– a review of Tauer Perfumes’ Carillon pour un Ange
I don’t know about you, but this winter is getting old. Old as in … just move along already and give way to my most favorite time of year, the season of renewal, of hope, of sunshine and warmth… spring. And what better way to kick Old Man Winter to the curb than through a luminous perfume that exudes its own sunlight and adds a lilt to your voice and a sashay to your step?
Which was precisely where I was this wretched, rainy, cold March day when I remembered something in my Guilt Trip Review Box that just might be the one-way ticket away from all the months-long miseries caused by a seemingly endless winter of drab, dank and damp.
Many flowers have laid claim to being the embodiments of spring; hyacinths, tulips, daphne, bluebells… it makes for a long list. Yet in spite of their many virtues and the perfumes that pay homage to them, perhaps none are so emphatically spring-like in their appearance or their fragrance as those tiny, fragile snow-white bells known as lily of the valley.
The paradox about lily of the valley in perfumery is that the fragrance can’t be extracted from the flowers, so a lily of the valley perfume relies on a perfumer’s skill in building an accord to evoke it, whether that is by flower essences and absolutes and/or using hydroxycitronellal, Lilial or Lyral.
For many, the ultimate lily of the valley recreation is Edmond Roudnitska’s 1956 Diorissimo, the one lily of the valley to rule them all, but Diorissimo and I – as indeed my opinion of lily of the valley perfumes in general – don’t get along at all.
First of all, my mother wore it, which kills it for me stone cold. Second, although I adore the verdant fragrance of the flowers themselves when I find them, something about their interpretations in perfumes strike me as too virginal, too snow-white, too altogether frilly, hyper-feminine and white-tulle-with-added-meringue bridal for my personal tastes.
Until that fateful September afternoon (because I’m nothing if not perverse) in Florence when I discovered one that wasn’t, the one that was indeed a lily of the valley perfume, but didn’t strike me as an ad for the wedding service industry (or meringued-out gowns), as musty or old-fashioned in the slightest:
Tauer Perfumes’ Carillon pour un Ange, henceforward referred to as Carillon.
I’d read the many reviews of Carillon, read them with that instinctual frisson which informed my synapses that maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t be one of those virginal ingénues that sent this post-punk catastrophe running for the hills of the blackest, raunchiest, goatiest labdanums I could find.
So it all magically came to pass that overly fragrant afternoon at the Stazione Leopolda, when the entire glorious lineup of Andy Tauer’s creations gleamed in front of me and the first one I reached for was Carillon.
Muguet? Oh, yes. Lily of the valley and a whole supporting cast of viridian characters danced in on a silvery spring sunbeam that instantly blasted away the memories of most of the countless hyperluxe eau de niche perfumes I sniffed that day.
I left the Stazione Leopolda thinking new and very modern thoughts about lily of the valley. Such as… I want a bottle of this, pronto per favore. Not to mention: This! Is a lily of the valley I can actually love. And wear. And not feel like Bridezilla five minutes before walking down the aisle.
When Andy Tauer kindly offered to send me samples some long time later in another context (his re-release of the bottled summer known as Cologne du Maghreb), I remembered Carillon, remembered that moment and asked for Carillon, to see if my recall had been correct. The day it arrived, I sprayed it, swooned to be back in memory at least to that afternoon in Florence, put my Tauer tin in the Guilt Trip Box… and forgot all about it until today, as winter writhes its last throes outside in the rain and the wind huffs and puffs against my windowpanes, today when I am desperate for a breath… of spring.
If you could assign a color to spring, surely it would be the tender sunny green of leaves about to burst?
So it is with Carillon, right from the opening peals floating on the breeze right above my skin. I detect a smidgen of rose, certainly lilac and a suggestion of a dense, oily-green hyacinth, although hyacinth isn’t listed among the notes, but above all, clear as the bells of the flowers themselves is this lily of the valley, no ingénue but instead an olfactory interpretation of the flowers, the stalks and leaves, the cool snap of sap and the rise of sunshine, as much as to sing… wake up, wake up!
Winter is dead – long live spring!
Long may it reign, and indeed it does once these bells hit their stride and grab the airy, verdant jasmine for a Viennese waltz on the lawn in the sun and around and around they go. Ylang ylang, which is listed on the Tauer website as a topnote, doesn’t make an entrance on my skin until well into the heart and then only as a discreet sugar dusting to balance the green and banish the bitter. Off they all waltz into the sunset of a flawless spring day across that emerald lawn, echoed by a soft step of leather, moss and ambergris that is nothing in the slightest like the Tauerade you think you know.
In flower symbolism, lily of the valley symbolizes the return of happiness. If that is an omen – just as I was reminded of Carillon on a dire, drab day of doom and despair this winter will ever end – then I’ll take it, thank you very much. Or else I’ll take it as a sign that spring will – all momentary appearances to the contrary – indeed return and happiness, too, so long as I can ring in the clarion call of spring with this peal of bells for an angel (or a mortal!) called Carillon pour un Ange.
Notes for Carillon pour un Ange: Rose, ylang ylang, lilac, lily of the valley accord, jasmine, leather, ambergris, moss woods.
Disclosure: A sample was provided for review by Andy Tauer. For the sample, for his support, encouragement and for his astonishing patience, I thank him profusely. My reviews and opinions are my own, for which see my review disclaimer here. Also a big thank you to Monica Miller, who reminded me.