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Number 3 / Le 3ème Homme / The Third Man (1985)
by Caron

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Number 3 / Le 3ème Homme / The Third Man information

Year of Launch1985
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 606 votes)

People and companies

HouseCaron
PackagingPierre Dinand
Parent CompanyAles Group
Parent Company at launchA.H. Robins

About Number 3 / Le 3ème Homme / The Third Man

Created in 1985 and inspired by the title of the film directed by Carol Reed, Le 3ème Homme by Caron is a tribute to the elegant man played by Orson Welles.

Number 3 / Le 3ème Homme / The Third Man fragrance notes

Reviews of Number 3 / Le 3ème Homme / The Third Man

The legacy of Ernest Daltroff and his exactingly traditional perfume style was evident at Caron even years after his death, and having made only 2 very iconic masculine fragrances since their 1904 inception up to the point Number 3 (1985) was named and released, Caron had a tall order to serve. Pour Un Homme De Caron (1934) was Daltroff's own homage to the lavender-scented dandy of the late 19th century, giving guys an "official" masculine lavender they didn't have to sneak into the women's perfume counter to buy. Yatagan (1976) was a fierce green leather chypre from Vincent Marcello in the burly 70's convention that was very much against the genteel grain Daltroff set with Pour Un Homme, so it makes some sense that Caron would return to the style they helped set during Daltroff's lifetime with Number 3. Richard Fraysse, head nose at Caron at the time did most of the composing here, with the help of little-known perfumer Akiko Kamei, created a lush floral fougère of early 20th century design, bolstered with the bold spiciness of oriental tones to make it appropriately loud for the powerhouse age of the 1980's. Number 3 is a mature gentleman's scent with hints of romanticism, and although not a full oriental, was a slight presage to Calvin Klein Obsession for Men (1986), which would take a similar romantic but office-safe direction, just with sweeter and richer tones. What amazes me most about a fragrance like this is the fact that it sits squarely in feminine realms in regard to traditions surrounding the ingredients used in it's composition, but literally because it's a fougère "pour homme", all is seemingly forgiven even by the staunchest of manly men despite how actually gender-neutral it smells, much like the preceding Pour Un Homme de Caron.

Number 3, or Le Troisemme Homme/The Third Man de Caron (three names for the third scent), was partly named after the Orson Welles film and like Pour Un Homme De Caron, is meant to carry the same level of calm elegance. The opening therefore is the trademark rounded French lavender found in the debut Caron masculine, but rather than swaddled in just oakmoss, civet, tonka, and vanilla, it's dressed to the nines with anise, rosemary, and bergamot in the top, to make it a bit more resonant in a tenor pitch rather than the baritone hum of Pour Un Homme. This is just the start however, as we move quickly into cinnamon-sprinkled carnation, jasmine, rose, and geranium. It's that floral dandy heart touched with manly spice which keeps Number 3 straddling the 1980's and 1880's, with a "fern-like" green touch of nutty vetiver alongside the florals to keep Number 3 from feeling too flamboyant. The base is pure Caron richness just like Pour Un Homme, with coumarin, vanilla, and an oakmoss bite carrying over, augmented into an 80's hard rock power chord with ambrette-style musk, not the laundry stuff you'd usually expect. Patchouli and cedar make a show to maintain that fougère accord, but there are no animalic traces outside that musk note, making Number 3 remarkably tame in a decade ruled by castoreum, styrax, and civet overdoses in the men's fragrance segment. Sillage is throbbing but of medium radiance, while longevity is stellar, so you'll never need to worry about reapplication. This kind of fragrance also has amazing potential on a lady, much like alluded to above, since it's florals, musk, amber, and vanilla are very agreeable to the feminine sensibility. It's true that not many lavender-heavy fragrances make their way into the women's sphere these days outside some things from Chanel, but the lavender here is honestly lighter and much more mixed-down than usual, being more of an overture for the rest of the composition rather than the main body.

What I find most interesting about Number 3 is how it sits squarely between rich orange and lavender orientals like Aramis JHL (1982) or Jaïpur Homme (1998), and fruity floral fougères like Zino Davidoff (1986) or Lapidus Pour Homme (1987), yet also be so distinctly it's own animal because of that wonderfully-French top hat and cane aesthetic Caron seems able to do so well when they set their minds to it. Granted, their other more avant-garde male creations like Yatagan and L'Anarchiste (2000) have been met with mixed reactions and thus are about as infamous as their more-traditional fare is famous, but they're not a house which makes "just okay" fragrances like modern rivals Calvin Klein or Dolce & Gabbana, so it's expected. Number 3 is a timeless well-rounded and multifaceted floral fougère that was nearly a classic upon release, and we're lucky to still have it in the 21st century, as most of it's later rivals have met discontinuation, but here the Third Man sits, waiting to become the new signature of the next unsuspecting guy looking for something unique and mature. I'd say keep this one for fall through spring, as it's a bit too warm for summer use and could be cloying, much like it's older brother Pour Un Homme. Vintage version are warmer and richer with oakmoss, and heavier use of tonka too, while newer production is actually superior to my nose, since the florals are allowed to come through more, and the base is a tad sharper, with the tonka and vanilla toned down to be less-cloying, so don't drive yourself too crazy over a 1985 survivor bottle unless that kind of thing is your fetish. Very well done!
19th September, 2018 (last edited: 24th September, 2018)
nice clean citrusy mossy composition.lavender give it a flowery accord beside citrus make it fresh soapy while oak moss and vetiver give a mature earthy feel to it.it`s a hi quality juice
29th January, 2018
What a great carnation vanille.. I like layering it up with heavy musk as well.
11th December, 2017
What everyone writes us true. An absolutely gorgeous classic. Super longevity for me.
25th November, 2017 (last edited: 19th April, 2018)
*****
Top:

The opening is a flurry of yellow-green notes with an underlying hint of pink: some sweet and tangy lemon (or so I read, yuzu) supported by orange (both bergamot and mandarin are listed somewhere, but I’m not exactly sure... the effect is a syrupy citric medley). There are some sharper edges too: likely something mildly anise-like to my nose (it might be tarragon), establishing a musty barbershop fern accord with mutedly sweet, natural lavender that you may recognize as coming from the legendary Caron Pour un Homme, with its raw edges softened towards soapiness.

Heart:

Sharp, even strident greenness of coriander and vetiver come to the fore after the initial top notes settle, but dominating the heart thematically are flowers: a peppery carnation paired with a sticky jasmine note, the latter of which seems to have a notable indolic facet (this means the hint of body-odour that lurks in ripe white flowers). This could be an illusion (the musk asserting itself, or, as Thomaso7, above, suggests: civet?) Anyway, the skank is more insinuated than spelled out, sensually suggestive of sex (cooling sweat or saliva on skin) rather than skat, and melds well with the not-quite-dirty musk used as a base by Caron in both Pour un Homme and Yatagan... a rind of candied citrus and a ghost of powdery sweetness still evident in the skin scent.

Base:

The smoothly played base is an old-school sandal, tonka bean and musk. My bottle doesn't list oakmoss, but it does smell mossy. Clove and cedar add an edge of camphor to the tart-sweet/cool-warm mix. Every stage of this fragrance is bevelled, translucent and luminous.

When all is said and done, the smell on the sleeve of my shirt produces a mix of soothing beauty and uplifting keenness braced with just a little old-school machismo. This results in some cognitive dissonance! The persistent tang of the yuzu opening seems like a stimulating freshness just out of reach, the heart an almost femme tenderness of flowers in the midst of a sultry summer evening mixed in with that body-conscious breath of skank. Despite its heavy use of citrus, it’s not a ‘light’ fragrance, but somewhat aggressive in its density. It feels complex yet linear, and, with its solid projection and excellent longevity, can be a little relentless if sprayed too heavily. Lightly applied, its quality shines.

Objective:

As a citrus-lavender fougere, it is datable but too well made and blended to be reducible to a cliché. I would say it relevantly transcends the limits of its origin and genre, especially in the age of reformulations. Sometimes this reminds me of something very vintage (Eau Sauvage, Chanel Pour Monsieur, or Azzaro Pour Homme for instance), and other times it recalls the risky approach to masculinity that was emerging in the late 70's and early 80's, assertively masculine, but also creative, with a hint of vulnerability.

To sum up, this is a clashing-yet-smooth, stealthily addictive and highly dependable hybrid of an aromatic citrus chypre, a spicy/soapy/green fougere with a heady dose of woody-floral-musk and a deftly delivered hit of skank.
It makes me want to reach for stylish, well-tailored clothes and a cigarette (and I don't even smoke.)

Like others in the Caron 'Holy Trinity' the ingredients are of good quality and very well blended so as to continue giving gratification deep into the well-paced drydown; there's really not one false note or suggestion of cost-cutting from the bottle to the sprayer to every phase of its development. If you are one of those people who cares about longevity and sillage, my bottle (which is a few years old now, a 2014 or 15 batch, and has opened up a bit) has very strong projection and superb longevity. Something I'd confidently put in powerhouse territory (by today's standards, certainly), although I prefer a light wearing myself.

Subjective:

Like all the Caron masculines I've tried, it takes some getting used to… This one ('number three') maybe most of all, but it's quickly becoming my favourite. I find its social complexities (gender-bending or tough-yet-sensitive? Come-hither or barbershop?) suit the film-noir ethos of the film, "The Third Man," with its quality of mystery and moral ambivalence, quite well. The overall feel is best held together by purposeful tailoring (choose a suit that fits you well enough that you can slouch in it and still look elegant), while its mix of dissonant notes makes the most sense to me in cool weather. Wear it in selfish reverie and make like nothing’s going on.
13th November, 2017 (last edited: 22nd February, 2018)
A very cleaver masterpiece!!!!
Been meaning th try this for some time and I finally ordered a bottle after rereading the Luca Turin review, and as much as I agree with the outcome of the review it does not do it justice. 3rd man starts off with a sour lemon blast which is very smooth for an opening especially with it being an 80s fragrance, then it turns a touch spicy with the clove coming in, I also detect a bit of dirtiness at this stage but is kept far enough back to not peturb anyone, it's also has a deep creamy sharpness which stays with the evolution of the fragrance up until the sweet spicy Jasmine base comes in. The transition of this perfume is seamless and if you don't sniff yourself every minute you may miss it. At times I do get a whiff of the dry down of vintage Bijan and a mild whiff of pour Monsieur by Chanel it also has a manly coco Chanel vibe but this is only when looking for it. This is not a feminine fragrance imho but it is pretty but in a macho way. The clever bit about this fragrance is that the perfumer has taken an 80's rich decadent oriental and added a touch of masculine barbershop vibe then blitzed it to make it silky smooth, the perfumer has also made a fragrance that at times you want to save for special occasions then at times it feels like a jeans a T scent on a rugged man and for this I applaud the craft gone into this as you can sense when wearing it this fragrance wasn't a creation of putting lots of nice smells together and BAM!!!! this is a scent that has been thought about and designed long before creating it. make no mistake if this was labelled Chanel or Tom Ford it would be 3 times the price but for some reason Caron doesn't get the headlines that it deserves because the quality is right up there with the best.
26th August, 2017 (last edited: 27th August, 2017)

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