For me this is a slightly rosy, herbal, scent, drying to a smoky leather that is very light. Most interesting for Caron, but nicely done.
The scent is very light and has no longevity, thus the neutral review.
Top notes: Coriander, Peach, Neroli, Bergamot
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Muguet, Orris, Carnation
Base notes: Sandalwood, Vetiver, Tonka, Musk, Amber, Civet
I am reviewing the vintage pure parfum.
Starts out with sharp, aldehydic, classic florals. Very pretty. Then slowly, a smoky leathery note of isobutyl quinoline combined with now-obsolete nitromusks emerges. I don't care for this rough, smoky/leathery accord which was so popular in several famous classic fragrances, but I know that many find it interesting and even love it. I enjoyed the lovely floral beginning but did not care for the rather smoky/leathery drydown.
This smells like Solaris. Moony, crepuscular, vaguely outerspace. Space exploration was the inspiration behind the name "Infini," but I could readily smell the suggestion of other worlds in an 80s pdt and another parfum formulation before learning of this background.
Smokey like a contained electronic desktop bonfire of the vanities. A similar feeling to vintage Miss Balmain parfum; a jolie laide androgyny, futurism, and a suggestion of the texture of soft leather or suede--not the smell of leather itself here but the sensation of smoothness and toughness at once. Infini's aldehydes are much more bubbled and glassy than rich and soapy.
Tonka teleports in and out at random intervals in the drydown, giving flesh to a luscious, expensive, and medicinal vanilla that has nothing to do with the omnipresent gourmand vanilla of today. Caron perfumes handle narcissus and white florals unlike any other house: with a full force that unearths stark beauty, eschewing preciousness and softness in favor of visible brushstrokes.
Even though my two versions of Infini are not of Daltroff's original creation, they are classic Caron; a house characterized most of all by the olfactive embodiment of intelligence as opposed to Guerlain's show of sensualism and luxury (an exception being Mitsouko) or Chanel's market corner on the odor of elegance. Of course the typical pitting of Guerlain vs. Caron misses the point; each does something so well that the other cannot, and Infini is the android that the wooly Guerlinade could never dream.
Although I have seen and smelled just about every fragrance Caron has produced when I visited their Avenue Montaigne flagship store in Paris three decades ago, I have never seen the original 1912 version of Infini. I wish I had, though. According to the legend, Caron took 15 years to perfect that fragrance. However, I am quite familiar with the splendid 1970 reedition:
Top: Jasmine, narcissus, lily of the valley, aldehydes
Heart: Iris, lilac, tuberose, rose
Base: Vetiver, musc, sandalwood, amber, tonka beans
Infini is one of the most modern fragrances Caron has ever made. It is surprisingly light and slightly aquatic which is rather unusual for an aldehyde floral. Some fragrances in that category can be heavy and heady. Not Infini. This wonderfully feminine fragrance leaves a fresh and subtle trail. I don't understand that "smokey" reference mentioned by some fellow reviewers. Could it be the vetiver? Personally, I sense nothing dark or dry in this fragrance. Unless, of course, there is a new reedition that I have not seen yet which, unfortunately, is a possibilty.
Finally, although it has nothing to do with the quality of any perfume, the bottle used in the 70's and 80's for Infini was a genuine work of art. For some reason, Caron now uses a bland and nondescript generic bottle for some of the classic fragrances. It is a shame, really. I believe that part of the perfume experience is the artistry of the bottle.
There are perfumes, that even if sniffed blindfolded, one immediately classifies as French. Infini is one and it belongs to a group of fragrances where the addition and compounding of elements results in a cloud experience (quite at odds with the J-C Ellena tendency which aims at transparency and clarity). Some claim these perfumes have had their day; I for one am glad they still exist.
Infinity has exquisite balance, a multitude of notes are deployed in perfectly judged quantities making it difficult (and ultimately pointless) to separate them; it has a certain reserve and hauteur; it doesn’t deliver immediate rapture like some other creations from this house, like Parfum Sacre, do.
I for one am glad I have come to Caron late. Their perfumes require an experienced nose; they’re not always aiming for the punchline in the first few seconds like most modern perfumes need to do in order to survive in the mass market.
So what is Infini? A restrained abstract floral with springlike touches (a touch of green from narcissus, the langour and warmth of jasmine and tuberose) cloaked in a wonderfully silken smokiness, sprinkled with antique powders. It rests on comforting woods, of which a buff and soft sandalwood is the most prominent – and appealing – to my nose. Some have noted a somewhat metallic feel, others remark on aldehydes; all true. Its richness rewards contemplation but doesn’t feel heavy.
I am less enamoured of it towards the end of its active life (5-6 hours in) when what is left on my skin smells a bit old and unaired. But at this point the volume has dropped considerably and a reapplication will not skew the experience.