Timeless, classic, perfection. 5 star unisex, fountain extrait only, all purpose/all weather, could be a contender for a desert island fragrance, even though i do not favor any fruit, particularly citrus, or any green chypre as a fragrance accord or category of choice. My skin chemistry turns some citrus or bergamot into candied lemon pledge and has problems with certain traditional phenolic mossy chypres and certain types of vetiver in modern chypres. I prefer extrait strength and I dab, I dislike spraying and attendant sillage.
This being the case, I have back up bottles of the extrait (both fountain urn, between ten years old and one bought this year from an older boutique urn). Since i collect many fragrance categories, and have more perfume than a person can wear in a lifetime, I have only a few back up bottles. I save Alpona for special occasions, and I don't see much difference between the older and younger bottles. Alpona, one of the first perfumes using grapefruit with florals, is both crisp and lush and well rounded; I feel that the citric and moss notes add structure and depth to the florals. There is no gourmand sweetness, and reviews that describe candied fruit to Alpona make me think of another caron urn fragrance instead, Acasiosa (maybe it's skin chemistry).
Although alpona has grapefruit, it is NOT particularly fruit forward (Goutals Eau de Sud, Hermes orange vert, atelier cedar enirvant, Creed Adventus or the huge melon, FM Parfum de Therese). Nor is it juicy fresh citrus (Guerlain aqua Allegoria pamplemousse, atelier orange sanguine). Alpona does not turn candied or lemon pledge (terre de Hermes). It's nothing like classic cologne rounded with animalics (vintage eau de Patou or eau savage) And it's not a wacky fruit chypre with a weird accord like (vintage patou colony, vintage diorella, vintage Rochas Femme). Alpona is also nothing like a mossy leather phenolic chypre that can be interpreted by some as body Odor, musty, old fashioned (bandit, azuree, aliage, roja Dove fetish). Although Alpona is clearly caron crafted and blended, deep and velvety, I don't detect characteristic darkness that I assume caron mousse de saxe lends to the dry down of classic vintage Tabac Blond or NdN.
If you cannot find Alpona, BoisdeJasmin suggests two possibilities EL Private Collection (I think the PC (which I love) in the little vintage frosted glass mini with a plastic stopper that is readily available on line for a reasonable price is a viable alternative, albeit more mossy, soapy and green). Boisdejasmin also suggests Chanel Cristalle, but I think cristalle (I have vintage EdT) is more floral cologne feminine light. Cristalle is also less full, round and substantive (to mix metaphors Cristalle sings in a higher octave or is more in the weight class/functionality of bulgari au the vert; I am not really fond of BaTV but I like Cristalle for summer). I can see wearing Alpona year round, not Cristalle. . .
Though I think Alpona could be unisex, given its price and rarity, I don't offer it to my DH to try ( he is more than happy with Vetiver Extraordinaire or Bigarade Concentree currently. Alpona, though unisex, is nowhere near the masculine Yatagan (pine, animalic, wood, leather) that I also wear).
Note: a digression on candied fruit in another Caron fragrance and a comparison to a Guerlain fruit chypre. . . I don't have problems with grapefruit turning sulfuric on me. If you have a problem with grapefruit, I would recommend testing Alpona first. The candied fruit review of Alpona below makes me think of a different caron urn fragrance, Acasiosa, whose pinapple sweetness does verge on candied on me, and that sweetness, in combination with floral indoles, can turn slightly urinous powdery on my particular skin chemistry in hot weather. Since I like Acasaiosa, I save it for cooler weather.
In quality and in personal satisfaction, I think Alpona certainly ranks with Mitsouko extrait, (I have Mitsouko in post 2013 reformulation and vintage Parfum de toilette) though the two scents are very different types of fruit chypre. I also see Mitsouko as a unisex alternative and now that it is more available with the re-engineered atraphol free oak moss, I could conceivably offer that to DH if he decided he loved a carnation chypre. I think of Mitsouko almost more like a golden carnation chypre rather than a fruit peach chypre. ( However, I would first try offering DH Vintage EL Spellbound extrait in the squat square crystal bottle with gold stopper, not the black and gold top; I don't recommend any modern version of Spellbound. Mitsouko is more of an acquired taste than Alpona, in the sense that many people don't want to smell like clove and carnation.
This review is for the urn parfum from Paris. It's beautiful. It is a smoothed-out green fragrance of being outdoors; it has the stunning Caron base. I would love to have a decant of this. None of the floral notes stood out, and the citrus was discernable only in the very beginning. Notes: lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, rose, orange, jasmine, orchid, thyme, patchouli, myrrh, cedar, sandalwood, musk, and oakmoss.
If you love chypre then this is for you. It is one of the most well-crafted chypres perfumery has to offer. I just ordered if from the Manhattan Caron boutique and the woman told me Caron will be discontinuing it. *sniff* And with the upcoming oakmoss restrictions chypre lovers order up!
Nice cold weather citrus opening and I was getting quite smitten for about 15 minutes but then it went into the old lady drydown, boring,!! Husband distinctly unimpressed, as was I. Definitely try the sample before purchase.
I am not especially fond of citrus-heavy perfumes, but I do like Alpona! It was introduced in 1939 for the World's Fair in New York, and it must have been quite daring in its day. It's daring (for a "women's" perfume, though anyone could wear Alpona) even today: A glittering burst of citrus fruits, gorged on sunlight and liquor, on a mossy chypre base. I find the opening very fresh and juicy, while the drydown is a more candied citrus. This would make a fabulous, sophisticated summer perfume. I have heard reports that Caron is about to either discontinue Alpona or only sell it from its Paris boutique. I hope that only the latter one turns out to be true!
Taken directly from the Caron website:
In 1939, driven by an insatiable passion for original fragrances, CARON discovered a new universe previously unknown to the perfumer: the Hesperides Garden.
Defying the Hesperides, guardians of this fabled place, CARON stole the secret of immortality from the Greek gods: the famous “golden apples.”
That’s how Alpona was born, associating, for the first time, flowers with lemon and grapefruit. These “Hespéridé” fragrances –– in nose speak –– endow the perfume with an astonishingly modern touch, evoking the gentle freshness of a Mediterranean orchard, its fruits gorged on sunlight "......
Well if all of this was true I probably wouldn't love this fragrance as much as I do. Fruity florals are the farthest thing from something I enjoy wearing. I think the description does in some way capture the spirit of this parfum. There is something about it that just sparkles and grabs you. If there is such a thing as a "dark" sparkle, this is it. It starts out as a harsh, citrusy scent that nearly smells like a cheap mens cologne. As usual, that frightening beginning dissipates and the true glory of the parfum is revealed. This is earthy, deep and playful all at once. I pick up on the brightness of citrus but the ctirus on me is more of a suggestion. It's not in your face lemon and orange, it gives this composition some energy and lifts it form being just another predictable musty chypre. (sorry, not a huge chypre fan except for a few exceptions and my bias is showing here). The oakmoss and patchouli beautifully round this out and give it a body and luxe quality that is rarely found in a scent like this .As with all Carons in my experience this is seamless and so well blended that you cannot really pick out particular notes easliy. It is a testament to Caron and the quality of their parfums, that there are quite a few notes in there fragrances that I normally dislike and they manage to make them very palatable for me. I cannot think of any other parfum out there that comes even close to this in this category. Definitely worth checking out if you want to try something unique and off the beaten path.
caron's alpona extrait is currently the shelf's golden child--warm, evolutive, and masculine in that ms. earhart way (but not as angular as miss dior, for instance, its more honeyed). like most carons, its best characteristic is that it is compellllling. you want to know more, more, more, yet you never hit that wall that says 'cologne here', you just eventually meet with warm skin. if that makes sense. no stabs in the nose i mean. this would be a dream on a man as well. (note, i have a totally different experience with non-extrait carons. nuit de noel is a cinnabon, yatagan is cliche magie noir...puh...)
i have been wearing alpona with 'flights' of parfum so i have foils. using three of a similar bent: vintage miss dior, the current alpona, and vintage replique by raphael. to summarize, miss dior is the woman who lives on her wits, alpona is the woman who lives on her looks, and replique is the woman who lives on capital... XD
vintage raphael replique after a half hour is a very highbrow skin scent. it wears close and makes miss dior seem so strident and arriviste, and really points up the seducer in alpona. replique smells of warm honeyed fruit, amber, leather...and clean diapers? it smells of a very bien eleve young mother...
This is something very different. The notes don't tell you the story at all. And, on me, it's different from the way it is on may others. This is one you have to try on skin, and let it evolve. This is, on me, very deep and smoky incensy. I don't get sharp green at all. It's very soft and elegant. The tomboy descriptions don't fit for me either. It's more what I would describe as primal, and maybe a bit dirty/decayed the way woods disintegrate into the earth. And it's potent. One drop spread across two wrists. My first of the urn fragrances. Most don't choose Alpona, but if it works for you, it will be stellar.
What I learned from Alpona: If you stick too closely to your little list of favorite notes, you just might miss some of your best-ever fragrances. I never got around to trying this particular Caron because it was billed as a citrus frag--and a grapefruit one at that. I don't hate citrus, but I have about 0 interest in it as leading player in my fragrances. I only bothered to try Alpona because when it comes to Caron, I am a completist. Well. Guess what? Hello, Lemming!! Another reviewer says that she'll refrain from listing notes, and I can see her point. This is an exceedingly well-crafted fragrance that is all about synergy and magical sums which are higher than the apparent totals of their parts. It is rich, sophisticated, alluring--as are many Caron extraits. What makes this one special is that gentle, soft BITE. It latches right on to you and you might not even know that it GOT you. I think it's the grapefruit. But this fragrance is so perfectly balanced that you aren't aware of any one note (or at least, *I* am not), they all work together to form some new and different accord, as if it were some new kind of fruit or spice, one that is very warm and glowing. Even the moss is in check, and Alpona is a chypre that comes off as sophisticated and inviting at the same time.Just beautiful.
If Alpona was a color it would be a drab olive. I don't mean this in a negative way. It is a "dirty" green scent. Starts off very green and then starts to smell dirty, like pulling weeds from dry earth. Then it takes on a slighty orange note. It's interesting, but not my favorite Caron.