Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Caron En Avion-Review

This review is for the vintage formulation. I can't vouch for the new one, though I haven't heard much grumbling about it.

I should loathe En Avion, but I don't. Everything about it from the resins to the amber, to the sandalwood and orange scream, "Flee" when I see the note pyramid. The only thing here I even marginally like is carnation, and not when it is doused in the 1930's idea of an Oriental. No, based on everything I know about myself and my dislikes, En Avion should have been a scrubber-I expected as much, but in the end I find it interesting enough to keep wearing , admitting that it has seemed like a slightly different perfume with each wear. What's going on here? God only knows.

The first few minutes of En Avion are how can I put this nicely...a little like the apple juice I had to return to Hy-Vee today as it had fermented on the shelf, and started to fizz. You know that sort of  dead but not yet decaying smell fruit can get when the sugars turn to alcohol and no longer resemble whatever fruit it once was? It is a little like that. Not rot, not spoiled, but turning. En Avion smells like something that has turned, but not a "turned" perfume. Anyway, once that burns off you get a lovely hit of carnation that is spicy and fresh without burning your eyeballs out.

I'm curious what En Avion would have smelled like in the 30's. Whatever particular musk is in use here is so tame it wouldn't be detectable had I not been seeking to pin it down. I suspect it would have been more pronounced like other fragrances of the era, but without a sample to compare, I'm just guessing. Where I do smell it, the note is weak-a sort pf synthetic white musk that is only there to support the amber and resins. When it becomes noticeable,  around ten minutes into the perfume, it is momentarily unpleasant, and I find myself wondering what smells so rank before realising it is the perfume. Sniffing again a moment later, it is gone. That seems quite a skilled feat to have a perfume behave this way, but I suspect it has more to do with conditions of the air around me, and my body chemistry.  Even as I adjust to it, I find myself wishing it were a massive hit of castoreum instead. I really do wonder if originally, there was.

Opoponax doesn't last on me. I consider this both a curse and a blessing in disguise, but when I'm trying to understand a fragrance it isn't helpful to have some of the notes take flight (see what I did there?) before I can understand how they behave with others.

As I mentioned earlier, each wear of En Avion has been slightly different for me. Not so different that I wouldn't recognise the perfume, but enough that I am finding it difficult to describe. In the cooler weather, En Avion wears "heavier" which is the exact opposite of what I might expect. Is it grabbing the wool fibres of my clothing better, and mixing with the smell of wool? I don't know. Does my body emit less odour in cool weather to compete with it? Maybe? It certainly is curious, but I won't claim to have any answer that makes sense. The last time I wore it, the rose was dominant which I hardly detected in the summer heat.

Vintage samples of En Avion are still floating about on the various decanting sites, but the vintage bottles are getting expensive. My understanding is that En Avion has undergone several reformulations over the years, and it is hard to know just what vintage you are getting. I might seek out a few others for the sake of comparison because this perfume might not be a favourite I couldn't live without, but it is interesting enough that I would like to explore it a bit more. It absolutely isn't, "Me." I would never reach for En Avion unless I was testing it for the blog, and I feel a bit strange wearing it out in public. That said, it is a completely accessible perfume by modern standards-something many of the 30's creations are not. There's nothing in En Avion that would make you think, "Whoa, what the hell is THAT?!" Guerlain Vega, Lentheric Shanghai-those are perfumes where you wonder what the hell is going on (mothballs and fried kidneys aren't my idea of what a perfume should smell like) and whether you're too ignorant to appreciate these, "masterpieces." En Avion won't do that to you. It might smell like your eccentric auntie that brought the used tea bag from breakfast out to dinner and then ordered a pot of hot water to save money, but she was sweet and kind of fun in a kooky way.

I have to be honest, Caron isn't my favourite house. I appreciate their skill, and the quality of the perfumes but they never made me crave anything. If their entire line disappeared tomorrow it would be sad, but I wouldn't be devastated.

Notes According to Fragrantica:
Carnation, rose, neroli, orange, amber, lilac, orange blossom, opoponax, musk, sandalwood.

En Avion is certainly a perfume worth trying if only because of the history associated with the house, and the quality of the materials in it. A good carnation scent is always worth having experience with, and this is a very nice one. There's nothing, "Cheap" smelling (in both senses of the word) about En Avion. Whether that is enough to make me want to wear it is another story. At this point, it isn't love, but I am definitely intrigued.


Bibi said...

Never tried En Avion.
I've heard it is a lot like Habanita or Tabac Blond.
Always wanted to try Or et Noir (1949) due to it's swank bottle & interesting notes- rose sprinkled with geranium, lilac, carnation, and deepened with oak moss.

Mim said...

I wear the current formulation and it's one of my favourites. It's got a strange metallic quality, which fits well with its 'aviation' theme. It's quite a 'cold' perfume to me, one of the more remote ones like Mitsouko, a perfume that doesn't need other people to like it.

Goody said...

I've never smelled Tabac Blond, but I'm almost certain I would love it. Thanks for the reminder to seek out a decant.

I think you nailed it with the observation it doesn't need others to like it.