Review: Rigaud Eau de Kananga c. World War II Era
Most people will probably not care one way or another for Eau de Kananga, but I am very excited about it. Parfums Rigaud opened its doors in the 1870s under the last years of rule by Napoleon III and Prussian occupation. Rigaud was a great house that made many great Belle Epoch styled French perfumes, but stopped making perfumes altogether in 1951 when the company transitioned exclusively into producing scented candles—how exciting. So, any bottle of Rigaud perfume must have been made before that.
Some minis exist, but the rare 8 oz bottle comes in a black opaque glass bottle with gold trim and screw top. Eau de Kananga is a perfect soapy barbershop fragrance. The opening is a rich citrus with lavender, verbena, and lemon rind. The next stage is the beautiful soapy aspect composed of clove, carnation, ylang, jasmine, neroli, orris, and geranium chased by a simple musk that extends it a few moments longer. This soap is French soap from the 1940s—rich and earthy, but squeaky clean.
Eau de Kananga feature Kananga, the Japanese Ylang Ylang, but it is never sweet or indolic as are so many ylangs; the ylang merely adds dimension and a slighty powdery sweetness that works well with the orris and jasmine. Kananga harks back to the last true era of the French gentleman when one was supposed to smell soapy clean and that is certainly what Kananga does.