Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Best Carnation Scents To Wear In Cold Weather

When winter comes I typically put away all my floral perfumes which tend to be concentrated in the white flower category. I take advantage of being able to wear chypres and heavy oriental fragrances which just don't work so well in one-hundred-degree weather. It was very cold here in North Texas over Christmas and I noticed my daughter in law smelling wonderfully of carnation. I keep a little bottle of Dianthus by Etro on a toiletry tray in the guest bath. I hate the furnace belting out heat so my house is always, shall we say, a bit chilly. The brightness of the carnation bloomed beautifully against the chill air, almost giving the florist freezer effect of carnation flower arrangements. I decided to test all my carnation fragrances and see if they all stood up as well to the cold weather.

Christian legend says that the carnation originated when Mary was moved to tears as she saw Jesus carrying the cross, and where her tears fell, red carnations sprang from the earth. Leonardo da Vinci painted a portrait in 1480 called The Madonna of the Carnation, in which the infant Jesus reaches for a carnation in his mother's hand, foretelling the event of the crucifixion.  

In Victorian times carnations could relay unspoken messages to an admirer. Red meant yes!, a white and red striped carnation meant I can't be with you, and yellow sent the sad message of no! 

Carnation is often thought of as old fashioned, maybe because of its powdery notes, but I've always loved it. Even in flower arrangements it has the reputation of being a cheap filler flower. Today my local grocery offers a large and varied selection of flowers for bouquets but twenty five years ago the choice was either roses or carnations. Often the carnations had been dyed ghastly colors and eventually the beautiful smell was bred out of them, I suppose in the interest of hardiness.

Dianthus Etro is what my memory is of the perfect carnation scent from when I was a little girl. There was a time that if you bought a little bouquet of carnations they would scent your whole house with their fresh presence and I have found that some floral distributors have returned to breeding scented carnations, realizing that scent is the flowers greatest gift. Dianthus is fairly one dimensional but it smells like the freshest, prettiest carnation ever. It does have a slightly powdery element but that is not its strongest quality. If you want realistic carnation you can't do much better than this. Disclaimer on this review and several others here; my bottles have been around for over five years so I don't know if any changes in formulations have taken place.

L'Artisan Oeillet Sauvage is another light take on the carnation scent and although I own a bottle, I find that I prefer the Etro for its spicy realistic notes. There is just a moment of alcohol scent in the initial spray but it disappears quickly. The carnation is softer and a little peppery, without that full-on rush of refreshing, nose clearing carnation scent. Notes of lily and ylang ylang provide a sweetness and temper the spiciness that can be found in carnation. The perfumer is Anne Flipo who has created several scents for L'Artisan. The initial release was, I believe, a limited edition and it got rave reviews. It was reissued and that is the series I have. Some people said the formulation had changed but others thought it was the same. I don't have an opinion as I didn't try the initial release. It is readily available at perfume discounters.

Prada Infusion d'Oeillet is another more transparent take on the carnation, although for the Prada Infusion line, it is one of the heavier hitters. The pale pink juice in the handsome Prada bottles is pretty alluring and if you like carnation you will definitely like this scent. I reviewed it fully here.

Miller Harris Fleur Oriental was released in 2000 and it uses carnation as the heart note for the oriental scent, cushioning it in a bed of vanilla and amber for a creamy base. The powdery note of carnation is further enhanced by a healthy dose of heliotrope. This is a softly romantic scent and a very pretty take on using carnation as a main note, but not a soliflore.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes is always curiously exploring new areas of scent and when something captures her interest she goes all in, exploring it from various aspects. Right now the scent of fur has captured her imagination but when I first became aware of Dawn's work about ten years ago she had been exploring different takes on carnation fragrances. Some are not in production anymore but she picked the best to survive, Oeillets Rouges (red carnations). This is the rich deep scent of carnation with a touch of clove, and a light touch of honey and ambergris give it a deep and lasting edge. This one is particularly unisex. Fleuriste was launched in 2015 and in a review here I said the following, "Fleuriste brings back that lovely memory of opening the refrigerated door and being engulfed in that exquisite smell of fresh carnations." Although either could be worn at any time I would say that Oeillets Rouges is for night wear and the freshness of Fleuriste lends itself to daytime wear. Lastly, DSH's Souvenir de Malmaison combines carnation with rose, spice and amber for a luxurious floriental. Dawn's appreciation for the carnation is evident in her scented creations and one of these three is sure to fulfill your search for a carnation scent. 

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Soie Rouge is listed as a fruity floral carnation. Again, I am going by an older sample so maybe the notes of pineapple, dried fruits, and apricot have lost their power. What I get is the standard carnation opening with the powdery notes of heliotrope emphasizing that aspect of carnation. This was one of the more powdery scents I tried so depending on your like or dislike for powdery scents, consider yourself warned. 

Fujit Amor by Jul Et Mad Paris is a fairly new creation from 2017 and features a most unusual interpretation of the carnation note, unlike any of the scents above. The inspiration is Rodin's statue Fujit Amor, two straining bodies captured in marble. The carnation is meant to represent the marble's cool touch, but warm and spicy notes of elemi, ginger, pink pepper, and  cinnamon portray the lovers' passion. An unusual combination of carnation and lavender is featured, two notes which on their own can be stingingly sharp and crisp, but here they blend to form a rather sweet and soft mixture which I can still smell on my skin the next day. I won a sample of this perfume after reading a review by Gail Gross on Cafleurebon and the sample was provided by Indigo Perfumery. Thank you to both Cafleurebon and Indigo Perfumery for making this review possible.

Carnation is the birth flower for January babies. There are many choices here, from a perfect scent copy of the flower to an unusual blend featuring the note. Anyone with a fondness for the scent of carnation should find something here to please.

Carnation photos are vintage clip art. Kitten and carnation photo from a painting by Leon Charles Huber.