Parfums Caron was established in 1904 by Ernest Daltroff. Alpona, one of Daltroff's many fragrance creations, launched in 1939, and has notes of lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, rose, orange, jasmine, orchid, thyme, patchouli, myrrh, cedar, sandalwood, musk, and oakmoss.
Alpona starts with citrus fruits, but don't look for fresh-squeezed juice here — Caron describes the citrus as "crystallized", and that is exactly what it smells like: sugared preserved fruit. Marmalade, with its touch of bitter peel tempering the sugar, might actually be more apt, as Alpona is not at all overly sweet. Elements of the mossy chypre base are apparent from the start, and lend a rich backdrop to the citrus opening. The citrus notes last well into the dry down, and then are gradually replaced by the well-blended floral heart notes. The far dry down is soft woods, green mosses, musk, and a hint of patchouli.
The dark undertone that characterizes the classic Caron fragrances is there, but it is subdued. Consequently it has a modern feel, both in comparison to other Carons and also in contrast to many chypre fragrances that post-dated it (Miss Dior, Ma Griffe, Cabochard). All the same, it is a deep, rich, sophisticated fragrance, with none of the airy transparency of a modern fresh chypre. It could easily be worn by either sex, and the lasting power is excellent. Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good chypre, or anyone who has found the classic Caron scents unapproachable.
Caron Alpona is one of the urn parfums, meaning simply that it is kept in an urn (see picture above) at the Caron boutiques. You choose the empty bottle of your choice, and have it filled with the fragrance. You can find a complete list of boutiques on the Caron website. Samples are available at the New York boutique for $5 each, fully refundable on subsequent purchases.