L’Anarchiste: order in chaos

Order in Chaos

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because individuals have reached a level of consciousness where the existence of laws is irrelevant and enforcement is obsolete.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

Notes from my nose: copper, orange, cinnamon, clove, vetiver


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas http://pantelismakkas.blogspot.com/. You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. Christos, I’ve never tried this one, but you and one other blogger have written about it in a way that makes me think I must! I think what you wrote nicely dovetails with what Victoria of Eau MG wrote about this fragrance. Go check out her review (it’s fantastic!), when you get a chance. You both make it sound so wonderfully odd and compelling.

  2. Nice review Christos. L’Anarchiste was a puzzle for me. Blame it on my (bad?) habit of trying to unveil intentions, reasons why and potential messages in almost everything in life but this strange, plain but in an interesting way “copper” bottle was no exception. For a name like that and a house like Caron I had many expectations. Unfortunately it completely failed to “pass me the message”. I was ready to accept blood notes(like the ones you mention), cold steel accords, and radical woody floral bursts but instead I got a strange bitter orange and mint top, a spiced apples (heavy on cloves) accord with some cedar thrown in (with some “anarchy” I admit) in the heart and a faulty (for me) blend of musk components and sandalwood at the base. Different but pointless (and another beautiful name goes wasted).

    • Well, no one can blame this.Anarchist of being radical. Maybe closing the full circle that I refer to in the opening, too much anarchy can lead you to piety. However I still think it can be a far more interesting substitute to, let’s say Chanel Bleu.

      • Definitely! (Soap+Plain water is a far more interesting substitute to Chanel Bleu lol). Maybe I was overeacting, on this one. It is not bad, it just couldn’t work for me the way I was expecting to do. From what I read in Fragrantica and BN, it is just another case of love and hate scent. However I still think there are quite a few other masculines that deserve a name like this (Rive Gauche PH or Terre for instance).

  3. Interesting: it’s the second time in the last couple of days I’m reading about a metallic scent element associated with lavender – though I can’t remember about which perfume or where I read it (I think, one of two people in the conversation was Natalie from APB). I’ve never smelled it like that, so now I’m curius.

    I think European and American connotations for this word are slightly different. I didn’t even think twice about this name when I read it. Maybe because in my native language this word was widely used in its figurative meaning.

    I’m so unfamiliar with this line (I’ve tried 3 or 4 perfumes total) so I won’t even put this one on my “to try” list but if I ever happen to be to the store that carries these, I won’t forget the name – thank you.

    • There is a camphorous element in lavender, thyme and clove that can be treated to accentuate a metallic or mineral aspect. Gris Clair is a very good example of this I think. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier use berries to create a similar metallic aspect, I don’t know how they do this.

      L’Anarchiste is part of the widely available range of Caron’s and it is quite easy to find and at very good prices. I am quite unfamiliar with their exclusive releases too.

  4. smellythoughts

    Nice read. Anything with a clove note puts me off, but this sounds like it’s worth at least a quick sniff.
    It sounds like the complete opposite of what I’d normally consider trying, but metallic + orange sounds intriguing!
    I haven’t explored the Caron line at all, not one, maybe I’m missing out…

    • Mind you clove is not listed in the “official” note pyramids so you there is greater chance that you will like it.

      You should try at least the widely available masculine Caron perfumes. They are classics and with good reason.

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