This was the first Caron I bought: I sprayed several perfumes on my wrist, wandered around Harrods for a bit, and came back to choose this one. Given the negative reviews of Caron reformulations, I didn't expect this to have any leather notes in it, but merely be a floral oriental. How wrong I was! This starts with balsamic notes floating around soft leather, then graduates to soft florals at the top. (or perhaps the other way round; in any case, there's a whole lot of rich oriental leather going on). More than anything, this scent makes me think 'rich and intellectual': a woman travelling through Europe in the winter during the 1930s, perhaps on the Orient Express, and perhaps reading Tolstoy.
Initially all I am able to experience is a light sweet neroli floating over a harsh carnation/clove note - nothing else, although other reviewers have detected such notes as lilac, violet, anise, rose, amber and musk.
Caron only lists four ingredients: neroli, jasmine, opoponax, and something called "spicy orange accord."
The neroli/carnation combo does settle down to a balanced chypre after a few minutes, and as such, it is beguiling. I imagine this on a cold neck, having just returned from a brisk winter's walk in the park, the increasing warmth of being indoors, creating a Jicky-like aura.
Goodness, talk about jetting straight into the clouds. This perfume has plenty of thrust, catapulting the wearer into a thick, sweet fog of powders, soap, unctuous skin creams and brushed metal. It’s easy to overdose on, but draws me magnetically to its ample bosom of excess.
The impression of its opening burst is of accumulation – like being in the presence of someone who wears the same strong perfume day in day out, so that it has impregnated their jacket in layers of differing age. Seekers of the fresh and clean proceed elsewhere; this perfume was created in the 1920s and despite reformulations smells like something from a distant time.
Of the perfume itself it seems almost pointless to single out notes, so overwhelming is its sweetness at the start. (Sanchez’s nose seems to be completely off when it alights on a ‘lemony rose’.) As it settles, the clovey spike of carnation emerges from the mix, subtly herbal and green at first, until a proper clove comes into view. But all the while rich florals swirl and eddy over a dry, powdery base: there are glimpses of honeyed lilac, heady orange blossom, syrupy rose, all engaged in a furious dance of the molecules with every movement of the wearer. Transporting.
PS: After a couple of hours En Avion, while continuing to smell divine, does subside in volume (as also brightening considerably and returning to soapy abstraction), so don’t let my emphasis on its power put you off trying it.
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When I first wore En Avion, I was overwhelmed by the sort of tactile transport that I have come to associate with Caron extraits. Dense and heady, indeed. I think of the thick cloud within which Venus hides Aeneas when she wishes to render him invisible; or of the concluding lines of the Ode on Melancholy: "His soul shall taste the sadness of her might, / And be among her cloudy trophies hung."
There is a sense that the top notes of En Avion do not float around one, but rather that one floats within them. They press against one from all directions in a combination of cool magnetism and grasping cloud. A great Saturn of neroli is uppermost. Not dustily gaseous, as the real Saturn is, but wet because of menthol and/or anise - it is hard to say which, but the Sage of Caron (my respected friend Larimar) tells me that a fleeting mentholated note is often encountered in perfumes from this era. These top notes are huge, and have a reflective quality reminiscent of a globule of quicksilver. One could dive into this opening, despite its resemblance to a massive sphere.
The next 12 hours are dominated by an intriguing set of accords in which a 'green' note recalling L'Heure Bleue is principal. Anisic flowers. Is anise really there, or is it geranium? Or do the dry rose and sharp carnation side with something else? Who knows? I am mystified by this green note in the heart and base of En Avion, and from which so much of its personality derives. For me, it is a perfect 'black box': aloof, strangerly and disinclined to soften on my skin.
Some people report a mirage of suede in En Avion's heart notes. I fail to register it. Working with leather may have made me less sensitive, rather than more, to its inexact recapitulations.
En Avion is unmistakably a feminine scent. It has been called a 'full-blooded woman'. Personally, I perceive an implacable quality in En Avion, so rarefied that she herself (if one may offer this perfume its plausible gender) is almost abstracted. She does not subscribe to the typical catalogue of human relations. They could not be further from her thoughts. Love? Friendship? The mores and courtesies that are the weft of life? Irrelevant. She is bent on an ambition, mentation, or aspiration; a saint rapt in a private vision, a mathematician absorbed in a lofty reverie. Focused on her object, she will not even look at me. Her ambition is higher, perhaps nobler, perhaps military, perhaps alien. I admire her. She makes me think of Alexander in his Romance, drawn towards the highest boundary of the sky by griffins. But without his longing. She looks at the heavens not with wistfulness, but with resolve.
Cool fervour, harsh serenity, lovely relentlessness - these paradoxical clauses sound more like a description of love, I know. And I could love the woman conjured for me by En Avion - but I would not disturb her. She is unapproachable, not because forbidding, but because her nature is solitary ascent. It is the gravest and least deliberate coquetry imaginable, attracting my interest precisely because of the unbridgeable distance it suggests. I wear En Avion often, wanting to keep that distance close to me.
The drydown is shimmering and faintly sweet - Larimar's description of "soft and sweet skin out at the fresh air and sun" seems perfect. It relaxes slightly, and shows the perfume at its least implacable. 'Bosomy'? I suppose so; but I sense the hard green note until the very end. En Avion, that grave pilotess, does manage a faint, disinterested smile. And then she passes from my ken altogether.
Need I add that En Avion is one of my very favourite perfumes? Its longevity is superb; it is dense, but its coolness makes it wearable in every weather. It rewards attentive study of the difficult (sometimes painful) emotions and stark images it evokes.
All things that truly are sublime contain a suggestion of ugliness. There is no painting, no poem, no song that does not somehow break through to the heights of earthly perfection through some unexpected, discordant detail. The green face of a garishly painted woman half cut off by the frame in a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. The bizarre colour of the sun in a Monet landscape: One stands before it, perplexed, and wonders: However did mere paint capture that, the very essence of illumination? Thus, En Avion. Naturally, as the French say, "les avis sont partages." Personally, I have never been a fan of Caron. When Henri Almeras created "Que Sais-je?" for Jean Patou in 1923, (readers, take note, the Chanel woman was very most certainly not the first to offer perfumes to her couture clients, though she takes credit today for that innovation, along with so very many others, such as the invention of jersey) he explained that in his heart he wished to render the "trouble" of love. Keep in mind, "trouble," in french, translates as a kind of confusion. This specific thing Is what I find perplexing in most all of Ernest Daltroff's compositions. Recently, I found a photo of him: He very obviously would have been sitting at "the Good Russian table" in Thomas Mann's "the Magic Mountain," and quite possibly, he was: To study his facial features, one is struck by a depth of intelligence and the unmistakeable mark of an overactive mind. To me, this neurosis and intellectual over activity are his hallmarks very clearly rendered in each of his fragrant masterpieces. No bottle baring the name "Caron" will ever be insipid or unremarkable. Even the simpler scents, Bellogia or Pour un Homme, are somehow intricate; as intricate as the human mind. En Avion is the textbook illustration of this artistry in molecular structure inhaled through the nose: It evokes so very many things, yet nothing at all that is obvious. It may smell "leathery," but never simply of leather. Other reviewers wax on about cloves and carnation; certainly present here, but somehow only suggested. En Avion is, along with Jicky, perhaps one of the most beguiling scents the world has ever known: At once feminine and masculine, stunningly beautiful and repulsively ugly, of highest born royal blood and secretly born in a barn then left forgotten, En Avion seems to reflect in infinite facets all the highs and lows of life itself. Like it, hate it. Love it, loathe it. Guaranteed you will feel something if you dab some of this on, and live with it for the day. You will feel. You will not just smell. All of us, numb to the transcendent beauty of Heaven that secretly enfolds us wherever we go, we need En Avion....truly, though for some they will be steely and of cutting blades and for others they will be of swan's down and brilliantly coloured plumes, here is a perfume that quite literally will give you wings. Where you go on your flight is for you to decide.
EN AVION is akin to an elegantly executed choreography involving neroli, rose and carnation. No overbearing notes, nothing strident as far as my nose can tell, just a pleasurably smooth ride from take-off to landing. I don't really get any distinct leather accord but this is probably one of those times when the total is greater than the sum of its parts. Do try and get some of it on the fabric of your clothes - it's divine!
******** This review is of the non-vintage parfum ********
I confess that the opening of En Avion is my absolute favorite in perfumery (that I have experienced so far)... it's ravishingly beautiful, daring, sexy and breathtaking.
En Avion in extrait (there is no point in getting the EdPs of a Caron urn fragrance IMO as they are fairly expensive and second class, although the En Avion EdP is rather nice.) is what I call a leather "illusion" as the orange blossom and spicy orange with the greenish rose and dark Caron carnation really create a perfect leather vision after cooking for a while on your skin. I am very picky about my leathers (with very few exceptions they are only real cuir-de-russies), but this is a very satisfying beige soft leather, if you get the idea. En Avion is on the sweeter side, produces initially a lot of sillage (diva-style!), which is also why I usually dab it as it renders the extrait slightly darker in mood and a bit closer to skin. The drydown is again heavenly beautiful as it really resembles soft and sweet skin out at the fresh air and sun and lingers on literally forever. This is both a very old-fashioned classy parfum (also in the way it takes time to develop and progress), but it is timelessly stylish... a highly underrated and maybe today misunderstood crown jewel! It's definitely in my top five!
EN AVION VINTAGE VS. NEW
1990s vs. 2011 extrait
Same rough, splendid opening, same main contributor after the initial burst, which is a green rose to my nose.
Three hours into my wearing I have to confess, my untrained nose does not smell any difference at all. There were short moments I felt the 1990s jus had a slightly more pronounced chypre (oakmoss) tone, then the other moment I felt it was not the case. I don't smell any difference with regard to sweetness in the drydown either. They both progress exactly the same way to me, same pace, same intensity. I could maybe be talked into a nuance more chypre touch of the 1990s extrait, but then, it would make me think about what the fifteen years meant for the sensitive notes that En Avion mainly consists of. Ageing would always bring the chypre undertone slightly more to the foreground IMO (from oils disintegrating...). An average 15 years age difference between the two extraits is not much, but still I'm talking only of nuances here anyway. Same situation for the deep base lingering on, same longevity, same sillage.
I smell turned notes in the opening.
I am very familiar with the 1930s Lanvin classics and as such, Rumeur is my reference chypre and smell of the era's style. This does remind me of Rumeur apart from the orange tree and spicy orange notes, which is probably what I am smelling. This is rather a different fragrance in feel and wear compared to the two newer extraits - a hardcore chypre very much in the style of its time. The orange accord reminds me quite a bit of an old bottle of orange bitters I have, which is the bartender's little helper apart from the Angostura bitters. There was a point I could smell a mentholated fresh note, which I last smelled in 1930s Djedi two weeks ago. It is a note that is not uncommon in these vintage fragrances. I too wonder whether this is an actual note or a sort of chemical reaction in the vintage jus? This does not last and the medicinal, bitter orangey accord remains, a rather linear development overall.
I was in for quite a surprise when after six hours the 1930s extrait, after the chypre predominance had died down, rather closely approximated the sweet intoxicating deep base of the new extrait. Same level of sweetness... so much for the claims that today's extrait was so much sweeter than the 'vintage'.
En Avion in the newer extrait forms is much more a floral oriental to my perception - has always been (I can recognize the chypre character more in its sister fragrance Tabac Blond), whereas the 1930s is very much a classic chypre of its time with the special orange theme.
I think Fraysse is doing an excellent job... if he cheapened the ingredients, as some claim, congratulations, I don't smell it.
However hard I try, I have yet to smell one of those dreaded Caron reformulations!
10th June, 2011 (last edited: 06th August, 2011)
I could not agree more with BayKat in that this scent will make your day truly magical.
It will provide you with hours of pleasure, shaping your day with an infusion of rose, clove, carnation and leather. It does remind me of my grandmother playing the piano in her amazing living room overlooking the village mountains...
This scent is in my eyes what the true art of perfumerie is all about...heaven, I am in heaven...
I bought an 8 ml decant of this blindly, and what a payoff that was! This is my second favorite after Or et Noir.
IMO this doesn't open favorably and you'll have to wait for the top notes to burn off before you'll like it (I get a strong alcohol-like blast). But the dry down is just heavenly. This scent changes throught the day on me, moving from dry to moist, floral to woody, sharp to well-rounded. It just makes the day magical.
This is one of the few scents I will never be without.
I'm hard-pressed to explain why Tabac Blonde gets so much adoration while it's sister-leather fragrance, En Avion, is hardly ever mentioned. Still in production, this perfume endures and personally I prefer it to TB. Certainly it has survived reformulation better then TB.
There's a whole lot going on with En Avion, but to summarize it is a leather/floral fragrance in the grand classic tradition of this genre. Whereas leather is only one facet of TB, along with a buttery rich floral/tabac heart, En Avion is all about the leather. Hints of rose, carnation, clove, orange blossom, jasmine, and amber all appear from time to time, but really these various notes merge to create the olfactory image of a glove-smooth leather. Sillage and longevity are tremendous, and a couple sprays of parfum on the neck leaves me enveloped in a leathery aroma-bubble all day. I have both original 1930s-vintage parfum and early '00s parfum. The original stuff is of course preferable - perhaps stemming from some now-verbotten ingredients that add depth and richness. However the new formula isn't bad, it's faithful to the original, and it's certainly much easier and less expensive to source.
Whether you enjoy vintage perfume or you're a fan of leathers, En Avion is a hidden gem that deserves your attention. Thumbs up.
What a fragrance find this is! I received a decant of this (along with several others from the Caron line) recently. On first application, my (la)nose twitched and I sensed something odd and yet strangly familiar on my skin. Minutes later, I sniffed again and I knew something elegant and rare was unfolding; 20 minutes later---I was in love.
My discovery? Jicky's olfactory sibling; not identical twins, but possibly fraternal. En Avion is deep and complex and discrete; there's something smoldering there (citrus, flowers and civet) and the combination is less a scent and more a state of mind; there's something primal and ancient here and yet, it's divinely classy and and modern ---- not modern grapfruit or ozone or sea air ---- but modern in the sense that it defies category. En Avion is not fashionable, but it is the very essence of style.
I recently purchased a 25ml extrait from the Caron fountain here in NYC: I'm En Avion Heaven! For those of you Jicky fans (It's my fave) --- I encourage you to welcome this fragrance into your wardrobe. This is a Daltroff sleeper of the first order; I don't know if it will ever replace Jicky in my heart, but it's good to know I now have two favorites!
(I don't know how old my sample is - It is dark and thick.)
I would like anyone, immediately, who wore this scent. Yes, I smell the cloves, but I also smell magic.
This is literally Heaven Scent - I have tried and never bettered this .
The die down is so long and powdery, the scent is difficult to place . Is it a floral oriental or a chypre with hints of leather Who cares !
Not a girly girly fragrance - you have to be all woman to wear this . You have to be brave and unafraid . It frightens other women ; it excites men. If you like modern fragrances made up of chemicals then don't buy this as you won't have the confidence to carry it off .
22nd November, 2008 (last edited: 12th January, 2012)
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In the first decades of aviation, when we were all blinded by the glare of heroism and miraculous ascent of human spirit above the clouds, defying gravity and other enemies – aviation has inspired art – including books (Antoine de Saint Exupéry, an aviator, spy and an author, has written several books inspired by the topic). And lastly there are two grand perfumes inspired by aviation – En Avion (Ernest Daltroff, 1932), dedicated to the pioneer female aviators mentioned above – Bolland, Boucher and Bastié; and the infamous Vol de Nuit (Jacques Guerlain, 1933), inspired by the book of the same name by the abovementioned aviator-author, which I have already reviewed on this humble blog.
En Avion opens dark, like all Caron extraits, and with a certain bittersweetness that does remind me somewhat of Vol de Nuit (though I have to admit, the only reason I compare the two is because of their common theme). While Vol de Nuit is green and sharp, herbaceous at first – En Avion is far more spicy and floral. It starts off soapy and spicy at the same time. Carnation is apparent immediately, but so is orange flower, which smells like an echo of l’Heure Bleue with pilot-hat and goggles… Although Vol de Nuit has the signature powderiness from the classic Guerlinade and iris notes engrained within its structure; En Avion takes powderiness nearly into central stage, and in a far softer and lady-like olfactory context: rose, lilac and violet, and underlined with powdery opoponaxs which almost instantly bring to mind the scent of vintage face powder. As for the base of En Avion, it is redolent of Atlas cedarwood with its suave, polished olfactory-texture, a bittersweetness of tonka bean (again, a reminder of of Vol de Nuit; but let’s not forget that En Avion preceded Vol de Nuit’s launch by a year…). There is, however, a subtle presence of burnished leather at the base, however it is not as animalic or leathery as other Caron creations (i.e.: Narcisse Noir, Tabac Blond), it is almost as soft as suede… If Vol de Nuit is a wild, ambitious woman with restrained emotions and top-notch professionalism; En Avion is not any less ambitious woman that secretly displays her femininity even when boarding an airplane for what might be her last flight ever… Underneath the pilot jumper, she is still wearing silk stockings and laced lingerie.
According to the Perfume Addicts database, the notes are:
Top notes: Rose, Neroli, Spicy Orange
Heart notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Lilac, Violet
Base notes: Opoponax, Amber, Musk, Wood
To that I would add that in the top notes I can smell orange blossom rather than neroli (there is a different between the two!), I can't say I'm particularly smelling orange (there is a citrusy freshness, but it is well hidden with all the additional dense notes); and there is definitely a dry allspice note weaved in, as well as cloves and perhaps even a hint of nutmeg. While I can't say I smell much of the lilac (I would have to go back to it once I'm fully recovered from my cold though...), violet and rose have a strong presence, and so is the carnation. The base is neither particularly musky nor ambery; but there is certainly the animalic powderiness of opoponax weaved into a dry tobacco-leather base that might include castoerum, and the woods in question are the beautiful Moroccan cedarwood from the Atlas mountains.
My first impression after putting this on was a very literal interpretation of the aviatrices; orange peels and carnations floating in aviation fuel. An acrid and heavy scent that is both fascinating and repellant, both ancient and new.
After a couple of hours, the sharpness was gone, replaced by powdery roses on leather; soft and intoxicating.
A few hours more and the powder and leather begin a long dissolve into moss. It has now been 13 hours and the moss is fading away, too.
A complex and multifaceted scent. I admire it greatly; not sure it will have a regular spot in the rotation.
Yummy. Powdery, orange blossom, mild leather & clove opening.. moss & violet shine when clove fades, still nice mix of moss, rose, & powdery Caron base at end. Not bad lasting power. It seems classy, intriguing and earthy; very nice.
I got a decant of this as a gift, and I must say it is a departure from the other Caron scents that I have. The powder note is almost soapy, but in a clean very sophisticated way; it must be the oakmoss. I read that Daltroff created this to honor the new and daring aviatrixes of that time (i.e. Amelia Earhart), and it seems to fit a female risk-taker of the 1930's; one of those women who (gasp!) wore trousers, bobbed their hair, and flew all over the country when they felt like it.
The powdery wooded base jumps up to meet the topnotes right from the start! It gently settles back down to allow the fowers their share of the spotlight. Rose and carnation - spicey and ever so slightly sweet - really stand out for me. As time goes by, the entire scent really mellows. There is a certain sense of quiet confidence En Avion imparts to the wearer. More approachable than Tabac Blond ~ yet rich and classy!
Old classic perfumes and old classic movies share a lot in common, I think. Sometimes I'll watch an old movie, a classic title from the 1930's or 1940's, and find myself distracted from the plot by the dated acting style. It's not that the acting is bad, but it's much closer to dramatic stage acting than what we typically see when we go to the movies today, and as a result often seems a little silly and overblown when watching it through modern eyes. Every once in a while, however, a movie comes along that transcends its release date. Think Casablanca or Miracle on 34th Street. Well, fragrances are the same way in my mind. There are many older fragrances that, while I can appreciate the artistry of their composition, I find their scent to be too dated to wear today. And then occasionally (oh happy day!) I discover one that transcends its age and era. That's what En Avion is for me. It's an old classic that doesn't smell dated or overblown to a modern nose, unlike many of its fragrance peers. It's just a beautiful, luxurious, feminine work of art.
En Avion, next to Poivre, is my favorite of the Caron urn fragrances. The Caron Boutique in NYC has a wonderful sample program for U.S. residents, and a few etailers (and sometimes eBay) stock En Avion. It’s one of the easier urn frags to find. En Avion opens with a lovely rush of orange blossom and something that reminds me of leather, but not the deep, dark leather of Tabac Blond (another great classic), but a tawny beige, plush leather. The classic Carons need some time to develop on the skin. En Avion is no different. The drydown is simply beautiful and womanly. It’s a lovely powdery orange blossom mixed with woods, a touch of violet, subtle spices, and the oakmoss that seems to part of the famous Daltroff accord. The extrait is pure Art Deco elegance. This one will always find a place in my fragrance repertoire. Soar to celestial heights with En Avion.