20 ottobre 2014

Caron Pour un Homme (1934-2014)

"You just have to do something simple, and do it the best you can" F. Kurkdjian

Thinking of the olfactory signature of Caron, you can't help but speaking of something imposing, longlasting and full of contrasts. So looking back to the work of a powerful dissonances master like Ernest Daltroff it is quite a surprise the subtle balance and japoniste neatness of Pour un Homme.
Of course edges are there, the rough ones of lavender from Provence. Of course there's the dense warmth of vanilla. After eighty years since its launch though, the formal cleanliness makes of it one of the timeless and avantgarde creations of the brand. So avantgarde it still perfectly fits Francis Kurkdjian words about his vision of contemporary perfumery.

Pour un Homme 1949 advertising
Starting from the bold flacon designed by Félicie Bergaud Wanpouille, Pour un Homme portrays the social changes of the postwar period blurring for the first time the gender boundaries. As women now practiced sports, wearing trousers and parfums à la garçonne in apotecary-like packagings, so men dared to explore out of the handkerchief colognes land. After the war austerity, the recklessness of the Crazy Years loosed the customs and by the end of the '20s not only eccentric figures like Diaghilev and Chaplin felt confident enough to wear more complex and lavish perfumes.

Mixing masculine and feminine elements, a bit top hat, a bit petticoat, Pour un Homme will radically shift the masculine taste also thanks to the pure perfume gesture giving men the pleasure to dab few drops of this oriental whim for a business engagement or an evening at the Opera. Lavender and vanilla set Jicky as an unavoidable touchstone, but Daltroff takes distance from the shockingly promiscuous liberty bestiary of Aimé Guerlain reading it through the more modern rules of Le Corbusier: space, light and order.

The opening of Pour un homme is an ode to lavender exalted in all its shades: fresh as lemon, floral as bergamot, aromatic and almost pungent as rosemary. Soon this blueness fades into an amber golden sea with vanilla and tobacco speaking more of tenderness than of gluttony, of a baby skin dusted in talcum powder more than almonds and crème caramel. Powerhouse scents lovers would surely be disappointed by its skin scent intimacy and relatively short lasting power (3-4 hours on skin).

As for other oldies-but-goldies, the fragrance nowadays has changed for both EU restrictions on raw materials and to make it more up-to-date and stylized in its evolution. Nevertheless its still bears the subtle elegance and a pleasant mix of a rough man and his tender side, a classic flair still speaking to the youngsters thanks also to the many juices drawing inspiration from it, succesful grandsons like Gaultier Le Male (Francis Kurkdjian), By Kilian A Taste of Heaven (Calice Becker) or Prada Amber pour homme (Daniela Andrier).

Speaking of rough, sly men it's impossible not to mention the Apollinaire of french music, Serge Gainsbourg who payed such a charming tribute to Pour un Homme.

Topnotes: lavender, rosemary, lemon, bergamot
Heartnotes: clary sage, rose, rosewood, cedarwood
Basenotes: vanilla, tonka bean, oakmoss, musk

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