Montaigne Eau de Parfum (2007) & Montaigne Eau de Toilette (1986-87) {Perfume Short (Reviews)} {New Perfume/Advance Review}

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Caron perfumes, especially in the pure parfum concentrations are deep compositions, complex, and from this very complexity derives an intriguing duality that one can find in several of them. Oftentimes they seem to oscillate between an oriental nature and a chypre nature, a deeper more introspective self and a brighter more self-conscious one. Yes, we thereby decree that chypre perfumes are self-conscious entities, aware of their effect onto others, whereas orientals just want to be left alone with themselves and exceptionally a few chosen loved ones.

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The new Montaigne eau de parfum seems to have decided to lean more in the direction of its chypre facet, while retaining its oriental nature. This would be in our eye, a typical and logical Caron move, not surprising at all as it is a possibility contained in their structures. It is, in other words, a choice presented between more intimacy and more social ostentatiousness, between more skin and more sillage.The press release actually describes the edp as a floriental, a  word that is a contraction of "floral" and "oriental"........

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Dorian Leigh in Dior coat on Avenue Montaigne by Richard Avedon, 1949

Montaigne was initially introduced in 1986-1987 as a confidential boutique exclusive. It is named after the Caron boutique address in Paris, located Avenue Montaigne, a street noted for its elegance and chic passer-bys. It was so far available in pure extract and eau de toilette concentrations. Caron has decided to re-launch Montaigne with the support of a wider distribution network to honor its success while introducing a brand new concentration, the eau de parfum, and retiring the eau de toilette concentration. The question arises then of change, since a different concentration usually demands a re-balancing of the scent.

We find that the perfume, composed by Caron in-house perfumer Richard Fraysse is fundamentally the same perfume, but with different noteworthy nuances. Richard Fraysse is one of the rare remaining in-house perfumers in the world and, incidentally, comes from a dynasty of  perfumers.

We will offer a summary of our very first impressions as we were then better able to capture the differences. After a while one gets used to the core similitudes and it becomes more difficult to be struck by the differences.

The new eau de parfum offers a slightly more modern feel, is brighter, and is sexier in our opinion due in particular to a significant dose of musk. It is very well balanced. If one's perception of Montaigne (1986-87) might have been that of, mainly, a floral amber, this time it tilts in the direction of a noticeable musky, lightly spicy, and floral impression in the dry-down. The edp is also peachier, fruitier than the edt and more diffusive. The jasmine note is as beautiful and fresh as ever. Overall, we feel that is is an improvement over the edt as it makes it be more distinct a concentration from the pure parfum, is sexier, more complex, and better balanced. The edt was very close to the parfum. With the edp, one gets a texture that is different, lighter and brighter than the parfum (and edt), while being more tenacious than the edt.

Montaigne the edp in this manner starts by being more citrus-y and radiant than the edt in the opening. It offers more aldehydic lift as well creating a relatively more aerial impression and offering more diffusion than the edt or parfum. This is in fact often the function of an edp, that is, to offer more sillage than the pure extract which stays closer to the skin. The development is more contrasted, offering more nuances, which are also subtler.

Compared to its sibling, the edt appears to have a more classic signature without offering the kind of excess and flamboyance even that inhabit certain Caron extracts, or poetical richness held by these, which allow them to traverse time with ongoing panache. In other words, the edp makes the edt look more old-fashioned by comparison. The edt seems to have more ambergris, to be more powdery and velvety throughout, while the edp reaches that stage towards the middle part.

If the edt in the end makes you think a bit of a sexy pâtisserie, the edp is simply very sexy. The cake impression is created by what smells like heliotrope (cherry + almond nuances) and vanilla and probably mimosa, which are also present in the edp, but given a less literal meaning thanks to the chypre-like nuances, including what seem to be some cedar and oakmoss in small proportions in the base.

We realized that Worth Courtesan smells somewhat like Montaigne and that this resemblance is even more apparent in the edp version. It is like a muskier, stronger Courtesan and one could almost smell chocolate in Montaigne after having made the link. Both are boudoir-type perfumes suggestive of silken deshabillés (visible or invisible) and are rich with sexual innuendos.

Notes are: jasmine, orange, coriander, golden mimosa, daffodil, Mysore sandalwood, vanilla, amber.

The edp is "presented in Caron’s signature tapered flacon now complete with spray atomizer, keeping in mind a modern woman’s lust for luxury and convenience.

Montaigne will be available nationwide in select retail locations October 2007.

Caron Paris is available at select Saks and Nordstrom nationwide, Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel and Bloomingdales, New York as well as the Caron Boutique at Phyto Universe, 715 Lexington Ave. at 58th St.  877.88.CARON/"

(Sources: Caron press release, for more perfume notes; photo of Parfums Caron by fbrosen; photo by Richard Avedon from Michael Hoppen Gallery)


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