Thursday, 4 November 2010

Review: Carillon Pour Un Ange by Tauer Perfumes (2010)

A few weeks ago, Madame Persolaise and I were on an escalator, descending into London's Tube network. She was wearing vintage Diorissimo; I'd dabbed my wrists with a few drops of an oud oil I'd picked up in India. As we sank deeper inside the city, a draught of air rushed past us, blowing through our hair and clothes. And in that instant, something rather magical happened. The incomparable lily of the valley of Monsieur Roudnitska's masterpiece mingled with the feral snarl of my oud and created an entirely new scent around us: an odd, unearthly mix that glowed over our heads like an incandescent halo.

The essence of that moment has been captured by Andy Tauer in Carillon Pour Un Ange, easily the most unusual of the four scents he's released this year. I say 'unusual' because it's the type of perfume that causes reviewers to stare at their keyboards in frustration and resort to maddening phrases like 'almost, but not quite' and 'just about, possibly, maybe, but I'm not entirely sure'. In other words, it's an enigma. Yes, its heart is based around a green lily of the valley accord, but it doesn't try for a single moment to provide a straightforward impersonation of the flower: with a diffusiveness and a tenacity that are nothing short of astonishing (spray a tiny bit on paper and you'll see what I mean) it creates a strange, otherworldly evocation of the tiny white blossoms, boldly pushing the scent to a grassy, pea-like extreme at which it almost becomes too synthetic. Almost, but not quite.

Underneath this floral shimmer is a dark base that could perhaps be summed up by the word 'leather', but again, that wouldn't come close to conveying the fullness of its complexity. Mossy, earthy and metallic, its foundation conjures an intensely physical shade of brown, a landscape covered in unrecognisable textures that seem organic, but could possibly be entirely man-made. Possibly, but I'm not entirely sure.

Carillon's intangible unknowability suddenly makes sense when you consider that, in the early stages of its development, it was called Gabriel. Like the vision that appeared before Mary, it is recognisable, yet utterly alien; it projects a sense of protective safety, whilst remaining frightening; it is divinely beautiful but also, in some ways, divinely unapproachable. And like Biblical angels, it dispenses with human notions of sexuality and presents its own celestial sensuousness. Indeed, it's one of very few 'unisex' fragrances for which the term seems reductive: the way it operates requires a far more provocative label, something like 'duosex,' perhaps.

Like all challenging scents, it's bound to divide opinion. But if you consider yourself to be a fan of perfumes that are out of the ordinary and you wish to be transported to a setting that's as concrete as it is illusory, you cannot afford to turn deaf ears on this particular peal of heavenly bells.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]



  1. I found it smelled in the beginning exactly as lilies of the valley amell when you pick them in a forest. Incredible feat if you ask me even though I don't think wearable for me.

  2. I plan to try this, as I love "Vetiver Dance", which is another very strange bird! Andy is a master at creating compelling, and originally weird, scents. They really grow on one....

  3. I tried, 3 days in a roaw, but I really didn't like this one. I like that Andy Tauer tries new and interesting things though.

  4. Ines, yes, there are moments when it seems almost hyper-real. Have you actually tried wearing it? Its sillage is really beautiful.

  5. Kjanicki, oh well, at least you gave it a fair chance. But yes, you're right, we've got to be grateful to Andy for heading in unexpected directions.

  6. Masha, thanks for your comment. Ultimately, the notion of 'weird' is totally subjective, isn't it? Lots of people find Lonestar Memories rather odd, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker from the very first spray. I hope you get to try Carillon soon.

  7. is this perfume suitable for men? looking for some unusual men's perfumes....

  8. Columbine, that's always a tricky subject, isn't it? Andy deliberately - and quite rightly, in my opinion - doesn't classify his perfumes by sex. I quite happily wore Carillon whilst testing it for this review, and if I owned a full bottle, I would continue to wear it confidently and comfortably. But I know plenty of men who wouldn't dream of wearing it.

    It isn't what you'd call a traditional masculine, but then, as you say in your comment, that's not what you're looking for. Would you consider wearing Guerlain's Shalimar or Nahema? Do you like Gaultier's Fleur Du Male? Would you feel happy spraying a strong floral - like a tuberose, maybe - on yourself? If so, I'd say you ought to try Carillon.

  9. thanks for your answer, actually, it isn't for me but for my boyfriend and what he likes best are perfumes with a strong leather componant (suits him well too) and no i don't see him wearing Shalimar (which i wore for years) or any feminine perfumes because he associates feminine scents strongly with me.
    i think that i will order a sampler set from his website, including carillon (just love the name so much :-)) but it sounds as it may not be the thing for him (floral isn't like him at all)

  10. Columbine, I'm afraid Carillon definitely has a strong floral aspect, but you never know, your boyfriend might like it.

    I'm sorry if I'm making suggestions you're already aware of, but have you tried Knize Ten or Serge Lutens' Cuir Mauresque? Oh, and if you're going to order some Tauer samples and your boyfriend likes leather, then you MUST order a sample of Lonestar Memories!

  11. thank you for the suggestions, i had not heard of Knize Ten and the reviews i have read made me want to give it a of the local perfume shops seem to stock it so...and yes i will order a sample of Lonestar :- )

  12. Columbine, you're more than welcome. I'll be very interested to find out what you make of Lonestar.


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