From Halloween until the New Year candy seems to be everywhere. One of the more ubiquitous versions is the chewy goodness that is caramel. Caramel was only a recent addition to the world of perfumery when perfumer Olivier Cresp created the caramel base accord which has become synonymous with Thierry Mugler Angel in 1992. That fragrance created the gourmand genre of fragrance and since then it has been an ever-expanding sector of the market. I have come to really embrace these perfumes especially in the cold weather. Here are five of my favorite caramel perfumes.
Sure, Angel may have started everything but it was 1996’s Thierry Mugler A*Men which made me a caramel fan. Perfumer Jacques Huclier was able to successfully create a masculine partner to Angel without being an imitation. Starting with lavender and aldehydes into a patchouli and coffee smudged with just a bit of tar before that signature caramel, chocolate, and vanilla finish. This is every bit as great a perfume as Angel; catch me in the right mood and I can make the argument that it is better.
Neil Morris Fragrances Afire reminds me of those Brach’s Raspberry Caramel Royals that have waned a bit in popularity. The raspberry ones were my favorite and when I smelled Afire for the first time it was what immediately popped in to my head. The heart of Afire is raspberry and caramel viscous and sticky. Then the fire arrives as swirls of incense, woods, and vanilla ignite the final stages. Another of Neil Morris’ perfumes I wear again and again.
Acqua di Parma Arancia di Capri is the subtlest caramel fragrance on this list. Part of the Blu Mediterraneo collection this is a gorgeous sunny citrus full of grapefruit and orange. Cardamom and mate add some zestiness. Then as it ages all the crisp citrusy nature fades to leave a musk-laden caramel which is like warm sweet skin. If the idea of caramel seems like too much Arancia di Capri is a good example of what it can do when used sparingly.
One of the candy trends of the last couple years has been the combination of sea salt with caramel. Shay & Blue Salt Caramel is a simple perfume equivalent. Perfumer Julie Masse takes a slightly ozonic sea salt accord and lays it over a rich caramel. She uses tonka, vanilla, and sandalwood as supporting notes but it is the salt and caramel that are out front almost the entire time. If you’ve ever opened a box of salted caramels this is almost exactly what Salt Caramel smells like before becoming softer over time.
Prada Candy came out almost twenty years after Angel but it feels like the next evolution of this style of gourmand fragrance. Perfumer Daniela Andrier swirls in a full octave of white musks and an overdose of benzoin before coating it all in a torrent of caramel. Candy is a fantastic example of perfume composition as Mme Andrier finds complex combinations to create simplistic effects. It is a perfume that contains interest on multiple levels.
If you’d rather wear some caramel than eat some these five should satisfy your sweet tooth.
Disclosure: I have purchased bottles of all the perfumes mentioned.
With Halloween just a week away my mind turns to candy and confections. Specifically my mind turns to chocolate; big piles of chocolate. Hershey’s, Kit Kat, Twix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers; you get the idea. My dentist probably wishes I didn’t get the idea. For the next week there will be plenty of chocolate to eat. What if you’d rather wear some chocolate? There are some really amazing chocolate perfumes out there and these five are among my favorite perfumes with a prominent chocolate note. This kind of chocolate my dentist approves of.
When you speak of chocolate in perfumery you have to start with Thierry Mugler Angel created in 1992 by perfumer Olivier Cresp. It is the perfume which single-handedly created the gourmand category. It is a great perfume but when I want the Thierry Mugler version of chocolate I reach for perfumer Jacques Huclier’s A*Men from 1996. M. Huclier took the patchouli, caramel, vanilla, and chocolate base of Angel and stripped away all of the fruit and replaced it with strong black coffee and lavender. When I get the urge for chocolate my eyes always alight on my bottle of A*Men.
My favorite kind of chocolate is a dark chocolate and orange bar. Montale Chocolate Greedy by perfumer Pierre Montale in 2007 is just that. Chocolate Greedy has a bit of the bite of high percentage cacao dark chocolate with bitter orange. This is as simple a perfume as it gets but in that Montale over the top way it seems like much more.
Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is a luscious mix of chocolate and patchouli. M. Sheldrake turns this as dark as it can get even adding in a few licorice whips to tint it even darker. One of my favorite of the entire Serge Lutens line it completely re-invents the chocolate and patchouli beat from A*Men into something much deeper.
I think it was 2009 when I discovered perfume Charna Ethier’s Providence Perfume Co. I am sure it was Cocoa Tuberose which was the first perfume I tried from the very talented Ms. Ethier. This all-natural perfume delivers exactly what it promises although if there was truth in labeling the cocoa would be in all caps while the tuberose would be in lower case. Ms. Ethier’s cocoa is rich and nearly overwhelming so it takes an extroverted white flower like tuberose to make any headway at all. It’s an uphill battle all the way for the white flower but once she gains a foothold the tuberose really proves to be an excellent companion to the chocolate. Ms. Ethier has delivered on the promise I felt when trying Cocoa Tuberose as she is now among the best independent perfumers working.
One of my favorite cold weather drinks is Mexican Hot Chocolate where high quality cocoa is dissolved in milk and adorned with cinnamon and chile powder. Perfumers Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux capture the rich spicy drink as a fragrance in Arquiste Anima Dulcis. From the sprinkling of cinnamon in the opening into a piquant heart of not only chile pepper and cocoa but also clove and cumin with a hint of jasmine blowing in through the window. The heart of Anima Dulcis is one of the most unique gourmand hearts in the genre. It finishes with cedar and vanilla to soothe the palate.
If I come Trick or Treating to your doorstep give me candy but I’ll be wearing one of these favorite chocolate perfumes as I walk my neighborhood. Happy Halloween to all the readers of Colognoisseur.
Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of the fragrances I purchased.