Poivre (Caron)

The scent of candy is a sure divider amongst perfumistas. Some pursue it as if driven by the dictates of an uncontrollable craving. Others recoil from it as if nursing a perpetual toothache. But these represent the extremes. Between them lies a vast diversity -- a virtual candy store, really -- catering to every permutation of taste, even those politely given the label "acquired".

My candy radar can be pretty persnickety. I favor powdery (Necco Wafers) over sticky (Jolly Ranchers), savory (salted toffee or mukhwas) over syrupy (cherry cordials), obscure (horehound drops, coffee haagsche hopjes) over trendy (anything Trolli, Gummi, or Haribo)... and I like my candy red hot.

As though whole cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks had been smuggled into its boutique urn and left to steep, Caron's Poivre roils with heat. Wed Bellodgia to Parfum Sacre and toss a peck of árbol chilis into the dowry for good measure, and you have the jist of Poivre. (An early advertisement for Poivre calls it le parfum de la mariée-- "a perfume for the bride". My god, what a girl she must be!)

Few flowers could stand up to this intensity better than carnations, roses, and geraniums. Believe me, they do succeed... for a while. But what Blacknall Allen says is perfectly true: even so spicy a triumvirate of flowers as this "...sinks in a morass of heavier, hotter materials like a bouquet in a lava flow." Neither she nor I are complainin'.

Like Heeley Esprit du Tigre, Diptyque L'Eau, L'Artisan Poivre Piquant or Navegar, and Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu, Poivre is a savage little confection based on the contrast between airy sheerness and fiery "bite". If all of the above-named fragrances came in a boxed and beribboned sampler (hear that, Olfactif?) I'd bethe happiest candy addict on the planet.

Scent Elements: Carnation, peppercorn, cayenne, clove, geranium, rose, tuberose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, oakmoss, vetiver, sandalwood, opopanax