In the first decades of aviation, when we were all blinded by the glare of heroism and miraculous ascent of human spirit above the clouds, defying gravity and other enemies – aviation has inspired art – including books (Antoine de Saint Exupéry, an aviator, spy and an author, has written several books inspired by the topic). And lastly there are two grand perfumes inspired by aviation – En Avion (Ernest Daltroff, 1932), dedicated to the pioneer female aviators mentioned above – Bolland, Boucher and Bastié; and the infamous Vol de Nuit (Jacques Guerlain, 1933), inspired by the book of the same name by the abovementioned aviator-author, which I have already reviewed on this humble blog.
En Avion opens dark, like all Caron extraits, and with a certain bittersweetness that does remind me somewhat of Vol de Nuit (though I have to admit, the only reason I compare the two is because of their common theme). While Vol de Nuit is green and sharp, herbaceous at first – En Avion is far more spicy and floral. It starts off soapy and spicy at the same time. Carnation is apparent immediately, but so is orange flower, which smells like an echo of l’Heure Bleue with pilot-hat and goggles… Although Vol de Nuit has the signature powderiness from the classic Guerlinade and iris notes engrained within its structure; En Avion takes powderiness nearly into central stage, and in a far softer and lady-like olfactory context: rose, lilac and violet, and underlined with powdery opoponaxs which almost instantly bring to mind the scent of vintage face powder. As for the base of En Avion, it is redolent of Atlas cedarwood with its suave, polished olfactory-texture, a bittersweetness of tonka bean (again, a reminder of of Vol de Nuit; but let’s not forget that En Avion preceded Vol de Nuit’s launch by a year…). There is, however, a subtle presence of burnished leather at the base, however it is not as animalic or leathery as other Caron creations (i.e.: Narcisse Noir, Tabac Blond), it is almost as soft as suede… If Vol de Nuit is a wild, ambitious woman with restrained emotions and top-notch professionalism; En Avion is not any less ambitious woman that secretly displays her femininity even when boarding an airplane for what might be her last flight ever… Underneath the pilot jumper, she is still wearing silk stockings and laced lingerie.
According to the Perfume Addicts database, the notes are:
Top notes: Rose, Neroli, Spicy Orange
Heart notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Lilac, Violet
Base notes: Opoponax, Amber, Musk, Wood
To that I would add that in the top notes I can smell orange blossom rather than neroli (there is a different between the two!), I can't say I'm particularly smelling orange (there is a citrusy freshness, but it is well hidden with all the additional dense notes); and there is definitely a dry allspice note weaved in, as well as cloves and perhaps even a hint of nutmeg. While I can't say I smell much of the lilac (I would have to go back to it once I'm fully recovered from my cold though...), violet and rose have a strong presence, and so is the carnation. The base is neither particularly musky nor ambery; but there is certainly the animalic powderiness of opoponax weaved into a dry tobacco-leather base that might include castoerum, and the woods in question are the beautiful Moroccan cedarwood from the Atlas mountains.