When investigating scents to discuss for “Forget Me Not”, I usually seek out fragrances with some history (created before 1980), a slim following despite their artistry and a unique story. I am ecstatic this month to find a perfect fit, a fragrance with rich history, exquisite style and timeless grace. It is French Cancan by Caron.
Created in 1946, the year that President Truman officially declared the end of World War II, the Flamingo Hotel opened in Las Vegas and Parisian chic reached an all time high, French Cancan defined for American women an intangible, stylish quality that Parisian women somehow easily possessed. Named after the (at the time) lascivious dance of French courtesans seen at Moulin Rouge and other cabarets, French Cancan remains in production to this day. Initially it was marketed exclusively to the United States, further underscoring the longing of American women to experience Parisian goods in the hopes of donning a Parisian attitude. Its creator was also the founder of the Caron perfume house and his name is Ernest Daltroff. He developed nearly forty fragrances in his lifetime, including Tabac Blond (1919), Bellodgia (1927) and En Avion (1929). He also greatly influenced the perfume industry as a whole by creating a dark accord that lies at the base of each of his fragrances. This base has oft been imitated but never mastered.
At first sniff, French Cancan Parfum reminds me of my childhood idea of perfume. It has a quality to it that is unmistakable – a little overwhelming with richness and delicate sweetness that I became accustomed to smelling on most females in my young life. Interestingly, I have found the opening of most Caron scents to be a little discordant. However, the best is yet to come. As the heart unfolds, I decipher the luminous notes of violet, lily of the valley and orange blossom while violet holds front and center. With oakmoss, sandalwood and patchouli at the base, this is no shrinking violet, in any sense of the expression. Rather, this violet smells like midnight, like bold yet physically delicate women who harness their sexuality in the most confident manner. Other notes include jasmine, iris, lilac and amber. The base vaguely reminds me of Guerlain's L’Heure Bleue, subtly alluding to the scent of makeup and yet so seamlessly blended there is no doubt of its French origin. Lastly, the powdery, almost candied base renders this scent undoubtedly female – a brooding, confident, sometimes slightly loud but otherwise cultivated, stylish woman.
The name of the fragrance has created much debate. I find it to be most fitting, considering the bold and feminine qualities of the fragrance. However, rather than the Can-Can dance of the courtesans, the fragrance evokes our modern day idea of the Can-Can - an acrobatic array of frilly skirts and embellished undergarments, requiring elaborate skill and described as slightly teasing. Unpredictable in its development and truly a study in perfume artistry, French Cancan is most certainly full bottle worthy. The initial marketing idea holds true today. For those longing to summon their inner French-Parisian girl, this beauty must be tried.
Please be sure to visit Fragrance Bouquet to read Divina's pick for this month's Forget Me Not.
Caron French Can-Can is available at escentual.com. A 15mL of Parfum, the concentration I prefer and have reviewed, is available for approximately $170.61.
Image of Caron bottle courtesy of escentual.com, The Dance at the Moulin Rouge (1890) by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec courtesy of globalgallery.com, photograph of Can-can dancers courtesy of sensesofcinema.com.