Perfume Pen Pals: Caron The Third Man


I got this message on YouTube from someone called BlackWid0w:

"I have been wearing Le 3ème Homme de Caron (The Third Man) and absolutely loving it. I guess it a man's fragrance, but I love it on my skin (am female). I first read about it on your blog, so thanks for turning me on to it."

The thing is, Dan, you were the one who turned her on to it, extolling its charms in a blog post a year ago, while I've let the decant you sent me languish. Until now. Inspired by BlackWid0w, I'm wearing The Third Man right this moment and enjoying it greatly.
I knew it was billed as a lavender, which is why I'd given it a wide berth. (I associate the smell of lavender with sachets and sprained ankles: not a big come-on for me.)

But The Third Man blurs the dreaded medicinal lavender with fantastically smooth and glorious jasmine, joined seamlessly by faint anise and vanilla, as well as spicy carnation. The splendid, eternal drydown glows with a mossy musk echo of all that's gone before. Je dig.



That's nice. The Third Man is rich and sweet, and I can imagine any woman feeling comfortable wearing it. Those classic old mainstream masculines were somehow more feminine than the grim, bare-boned modern ones.

It's ironic that the men wearing the old stuff were inherently more masculine than the modern male who's always fretting about not crossing any gender lines. Though maybe it's not ironic, maybe the modern male frets specifically because he recognizes he's not nearly as butch as his father was, and so he relies on superficial masculine trappings to keep him squarely on the boys' side.

It's funny how often our perfume discussions veer into amateur sociological deliberations. Anyway, yay for BlackWid0w, I'm sure she smells great. I just hope she doesn't have one of those fretting modern men in her life who's suddenly freaked out because he's excited by a male cologne. Oh, the complexity of contemporary life.


Simplicity pattern via


  1. Dan and Katie -

    I couldn't agree with the two of you more, about Caron AND about the armchair sociopsych.

    Caron has always been the house for great men's fragrances based on lavender. Not only is Third Man out there, but also Pour Un Homme, another lavender-based scent that is very masculine but women wear happily. Lavender, vanilla, musk. Simple, masculine as all get-out and sexy as hell.

    Caron has always been one of my favorite lines - for 3rd Man, Pour Un Homme, but also for the mighty lion's roar that is Yatagan.

    Now THAT's a fragrance no man should be without. Especially if he's some spaghetti-spined poetaster huffing the Calvin Klein Aqua samples and worrying about whether he smells like a girl.

  2. I love to wear frags meant for guys. The right ones just smell so beautiful. Not too sweet, not too strong, just comforting and soothing. It is the smell equivalent of curling up with a favorite antique book that has been read over and over again but is satisfying every time.

  3. The top notes of the 3rd man somehow manage to be both very pretty and slightly spooky at the same time: there's a quality to them that's a little like sniffing ether - you half-expect to pass out on the spot.

    Then the heart/base notes do their thing and that's pretty strange as well: I ended up all-but stalking my fellow supermarket shoppers one day in an attempt to locate the wearer of an astonishingly lovely fragrance - until I figured out that it was me I could smell. I couldn't smell the heart/base on me at all but was surrounded by its radiance. Very odd stuff. Delightful - and odd.

  4. Dear Mr. Hubert--

    Thank you for further corroborating the findings of Miss Katie. I will try this fragrance as soon as possible.


  5. Ooohhh...I'm doing a fluttering hanky, perfumista swoon at y'all's vivid accounts of Caron and the glory of man fumes. I love reading your insights and analyses.

  6. I adore "luh trwah-zee-emm ommm" and pour un homme (and yatagan... and even l'anarchiste, though not quite as much) as well. I wore them a LOT a couple years ago (before the collection started growing exponentially...). I haven't worn them as much lately but when I do I am always finding something new in them, even in pour un homme which I used to think was rather linear (until I started getting better at detecting individual notes in fragrances. Nowadays I smell more of the warm dry herbal accord that runs through it in addition to the sweet vanilla/lavender top.)

    3eme Homme is shockingly beautiful, I think I actually teared up the first time I tried the sample I had ordered from TPC (based on Turin's advice in The Guide) - I couldn't believe how much depth it had. The collection has grown but 3eme Homme is no less spectacular even when compared to many niche perfumes costing many times the price.

  7. Brian, I'm tearing up a little at your passion. What an uncanny thing that a smell can cause us to clutch our hearts.

  8. This is further cementing my resolve to get my hands on this fragrance.

    There are many scents that I find simply "nice." The same way that you would say, "Oh, he's a nice guy," but it's no one you would ever go out with. Maybe this guy has many great qualities, but...there's certainly nothing wrong with him,

    But when I find a fragrance that I really, truly love, yes, it's like meeting someone who makes your heart soar.

    Everyone should give an example of meeting a fragrance that was comparable to an emotional experience with a human being.

    True love: Le Temps de Une Fete

    Your turn!

  9. Nora - two come immediately to mind:

    Guerlain's L'instant Pour Homme - still heartstopping for me. So much so that every time I wear it I swear I've been hit by sheer sorcerous magic.

    Anything from Diptyche - they were my first introduction to proper perfumery, and to this day I am blown away by what they can do.

    But in keeping with the thread, for any man wanting to be instantly as mysterious and debonair as James Bond, it's Caron all the way, hands down. If you only had one house from which to get your scent from, Caron is really all you need. Pure, simple elegance to powerhouse Spanish leather masculinity. Can't be beat.

  10. Stefush, L'Instant pour Homme - have I already been talking about this in my outside voice? I don't think it's made it to KP Smells yet, but Dan and I have been pen-palling on this one - I pushed him towards a purchase and it's his new favorite smell.

    Nora, my emotional perfume meeting was with Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose. I first smelled it when my best friend Desiree wore it as a teenager, and it smells so emphatically "itself" - I love how self-determined it is. Another one was Chanel Coromandel, which immediately fascinated me while also kind of bugging me. Bugging me so much that I had to keep going back to smell it to figure out what the problem was. Turned out the problem was I needed to buy it and wear it.

  11. The first time i truly smelled Aprés L'Ondée I totally choked up.... I still love it to death and only wear it sparingly, even though I have a back-up bottle..cheers, Wendy

  12. Stefush--I've tried this one on at Sephora, but it didn't make an impression on me, I think mostly because I was already wearing probably six perfumes and had smelled six others besides. I'll give it another try.

    Also, I don't remember who said this, but it was mentioned once that "wearing a fragrance won't make you more interesting."


    Gotta get my Caron on.

    Katie, post your L'Instant pen-pallery shenanigans with Dan STAT.

    P.S., I'm sorry that we are so bossy with you.

  13. Wendy--

    I'm learning to love "Apres l'Ondee." It didn't really move me the first time I tried it, but I'm going to give it some time.

  14. Nora - no, wearing a fragrance won't make you more interesting because wearing fragrances makes EVERYTHING more interesting.

    Scent is power, magic and might in its most sophisticated form.

  15. Stefush--if I have a smelly party, you're totally invited.

  16. Nora - you ARE the party and everyone knows it. I'd just be redundant, but happy to attend.