Pilot Amy Johnson 1928
En Avion Parfum
by: Ernest Daltroff for Caron
Disclaimer: at first I debated doing this post at all. You see, I've been wearing this gorgeous perfume for the past few days but it's the modern reformulation of a vintage classic. Ordinarily that's not supposed to be a good thing but I took a chance here. Why? Well, because for one thing, we're talking about Caron - who should know, if anyone could, how to do a reformulation right. And two, because we're talking about En Avion - a perfume so rare that procuring more than scant, occasional samples of the vintage jus is simply beyond reach.
Dorothy Levitt: The Woman and the Car
If, by chance, you do happen to have a bottle of the vintage perfume stashed somewhere in your collection, then you are truly blessed. But this is such a spectacular perfume that I put aside my reservations and embraced the only readily available version of En Avion I can get my hands on: a 100 ml eau de parfum. Purchasing something like this blind gave me pause - until I noticed that no one, and I mean no one, except maybe the exclusive Caron boutique in Paris (that I could find, and excepting The Perfumed Court for decants) carries En Avion anymore. I panicked: maybe even the 'new reformulated' version, at least of the eau de parfum, is on it's way out? So I decided to take my chances when I found a lovely-to-deal-with Ebay seller (Scentillicious) who had at least one bottle of En Avion in stock.
First Female American Pilot Harriet Quimby ~1915
If you've ever gotten close to a blooming citrus tree, then you've known near-to-olfactory-heaven. The smell of En Avion is of an entire orange grove- the ground, the trees, the fruit and best of all, the tart oil of the zest. Spicy carnations, lemony fresh roses, high pitched and sweet lily of the valley and hyacinth create a nuzzle-able bouquet of dazzlingly rich, seductive blooms to accompany the heady, lofty scent of oranges. A soft gourmandish-leather finishes the scent off , alternating helpings of leather with a cinnamon-rose flavored nouget.
The opening of this En Avion is not nearly prolonged enough for me; I would amp up the orange tree times two. But it's nice while it lasts. Once the middle to dry-down stages begin, I can begin to detect some small issues with this newer formulation- the sweetness of the base begins to bother me somewhat. I pick up violets when all I want is more oakmoss, orange, and a hint of wood- hold the candy, please. En Avion begins to recall L'Heure Bleu at this point; LBH is a lovely perfume so this isn't a put-down, per se. But while I fully accept, even relish, the sweetness of LHB, I want something more from En Avion- a bite, a sting, some soul-stirring something...
1920s, a wealthy woman who dares to drive around town alone!
There is much more tree in the vintage version- as if the orange wood is still alive. A strong kick of terpenes from the orange tree sap gives the vintage perfume a nearly gasoline like blast. I love that part in the original. The vintage also wears smoother, more gracefully due to a generous helping of oakmoss. Yet in a way I'm nit-picking. There's a lot to love about the modern formulation. On the whole, it stays close to the original- probably as close as possible since you get the feeling this reformulation was done with care and regard for the former juice.
It is interesting to see the ingredients for this perfume are listed right on the box. After alcohol and water, it contains:
linalool - lavender/coriander spice and sweet
benzyl alcohol - assumes the odor of bitter almond as it oxidizes
cinnamyl alcohol - hyacinth
eugenol - clove oil
hydroxycitronellal - linden blossom or lily of the valley
isoeugenol - clove blossom oil
bezyl salicylate - smooth sweet, slightly floral
cinnamal - calming sedating cinnamon-balsamic
coumarin - vanilla-hay
geranol - geranium oil
benzyl cinnamate - balsamic smell
benzyl benzoate - weakly balsamic, floral
citronellol - fresh rose
limonene - harsh turpentine like lemon orange note
alpha-methyl ionone - powdery iris violet
everina prunastri - oakmoss
Official notes for the urn scent from Perfumed Court: orange tree, rose, neroli, jasmine, violet, opoponax, precious woods, and carnation.
As you can probably see, there's not a jot of wood or myrrh on the edp list and really, no leather. So we have a perfume with leathery facets but its not real leather - just the illusion of leather. En Avion edp is a soft floral and somewhat powdery leather fragrance, very similar to Luckyscent's Reve en Cuir but the leather of En Avion is depicted with a much lighter approach. Those who ordinarily find leather scents difficult to wear would probably love this one. Me? I'm still pining for a dark syrupy bottle of the old stuff and would likely trade a good portion of my perfume stock for such a thing.
Today, En Avion comes from the exclusive distributor at 99, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore - Paris, but a few folks probably still have bottles and decants put up here and there. As I mentioned, the Perfumed Court can always (I hope!) fix you up with the urn perfume and probably, that will be my first purchase from them- very soon. You can keep checking Ebay as well and I'll let you all know if and when I ever decide to list the edp.
The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.
Caron En Avion ads- hprints
photos of women aviatrix from my collection- google images