9/25/11

Pour un Homme (Caron)

Being a man isn't as easy as it looks. Sure, we don't have to strive to meet unattainable beauty standards, or deal with "that time of the month," but we guys struggle to maintain unimpeachable masculinity while staying au courant in a metrosexual world. It's a high-wire act of being both accessible and individualistic, without losing our balance. When you consider the archetypical American male - the silent, rugged type - and how this sort of guy hasn't lost cache, unless he's too silent and too rugged, well then, you can draw some obvious conclusions here. Men measure themselves against each other, their archetypes, and society. It's not all babes and beer pong.

So for a lot of guys, finding an ideal fragrance is a task so difficult that many would rather just go scentless. What's this? Something that makes me smell like flowers? Jesus, forget it. That's lady stuff. And the defeatist attitude prevails in this, a small matter of personal charisma.

Jennifer Lopez once said, and I'm paraphrasing, "The first thing I notice about a man is not how he looks, but how he smells." I'm fairly certain that if more men knew she felt that way, they'd put in the extra effort to find the perfect scent. Living in a male mindset has its advantages, but not when it comes to understanding how women think. They move with their noses more than their eyes, and it's up to us to reach out to that sense and make a lasting positive impression. You can't do that if you stop at Dial soap.

You can do that if you recognize some basic tenets of masculinity: a real man is balanced between his sensitive and rugged side. Therefore, it stands to reason that a real man (as opposed to a boy) smells both hot and cold, rough and suave, timeless and modern. There's an eau de toilette for that, and it's called Pour un Homme de Caron.

When I smelled Pour un Homme for the first time, I wrinkled my nose, and almost returned the bottle. What the hell is that? I asked myself. Cold, not sweet, sorta-green, sorta-metallic, and altogether like nothing I'd ever smelled before. There was a urinous quality, too, like someone had pissed in a male sport aftershave. I sat there puzzled as this odd brew slowly resolved itself on my hand, and opened into the most gorgeous, natural-smelling lavender I'd ever met. Intrigued, I started my car and left the mall parking lot, certain now that the last thing I wanted to do was give this bottle back.

By the time I made it home, the lavender had receded, and a luminous, rich, earthy, and completely inedible vanilla had taken its place. The purple herbal luster of lavender hadn't entirely disappeared, and the urinous tinge to the base still appeared from time to time, but instead of smelling offensive, it was glorious. I smelled like I'd spent an afternoon in Provence running through the fields, and had finally returned to my chateau for a little cognac. It was wild and civilized, with an aura of something so simple and direct that it couldn't be ignored.


Pour un Homme is the fragrance for a guy who doubts fragrance, and its many powers. It's something a good woman gives to her man and makes him wear, even if it's against his wishes, because she knows it does him good (and she's right). It's a powerful essay on lavender, civet, vanilla, and musk, and it's 77 years old. Composed by Caron's founder, Ernest Daltroff, Pour un Homme was Daltroff's answer to the famous Guerlain masculine, Jicky. Unlike Jicky, Pour un Homme never found appeal with women - it was always man juice. Today, the formula survives intact, and new bottles of Pour un Homme can be had for under $50. It's been criticized as being too simple, too vanilla, too out of style, but nothing could be further from the truth. The masterful handling of greens, civet, and musk has resulted in a fragrance that works as well in a tuxedo as it does in pajamas. Pour un Homme de Caron has made it just that much easier to be a man. One of my favorites, and certainly something every guy should at least try, if not make a permanent staple in their wardrobe.






























3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this tribute! What I appreciate is the fact that in your many write ups of this fragrance, you never suggest that it is dandified or antiquated -- it's not! Why on earth do I read this? Anyway, a great fragrance, and probably, as the kids say, a 'low key' signature... Actually a signature for those who'd rather their signature wasn't that obvious, which is me. Have you tried any of the other products in the line (aftershave, deodorant, etc.?) I glimpsed them at the old Caron boutique in NYC once, but that was when I'd just been sprayed with this stuff for the very first time, and was still figuring out what hit me...

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    1. I've never tried the ancillary products in the PuH line, unfortunately, although I've extensively owned and worn all three of Caron's masculines. I never considered Yuzu Man or L'Anarchiste to be serious offerings, although I wanted to give the latter a whirl a few years back and just didn't get around to it.

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  2. Yeah, me neither... I have Yatagan, or, 'the smell of 1970's Christmas,' as my wife calls it, and fully intend to own a bottle of 3rd Man at some point (I admire it objectively, but also find it strangely moving... An experience I think a lot of people have, all the while feeling they're the only ones who have it!) I had the chance to sample Anarchiste awhile back, and might seek out the funky copper flaçon version-- I'm not sure I'm on board the normalizing of Caron's bottle design!

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