My sample of Vitriol d’ Oeillet arrived today. And this is the best time for a quick sniff post. At least that’s the idea but let’s see how close I am going to stick to it.
VdO opens like not a carnation. The top notes are violet and iris. A thick opening reminiscent of ointment, shaving cream, pomade. Some warmth added to it by cinammon or nutmeg and pepper. In a way VdO opens very much like Iris Silver Mist. Instead of a pointy top you get a big flat cold rock of earth and grease. Clove starts picking through in about 5 or 10 minutes but it is not the clove I feared it would be. Combining clove and carnation is the obvious association that eventually kills al the beauty of the flower. This clove is tame and used sparingly the way italians use spices, not the way they are used in curries. Together with the clove there is a hot tingling sensation in the nostrils, what I have already expected as cayenne pepper. It is there, it feels hot, it has the vapour quality on finds n Serge Noire, like burning spices for a ceremony. The fragrance starts getting sharper, like focusing its energy and pointing to a culmination. Still no sign of carnation. Please keep in mind that all this time I have been sniffing my wrist up close. At some point though I stop paying attention and suddenly I find myself floating in a cloud of fresh, sparkling, clean carnation. So I do what everybody would do and go sniff my wrist again. No carnation there still. Move back and the pink innocent carnations start floating around. Now I have never seen such a duality in a fragrance. Except perhaps in Arpege where the opening and the drydown feel like two different perfumes but that is a duality in time. I have never seen such duality in space. In a strange sense it feels like I am a vessel for this perfume: I cannot smell it on me but I can smell it floating around me. Or at least what I smell on me doesn’t have the floral elements of carnation.
About half an hour into the development clove and carnation meet but clove never covers the floral aspect of the composition. Now the carnation appears n the skin as well for the first time. The bitterness of violet and iris are sweetened by carnation and warmed by clove and cayenne pepper. It feels like the composition focuses at last on the focal point that carnation is supposed to be. Projection is not huge but still you can feel surrounded by clouds of carnations.
About two hours into the development a light leathery base emerges to support the composition and give it the warmth of Daim Blonde.
Throughout its evolution I have the impression of an hourglass shape: top notes that lack effervescence slowly focus into a sharp carnation note only to open up again in a sweet mellow leather-floral drydown.
The verdict: a floral in the ethereal floral tradition of Sarrasins, Un Lys, Tubereuse Criminelle. A floral that remains afloat, never anchoring on heavy notes, a platonic rendition of a flower. Will I wear it often? I really don’t know. But it definitely makes me conclude that Christopher Sheldrake is one of the most important perfumers alive and Serge Lutens a genius of aesthetics.
Disclaimer: sample provided by Serge Lutens as a promotion for members of the mailing list