Caron – Parfum Sacré

Caron – Parfum Sacré

caron Perfumes Parfum Sacre There are those loves which we know will endure forever. Such is the beauty of this peppery rose-inspired fragrance by Caron. But where Caron’s Rose is simple and Marni is sheer and evanescent, Parfum Sacré positively smolders, bringing new depths to the pepper-rose combination.

As the vintage advertisement for Caron perfumes at left attests “What is seduction if not a man, a woman and a Caron perfume?” While the fragrance’s name references the sacred, Parfum Sacré is nothing if not sensual.

Though Parfum Sacré opens with a burst of lively, citrusy pepper and spices, like many Caron fragrances, it is perfectly blended to create an more of an overall impression. Despite its spicy opening, Parfum Sacré is as warm and enveloping as a lover’s embrace. The presence of rose lends a velvety texture to the underlying woods and spices, elements which on their own can often be perceived as dry.

Though vanilla and floral notes make an appearance, it is only to support the romance between rose and spices. While the distinct Caron drydown is recognizable, it remains enrobed in the warm, dark rose, adding a hint a smoky drama.

While both the extrait and Eau de Parfum have impressive lasting power, they wear fairly close to the skin, making for an intimate yet luxurious fragrance experience. While the vintage versions have more complexity and depth (especially the extrait which is truly magical) the reformulated version available today is a reasonably close facsimile and worth seeking out for those seeking an elegant and unusual rose-tinged oriental.

Notes: Vanilla, Myrrh, Civet, Cedarwood, Lemon, Pepper, Mace, Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood

Cartier – Eau de Cartier Concentree

Cartier – Eau de Cartier Concentree

Cartier Eau de Cartier Concentree_100ml_EdT

Following its launch of Eau de Cartier in 2001, Cartier followed up with a related fragrance, not so much a flanker as a reinforced version of the original. Released in 2002, perfumer Christine Nagel amplified certain of the aspects of the original with the addition of spice notes and, as the name implies, intensifying the concentration. While the original Eau de Cartier was an excellent fragrance, there was some disappointment surrounding its lasting power. In fact, perhaps the only criticism I had of the original was its sillage and longevity, both of which are fairly minimal, but then again it is marketed as an “Eau”.

While Eau de Cartier Concentree comes off as slightly more intense than its predecessor, the general structure of the original remains intact. Eau de Cartier Concentree starts off with a burst of yuzu, a citrus fruit somewhere between a grapefruit and a mandarine. Concentree is enhanced with coriander, giving the opening a bit more “oomph” than the original. At its heart, the fragrance takes on an aqueous floral scent, with a subtle green, medicinal tang from the violet leaves and lavender.

The drydown takes on a considerably more intimate feel, with a deliciously warm, slightly salty, woodsy finish. Concentree feels like a master of disguise, as the fragrance maintains a fresh aspect despite the introduction of patchouli and warm amber.  I have seen the fragrance marketed in different stores as a men’s and women’s fragrance. Needless to say, Eau de Cartier makes an excellent unisex fragrance.


Notes: yuzu, coriander, bergamot, violet notes, musk, lavender, cedarwood, patchouli and amber

Serge Lutens – Iris Silver Mist

Serge Lutens – Iris Silver Mist


There are certain perfumes which so perfectly capture the essence of a particular flower that they achieve a level of cult status that makes it nearly impossible for other fragrances to contend with. For the deep velvety rose, there is Guerlain’s Nahema. For the lovely tuberose, there is Fracas by Robert Piguet. And until I am fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of the mythic Iris Gris by Jacques Fath, there is no single perfume which so fully captures the essence of iris as well as Iris Silver Mist.

Iris Silver Mist was a collaboration between Serge Lutens and Maurice Roucel, the nose behind Hermès 24, Faubourg, and Musc Ravageur from Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. The story goes that Lutens pestered his nose to devise the consummate iris – and Roucel reciprocated by creating a fragrance incorporating every iris note available – an iris to end them all. The result is fairly magical, like witnessing the plant’s evolution through all its stages of growth. Iris Silver Mist starts out with a rooty, carrot-like note that is all iris bulbs, vegetal and earthy with a slightly spicy snap. As the fragrance evolves, we make our way up out of the earth, along the sharp, crisp green stalk of the plant. Once it is warmed by the skin, the floral aspect becomes more prominent and we are treated to the iris flower in all its splendor: metallic, dusty, powdery, soft and slightly ghostlike, with hints of its green stem and soil-covered bulb hovering in and out of focus.

Although Roucel may have taken direction from Lutens with respect to the creation, the fragrance speaks to me of another perfume house. While Iris Silver Mist certainly shares some of the bold characteristics of other perfumes in the Lutens line, it felt like their version of a Guerlain, though perhaps with a touch of irony. Iris Silver Mist has good longevity, though its sillage is lighter than many of Luten’s other creations. Many Serge Lutens fans often comment that his perfumes come on too strong when sprayed as opposed to dabbed, and this may be one of the exceptions. While Iris Silver Mist comes in one of the gorgeous “bell jars”, I personally felt compelled to decant it, so I could spray with abandon. Breathtaking.

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Notes: iris, clove, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, white amber, labdanum, musks, benzoin, incense.

Shiseido – Feminite du Bois

Shiseido – Feminite du Bois – A Twilight Walk Through an Enchanted Forest


When encountering new fragrance releases, I am often tempted to “edit” the formula to suit my liking. A little oakmoss here, a touch of civet there and voila, the fragrance would be perfect. With the exception of certain houses which continue to produce thoughtful, quality fragrances, the current “race to release” phenomena has resulted in a number of momentary fragrances which are not likely to withstand the test of time, let alone the next marketing launch. It is during these times that I re-trench and seek out those golden standards who await me like so many old friends.

Even more frustrating is the alternate scenario: perfumes so sublime as to be nearly mythical in their compositions which mysteriously vanish from the shelves, driving us to scour the dark corners of the internet to seek out lost treasures. One of these treasures (of which I will freely admit to having a secret horde) is Shiseido’s Feminite du Bois. For our French speakers, and those who do not mind reading subtitles, here is Serge Lutens himself discussing the reformulation issued under his brand name.

Launched in 1992 as a collaboration between Christopher Sheldrake, Pierre Bourdon and Serge Lutens this groundbreaking scent ranks highly in my list of fragrance perfection. And yet… I cannot help but wish for one tiny change. While the name Feminite du Bois aptly describes the perfume’s highly successful and innovative transformation of cedarwood into a beguiling feminine scent, the name does not in any way prepare you for the magic and beauty of this composition.

Experiencing Feminite du Bois for the first time is much like a twilight walk through an enchanted forest. The fragrance opens with a dusky scent of spices, an inviting delicate breeze of cardamom, ginger and cinnamon, beckoning you deeper into the forest. The dark quality of these opening notes is rendered in a shadowy manner, a gentle whisper of the exotic wonders that await you.

As you make your way slowly through the warm dark opening notes, you suddenly smell light blossoms of orange, violet, and rose on the breeze, each coming together to form an impression of tiny flowers carving out a space in the forest floor. In keeping with Shiseido’s minimalist aesthetic, the floral notes are subtle and silky. Moving closer in, you notice a small gathering of trees, each bearing perfectly ripe peaches and plums, the fragrance of which catches on the breeze and makes its way to you. Animals are drawn to the soft sweetness as well, and you detect a soft honey note and remnants of beeswax as its inhabitants eagerly seek out the source of the sweetness. All of these scents here in the quiet of the forest lull you into a light dream and you stand for a moment, just breathing in the beautiful warmth, when suddenly you see her, the Lady of the Wood.

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She has stood there all along, watching you as you made your way through the dusky paths, silently beckoning you with the warmth of woods and the slight musky wetness of the forest so as not to startle you with her presence. As you stand there beholding her, you are awed by her stealth, subtlety and beauty, and you are without words. For she is a wonder to behold.

Spicy Woods

Notes: cedarwood, orange blossom, peach, honey, plum, beeswax, clove, cardamom, and cinnamon.