L’Anarchiste is a rather recent release from the historical house of Caron. The name of this fragrance has always baffled me. How can a perfume offer itself to be related to a sociopolitical theory which has several negative connotations? First of all how can a perfume draw from social sciences for its name? It is a little strange. I will have to put this down to the more idealized european definition of anarchy, where law and enforcement are not necessary to maintain order because individuals have reached a level of consciousness where the existence of laws is irrelevant and enforcement is obsolete. In this sense, the Anarchist has a lot in common with the idealized model of a perfect, accomplished individual as this is described by monotheistic religions. It is like drawing a full circle through social and political evolution to find oneself back where the journey started.
L’Anarchiste is unconventionally conventional. Starting from the bottle designed by Serge Mansau. It could have been more “radical”, looking like a hand grenade let’s say, if the artistic direction chez Caron were thinking along the beaten path of the end of millennium marketing or if they didn’t have such good taste. The bottle is half way between a bare, functional flask and a tombstone. It looks like made of copper (it is actually glass), which adds a third element of preconception to an already heavy cloud of ideas. This last element is particularly strong because there is an entire debate on whether this perfume actually smells metallic or not. Some have even gone as far reporting a “blood” note in this.
To my nose there is a metallic element, especially in the opening of L’Anarchist. It feels more like a herbal metallic note, the stern coldness that sometimes comes with thyme or some rare treatments of lavender, like Gris Clair…, where the leaves of lavender take centre stage leaving the flowers for more conventional compositions. And then comes orange… I swear I can small orange in this. And cinnamon, and a little bit of clove to supplement the herbal metal of the opening. An extremely balanced vetiver note supports the base, walking the fine line between green and rubbery, between Guerlain Vetiver and Vetiver Etraordinaire.
Now that I have finished describing what I smell and I read it back, why can’t it really relate to what I actually smell? I do smell orange but it isn’t citrusy or sweet. The spices are not warm and sweet. While the description of notes smells like those homemade Christmas clove studded oranges the perfume smells like a metallic pot pourri container filled with salty, bitter herbs. As a standard procedure, after I have pinned down my interpretation of a perfume for a post I research official note listings. And there I was, feeling like an idiot: orange flower, mint, vetiver, sandalwood, guaiac wood, virginia cedar and musk. By an incredibly genius feat of perfumery, the woody-floral-herbal composition comes off as a citrus-herbal spicy fragrance. There is a herbal vibe running through the composition but the common woody classification that comes with L’Anarchist remains a mystery to my nose. The mint that is officially reported is so perfectly balanced that it has nothing medicinal. The cooling dimension it creates is lost inside the metallic accord.
Like its name, L’Anarchiste is different. Fresh, cool, vibrant, playful. Unlike its name L’Anarchiste is not ground breaking. It is a beautiful herbal perfume that manages to feel young today even though there is nothing revolutionary about it. It can be had at a very good price, it carries the family name of Caron (quite irrelevant if you are a true Anarchist…), it is a wonderful alternative to masculine “fresh” scents and it will always have a romantic, dignified aura.
Notes from Fragrantica: orange flower, mint, vetiver, sandalwood, guaiac wood, virginia cedar and musk