When Parfums Caron was founded in 1904 by Félicie Wanpouille and Ernest Daltroff, the world witnessed the birth of one of the legendary names in Perfumery. Two free and independent souls, two distinct yet complementing personas, are linked together by a shared vision fueled by daring and liberty.
They formed the founding duo of a perfume house that broke with the codes of its time and asserted a radical and instantly recognisable identity with its very first creations: powerful trails, the harmony that surges forth from contrast, or even from direct opposites, by pooling their talents and sharing their desires. Caron is one of the oldest French perfume houses still exclusively dedicated to perfume.
They released the legendary POUR UN HOMME, the first men’s fragrance, in 1934. It features a popular component among men: lavender. The contrasting accord, when combined with gourmand vanilla, creates a one-of-a-kind trail.
The Scent, An Ode To Masculinity
In the 1930s, perfumery for men was generally attached to shaving. While the gentlemen would get a sharp shaving, the process would end by a good slap of aftershave-cologne. This trend was brought to the whole of Europe by the British master barbers. A strong hygienist aspect translated into clean scents. This has democratized the usage of colognes which was something convenient for a man. Ernest Daltroff was, on the contrary, convinced that men should wear a stronger fragrance, that this should be part of the gentlemen’s outfit. Your scent is your invisible presence and sets up your elegant look. In 1934, Caron launches POUR UN HOMME. It was a true revolution at that time because Ernest Daltroff offered a true fragrance for all men. His intelligence was to capitalize on the British trend and push it further into a true fragrance structure. Lavender was the entry-key, but the whole structure is a masterpiece that is still tough in Perfumery schools today.
How can we describe such fragrance? The way Ernest Daltroff built this fragrance is almost like a “Lavender Soliflore“. This means a composition built around one olfactory note. Thanks to this fragrance, Lavender became the olfactory symbol of a whole generation of men. Please do not take me wrong. A soliflore is not a simple fragrance; on the contrary. The fine art of mastering a soliflore structure requires years of experience and allow the Perfumer to shear, embroider, transform, adorn and structure each facet of the main note, always bringing a unique artistic vision further. POUR UN HOMME combines the elegant and timeless freshness of Lavender with a refined, deep and seductive warmth of an oriental structure of vanilla notes. It provides the fragrance with a fascinating contrast of subtle, elegant freshness with a lingering scent.
According to Jean Jacques, Caron’s in-house Perfumer, the quality of the lavender in POUR UN HOMME is fantastic as it is a French Lavender, probably the best and the finest in the world. He is impressed by the audacity of Caron to associate Lavender and Vanilla back in 1934. It was very unexpected and daring. He believes that this audacity built the framework for all the creations at Parfums Caron. Here is the video in which we can heard the words of the Perfumer.
The scent has remained unchanged, and it is probably the first fragrance in history to be designed specifically for men. It has become across the years the Maison Caron signature.
The Flacon, Timeless Beauty
The flacon Pour Un Homme is a sleek, essential glass work designed by Félicie Wanpouille herself. It was manufactured at Verreries Brosse, probably the Rolls-Royce of all glassmakers. The flacon reminds a gentlemen’s flask of alcohol or the ones part of men’s travel sets. It is fantastic to see that the flacon did not change much across the years as it had already a very architectural and contemporary style.
The Advertising Across The Years
POUR UN HOMME had a fantastic advertising and imagery evolution across the years. It shows that this fragrance reaches something eternal in the definition of masculinity. At the launch, the advertising codes were pretty focused on reassuring and definitely masculine codes. Connecting to the timeless beauty and adding the word sport would set up this vision of a dynamic masculine man. While women’s fragrance was about delicacy, seduction and elegance, men’s fragrances would adopt a more active way of living.
Caron has capitalized on this compelling theme during the initial years, showcasing many elements proper to a gentlemen’s attire. Here are some of the many images associated with POUR UN HOMME. Many more are missing here, but these tend to provide a flavour of the creativity of the Perfumery House.
Men adopted this fragrance, and it is passed from one generation to the next and became the signature of many celebrities, like James Dean and Serge Gainsbourg. Actually, Serge Gainsbourg was for sure the idealistic vision of the modern dandy: a true sense of elegance and style, a strong personality and a magnetic sensuality.
Decade after decade, POUR UN HOMME was illustrated by leading masculine role models. From sportspeople to artists, all regrouped under the same masculine and elegant flag—successful men who all left a trail of success behind them.
More recently, Caron asked Ludovic Baron to illustrate a more contemporary vision of POUR UN HOMME, which took us to a sharp modern scenery showcasing a young urban man with a very assertive personality.
POUR UN HOMME was a true creation and literally a revolution when launched. Today, more than never, this fragrance displays true modernity, bringing authenticity, signature and a long-term connection with masculinity. Simply beautiful.
Information sourced by the author for luxuryactivist.com. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only.