carnation: 6 posts

The Elusive Perfume of Matthiola and Night-Scented Stocks

The fragrance of night-scented stocks is so heady, sweet and spicy that if you’ve experienced it once on a balmy summer evening, you’ll understand my obsession. For years, I’ve been searching for a fragrance that captured it. I’ve also tried creating a night-scented stock accord. I’ve asked other perfumers for their ideas. Although all of these trials have been fun, none captured the scent of this humble, but richly scented flower.

This night-scented stock saga reminded me of the oft asked questions to find a perfume that smells like this or that flower. A rose on a summer morning. A garland of jasmine. A bouquet of lily of the valley. Whenever I think of these quests–and of my own search for a perfume of night-scented stocks, I realize that what we want is more than the scent of the flower. We want a mood, a scene, a story. For this reason, finding the right perfume becomes more complicated.

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Carnations, Cloves, Eugenol : A Short History

Carnation is not the trendiest of floral notes, and yet modern perfumery would be unthinkable without it–or specifically, the carnation effect. One of the principal aroma-molecules in the essence of carnation is eugenol, and its discovery was revolutionary. In 1834, eugenol was synthesized by Carl Jacob Ettling. In 1858, it was studied and named by August André Thomas Cahours, another brilliant chemist, whose contributions to organic chemistry are numerous. If you wish to know what eugenol smells like, sniff a pot of cloves. There is a reason why Ettling turned to this spice to obtain eugenol–clove essence contains up to 90% eugenol, depending on the variety.

Eugenol was and remains important not only in perfumery, but also in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, the food industry, and above all, dentistry. It’s known as an effective pain reliever, and to this day, it’s mixed into zinc-oxide-rosin cements for certain types of fillings. For this reason, those who have had the misfortune of experiencing root canal work associate the scent of cloves and carnations with the dentist’s office.

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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.

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Roger & Gallet Oeillet Mignardise Soap

If I had a vintage vanity table with a large mirror, I would decorate it with perfume bottles, makeup brushes and neat rows of lipstick and nail polish. I would fill the candy dishes with face powder pearls and top them with colorful Caron powder puffs. And I would be sure to keep at least one package of Roger & Gallet Oeillet Mignardise soap in the drawer for that distinctive whiff of carnation scented retro glamour. Then nothing would stop me from feeling like a Hollywood starlet, the lack of other qualifications notwithstanding.

rg soap1

A girl can dream, right? While I have no space or practical use for a vanity table–my makeup application is usually a distinctly unglamorous, rushed affair conducted in the bathroom, the carnation part of my fantasy is something I insist on keeping. Oeillet Mignardise is a simple way of having it, and I usually stuff these soap bars in my linen closet and lingerie drawer, in addition to using them in the shower. If I had to use a single type of soap for the foreseeable future, Oeillet Mignardise would be it.

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Caron Piu Bellodgia : Perfume Review

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After reformulating its 1927 classic Bellodgia to death, Caron added a new version called Più Bellodgia. Più in Italian means more, but Caron fibs when promising more of anything with this take on Bellodgia. It’s a pale floral that I imagine more as a shampoo than a fine fragrance.

piu bellodgia

Now that I’ve told you how I feel about it, I’m tempted just to move onto something else. But I don’t like to write grumpy reviews without offering further details, and it’s far too easy to be cross about Caron these days. Their classical collection has been dramatically reformulated (to be fair, it’s not entirely their fault), and in the search for a new consumer, they keep releasing perfumes that don’t fit their aesthetic. We all need to move with the times, and it’s a tricky compromise to keep the loyal customers happy while attracting a generation of fragrance wearers who recoil at moss and leather.

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  • matty1649 in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: I’ve loved reading all the suggestions for surviving winter. Wrapping up in a cosy fluffy throw reading. Wearing a spicy perfume. Lighting lots of candles. I’m in the Uk so… January 31, 2023 at 6:23am

  • Tiffany Thiele in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: What a treat to read everyone’s suggestions to make winter easier. I feel like I’ve already won a great gift just by reading all the wonderful suggestions! Here are a… January 31, 2023 at 12:14am

  • Yafo in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: I just try to be in a good mood even with the sun gone earlier in the day. Thinking in a “thankful” way helps and looking forward to warmer weather… January 30, 2023 at 9:45pm

  • joan ramirez in Chanel Chance Perfume Giveaway: To boost my mood I use lavender spray and read from favorite passages in a historical novel from one of my favorite authors. Then, I meditate. January 30, 2023 at 7:39pm

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