Farnesiana (Caron)

We often accuse the perfumes that offend us of smelling like "old lady". I've done this myself on occasion -- usually in reference to prim, aldehyde-heavy florals -- so I really shouldn't be pointing fingers. If I truly want to be specific, I'll describe a hated perfume as "Granny's underpants", implying a certain fishy-urinous quality hiding amid the flowers. And yet, not all "old lady perfumes" are alike; I've seen even the venerable Chanel No. 5 thus characterized, which leads me to wonder whose grandmother was Diana Vreeland. (I wish mine had been!)

But much of the time, I find that my perfume bugbears smell remarkably like-- well, babies. I'm not knocking les enfants, of course. But I guess you have to be a mother to love their smell-- milky-sweet and endearing up top, sickeningly fecal beneath, with a strange mid-range of talcum powder, seborrhoea, and pee. Jasmine, mimosa, and opopanax all contribute to this composite scent portrait, so I often look askance at perfumes in which these dirty-diaper notes intersect.

Caron Farnesiana is one such fragrance. By god, I start scoping around for the nearest changing table the minute it hits my skin. I'm enveloped in a pearlescent cloud -- not of Acacia farnesiana blooms, but of plain old Johnson's Baby Powder -- and I don't much like it. If I want to smell this particular combination of molecules, I'll visit the Happy Fun Ball Crawl down at the county fair.

Mention to me that Farnesiana is a classic, for some even a Holy Grail, and I'll nod and and take your word for it. For you, it's the Chalice From the Palace. But for me, it's the Vessel with the Pestle... or is that Flagon with the Dragon?

Scent Elements: Mimosa, bergamot, blackcurrant, hay, violet, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, sandalwood, opopanax, vanilla, musk