In fine fragrance, lavender had often been associated with lavender water or the tried-and-tested fougère accord. It features a complex interplay of citrus, geranium, lavender, oakmoss, coumarin, and musk. So, the lavender forms part of the abstract complexity. It dresses up lavender in an elaborate and dramatic fashion, with fresh cool notes on top and warm dusky notes deep down to contend.
But perfumer Ernest Daltroff begged to differ and conceived a visionary plan for it in 1934. The result was Pour Un Homme (Caron, 1934). It brings out a striking character of lavender in a clear-cut manner, not unlike the minimalism inherent in many modern-day creations.
A quick sniff will tell you that this is lavender galore. Pour Un Homme contains as much as 41% lavandin oil and 31% lavender oil — they amount to 72% of the note. Like lavender, lavandin is also aromatic with sweet floral notes, but is relatively more herbal and camphoraceous; it adds brightness and projection. Compounded with accents of rosemary and clary sage, the rustic freshness is over the top and radiant, much like a bright day in picturesque Provence.
Most of the lavender is allowed to shine in Pour Un Homme, and I sometimes forget that this seemingly minimalistic composition is from 1934. But towards the dry down, vanilla emerges and one begins to see why it is the perfect pairing: cool herbs versus warm vanilla create a dramatic contrast. Rounded off by a slightly powdery musk, it feels polished.
Lavender had been used unadorned or in elaborate fougère compositions, but then there was Pour Un Homme that puts the spotlight on lavender. Perfumer Ernest Daltroff brought out a strong character in lavender through a strong contrast. Its pairing of aromatic herbs and sweet vanilla is simple, yet stunning. And, the inherent minimalism makes it feel as though Pour Un Homme were conceived today. But above all, Pour Un Homme is atemporal.
‘Pour Un Homme de Caron, les plus belles lavandes’ — the most beautiful lavender, literally.
A note on the concentrations: Pour Un Homme Millésime (Caron, 2014) is basically the eau de parfum created by perfumer Richard Fraysse. It feels more transparent compared to Pour Un Homme. But, that does not mean any less intensity or volume. On the contrary, the lavender note is sweeter, more long-lasting, and more camphoraceous. The ambery warmth of clary sage is amplified to match. The vanillic powder and musks have been toned down. Overall, it is more diffusive, and the transparency therein keeps Pour Un Homme Millésime decidedly modern. One might find this updated version to be more to contemporary taste.
Sources: parfumdepub.com, Scent and Chemistry The Molecular World of Odors.