitions. And despite all the goods on offer, the perfume that got the unanimous wow was, to my total amazement, an old, pre-formulation edition of that timeless classic, Femme. Neither of these two is old-fashioned in their tastes (Terri goes for fresh, modern tuberose and wears…
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There is something quite brazen about calling a posh girl’s rose scent ‘Sloane Rose’, a perfume bafflingly described by its perfumers as ‘resolutely out of time’.
Perhaps she is. Stealing outside at her friend Rosine’s estate; pinching blooms; self-aware and cannily barefoot in the dawn. A delicate, blackberry-dewed rose, with succulent petals and a strawberry creamed wink in the underglow, as the lights in the house remain off and she revels for the moment in the freedom and privilege she was born into:
An effect, light and rather pleasing ma petite choux fleur, produced by rose of manila, orange; Scandinavian violet; a touch of cedar; and Chenaï jasmine sambac.
With its crisp opening, as the orange and the jasmine clasp the stems of this fresh morning English rose, the scent is simple, fruity and…
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