Elusive Perfume

An ancient Parfumista’s wisdom teaches us:

“Do not buy a perfume unsniffed.”

I haven’t. It still hasn’t helped.


What can be better than spending time with friends you haven’t seen for a long while? To spend it tasting great wines in the magnificent wine country. And to make it even better add a perfume testing (at the end of the day, of course, not to ruin the appreciation of wines).

I don’t know if it was the perfume itself, the wine we tasted earlier this day or the dinner at a somewhat pretentious Michelin starred restaurant, but it was a love at first sniff. I opened the vial, put a couple of drops to my wrist, inhaled the aroma and started planning when and where I will buy it. The label on my vial stated Frederic Malle Carnal Flower.

Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle

I’d read many reviews for Carnal Flower long before I smelled it for the first time. They all sounded completely different from what I was experiencing but why would I care? I loved it, I wanted to own it.

The next day I could hardly wait until I got back to the hotel. I rushed into my room, got the precious vial, applied the perfume thriftily, brought the wrist up to my nose, inhaled… and couldn’t believe myself: I didn’t smell a thing! I could still see a wet spot on my skin – but that was it. Not a single note. Not the faintest trace of the beautiful aroma with which I fell in love the night before. Frantically I turned to my friends gracelessly invading their noses’ space with my hand: “Can you smell anything? Can you”? – “Sure, not too strong but nice…” I couldn’t and I was in despair.

In the days that followed I kept trying. For a second or two I seemed to be able to smell it and then it disappeared again. And then one day it was back. And I still thought it was amazing.

The next step was obvious and rather simple: to buy it. Ebay complaisantly offered a 10 ml (unreasonably expensive per ml) travel size bottle which I purchased happily.

The first suspicion arose when I sniffed the box in which the perfume arrived. But I still hoped it was transferred from some other perfume stored nearby.

I sprayed a couple of squirts – on my neck, on my wrists… A complete disaster: it didn’t smell AT ALL like the perfume that I loved. It wasn’t “not as pleasant” from a spray as I remembered it from a dab vial (that happens sometimes).  It wasn’t slightly different, stronger or more subtle. It was a completely different scent.

I brought both the bottle and my scarily diminishing sample vial to work. I applied both perfumes to my co-workers wrists (both mine were already taken y the imposter so I couldn’t do a parallel testing myself). I smelled her wrists, I asked couple more co-workers to do the same. The verdict was unanimous: those two were definitely two different perfumes.

Of course, at this point I remembered all the reviews describing Carnal Flower as a big white floral – which I could never smell but disregarded since I thought it was my personal strange reaction. My coincidental recent testing of the L’Artisan Tubéreuse only confirmed my certainty that the bottle I’ve bought indeed was a genuine bottle of Carnal Flower (an unmistakable tuberose that I really disliked) and that I didn’t have a slightest idea of which fragrance I tried and fell in love with.

A double elusive perfume!

Without too much hope but rather as a desperate attempt to at least try to save the situation I wrote to Aedes de Venustas site ) from which I bought the sample. I told my sad story and pleaded for help. I didn’t need the “right” sample since I already had 10 ml bottle of that right but completely wrong perfume. I wanted to find my new love. Five minutes later when I saw a response from them arriving to my inbox I was sure it would say that there was nothing they could do for me. But I was wrong. A guy named Robert suggested that I sent my vial back to them and they would try to figure it out. Which I did (reluctantly and after getting the assurance that they would send it back to me – no matter how little would be left – in case if they cannot identify the perfume).

Molecule 01 by Escentric MoleculesI still cannot believe that but they were able to find my elusive darling: Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules. After reading reviews all over the diapason from one to five stars, I know that I wasn’t imagining things, and the perfume’s elusiveness is a phenomenon encountered by many others.

The important decision I have to make now: do I need a full size bottle or will a travel size bottle suffice? That is the question.

Images: originals from Aedes’s site, processed by me.

For real reviews read: Now Smell This, Perfume-Smellin’ Things and Bois de Jasmin for Carnal Flower; Olfactoria’s Travels for Molecule 01.


19 thoughts on “Elusive Perfume

  1. Undina, that’s a fascinating story! I’m sorry you ended up with an expensive vial of fluid that you do not care for at all.

    I’ve experienced something not entirely similar but in the same family of experiences: I was shopping for a new fragrance for a date – nervous shopping is what I call it as I already had plenty to choose from. I sniffed a lot of different fragrances and finally made a choice – Bulgari Omnia. When the date night arose I sprayed on the perfume and smelled……nothing. Nothing at all. Puzzled I sprayed on some more. And then some. And perhaps a little more. Hm. Strange. And I left home and headed out for my date. In hindsight I realize now that others might very well have been able to smell what I wasn’t able to and I probably gassed out the entire cafe upon entering the room. The date came and went. Oh, well. But what really puzzles me to this day is what perfume I THOUGHT I was buying?! I will never know. I eventually threw out Omnia since I was never able to smell it – and that does defeat the purpose of wearing perfume.


    • Marie, thank you for an amusing story. Our senses play tricks on us from time to time. The idea of getting an anosmia scares me.

      Since I published that item I’ve bought a travel bottle of Molecular 01 – and I’m afraid to start using it: what if I cannot smell it again? I’ll get over it, but the fear is there.


    • replying here to this ancient comment just to say — i recently tested an old sample i had of bulgari omnia, and based on things i’ve been reading plus various other fragrance tests i’ve been doing, i concluded it contains a large dose of iso E super. your experience of smelling nothing when you sprayed it only confirms this for me! so fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a nightmare tale for any perfume lover. An interesting idea though would be to try wearing them both together. I have tried Carnal Flower and I found it overpowering and boring although I love tuberose. Molecule 01 on the other hand is well known as an excellent layer that adds to the base of other perfumes. Why don’t you try them together and report back to us.


    • (laughing) No-no-no, I’ll pass. If anything, Carnal Flower wasn’t boring for me so I definitely do not want to “spice it up” or improve in any way – unless you have in mind a good combination that can soften it, make it less “loud”.


    • Ok, since a) I have both; b) I decided to keep Carnal Flower – if for nothing else, as a reminder of this ordeal, and even try to wear it again at some point and c) you insist on the idea, the next time I work from home I’ll try it out.


  3. I LOVE Carnal Flower! That it quite the ride you went on! That is amazing they were able to figure out what the incorrect sample was they sent you. I think after all that trouble you’d better buy a bottle ;-)


    • I did. Now I’m a proud owner of a FB Molecular 01 and a travel spray of Carnal Flower which I try from time to time hoping I’ll change my mind. So far – I still do not like tuberose.


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    • Nemo!!! You are my favorite reader! :)

      Even now, 5 years later, I put a lot of efforts in every post I publish. But many of the stories are fruit of thought and analysis. In the first year or two of the blogging most of my stories came directly from the heart: I lived them through and I wanted to share them with others… But there wasn’t too many “others” (as you can see from the comments). Over years I keep referring to some of these stories (when it’s appropriate) and I know that some of my friends actually read them. But I almost never get comments to those older stories. You’ve just made my day! Thank you.


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