If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might be aware that I love Diorissimo, although I never smelled it in its heyday. I bought a tester bottle, unsniffed, on ebay, about the time that the newest reformulation appeared in its white box with pink lettering and trims. I have now smelled that new version, and my immediate thought was “bathroom cleaner.” Ugh. I was lucky to have avoided that, because I really did not know what I was getting into. My Diorissimo is lovely, and yet I can imagine what the scent was like in its girlhood, all innocent happy white flowers and, underneath, the smell of skin.
If you love the smell of lilies of the valley but haven’t yet found a scent that smells just like them, fear not. Now there is Carillon Pour un Ange.
Here are notes from the Tauer Perfumes website:
HEAD NOTES: A soft rose in harmony with ylang, and lilac prepares for a green accord of lily of the valley.
HEART NOTES: Graceful lily of the valley and smooth jasmine melt into soft suave leather.
BODY NOTES: A sheer blanket of ambergris, ornamented with the illusion of moss and woods.
A green floral delight. “Building a fragrance with lily of the valley singing in spring was a wish since I started making perfumes. Carillon pour un ange is my tribute to this wonderful forest treasure. It is a green choir of flowers. Enjoy!” — Andy Tauer
And may I say that I always enjoy the descriptions of Tauer scents? They’re poetic, yet not to the point that you don’t actually know what the fragrances are supposed to smell like. There’s a good dash of reason in there along with the poetry.
As I write, the temperature outside is 62 F, and it is raining. Dry leaves have blown from the neighbor’s trees all over my yard. It is definitely not spring, and I’m probably crazy for trying to write a review of a scent that shouts, “Springtime!” At the same time, CPuA was just released a few short weeks ago, and it’s fall in Switzerland too. Why did this scent debut in the fall? It’s odd. It is possible that Tauer Perfumes wanted to release it in a timeframe that would allow buzz to get out into the perfume world, so that everyone would be craving it at the tail end of winter. I have a feeling I’ll be wanting it myself.
As per usual when writing a perfume review, I’ve worn CPuA four times, to make sure I don’t miss anything. (I absolutely never write a review without at least three wearings. That would be, I dunno, intellectually lazy. Furthermore, I’d be forever backtracking to old reviews: “… and another thing, I found out that the weather matters…” or “… what I just said the other day about this fragrance is wrong, wrong, wrong… I just didn’t ‘get it’ before…” or “… I just realized that I really don’t love this thing as much as I thought…” )
If you’re not familiar with carillons, I’d urge you to go check out Wikipedia’s article on them here. They’re not very common in the US, and I’ve only heard three of them live myself: the one at the National Cathedral in DC, the one at Hollins University in my home town (my piano teacher used to arrange for our recitals to be held in the college recital hall, which has lovely acoustics), and the one near Luray Caverns, VA. Carillons, due to the strong harmonic overtones inherent in foundry bells, can sound out of tune even when they’re not. You don’t just hear, for example, an A when one bell is struck; you hear A, A an octave up, A an octave down, E (fifth interval), C natural (minor third), and some other, more unusual, intervals as well. Also, because the bells are still reverberant for some seconds after being struck, you’re hearing many many many notes at once. The effect can be really startling, as a carillon at full tilt and close range can be something like an avalanche of sound. (It’s why they generally reside in towers.) You can hear a recording at the Wikipedia article, about halfway down the page. Go listen… see?
I am well aware that you non-music geeks just rolled your eyes at me. Bear with me for a minute, because I’m going to make a point: “Carillon” was an appropriate name for this thing, because there are all sort of harmonic overtones of smell going on here.
CPuA starts out a bit harsh and loud, even a tad air-freshener-like, when sniffed up close in the first five minutes, and I have yet to figure out why. The air two inches above my wrist is beautiful: cool, green, floral. I do not smell rose or ylang, but I am getting lilac (is that the note that’s bothering me up close?) and a chilly, almost metallic hyacinth along with an amorphous green note that I can’t really place. It’s not galbanum or citrusy green, but it’s a crushed-stems green that smells very natural. This part is fairly high-pitched, tinkling along like the “angel bells” of the fragrance title.
And then for a gorgeous hour, I smell lily of the valley along with that green note and some juicy, innocent jasmine, ginggongging away like happy, mellow bells on my skin. Gradually I begin to smell the leather under the florals, and I really enjoy that combination – soft leather that is smooth and never brash or tannic, undergirding the light-hearted florals. I’m not even much of a leather fan, except when it is well in the background as it is here. I like the way the leather begins to ground the florals.
Eventually, the basenotes of light moss and woods join in, but they are very quiet, and as the jasmine note eventually drops out, I continue to smell the muguet over the slightly salty, woody base. I do not smell ambergris, although it’s possible I’m not recognizing it. The entire drydown is radically different from any other Tauer fragrance I’ve worn: it’s not warm and rich, with the plushy depth of the Tauerade I’m used to. It’s cool and transparent, and aligns beautifully with the white flowers here, keeping the scent in the verdant, meadowed character it’s been in all along. Late in the drydown, there is an earthy quality that reminds me of the fresh, living smell of damp potting soil. There’s a sonorous hum to this part of the scent, like the faint vibrations in the air that linger after the bells have stopped ringing.
A couple of reviews I’ve read of CPuA, particularly on luckyscent or fragrantica or other forums, mention an oiliness or a dark quality under the flowers, and I don’t get that. There’s leather, and moss, and that earthiness, but they don’t strike me as being either oily or dark. One review made a reference to “asphalt.” Asphalt? There are enough of these references that I can’t dismiss them, but I do wonder if there’s a terminology issue, and these reviewers just don’t have references for moss or ambergris or leather. Alternately, it’s possible that I’m accustomed to a darker base than some of these reviewers, and the dark element just doesn’t bother me – or, possibly, I just didn’t perceive it at all. Perceptions do differ. I’m convinced that skins do, too.
CPuA is labeled “Eau de Parfum Riche.” While it’s not nearly as radiant or as long-lasting as, say, Une Rose Chypree (look, I love URC, but the thing has the half-life of plutonium!), it is no floofy, light creature of feathers and smoke. It sticks around. I have been wearing it three drops at a time: one on each wrist, one at the base of the neck, the way I would dab parfum. It’s very present for about four hours, and I can still smell it at seven hours, although it’s quiet by that time. It is available in a 15ml bottle, for $67 USD, plus approximately $19 priority shipping, at Tauer Perfumes, or for $75, plus $8 shipping, at Lucky Scent.
Carillon Pour un Ange is not Diorissimo. But it is a lovely picture of lily of the valley all the same, and rather than subject myself to the current harsh version of Dior’s classic muguet scent, I’ll be replacing my bottle of Diorissimo, when it runs out, with Carillon Pour un Ange.
Other reviews of CPuA: Marina at PST; March at Perfume Posse; Fragrantica; Bloody Frida; Hortus Conclusus; Perfume Shrine; Scent of the Day. I keep waiting for Robin at Now Smell This – she’s a huge fan of vintage Diorissimo – to review this, but she hasn’t yet. Mixups involving her sample, she said. When she posts it, I’ll link to it.