L’Artisan Parfumeur Oeillet Sauvage Fragrance Review

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Soliflorals, fragrances based around a single flower, have a school-marmish reputation. Orange blossom and tuberose have been made trendy (Jo Malone Orange Blossom) and chic (Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower), but the idea of wearing a straightforward rose or lavender perfume still doesn’t excite many women. One might as well ask them to don an apron over a house dress and host a tupperware party. Carnation perfumes fare worst of all. Take a look at any consumer survey at fragrance marketing departments, and you’ll see all sorts of derogatory adjectives next to this classical note–“dated,” “fusty,” “old-fashioned,” or the ultimate insult, “boring.”

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Oeillet Sauvage -  100ml

This is a shame, because it means that those of us who love carnations for their opulent spicy scent get a short shrift. I’ve collected a number of classical carnation perfume bases (mixtures of natural and synthetic notes that are used as building blocks in fragrance compositions) and have been on a permanent quest to find as many interesting carnation perfumes as I can. L’Artisan Parfumeur reissued Oeillet Sauvage just in time for my mission.

Oeillet Sauvage was launched in 2000, and true to its name, “wild carnation,” it had zest and spice. If you knew Oeillet Sauvage back then, you’d agree with me that the new version isn’t the same. It’s much less spicy. To review it negatively based on the difference would be unfair, since there is precious little perfumers can do about regulations restricting the use of basic materials. So, I decided to blank out the memory of my carnation redolent college student self and wear Oeillet Sauvage as if we’d never met before.

Oeillet Sauvage has a bland start that would confirm the fears of those who see carnation as too prim & proper. A note of black pepper is so curiously blanched and mild that it barely registers. There are loads of rose and jasmine, and they remain sheer, airy and bright as the perfume develops. Stay with me though, or rather, don’t dismiss the perfume just yet. The best part of Oeillet Sauvage is the drydown. It smells velvety and creamy, with a clear accent of clove, and the contrast between the musky flowers (a mixture of lily and carnation) and spice is addictive. It also smells, for the lack of a better word, natural, replicating the sensation and texture of petals.

In sum, most of you won’t need this perfume–attractive florals are a dime a dozen. The exceptions are the die-hard carnation lovers who refuse to believe in the inherent dowdiness of this  note but still want a modern interpretation to wear alongside such classics like Caron Bellodgia and Estée Lauder Cinnabar. Unless you’re willing to spend even more on Aedes’s Oeillet Bengale, L’Artisan’s version might be the next best thing.

Or am I missing something better?

L’Artisan Parfumeur Oeillet Sauvage includes notes of carnation, rose, ylang-ylang, lilac, black pepper, pink pepper, cedarwood, and musk. 100ml (3.4oz) bottles of Eau de Toilette, 100€.

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103 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: I love the smell of carnation, so I will try this one. I have Soie Rouge, like it but in the end it is too sweet. Too much honey.
    I also own and like Dianthus. It reminds me of the (cheap but nice) Italian talcum powder my mother used to buy in the fifties. Sweet memories with Dianthus. July 29, 2015 at 7:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Soie Rouge is a carnation syrup on me, which sounds nice in theory but it’s too cloying and musky.

      I remember buying wonderful lily of the valley scented talcum powder in Italy a few years ago. Also a cheap, pharmacy brand. The best kind of scented thrill. July 29, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

  • Marie: I was excited to see Oeillet back but its high price held me back. Not sure I want it now. I like carnation notes in Balenciaga’s Florabotanica. July 29, 2015 at 8:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, you have to be crazy in love with carnations to tolerate that price for a fairly straightforward floral. 🙂 Florabotanica, on the other hand, is affordable and pretty. July 29, 2015 at 10:06am Reply

  • Eric: I haven’t tried this one though I enjoy the scent of carnations a lot. Wearing some 80’s Bellodgia EdT to go with your post. July 29, 2015 at 8:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Not sure where you live, but if you can find Roger & Gallet Oeillet Mignardise soap, it will be a good match with Bellodgia. To me, it’s one of the best products R&G offers, and it’s too bad, it’s so limited in its distribution. July 29, 2015 at 10:07am Reply

  • Celeste Church: How are the longevity and sillage with this? I love a lot of L’Artisan perfumes, but the longevity is awful on me with the ones I’ve tried. July 29, 2015 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Medium sillage but good longevity. The scent stays close to skin, and I smell it for most of the day. In comparison to Drole de Rose, Violette Verte or Mimosa Pour Moi–ridiculously fleeting, Oeillet at least hangs around. July 29, 2015 at 10:08am Reply

  • Sylviane: Have you tried Fragonard’s Billet Doux ? It has a quite attractive “skin in the sun” vibe. July 29, 2015 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t, but now I will make a note to try it. Thank you, Sylvaine. July 29, 2015 at 10:09am Reply

      • Petunia: I second Billet Doux. It is really pretty, sort of an old fashioned perfume-perfume. I find it to be a creamy, powdery and luminous carnation scent. For some reason, it reminds me of the original version of L’Air Du Temps, which my mother used to wear. I love to wear it during the winter to sleep. It’s very cozy and has really good longevity for me too, which is unusual for me. July 29, 2015 at 5:24pm Reply

        • Victoria: This is such a tempting description. 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Lovely review and spotlight on carnation! The most beautiful carnation scent I know comes from a plant in my garden, which isn’t a carnation but Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)…and the Soapwort doesn’t smell of soap but of carnation… It has the spicy, mildly clovy, somewhat powdery scent of carnation. It is just starting to bloom and the butterflies love it.
    I couldn’t think of any real carnation notes in my perfume collection, must explore. Although I am wearing Kelly Caleche today, and must say there is something carnationlike going on in there or is this a question of wishful smelling 😉 ? July 29, 2015 at 9:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Not wishful smelling at all! There is a touch of clove in Kelly Caleche, and in combination with lemony jasmine, it gives a carnation life effect. In general, carnation is a fantasy accord in most perfumes, although carnation essence is also produced. I have a small vial on my desk, and I’m smelling it right now. It actually makes me think that it would be good in a cocktail. 🙂

      I’m now kicking myself for not smelling soapwort properly. I weeded piles of it at my grandmother’s garden, and I can’t even recall what it smells like. July 29, 2015 at 10:20am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Was the soapwort in your grandmother’s garden soft pink, and about 60 cm? Mine is called ‘rosea plena’ and I would not consider it a weed…so maybe there were other ones you were weeding.

        What a wonderful thing a nose is, and nice to see that mine is waking up a bit after years of semi slumber. I know Kelly Caleche disappointed you somewhat, but I have really grown quite fond of it. I love it when you write a bit more about the different accords used in perfumes. Thank you. July 29, 2015 at 2:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: It was a bit smaller than 60cm and the color was white and soft pink. It’s just too common in our area, and it can be invasive. After all, as my grandmother say, a weed is a plant growing in an inconvenient place. She also was ready to take a shovel to a pair of wild rose bushes, because they “interfered with the cherry trees.” I basically had to throw myself on the ground to protect them. 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 10:07am Reply

    • Petunia: I too love Soapworts. It does smell nice and it’s so cheerful. July 29, 2015 at 5:27pm Reply

      • Petunia: Ugh…Soapwort, not Soapwarts July 29, 2015 at 5:28pm Reply

      • Victoria: I’ll have to tell my grandmother to leave alone, so that I have a chance to smell them next year. 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 10:11am Reply

  • WJ: I love carnation fragrances. I can recommend ‘Carnation’ by Comme des Garcons and Malmaison by Floris. My newest purchase is Oeillet Louis XV by Oriza I Legrand, but I haven’t properly road-tested this one yet as we have winter and I prefer to wear heavier fragrances. July 29, 2015 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Is Malmaison by Floris still being made? Somehow I thought that it was discontinued. Loved the soap and shower gel in that scent! July 29, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

  • Tammy: Thank God for niche houses – if everything was based on consumer surveys, there would be no creativity left in this world. I remember Jacques Guerlain ( third generation) say in an interview that at least they don’t use algorithms to compute consumer demand. I don’t know if it is true but I wish it were…

    On the eternal quest for lavender soliflore which is feminine and doesn’t smell like aftershave. Tried Uncle Serge’s Lavandre Encens. Nice but I need something teensy weensy more girly. July 29, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

    • Alicia: Perhaps Penhaligon Lavandula? July 29, 2015 at 10:03am Reply

    • Alicia: I have not tried that Lutens, but Gris Claire, which did not impressed me enough. The one that impresses me, and despite its name it’s wonderful on women, is Caron Pour un Homme. Have you tried it? Lavender, vanilla, musk in perfect balance. July 29, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

      • Victoria: 2nd Caron Pour Un Homme. It has a retro feel, but the addition of vanilla really softens lavender. July 29, 2015 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Sadly, even some niche houses do market testing and follow the same principles as the big ones. Or just buy ready-made concentrates from the fragrance suppliers, fabricate a fancy story and slap a big price tag to appear luxurious. I’m not entirely sure if L’Artisan remains as “artisanal” as it used to be, but at least, the quality of its fragrances is still good. I’m still curious to see how it develops in the future. It’s such an interesting line.

      A girly lavender is a good quest. How about Chanel Jersey? Or Burberry Brit Rhythm for Her? Save for the name, the latter is such an original fragrance. July 29, 2015 at 10:24am Reply

    • AndreaNM: I’ve collected essential oils for about 15 years, and in that time I’ve noticed lavender, in general, has gotten considerably more camphoraceous. It’s hard to imagine this hasn’t affected commercial fragrances, and could be adding to the after shave effect. July 29, 2015 at 10:27am Reply

      • Victoria: That may be true. Although now there is a trend for a soft, almond-inflected, floral lavender essences, specifically for feminine fragrances. July 29, 2015 at 10:36am Reply

        • leathermountain: What sort of trend? Do you mean a trend in production, or demand, or something else? July 29, 2015 at 1:26pm Reply

    • leathermountain: I recommend Caldey Island Lavender and also Rania J’s Lavande 44. Both are lightly hay-sweet and spicy. Rania J’s is deeper and somewhat resinous. I love lavender and think both are wonderful. I can’t say if they’re feminine or not, but I don’t think they smell like aftershave. July 29, 2015 at 1:24pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Maybe Jicky. Maybe not ”girlish” enough, but certainly not ”aftershave”. July 29, 2015 at 2:11pm Reply

      • Petunia: They sound pretty.. Must find a sample.

        Sometimes I just wear the scented Shea butter cream from Crabtree and Evelyn. It’s very nice and I don’t find it to be masculine at all. July 29, 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

      • MaureenC: I second that recommendation! Caldy Island Lavender is possibly the most surprising, cheapest and delightful five star perfume in The Guide and an interesting tale behind it to explain why such a humble fragrance is SO good. July 30, 2015 at 1:55am Reply

    • Merlin: And – not a soliflore but with a really strong lavender note – Mona di Orio Chamarre. I find the dirty musk in some of her perfumes to be too much for me – but it’s a little more moderate here and it’s just SO womanly 🙂 July 29, 2015 at 6:01pm Reply

    • kayliz: I’m usually intolerant of lavender for the same reason (aftershave vibe) but am very taken with Vohina by Huitieme Art. Starts a little soapy, and there’s not much sillage, but otherwise perfect. Not a bit masculine. Perhaps more lavender-y than a soliflore, but worth a try. July 30, 2015 at 6:01am Reply

  • limegreen: I love carnations and the dewy greenness of a fresh carnation, and occasionally the breadlike smell of the petals. 🙂
    Oeillet Bengale is so enchanting though — would you say that outside of price, that the Aedes is a more quest-worthy carnation fragrance? Or are they really different? 🙂 July 29, 2015 at 10:07am Reply

  • spe: The soliflore can have a strong, unrelenting quality that I find highly attractive on the right person. I do think of it as a mature stance when it comes to fragrance because it is so definitive. My favorites are A La Nuit, Hiris and La Pausa, Fleur d’ Oranger, and Muguet by Van Cleef.

    As far as carnations, I’ve always loved the smell. When we were kids our beloved, retired neighbors grew a whole field of “pinks.”. Tiny, fragrant, bright pink carnations.

    I found some vintage L Air du Temp. What a beauty. A fee months ago, I tried the L’ Artisan Oeillet and considered a purchase at that time, but have been too busy to follow through. Thank you for the reminder of this pretty and unusual fragrance. I also tested the Aedes, but I don’t remember how that smells. Perhaps I should re-test both. July 29, 2015 at 10:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I admit that I prefer my flowers in a bouquet, blended with something else to accentuate their interesting features, but a well-done solifloral is a thing of beauty. And it’s so hard to do, especially if the idea is a fragrance and not just “a pretty smell of flowers” (nothing wrong with pretty flowers, of course!)

      It’s a good idea to re-test L’Artisan’s and Aedes’s carnations side by side, since besides the price, they have their differences. Aedes went for its trademark darkness, while L’Artisan for lightness and radiance. July 29, 2015 at 10:35am Reply

    • AndreaNM: How funny, I suddenly wore L’Air du Temps exclusively when I was pregnant, some 36 years ago, then went back to orientals as soon as my daughter was born. At that time I was horrified by my floral association, and never thought to identify any specific notes. (Not that I’m good at it now.) I’ll have to hunt some down and “look” for carnations. Thanks for your impression. July 29, 2015 at 10:35am Reply

      • Victoria: It’s a great choice, though! L’Air du Temps is a beautiful fragrance. Until very recently, it was a gold standard for a spicy floral. If it weren’t for reformulations, it would have still remained one. If you liked orientals, I’m not surprised that you selected this particular perfume–after all, there was plenty of spice in it to keep things bright but fiery. July 29, 2015 at 10:39am Reply

  • Alicia: The only carnation perfume I still wear is Bellodgia. I remember years ago beautiful carnations in Coup de Fouet, but by now it’s no longer a shadow of what it was. Carnation is the national flower of Spain, and Myrurgia has a fragrance honoring it, Clavel de España, which I never tried. Perhaps it might be worthy of a sniff. July 29, 2015 at 10:42am Reply

    • Victoria: If you try Clavel de España, please let me know. Just the idea of it sounds great.

      Coupe de Fouet has been tweaked again, and I liked the parfum version. It’s not much of a peppery explosion it used to be, but a carnation effect is still there. July 29, 2015 at 10:46am Reply

      • Alicia: How nice to hear this. Last time I smelled CdF it was very bland. Thank you, Victoria. July 29, 2015 at 2:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: Do give it a try, if you have a chance. Tabac Blond parfum also smells richer, by the way. July 30, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

  • Nina Z: I’m so glad you reviewed this. I’ve been very curious about it because I’m on the same mission, myself! I absolutely adore vintage Bellodgia extrait, but I also crave something more carnation-y. Still, it has been like Goldilocks. The Comme des Garcons is too brash and sharp, the Villoresi Garofano is also on the harsh side and maybe a little rotten smelling, the Aedes has that synthetic wood note that spoils things for me (I wanted to love it!), and others are too pale and timid. I remember liking Dianthus, but too late for that one now, right? A pretty and sheer carnation (nice when it is warm) that I quite like that is not expensive is Loboissiere Carnation, which I know very little about. A friend gave me a decant. I toy with the idea of going FB on that one, but I’m still hunting. (I love a dab of vintage Opium but never thought of Cinnabar as carnation. Will have to give that another try.)

    Just tried on a few different ones to remind myself of them, and I have to say the combined sillage is quite intoxicating! July 29, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sort of feeling this way too, although Oeillet Bengale is working out well for me. I’m not as sensitive to the woody synthetics, although in this perfume I wish they were more wrapped. My main problem with Aedes’s carnation is that it doesn’t project enough. At that price, I’d want more oomph.

      On the other hand, you’re onto something with this idea of mixing. 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 9:48am Reply

  • Ellen: I don’t think soliflorals are boring at all. There are times when smelling like a beautiful flower can be all the things that perfume is meant to be. I think it depends upon so many things, but especially the associative memories with that flower. Finding less expensive alternatives that still smell subtle and complex is often difficult. July 29, 2015 at 11:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, it’s very difficult, mostly because a good floral is made of floral essences, and they are very expensive. Nothing in the lab can mimic the richness and opulence of natural rose or jasmine or tuberose. Today few brands can afford them, and those that once did no longer can. July 30, 2015 at 9:55am Reply

  • sanna: I highly recommend Oriza Legrand! They have actually two carnation frangrances: the above mentioned Louis XV (it has this beautiful retro powdery vibe, typical for many Oriza compositions) and OEillet Royal (straightforward, more spicy).
    And I highly recommend the whole line, it’s excellent. I simply miss words to express my admiration and love for this house. July 29, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Sanna! Another vote for Oriza Legrand. All of you give the best recommendations. 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 9:56am Reply

      • kayliz: Vote no.3 for Oriza L.Legrand:)) Louis XV would be my carnation of choice too. July 30, 2015 at 11:58am Reply

        • Victoria: Thanks a lot! I might have to place a sample order for them all. July 30, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

  • AnnieA: I like the CdG Carnation, but do find it quite fleeting. It seems that carnation might be having a moment in perfume, so looking forward to hearing about carnation-based launches. July 29, 2015 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t notice many new carnations, but I’m going to pay more attention.
      Yes, CdG’s carnation doesn’t last well on me anymore. It used to have more presence until it got reformulated. July 30, 2015 at 9:58am Reply

  • Abby: I really loved the Aedes carnation – Oeillet Bengale but couldn’t justify the price. Every now and again I order a sample of it from Aedes to be certain I don’t truly *need* it. Plus it’s a little weak and doesn’t last long. Needs more projection and oomph.

    I wonder how many years we have to wait for carnation to lose it’s “old and dated” association. I’m sure there will come a time when nobody remembers it on their grandmothers. sad but true. I am sure there will be a revival in 20+ years…. July 29, 2015 at 2:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t justify the price either, for the very reason you mention. That said, I love it, and I wear my decant with pleasure. I just don’t think I can spend almost $300 on something this fleeting.

      One problem with carnation is that it relies on clove (or a synthetic component eugenol) to fire it up, and for many Americans, it’s a deal breaker. “Smells like dentist’s office,” is another common response. Perhaps, it’s the same thing in Europe, but I notice neither clove like smells at the dentists’ here nor the accusations of such when it comes to carnation perfumes. Mostly, Europeans find carnation “trop classique.” A nice way of saying “boring.” July 30, 2015 at 10:02am Reply

  • Abby: Admittance: I generally find soliflores a bit boring. Except when it’s tuberose, orange blossom or mimosa and even those I prefer as orientals or something with facets. This summer I’ve grown tired of Carnal Flower *gasps* but I’m still enjoying Mimosa Pour Moi, AG Gardenia Passion and I have a few drops left of the L’Artisan OB Harvest. July 29, 2015 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: After dousing myself in Carnal Flower for a couple of years, I also got tired of it. But then, it started hitting the spot once again. It’s still complex enough, but it’s a single story perfume.

      Mimosa is perfect with warm vanilla and balsamic notes. My favorite pairing is mimosa and tonka bean. July 30, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

  • Alicia: Victoria, I searched the web for Myrurgia, and found out that it has been bought by Puig, which has discontinued most of its old fragrances, including Clavel de España. Sigh. July 29, 2015 at 3:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, the same owner as L’Artisan’s. Well, it’s a shame that they let Clavel de España go. July 30, 2015 at 10:07am Reply

  • Allison C.: I wore Oeillet Sauvage all through the spring, I agree with your comments on the dry down, and there was something nostalgic about the scent that I found charming. I haven’t tried Cinnabar and I will definitely check it out! July 29, 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, something about the drydown reminds me of an old-fashioned cold cream. I find it so alluring that I keep sniffing my wrist obsessively when I wear Oeillet Sauvage.

      Cinnabar is heavier on woods. A sister to Youth Dew and Opium. July 30, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

  • Emma: Actually Oeillet Sauvage had been reformulated before it had been discontinued, I have a bottle of the very first version Je t’ai cueilli une fleur, which is to die for. A lot more floral, spicy with a wonderful silky powdery finish which made the second version look bland to me, like a woodier rose, far less impressive.
    I have no interest in this new version, if I was going to spend money on perfume right now, it’d be vintage Diorling, Doblis or Cabochard, true spectacular perfumes, I’m done once with expensive niche fragrances, they’re just not worth it anymore. July 29, 2015 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: You mean in a thin, tall bottle? I recall that it first came out in a trio with Jacinthe des Bois and Violette Verte, or perhaps, that was the relaunch you’re talking about. July 30, 2015 at 10:13am Reply

      • Emma: In a long elongated glass bottle a little like Kenzo Flower to which is attached a carnation flower on it. It was part if the original trio launch with Jacinthe des Bois and Verte Violette. I still have it, the projection, sillage, just that was more powerful, by 2004 or 2005 I thought it had already became a pale shadow of its former self, the powdery spicy floral heart note that was so sensual had vanished entirely, the reformulation was woodier.
        Between regulations and the fact these companies are pushing dull florals and sweet stuff with no personality on purpose, because they used to be independent perfumers which targeted specific clienteles, now they are owned by big corporations, and it’s SELL! SELL! SELL!, I’m done. You can no longer buy a real carnation fragrance or leather chypre anymore, why would I spend money and settle for average or mediocre? Niche is as dead as mainstream is now, let’s get real July 30, 2015 at 4:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: But what about Lutens? Or are you also disappointed with their new perfumes? August 1, 2015 at 5:57am Reply

          • Emma: Lutens will always be the exception, I’m wearing La Vierge de fer a lot right now as a summer day fragrance, and I think I’m going to purchase Cracheuse, as it appears to be a rose theme pure perfume, and the most expensive one, and I’ve never found one that works totally for me, La Fille de Berlin is beautiful but a little depressing and dark, same with Rose de Nuit and I never liked Sa Majeste. I read somewhere, Serge Lutens wears Cracheuse de Flammes… and just that one.

            When I mention niche, I don’t necessarily talk about Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle, although Malle hasn’t launched anything groundbreaking in a long time, still no leather and no chypre in the collection, and I’m bored with fragrances like Iris Poudre, white musks at that price, really? That’s all you can come out with?

            I know, I know I should be the creative director of this perfume houses, starting with Hermes, I’d reissue Doblis right away in its original formula for starters and I’d discontinue all those worthless $300 grapefruit nonsense bottles. August 1, 2015 at 8:51pm Reply

            • Victoria: It’s a tough market for niche and everyone else, but I share some of your frustrations. Mostly, I wish they slowed down with new launches and concentrated on promoting existing fragrances or working longer on the future additions. August 2, 2015 at 10:54am Reply

              • Emma: Come up with*

                I don’t think it’s a true independent market anymore, and the lack of creativity and regulations is a big concern, to the exception of Serge Lutens, which brand has a unique vision?
                Most of these niche fragrance lines are worthless in my opinion, very expensive, awful reformulations or stuck in oud orientalist mode for the most part, nothing sophisticated, elegant or groundbreaking. I’ve had deodorants that are more interesting than a lot of niche stuff you find on the market today, at a fraction of the price.
                I’ve purchased a couple of sealed Cabochard and Diorling vintage parfums lately, I feel this is the most intelligent thing I’ve done in a long time when it comes to investing in perfumes. August 5, 2015 at 9:56am Reply

  • Merlin: My impression has been that modern perfume is generally much more simplified than classical types. For instance, if one looks at the notes listed on Fragrantica for any older classic, there are bound to be about five times as many notes listed as in a modern perfume. As a result i would have thought soliflores would be more popular today than previously. But of course that involves a highly simplified idea of the course of perfumery!

    The only scent I have that seems to have a fair dose of carnation is L’Heure Bleu, and I have to say that I find it far too clove-y for my liking. I read somewhere that eugenol gets more and more concentrated as it ages so perhaps this is the reason?

    Talking of L’Heure Bleu – its more modern incarnation, Esprit de Oscar, also has a clove-like note. Perhaps it could also be thought of as a scent with a strong note of carnation, though not a soliflore? July 29, 2015 at 6:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: The fashion goes in circles. 50s were a decade of feminine and delicate. 60s were bigger. When L’Artisans and Goutals started coming out with simple, streamlined perfumes in the 70s, there was a lot of demand for “natural,” understated, and simpler ideas found currency. Then there was a backlash against simplicity in favor of “more is more” in the 80s. 90s were minimalist before going all sweet and gourmand. I wouldn’t go with the note listings, though, which is all pure marketing fantasy and nothing more.

      Florals are hugely popular today, but they have to be a particular kind of floral, an abstract, blended floral, perhaps sweetened with fruit or gourmand accents. Straightforward soliflorals, on the other hand, aren’t considered “chic.” July 30, 2015 at 10:17am Reply

      • Victoria: Espit d’Oscar would be considered a floral oriental, since the vanilla, balsams and sweet woods form such a big chunk of it. But you’re right about the carnation. It’s a very good perfume, and I shouldn’t forget about it. July 30, 2015 at 10:18am Reply

      • Merlin: Thanks for the detail, very interesting! Lanvin’s Arpege is probably my favorite ‘classic’ and the fragrantica pyramid is just HUGE on it. I do think the discovery of ever-more aroma- chemicals has made it more difficult to list notes in the way one could with older perfumes. I do however also think that older perfumes tended to have a roundness and plushness often missing from today’s scents. But I’m aware I’m using a now-then dichotomy which is historically absurd!

        There is the odd ‘soliflore’ that makes a splash – Infusion d’Iris, and Stella, but I would agree that soliflores are much more of a ‘niche’ theme. Lutens, Acqua di Parma, etc etc. Actually I suspect soli-notes, in general, are far more popular in niche than mainstream? July 30, 2015 at 12:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: I don’t find it to be the case, at least not in my experience with fragrance marketing. You can spin any story you wish on a synthetic material, calling hedione jasmine or lily of the valley or lemon, jasmine, or lily of the valley, lemon or solar jasmine or solar tropical blossoms, etc. So, I’d take all of those listings with a grain of salt.

          But you’re totally right that today’s fragrances don’t feel as plush. It’s partly due to the limitations on the use of certain materials, partly the current tastes.

          Stella and Infusion d’Iris are too blended to be true soliflorals, and even in niche, what’s called a solifloral (say, Lutens’s Fleur d’Oranger) are not at all. People are attracted to an idea of smelling like a particular flower, but if you believe the consumer research evidence, they prefer more abstract compositions. August 1, 2015 at 5:37am Reply

          • Merlin: I guess even one of my favourites: C&E Lavender is as much tonka bean and musk as lavender 🙂 (much cozier that way!) August 2, 2015 at 4:28pm Reply

            • Victoria: Love the range too. It even replaced my beloved rose. August 2, 2015 at 6:06pm Reply

  • sandra: I enjoy Fiori Di Capri which has carnation in it-I feel so feminine when I wear it. July 29, 2015 at 6:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will have to revisit it! July 30, 2015 at 10:19am Reply

  • nozknoz: I actually like SL Vitriol d’Oeillet, but think it would smell best on a guy. July 29, 2015 at 9:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll have to try it on my husband. Thank you for an idea. 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 10:19am Reply

  • mj: Although I’m a Spaniard, and carnations are very popular in my country, particularly for funeral wreaths, I’m not very crazy about the scent, neither the flower.

    The only carnation scent I have is an old versión of Balmain’s Ivoire, that I use as an “office perfume” July 30, 2015 at 3:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I had to overcome a strong distaste for carnations, because I used to associate them with funerals and communist holidays. So, I understand what you mean.

      Carnation was indispensable in the classical perfumes, since it gave that spicy, rich note while staying in the background. July 30, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

      • mj: Oh my! I remember Dolores Ibarruri, one of the most prominent comunist politicians of Spain, handling carnations in political rallies. The Spanish socialist party was more into roses, though.

        Also carnations are a symbol of Andalucia and anything flamenco related. July 30, 2015 at 2:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Now that’s an interesting topic–political parties and flower symbolism. 🙂 By the way, the communist functionaries in the USSR favored Guerlain perfumes. August 1, 2015 at 5:48am Reply

  • Karen: Interesting review and made me realize that I have no carnation based fragrances! I am curious to give this and others mentioned in comments a try, as I’m pretty comfortable in an apron (and would wear house dresses if I could get around to making some, just not sure about the Tupperware party!).

    And thanks for reviewing this on its own and not compared to an older version. As you said, with regulations reformulations will be different than the original. July 30, 2015 at 5:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Since I work a lot cross legged on the floor, dresses aren’t as comfortable, but hey, there is nothing wrong with an apron. 🙂 Keeps clothes from getting dirty while one is cooking. July 30, 2015 at 10:23am Reply

  • Aurora: Such a good idea to devote a post to carnation, Victoria! I was aware of the reissue of Oeillet Sauvage because you announced it, but still haven’t managed to smell it, so for a carnation kick I have been relying on the current Bellodgia which like you I find quite good but not outstandingly ‘clovey’ as the original was. I also have a large amount of vintage L’Air du Temps. But now thanks to you and the and commenters I see there are more options.

    You know, Terracotta Voile d’Ete from a few years back is supposed to be a carnation fragrance and is on my list because of that. July 30, 2015 at 6:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Guerlain also had a nice carnation called Metalys, but that also has been discontinued (if I remember correctly). It made me realize how well carnation fits with the vanilla and sweet notes. You get a cookie-like effect without perfume being obviously edible.

      Vintage L’Air du Temps! Now, that’s a lucky find. July 30, 2015 at 10:25am Reply

    • Nina Z: Terracotta Voile d’Ete is very nice, and that’s one of the few bottles of carnation perfume that I own. I bought it at a deep discount after it was discontinued, and it is still available out there, but prices have gone up recently. Worth trying if you have the chance so if you love it you can nab a bottle while they still exist. Not a soliflor–it has a lot of ylang ylang–but definitely carnation-y.

      And, sigh, Metallica/Metalys is so gorgeous! I tore through a 10 ml decant of it I got in a swap (how did that happen?). But definitely was discontinued and it is ridiculously expensive now! This one is, as Victoria said, more on the vanilla side, but the carnation plays very beautifully with it! Sample it if you get the chance. July 30, 2015 at 10:49am Reply

      • Victoria: Just smelled my older decant of Voile d’Ete, and yes, lots of carnation there. Carnation edged in gold, if you will, because as Nina mentioned, there is definitely lots of ylang-ylang. July 30, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

    • Figuier: Glad you brought that one up, Aurora; rather predictably (Terracotta V d’Ete is one of my HG scents) it was my first point of comparison when Victoria mentioned the lily-carnation drydown of Oeillet Sauvage. I think it was actually Victoria who pointed out quite a while back that TVE does indeed have a beautiful lily note alongside the ylang and spicy carnation.

      I stayed away from Oeillet Bengale because of the prohibitive price, but I’m very keen now to try the (slightly) less expensive Oeillet Sauvage; perfumes tend to whiz through top and heartnotes straight to drydown on my skin, which it seems would be an advantage in this case 🙂 July 30, 2015 at 1:24pm Reply

      • Victoria: Oeillet Bengale, as all other Aedes perfumes, has a gorgeous bottle. A friend recently visited me from NYC and brought a bottle of it as a gift, since she knew how much I loved it. So, now I can splash with abandon, but still, I can’t help thinking that the packaging is one of the main reasons for such a high price. August 1, 2015 at 5:45am Reply

        • Figuier: Congrats on your FB – and on having such a thoughtful friend 🙂 Tbh, I would have thought you had a professional basis for acquiring some of the more impressive scents you test anyway 😉 And the bottles *are* gorgeous – I saw the Iris one in Liberty and it just looked so perfect, & felt wonderfully heavy in the hand. Added to a great perfume it’s certainly better qualified for the price range than many other niche scents… August 1, 2015 at 5:44pm Reply

          • Victoria: You’d be surprised how few PR firms are interested in someone blogging out of Belgium. 🙂 But to be serious, no, I don’t keep products I receive for reviews. It has been my longstanding policy on the blog and it remains so. In my opinion, it would be unethical to do otherwise. August 1, 2015 at 6:53pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Funny, how you mentioned prim and proper before the review of the full character of this fragrance because that’s one of the ways I feel about single notes particularly carnation. I don’t know if its still being produced but JARS was the only carnation fragrance that comes to mind that I still hold onto a tiny sample that was never off-putting. July 30, 2015 at 12:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I remember it! It was a blast of clove and carnation and was some potent stuff. August 1, 2015 at 5:39am Reply

  • Parfumista: As someone mentioned above: Oriza L Legrand Royal Oeillet (deeper and more soliflore) and Oeillet Louis XV (lighter and a bit powdery) are the carnations to go for. July 30, 2015 at 2:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Taking notes, thanks a lot! August 1, 2015 at 5:51am Reply

  • Tora: I absolutely love Dawn Spenser Hurwitz Oeillets Rouges. I prefer it over many of the vintage carnations mentioned here. She has also created a new carnation called Fleuriste which I have not tried yet, but I do look forward to. I can’t wait to try the new version of the L’Artisan. August 3, 2015 at 7:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Tora. It can difficult to get some of these smaller US brands in Europe, so I keep missing them. Will add Fleuriste to my list too. August 3, 2015 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Till: A late recommandation: When it comes to Carnation, the beautiful “Green Carnation” by Marc Buxton for ‘Friendly Fur’ should be mentioned. It’s a very masculine carnation, subtle smoky-peaty like a well crafted Malt Whisky and is also a nice reminiscence to the Dandy Culture of the late 19th Century, but with some modern twists. August 4, 2015 at 6:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Not at all late! Thank you very much, Till. My carnation list is now impressive, and I have much sampling to do. August 4, 2015 at 2:51pm Reply

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