Perfume Review: Caron Tabac Blond and En Avion
Review by Tom
A month or so ago, I got a big selection of Caron samples. Over the next few weeks, I will try to do them justice.
Smelling this one, it's hard to credit that this is from 1919: it smells as fresh as anything coming from any of the niche houses. It starts with an almost acrid smokiness that reminds me of Fumerie Turque, but is almost immediately softened by leather. Not a strong leather, a light glove leather scent: an Hermes bag, not a biker jacket. As the initial smokiness becomes more a delicate tobacco (the "white tobacco" of the name), amber and vanilla join in adding some depth and a hint of sweetness, while the faintest iris and carnation join in as the scent is grounded in musk.
While the scent is not particularly classically "feminine" it does make me think of the sort of woman who can be showing horses in the morning, race cars in the afternoon, and host a ball in the evening for heads of state. The sort of perfectly coiffed "Hitchcock Blonde" that would have been played by Madeleine Carroll or Eva Marie Saint.
Created in 1932 to celebrate the aviatrix: women who took to the skies and captured the imagination of the world. It starts with a powdery woods, clove and carnations. As the scent progresses, the cloves die down, letting the carnations and roses come to the fore. As it dries further a leather comes forward, oddly for a scent that celebrates activities far more dangerous than holding a ball, it's a very soft leather. If I was actually naming these myself, I would have switched them: to me En Avion seems much softer than Tabac Blond; the cloved roses smells of and homey and the leather and woods are less challenging.
These are both lovely, and surprisingly modern. En Avion seems almost to want to take aviatrix and let the men of the '30's know that she is really a woman at heart: she can wrestle that single-engine plane solo over the Atlantic, but she would let you win at bridge. Tabac Blond seems designed to let the men of the 20's know that the lady may be wearing white satin, she is perfectly capable of beating you at anything from poker to polo. Guess which lady I'd like to spend time with?
These two are only available from Caron in Paris siphoned off from giant urns, which is something I would normally bitch about from here to eternity. But since it seems that Caron is one house that keeps these formulations as sacred as they can. Other houses should take a page from them on that.
The first image is from laprincipaldelabisbal.com, the second from allposters.com.