A Rose, A Thorn

the pain behind the beauty, originally uploaded by _Neverletmego_.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about World War II. Even before it was officially time to think about it because of Remembrance Day. Even now, 62 years after that war has finally ended, we are still suffering its consequences in many ways. Globalization and the conquest of technology over humanity seems to be two major trends that resulted indirectly from this war. But even more importantly – the constant deterioration of sense of community, family and belonging in the Western cultures, that we are experiencing in large and small gestures every day. The Great War has not only shaken the values and belief systems of millions of people, but also the mental structure of the individuals that lived through it and after it, and the result is the many challenges of modern day living – stress, alienation and a general feeling of lack of direction and sense of belonging, among almost all age groups.

And so I finally took the time to experience one of the perfumes of these great wars. Launching a perfume in the midst of World War I (1914-1918) would have been perceived as a clever but slightly macabre marketing stunt, or an act of propaganda if it would have happened nowadays. But back than perfume companies were still rather innocent and perfume played a far more important role in people’s life. Perhaps the fact that there were only about seven other perfumes launched that year (as opposed to 447 in 2007, and the year hasn’t ended yet!) tells something about the preciousness of perfume back in those days… N’Aimez Que Moi (Ernest Daltroff, 1916) is translated into “Love No One But Me”.

According to Caron: “1916: the war is raging on all fronts and young women are languishing after those men that, two years ago, they let go, full of zeal and with the promise that they’d be home very soon. To keep up morale among the troops and their lady friends, CARON launched N’Aimez Que Moi.

A true pledge of faithfulness, young soldiers gave this perfume to their betrothed so that they would renew their vows of love daily until the day when victory came.”

N’Aimez Que Mois’ composition has “Hints of crystallized violets on a wooded amber base.” And is a floral chypre for those in search for gentle and comforting fragrance. Which is precisely what I needed when I chose it tonight, unknowingly searching for comfort from all those heavy and non-optimistic thoughts.

You don’t need to know all this to enjoy N’Aimez Que Moi gives a sense of intimacy and comfort. Despite the fact that it is in a sense “an old fashioned” scent, it is so well made and artfully blended that it is timeless. N’Aimez Que Mois opens dark and dense, as most Caron perfumes do. The rose is nearly hidden in thorns and darkness of notes of cedar, moss and what seems to be the crying out loud of the Caron base… Slowly but surely, fresh roses start to bloom and open up with dewy petals but an almost green intensity. There is something very convincing and real about them – they are just about as close to true rose as I’ve ever smelled. But the roses don’t stand out on their own. The companionship of candied violets and powdery orris softens the green edge of the blooming roses, with a softness akin to kissing a very soft, freshly powdered cheek. And once you’ve reached the dry down, animalic tonalities of both jasmine and civet* create a sensuality and a sense of intimacy and closeness that lingers even longer than a kiss.

Top notes: Cedar, Rose
Heart notes: Rose, Violet, Orris
Base notes: Civet, Jasmine, Moss

* The drydown is so utterly similar to Joy that I am wondering if N’Aimez Que Moi wasn’t the inspiration for that perfume. However, N’Aimez Que Moi is so much more delicate and wearable for me, with none of the intense sharpness of aldehyde and lily of the valley that Joy attacks me with for the first couple of hours of wear.


Farnesiana is the cream of the crop in the world of mimosa soliflores. It is tastefully decadent, like a buttery almond pastry flavoured with flower essences, Farnesiana is more gourmand than floral.

Farnesiana was recreated by Michel Morsetti from Ernest Daltroff’s notes after his death in 1941. The name is taken from the Latin name for cassie, Acacia Farnesiana, as well as the garden in the Roman palace of Farnese which is the inspiration for Farnesiana. However, there is nothing Mediterranean about it, unless you recall the rich butter-soaked floor of an almond-filled baklava. The sweetness of Farnesiana, however, has none of the burning sweetness of the honey syrup of this Middle Easter pastry. It can be likened to a marzipan flavoured with floral waters, if such a thing ever existed.

In the time it was released in 1947, it was ahead of its time, like an impressionistic olfactory painting. Many gourmands nowadays pale in comparison to Farnesiana’s innovation and class.

Farnesiana opens with mimosa and cassie, but you know right away that this is going to be a very unusual mimosa scent. The heliotrope note peak in right away, with its sweet, fluffy, powdery almondness. The heart is powdery and floral but not as indolic as Mimosaique or Une Fleur de Cassie, as the presence of jasmine is tampered by the lightness of farnesol and linalol in lily of the valley and lilac and the melancholy powder of violets. You won’t smell them on their own, but their effect is felt and adds a certain airy lightnes to what is otherwise a rich, sweet, dark composition. What’s most intriguing in Farnesiana, besides its extreme dessert-like appeal, is its ability to remain so Caronesque, despite the fact that it is dusted mostly with the bright yellow flower of mimosa, ever so light and airy on its own. The most dominant element that creates this Caronesque impression is the presence of opoponax, in addition to the darkly sweet and melancholy heliotrope. It adds a musky, resinous, animalic, daring and unusual touch which is just perfect with the other base notes (vanilla and musk being the most prominent besides the opoponax and heliotrope).

Top notes: Cassie, Mimosa, Bergamot
Heart notes:,Jasmine, Lilly of the Valley, Violet, Lilac
Base notes: Cassie, Opoponax, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Musk, Heliotrope

Farnesiana is available directly from the Caron bouqitues in Paris and New York. I was very impressed with the excellent customer service of the Caron ladies in New York, Cathy Lilly and Diane Haska. They can also be contacted via their toll-free number: 1-877-882-2766.
The package arrived in a couple of days within the US to my aunt’s house, where it rested for a while until my aunt found her way to the post office (which can be easily explained by the fact that she is a busy 50+ mother of twin toddler boys). The long wait just wet my appetite and made me enjoy Farnesiana even more, when I almost forgot I ordered it. It came in the most exquisite silver coloured satin bag, fit for a queen, and accompanied by a few generous parfum extrait samples from the urn fragrances. The presentation made me think instantly of Marie Antoinette, who equally enjoyed pastries and perfumes.

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