I am usually attracted to - and fascinated by - controversial scents so naturally I became quite curious about Caron's L'Anarchiste after having read all the buzz about it online. I also intended to buy it blind - not that I had a choice, as Caron products are practically non-existent in Hungary, not even in better-equipped perfumeries have they heard about the brand. Today, my girlfriend completely surprised me with a 100 ml bottle straight from Amazon, and I decided to review it as critically as possible, and try to go mythbuster on the buzzwords "smells like blood", "vampire juice", "gunmetal" and "unwearable".
First of all: the packaging and presentation are striking. I pulled the box out from a Burger King paper bag in our kitchen (it was shoved in next to a couple of burgers as part of the surprise), and I literally stopped mid-movement when I looked at how elegant and well-executed the stuff looks like. The paper, the type-setting, the embossed Artaud quotation in the inner sleeve, not to mention the bottle itself - even more expensive perfumes have never given me that impression. I literally felt like I was coming out of an expensive luxury boutique with the box in my hand. Two thumbs up!
About the scent - I agree that a lot of the reviewers overdo the myth a bit. The first whiff initially struck me as aggressive, in-your-face and crispy, but nothing unbearable. It reminded me a bit of old-school Italian after shaves I used to smell as a kid, a little bit like Malizia or Pino Silvestre. Citrusy, fresh, a little off-beat, but at the heart really unique. The green, crispy notes started to subside almost immediately, and after five minutes or so, the stuff started to work, leaving the orange (which indeed does smell like apple a bit) - and the menthol. Something about the menthol note: maybe I am unaccustomed to it in perfumes (I only use Le Male that has any in it), but for me this thing RADIATES it. Especially on clothes - it's been hours, and the menthol note simply does not leave, even though I'm at the base notes now!
After the top notes have gone, it's interesting to see how the scent gets warmer and warmer, and also more spicy - though the cinnamon note is really subtle and well-blended, so it's not as in-your-face as I thought it would be. I think that's the contrast between the hot and icy notes that most reviewers describe as "disturbing", and although there certainly is a metallic tinge, it reminds me of cold aluminium or iron instead of "blood", "gunmetal" or "rust". It's also almost imperceptible, along with the distinct but well-blended "wood smoke" characteristic - if you look for it, it's pretty much there, but it doesn't stand out at all. It's also too weird and still not sweet enough to be called gourmand. I definitely don't percept it as "apple pie filling", let alone anything edible. This is also the darkest, most "predatory" phase of the juice.
Base notes are slightly musky and have a good measure of cinnamon - and still the menthol - it has a cool, fresh, slightly metallic quality, verging on floral a bit, I can't help thinking about black tea leaves. It's also a bit powdery and definitely dry, but maybe the powder's just my imagination.
I have yet to test it tomorrow for longevity as my nose is getting overwhelmed with the scent, but my girlfriend keeps on telling me how all our three rooms plus the kitchen smells of me wearing this (with all windows open), so the sillage must be insane. I keep losing tracks of scents after a couple of hours when testing, but here I can still distinctly feel it everywhere, I think it's somewhere on the level of Le Male's strength.
What's true about L'Anarchiste is that it's truly a one-of-a-kind scent, there's nothing around that resembles it. I still think that it's not the most rebellious one - though certainly bold - and anyone with a little out-of-line attitude can pull it off with little difficulty (okay, maybe it's just me, so test it first if you can). It's certainly classy, playful and a little-bit two-faced - an excellent brew!
(I'm going to update in the next few days after I'm through with street testing :))