In the Search for the Perfect Carnation

 

Through my childhood carnation was considered an official flower. Probably because of their resilience and color (red – the color of the 1917 Revolution, the anniversary of which was just a couple of days ago) carnation bouquets were traditionally brought to monuments of political leaders, used in decorating official gatherings and as funeral flowers. People were buying them for personal use as well but they always had a little stigma about them being too official and not personal enough. I remember one patriotic song’s refrain:

Red carnation is a troubled times companion;
Red carnation is our flower!

I didn’t dislike carnations but wasn’t too fond of them either. Those still were flowers, which meant better than no flowers at all, but not the first… let’s say five choices.

Soviet October Revolution Postcard

I have to mention also that the art of making real bouquets – as the opposite to just putting several stems in a bunch – didn’t come to the country where I grew up until I was well into my adulthood. Just so that you could feel the depth of it: I got married holding a cellophane cone with a bunch of (extremely expensive!) long-stemmed roses. And that was how it was done back then; it wasn’t some eccentricity on my part.

My perception of carnation had changed on my wedding day. In lieu of flower decorations it was customary for guests to bring flowers as a gift to the bride. There were many bundles of flowers, mostly roses. Some relatives brought me a huge bouquet of white carnations with greenery. It wasn’t done for me. They did it because they were very wealthy and wanted to stand out in the crowd (can you tell how I feel about them?). But regardless of their intentions they impressed me: it was one of the most beautiful bouquets I’d seen by then. And because of the mentioned above natural resilience of carnation that white-green composition well outlived all the roses we hauled home after the celebration. The bouquet below is just an illustration, “my” was three times bigger and even more beautiful.

Carnations Bouquet

Carnation isn’t the most popular note in perfumes. There are not that many soliflores or carnation-centered perfumes. I wasn’t really looking for the perfect carnation scent but I tested those that came my way.

Vitriol d’oeillet by Serge Lutens – created in 2011 by Christopher Shedrake, notes include clove, pepper, carnation, Gillyflower, woody notes, powdery notes and sweet notes. I won a decant of Vitriol d’oeillet in a giveaway on Ines’ blog (All I am – a redhead). Carnation – check! Woody notes – check! Sweet notes (whatever it means) – check. Altogether… it’s a nice and calm (despite the name) carnation perfume that I wish had a better longevity. I like it and wear sometimes but I do not see myself going beyond a bigger decant that I bought recently.

Terracotta Voile d’Ete by Guerlain – created in 1999 by Jean-Paul Guerlain and Mathilde Laurent, notes include bergamot, jasmine, mint, carnation, heliotrope, lily, pear, rose, iris root, vanilla and ylang-ylang. Lovely Tara (Olfactoria’s Travels) sent me a generous sample of this perfume. Terracotta Voile d’Ete is a warm and spicy perfume with a prominent carnation note. It’s not as transparent as Vitriol d’oeillet and has a much better tenacity. I like it as a scent but I’m not sure if I want to wear this perfume.

Eau Eternelle by Poncet – created in 2011, notes include grapefruit, jasmine, lemon, mandarin, petit grain, carnation, lavender, pink lotus, rosemary, water lily, clove, guaiac wood, moss, patchouli and sandalwood. Eau Eternelle is one of those perfumes with which I feel puzzled comparing the notes list to what I smell. The first second after the application I smell an interesting floral burst but really for just a second. Then – a relatively boring scent. Some lily, some carnation… It’s never unpleasant, just completely unremarkable and not memorable. Did it really require all those ingredients to create this?!

Oeillets Rouge by DSH Perfumes - created by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, notes include bergamot, green peppercorn, nutmeg, beeswax, carnation, amber, ambergris, myrrh and vanilla. My sample came from Joanne (Redolent of Spices). Oeillets Rouge is a very believable carnation scent. I liked it when I tested it first but now it smells to me as a prototype, a pencil draw for the perfume I describe next.

Euphorisme d’Opium by DSH Perfumes  - created in 2012 by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz as a part of the Tribute to YSL collection, notes include aldehydes, bay leaf, bitter orange, mandarin, peach, pimento, pink pepper, Bulgarian rose, carnation, cinnamon, clove, amber, Atlas cedarwood, benzoin (styrax), civet, incense, Indian patchouli, musk, myrrh and vanilla. Don’t let that plethora of notes confuse you: this is a carnation-centered perfume. Too bad that “pissed-off carnation” name had been already taken: in my opinion, it would have suited this fragrance much better than Serge Lutens’ one. I sample it from a dab vial sent to me by the perfumer and thought it was a very powerful perfume. I’m not sure I could stand it sprayed – this is how intense it is. I’m still testing Euphorisme d’Opium trying to figure out if I should go for a bottle of it – while it’s still available.

I tried Bellodgia by Caron but either my sample is too… vintage or my nose isn’t trained enough but I’m not getting a carnation from it.

Carnations

Do you like carnations?

 

Images: not a single one is mine, I found them all through a search engine but I can’t find proper attribution.

In the Search for the Perfect Mimosa, Take 2

 

“She was carrying repulsive, alarming yellow flowers in her hand. Devil knows what they’re called, but for some reason they’re the first to appear in Moscow. And these flowers stood out clearly against her black spring coat. She was carrying yellow flowers! Not a nice colour.”
M.Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita

 

Last March I tested several perfumes with a dominant mimosa note in them. I tried Amarige Mimosa 2007 by Givenchy, Mimosa by Calypso Christiane Celle, Mimosa pour Moi by L’Artisan Parfumeur, Le Mimosa by Annick Goutal, Library Collection Opus III by Amouage. I didn’t find the perfect mimosa and stopped looking for a while.

Half a year later I got a vial of mimosa absolute as a part of Laurie Erikson’s (Sonoma Scent Studio) Nostalgie testing. That was when I started questioning my memory of the scent. Mimosa absolute didn’t smell the way I remembered real mimosa blooming branches did. To my nose mimosa absolute smelled flat, single-dimensional and dusty.

Mimosa

There are several mimosa trees not too far from where I live. I was driving by them all February long planning to stop one day and smell real flowers. Ten minutes drive plus two minutes walk and I could smell all the mimosa I wanted… Mid March I realized that I almost missed it. I drove there, walked to the tree, reached the branch, pulled it to my face, inhaled… and had to admit that I waited for too long. Flowers were still there, I could see and touch them but the scent was almost gone. Despite my vSO’s protests I snapped off a twig and pressed it against my nose.  There was a faintest scent of mimosa flowers mixed with the smell of greenery and a twig itself. I could barely smell mimosa itself but it helped me to figure out why both mimosa absolute and many perfumes with mimosa smelled “wrong” to me: mimosa from my childhood was a full tree experience, not just flowers on their own.

I tested several more perfumes with a prominent mimosa note. I think now I can appreciate better the more complex compositions that feature mimosa but go beyond being a soliflore.

Une Fleur de Cassie by Frederic Malle – created by Dominique Ropion in 2000, notes include mimosa absolute, jasmine absolute, cassie absolute, rose absolute, carnation, vanilla and sandalwood. I think I like it but it’s not an airy floral perfume: I smell something heavy, grounded and substantial. I’m half way through the official sample and still don’t know if I need a travel bottle of it in my collection. If you need information, read Victoria’s precise and very descriptive review. If you need an inspiration you just cannot miss Suzanne’s captivating piece.

Mimosa by DSH Perfumes – created by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, notes include acacia, broom, cassie, French linden blossom, mimosa, iris, sandalwood, tonka bean and vanilla. I can’t find it any longer on the DSH Perfumes’ site so I’m not sure if it’s still in production. I think it’s a pleasant but not distinct enough scent. One of those perfumes that you pick up on the spur of the moment from a boutique during your vacation in a small town by the sea, enjoy wearing it while it lasts and keep a warm memory of it once it’s gone.

Tiaré Mimosa by Guerlain – created in 2009, a part of Aqua Allegoria collection, notes include lemon, pink pepper, tiare, mimosa, musk and vanilla. Warum was kind to send me a sample of it when I was on my quest for a new Guerlain love. I liked the nice combination of citrus and flower notes and even contemplated skipping all the wish list’s lines for an affordable bottle of this perfume… but then I got to test the perfume I’ll describe next…  and I do not want Tiare Mimosa any more.

Champs Elysées Parfum by Guerlain – (re)created by Jacques Guerlain and Jean-Paul Guerlain in 1996, notes include peach, melon, violet, anise, mimosa, rose, peony, lily of the valley, vanilla, benzoin, cedarwood and sandalwood. I told the story of me falling in and then out of love with Champs Elysees. Recently I decided to try it again. I wore Champs Elysees in two concentrations – EdT and parfum. For my nose they are very similar but I like parfum a little more – it’s smoother and more blended. I think I might be falling back in love with this bright, loud and cheerful perfume. Victoria (EauMG) also likes Champs Elysees.

Next year I won’t miss it! Now I know that two different types of mimosa grow close-by.

Rusty plays with mimosa

If you previously reviewed any of these perfumes please share links.

Images: my own.