Friday, August 03, 2012

Caron- En Avion

The second En Avion by Caron enters the building you know what it is: a classic grand dame, French from the tip of the fingers to the sole of her shoes. Created in 1927 by Caron's legendary perfumer Ernest Daltroff, En Avion was a tribute to pioneer female aviators- brave, uncompromising and as sexy as they come. Smelling En Avion today in various vintages is yet another exercise in social and generational commentary. You know the drill: yesterday's sex appeal is tomorrow's musty and fusty. Unless you're a vintage/classic perfume fiend (or her husband).

En Avion is an intensely powdery floral  perfume with a aldehydic touch in the opening and a buttery leather dry-down. Michael Edwards labeled it a rich/intense floral-oriental in his Fragrances of the World 2012 edition, which I assume refers the newest (and possibly the EDP) formulation. I've tried En Avion in several versions, the latest was last year's extrait de parfum. What I have on hand is a little extrait from the previous decade, but given the frequent reformulations and tribulations that Caron perfumes have undergone I can't tell you if it's one or five versions back. All I can say is that En Avion is really really good for its genre.

I love the assertiveness En Avion presents from the very opening. This might be a floral but it doesn't have a dainty bone in it. There's a rich bouquet of flower and spices that start like an orange-jasmine but ends up all peppery carnation with its characteristic touch of clove. The flowers open their folds generously, scattering sweet and piquant powder all around them. This is probably the part of En Avion that is least appealing to the many as it smells vintage-- for better and for worse.

The dry-down is warm and delicious. I wish it were even more leathery and intense, but I guess that's why we have Tabac Blond.

Notes (via Luckyscent): neroli, spicy orange accord, jasmine, opoponax

En Avion ($100 7.5 ml extrait de parfum) is available from Caron boutiques around the world and at Luckyscent.

Photo of Amelia Earhart and Cary Grant (1934) via
Caron En Avion ads (1933 and 1951) from


  1. So glad you reviewed this one! I fell in love with the extrait in the early 90s but gave that bottle away when I moved, not realizing it would soon be lost to reformulation. A couple years ago, I spent many hours on ebay searching for vintage fumes, but En Avion is particularly elusive. I finally found one, but, as you say, it's hard to tell which it is. A recent sample from LuckyScent is surprisingly credible. En Avion is such a strange one - I love it as much as the revered Tabac Blond, actually. ~~nozknoz

  2. Yes. It is a beauty, no doubt. Thanks for the review.

  3. Thank you for the review of one of my favorite fragrances. I read somewhere that En Avion was supposed to conjure the entire smell of flight: leather seats, hot tarmac, fuel, and the aviatrix flying the plane. The version i have has all that, plus orange blossom. It's probably from 10 years ago. I just love it.
    Hope you are well,

  4. The last time I smelled En Avion, '10 it was an entirely different beast from the version sold in '05, and now it seems you really have to go batch by batch with Caron. Some are good and some are not so good. My hubbie still pouts about Tabac Blond and won't smell the current version. I notice all Carons improve with age like wine though. I now cellar mine for a year. Is that crazy?

  5. Gaia, where do you get your perfumes? Do you buy mostly online, and if so what sort of criteria do you use to choose the right fragrance? Many (okay, most) of the reviews you post are for amazing fragrances that aren't readily available in retail stores (at least in Atlanta).

    I've just always been curious about how you find these things. I know you mentioned a while back that you haunt antique stores and estate sales for vintage perfumes, but other than that I'd love to know your sources!

  6. Okay, I'm an idiot and missed the notation at the bottom of the post about "where to find this". Duh. That's what happens when I wake up too early!


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