Like a mini Coriandre (1973), rosy and herby Infini by Caron is an edgy floral aldehyde with a distinctly '70s kind of sophistication.
It starts out with a strong coriander note, which creates an interesting dry counterpoint to the juicy peach, sweet neroli, and rich rose that bloom as the fragrance evolves into its floral heart. Infini then dries down to a wonderful base of woody sandalwood and vetiver, with tonka, musk, ambrein (ambergris), and civet, the animalic notes adding subtle sexiness and warmth. Hours after I’ve applied it, Infini, befitting its name, seems to go on forever, echoing the faintest rose and coriander veiled by warm base notes.
Top notes: Aldehyde complex, bergamot, peach, neroli, coriander
Heart notes: Rose centifolia, jasmine, lily of the valley, orris, ylang-ylang, carnation
Base notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, ambrein, tonka, musk, civet*, **, ***
(Perfumer: Gerard Lefort)
I was looking at an early 1970s Vogue with a friend, and she remarked that the young models looked like women and not teenage girls like they do today. Just think of the supermodels then: Gia Carangi, Karen Graham, Beverly Johnson, and Lisa Taylor (shown below). They were in their twenties, and their faces looked adult rather than adolescent — knowing, womanly, even sexually intimidating.
Perfumes from the 1970s share that unapologetic sophistication. They weren’t afraid of being a little difficult and complex. After all, teens already had their own scents like Love's Baby Soft and Blue Jeans by Shulton. This division that once existed between women and girls and that seems all but blurred now****, makes me think of an interview I heard on NPR with Jonathan Franzen.
He was talking about his new book Freedom, and he said it was in part a lamentation over the loss of the distinction between adults and children. I’d say there’s a similar problem going on in the world of fashion, beauty, and fragrance. With women freezing and filling their faces to resemble the teens they’ll never look like again, it’s no wonder they also want to smell “young." Apparently, "woman" is a dirty word.
It’s funny, perhaps it’s because I was a kid in the late seventies and early eighties, but I never wanted to smell (or look) young. I loved my mother’s jackets, silk blouses, and chypre perfumes, her red, glossy lips and dark eye shadow. Young just never seemed that interesting to me.
I’ve been visiting my mother, whose taste in perfume has sadly changed with the times. (Well, I find it sad.) No more Femme, Magie Noire, or Diva for her; she likes the easier, lighter perfumes now. Today, I was wearing Infini around the house to get a sense of it.
“What is that perfume?” she asked. Excited she might finally like one of my vintages, I told her what it was. “Do you like it?” “Ummm, not really," she said reluctantly. "You smell like an old lady.”
Oh, the irony.
* The perfume notes and date (1972) I've listed are from my Haarman & Reimer guide, which are at odds with the notes and dates that Vetivresse and Fragrantica list. I'm going with H&R because their notes ring truer to the perfume I have; I can actually smell the coriander, lily of the valley, etc.
** There was an Ernst Daltroff Infini from 1912. No idea what that smells like.
*** Infini's cool, space-age looking bottle in the shape of an infinity sign was designed by Serge Mansau.
**** Witness 47-year-old Demi Moore tweeting pictures of herself in a bikini like a Facebook teen.