More carnations!! Again, the ones I’ve sampled myself are in red – sadly, fewer in this batch than in the first one. I’ve gotta get caught up on some of these! It’s also come to my attention recently that there are other masculine carnation scents other than the obvious ones (Old Spice, Malmaison), but since I don’t usually review traditionally-masculine scents and prefer to focus on things I’d actually wear myself, I won’t get into them – particularly since this list is now topping 70 carnation fragrances! Go check this sample set out at The Perfumed Court if you want to investigate, though. Here’s the link to Part I. Any descriptions in italics were taken from the appropriate perfume house’s literature or website.
I’ve classified these fragrances according to the following rubric:
Spicy Floral Oriental
6) Update: Cartier Les Heures de Parfum II L’Heure Convoitee – (Soft/powdery carnation) I listed this one in Part I, but hadn’t had a chance to try it. Now I have, and I was rather disappointed. It’s very powdery, in a nice make-uppy sort of way, but barely carnation at all. I mean, it’s pretty and feminine and floral, but in a halfhearted sort of way, and it ends in a good dose of white laundry musk. The notes list mentions strawberry, but it’s incorrect; the only fruit note I get in this is a shampoo-y apple. Denyse praises it in her blog review as a sexy, smoldering scent, and I think she’s wrong. Octavian is absolutely scathing about it (and Mathilde Laurent’s recent efforts for Cartier) in his blog post, and I think he’s wrong too. It’s neither that bad nor that good. I don’t think I’d be so unhappy about it if it weren’t priced into the stratosphere.
19) Balenciaga Florabotanica – (Carnation/Floral Blend) We cannot reveal all the secrets of… floral alchemists, but the Experimental Rose finds its origins in opulent Turkey. To give it a fairytale air, the two perfumers have added a formula of psychosensory plants, making it particularly enchanting. This Experimental Rose has the power to endlessly charm. “At first glance, it is a very floral, almost romantic composition. But on closer inspection, a stronger and more obscure character can be discerned. It is a perfume that I like to think of as tender and dangerous. An enchanting and provocative scent.” – Nicholas Ghesquiere I haven’t smelled this one yet, and from all the reviews I’ve read it’s a quiet floral musk, not nearly as good as its packaging. However, the notes list includes mint, carnation, rose, caladium leaves, vetiver and amber, and apparently the carnation is discernible as part of the scent’s character.
20) Carthusia Fiori di Capri – (Carnation/Floral Blend) Whoops, one I left out of Part I! “Unforgettable perfumes. The refinement of the flowery notes of lily-of-the-valley and wild carnation, the fresh chords of amber, sandal, ylang-ylang and oak.” If the scent combines lily of the valley and carnation, chances are very likely that it’s going to smell like soap to me. This one does. There’s a nice woody background to it, but it’s floral soap. There are people who like that sort of thing (namely, my mom – who smells good), but I very much prefer to use my nice-smelling soap in the shower and then spritz on something that doesn’t smell like soap.
21) Donna Karan Black Cashmere – (Spicy Woody Oriental) I recently discovered this, and I love it, but I wouldn’t call it “a carnation scent.” Peruse the reviews at Fragrantica, though, and see that many people say it is. I notice the woody and spicy notes more, along with a very smooth vanillic milky aura, but the notes list does include carnation. Notes (from Fragrantica): Nutmeg, freesia, pepper, carnation, rose, amber, patchouli, vanilla, woody notes.
22)Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass – (Carnation/Floral Blend) This was one of my Avon-sample-addicted grandmother’s perfumes. (The other was Avon Cotillion, a murky oriental of the balsamy type.) But it’s been so long since I’ve smelled it that I can’t remember anything about it other than lavender, and it’s been cheapened and reformulated many times so what’s on the shelf today is not what my Bambaw would have worn in the early 1970s. Prominent in this fragrance are lavender, herbs, carnation, and a coumarinic hay note; it was originally released in 1934 as a tribute to Arden’s beloved horse country. Notes (Fragrantica): aldehydes, orange blossom, neroli, bergamot, lavender, lily, geranium, spices, carnation, tuberose, jasmine, cloves, narcissus, bay leaf, sandalwood, tonka bean, musk, benzoin, vetiver, cedar. The lavender tends to hit me over the head, and the clean soapiness as well, but there is a hint of spicy floral that says carnation very faintly to me too. Must have been really lovely back in the day, assuming one likes lavender (I don’t).
23) Estee Lauder Beautiful – (Carnation/Floral Blend) Or maybe just Floral Blend, because this thing probably has every floral note known to man shoehorned in there. It is beautiful, though my experiments in the past year or so with the tester tell me that it goes wrong on my skin like so many other Lauders. On my scarf, though, it was gorgeous for a couple of weeks. Notes (Fragrantica): Bergamot, lemon, fruity notes, blackcurrant, galbanum, mandarin, lily, rose, carnation, mimosa, magnolia, tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, chamomile, narcissus, freesia, lilac, violet, sage, neroli, marigold, ylang, lily of the valley, geranium, sandalwood, musk, vanilla, vetiver, cedar, amber. To me Beautiful is a big bouquet, rich and heady, but not particularly carnationy. Again, many Fragranticans would disagree with me.
24) Estee Lauder Cinnabar – (Spicy Floral Oriental) – YSL Opium’s twin sister. MAN, I hate this thing. “From its spicy scent to the ancient Far Eastern symbol gracing the bottle, Cinnabar is warm, mysterious, endlessly appealing. Jasmine, orange flower and clove blend intriguingly into an intense, sensual experience.” Notes (Fragrantica): spices, peach, clove, bergamot, tangerine, orange blossom, carnation, cinnamon, jasmine, ylang, lily, rose, lily of the valley, tolu balsam, sandalwood, incense, amber, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver. I don’t smell any flowers in either Opium or Cinnabar, much less specifically carnation, but take that with a grain of salt. I am abnormally sensitive to tolu balsam and more than a hint is Instant Nausea for me.
25) Faberge Imperial (d/c) – (Carnation/Floral Blend) This was released in 1996 and discontinued sometime later, a fragrance that was expensive to start with (packaged in a lovely glass egg) and even more expensive now that stocks have run very low. Here’s a beautiful review from Ann at Perfume Posse; read that and gnash your teeth! Notes (Fragrantica): Green notes, bergamot, orange blossom, ylang, marigold, carnation, osmanthus, jasmine, cloves, rose, violet leaf, Dyer’s greenweed (broomflower), musk, sandalwood, patchouli, iris.
26) Fendi Asja (d/c) – (Spicy Floral Oriental) Or it could be a spicy fruity oriental, I don’t know. People tend to compare Asja to Opium and Cinnabar, which means it would be a Big Fat NO for me personally. Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am says this: “Asja is distinguished by its honeyed raspberry accord, which somehow manages to evoke carnation in much the same way rose-less Nahema conjures rose.”I believe her, but I’m pretty sure this would not suit me at all. It is discontinued too, so that’s another one I don’t need to chase into oblivion. Notes (Fragrantica): Apricot, raspberry, peach, lemon, bergamot, mimosa, nutmeg, honey, carnation, cinnamon, orchid, iris, ylang, lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, amber, musk, benzoin, vanilla cedar, styrax.
27) Floris Malmaison (d/c) – (Spicy Carnation) This fragrance, originally released by the very-proper British house of Floris in the early 20th century as a masculine scent and reformulated in 2000, was for some time my ne plus ultra of carnation fragrances. Alas, the IFRA regulations on eugenol coshed Malmaison on the head, and it was discontinued and nearly impossible to find now. I have a small decant which I enjoy very very much, although I now have run across two fragrances that trump it as “THE carnation scent,” at least in my book. (One of them is DSH Oeillets Rouges; the other I will discuss in Part III.) Notes (Fragrantica): lemon, clove, cinnamon, Malmaison carnation, rose, ylang, cedar, musk, patchouli, vanilla. I’d also swear that there are a few green notes up top as well as a hint of vetiver in the base. It is a fresh, spicy floral, but with a dry background that makes it perfectly acceptable as a masculine.
28) Fragonard Billet Doux – (Soft/Creamy Carnation) Where Malmaison is reserved, smooth, yet twinkly – the perfume equivalent of Gene Kelly – Billet Doux is a young, doe-eyed Olivia de Havilland, soft and sweet and winsome while retaining some actual substance. Every now and then, I wonder to myself why I don’t own any. It is very like Etro Dianthus and L’Artisan Oeillet Sauvage in its soft, spicy-floral-vanillic character. Notes (Fragrantica): bergamot, Amalfi lemon, mandarin orange, peony, frangipani, carnation, cedar, vanilla. I’m pretty sure there’s a quiet musk in there too, but not the sort of relentlessly clean white musk that tends to bore me these days. Fragonard the artist, of course, painted the often-reproduced Le Billet Doux (The Love Letter) in approximately 1778, a portrait of a demure, beribboned young lady tucking a note into an envelope already containing flowers. Her lap dog lounges behind her on her velvet stool. It’s a nice correlation between image and scent.
29) Guerlain L’Heure Bleue – (Floral Oriental) L’Heure Bleue is so famous, and such an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink scent, that it’s tough to say something new about it. I don’t find it particularly carnationy, but again, a lot of people do and that’s why I include it here. The character of L’HB, to me, is anise-iris-orange blossom-vanilla-heliotrope, with several herbal/spicy accents. Notes: aniseed, coriander, neroli, bergamot, lemon, carnation, jasmine, clove, orchid, orange blossom, heliotrope, ylang, rose, violet, iris, sandalwood, musk, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver, tonka.
30) Guerlain Fleur de Feu (d/c) – (Soft Carnation?) A fragrance called Fire Flower is bound to be one red-hot mama, isn’t it? However, all the reviews I can find of this one (there aren’t many) say that it’s gently spicy and very floral, with notes of aldehydes, jasmine, carnation, rose, ylang, iris, vanilla, and tonka, a carnation/floral bouquet atop Guerlinade.
31) Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete (d/c LE) – (Spicy/creamy Carnation) This was a limited edition released in 1999, and for quite a while afterward you could find it at about $35/100mls, such a deal. Stocks are low now, but occasionally a bottle will pop up on ebay. I owned one for several months, but I found that I was frustrated with it every time I wore it: it started out with a warm spicy full-throated blast and then an hour later was so soft and creamy a skin scent that no one could smell me from any farther away than three inches. Literally. I was all, HOW DO YOU DOSE THIS? If I put on a lot, at the beginning it’s too loud. If I don’t put on much, it’s gone in an hour. AARRRGGHHH. I sold my bottle to a friend. If you don’t have longevity issues, try it. Notes (Fragrantica): bergamot, mint, jasmine, lily, rose, carnation, heliotrope, pear, vanilla, iris, ylang.
32) Guerlain Metallica /Metalys (d/c) – (Creamy Carnation) I continue to be surprised by the name – I never get anything metallic out of it at all! It was released in 2000 and shortly thereafter yanked from the market due to a cease-and-desist injunction by the band Metallica (I know, perfume and metal bands don’t seem to have much to do with each other, and I can’t imagine anyone would really have been confused, but still. You lift a brand name, you’ll cause trouble.) Most reviews that use “metallic” also use the word “faintly” or “underneath” in conjunction with it. In other words, it’s not really metallic, and I’m wondering why, if “metal” was the brief, Guerlain didn’t go for iris + helional (described by Luca Turin as smelling like “a sucked silver spoon”). In any case, the band sued, Metallica was yanked, tweaked, renamed, and rereleased as Metalys, only to be yanked once again when IFRA restrictions on eugenol doomed it. I have not smelled Metalys, but reviews suggest it is very similar. Notes, cobbled together from perfume blogs, include: bergamot, carnation, ylang, rose, orange blossom, iris, tonka bean, amber. There may also be a small amount of aldehydes; my decant has that unmistakable nailpolishy top so common to older aldehydics, but it’s gone in only a few moments. It’s lovely, a very fresh spicy floral with the creaminess of ylang accenting the carnation and the powdery vanilla/amber backing it up. If you find either version, snap it up.
33) Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique – (Carnation/Floral Blend) Tenderly floral notes for an ingénue with unsuspected seduction:A new experience with an intrepid, yet delicate temperament completes the Elixirs Charnels collection. Ylang-ylang and Tiare flower notes, accompanied by inevitably rose-tinged lily and carnation. These last floral notes linger in a cloud of soft and creamy notes. An angelic alchemy that is fresh and smooth, warm and innovative.” I actually love this thing – it’s just so darn pretty! – but there’s no way I’m shelling out $255 for a 75ml bottle of “pretty.” At that price point, it had better darn well be stunning rather than pretty. It is not, again, particularly carnationy to my nose, but Patty has included it in a Surrender to Chance carnation sample set, so perhaps I’m in the wrong here. Notes (from Fragrantica, because I can’t read the disappearing-reappearing type on the Guerlain website): Mandarin, ambrette seed, maté, petitgrain, carnation, lily, jasmine, ylang, tiare, rose, smoked tea, chestnut, cedar, benzoin.
34) Ineke Perfumes for Anthropologie Sweet William (LE) – (Spicy Carnation) “Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) is a clove-scented, fringed flower that is bicolored in white/pink/red tones. It recently received some justified accolades when Kate Middleton included it in her bridal bouquet, presumably for both the lovely scent and the name. Ineke has created a Sweet William soliflore fragrance that is ensconced by rich wood notes. The fragrance opens with a juicy peach note. The Sweet William floralcy is further warmed with cinnamon, clove and cumin essential oils. The dominant wood notes are a blend of cedarwood, sandalwood and patchouli, softened with Bourbon vanilla.” Apparently this limited edition is no longer for sale at Anthropologie, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get to smell it. Reviews at Fragrantica are generally good.
35) JAR Perfumes Golconda – JAR doesn’t release notes. Nobody knows. Surrender to Chance says “carnation absolute and spices,” and that’s all, except that some people say “the best carnation fragrance EVER.” I’m going to guess this as a Spicy Carnation.
36) JAR Diamond Water – Again, no official notes and no description from the company, so I have no real idea where to categorize this scent. You’re supposed to have “the JAR experience,” and they don’t want to tell you anything that might predispose you to think one way or another. I’m not keen on this arty approach, but then I’m a down-to-earth gal. Blogdorf Goodman mentions carnation, honey, cinnamon, tuberose, pepper, osmanthus, and stock, but Bois de Jasmin says white rose, aldehydes, green notes, orange blossom, apricot, tuberose, lily, honey, and carnation. March at Perfume Posse adds incense and leather to the list. Sounds like a Carnation Floral Blend to me.
37) Jardin de France Oeillet – (Spicy Carnation) I know very little about this brand, but it is an inexpensive brand focusing on traditional colognes and soliflores. Notes (Fragrantica): cinnamon, orange, red pepper, carnation, jasmine, vanilla, ylang. If I run across it (not likely), I’m going to try it.
38) Jean Patou Adieu Sagesse (d/c) – (Carnation/Floral Blend) Released in 1925, this was originally one of a set of three fragrances intended to, first, be targeted to women by the color of their hair, and second, to indicate the stages of a love affair. Amour Amour, created for blondes, symbolized the whirlwind of beginning interest. Que Sais-je (What Do I Know), created for brunettes, symbolized the uncertainty of falling in love. And Adieu Sagesse (Farewell Wisdom), created for redheads, symbolized the descent into tempestuous feelings. Technically, I have smelled Adieu Sagesse, but I don’t think I can count that experience. The bit of this I tried had certainly gone off so I can’t really tell you what it’s supposed to be like. It was hideous and completely age-damaged, smelling like nail polish, detergent, and dust. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to smell like that. Notes (Fragrantica): neroli, narcissus, bergamot, blackcurrant, lily of the valley, carnation, jasmine, tuberose, vetiver, musk, civet. Here’s a review from Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, and a review from Helg at Perfume Shrine.
39) L.T. Piver Oeillet Frange (d/c) – (Spicy Carnation?) From The Perfumed Court, where it is available for sampling: a vintage old school carnation fragrance – beautiful blend of peppery clove with a tinge of sweetness – A great carnation floral – Extremely rare & hard to find. No other information available, no reviews, no bottles hiding on ebay. Grr. I think I’d better not even sample this one, lest I get completely frustrated.
40) L’Artisan Oeillet Sauvage(d/c) – (Soft/Creamy Carnation) This one, despite finding some love among perfume fans, is gone; it fetches enormous prices on ebay. I have a sample anyway, and it’s lovely. It’s more vanilla than I’d wanted, but it’s very wearable, all soft and girly. Billet Doux and Etro Dianthus have a lot in common with Oeillet Sauvage, so try the other two (still in production) if you can’t find this and are intrigued. Notes (Fragrantica): pink pepper, rose, carnation, ylang, lily, wallflower, resin. I’m not sure what “resin” refers to, unless it’s benzoin – this is very creamy and vanilla-like. Pretty. “Wild Carnation” is a misnomer; Oeillet Sauvage takes tea at the same time every afternoon. With little cakes, too.
41) L’Erbolario Carnation – (Soft Carnation) It is really tough to find L’Erbolario, a downscale Italian skincare brand, sold in the US. There is one American online site, but it doesn’t carry Carnation. I haven’t been able to find a sample of this anywhere. I’d love one, though. Notes (Fragrantica): carnation, rose, vanilla, oakmoss. See, it even has moss… I bet this one was limited edition or discontinued.
42) L’Erbolario Fiori Scuri – (Carnation Floral Blend) “Roses, hyacinths, irises and carnations, collected together by L’Erbolario in a single, sumptuous bouquet, offering you the chance to discover the subtle and seductive notes of the most mysterious and enticing flowers, the ‘fiori scuri’ [dark flowers].” I do have a sample of this one. It smells only faintly of carnations and rose, and mostly of soap. Nice, but I have a policy of not wearing a soapy smell I have to spray on.
43) Lorenzo Villoresi Garofano – (Spicy Carnation) Sadly, this one has disappeared from the LV website, probably a casualty of IFRA restrictions on eugenol. Notes (Fragrantica): green notes, floral notes, lavender, cyclamen, cinnamon, carnation, pepper, jasmine, rose, ylang, geranium, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, cedar.
44) LUSH Flower Market (d/c) – (Fresh Carnation) “An old-fashioned floral fragrance with carnations, ylang-ylang, violet and galbanum. It is dedicated to Audrey Hepburn in the movie My Fair Lady.” You know me, I’m interested in anything galbanum. I should probably sample this one.
45) LUSH Potion (d/c except in lotion format) – (Spicy Carnation) “Seductive floral brew! The sexy scent of carnations wafts from your supremely soft skin after moisturizing with Potion Lotion. It’s a bewitching concoction full of luscious and smoothing ingredients; a light touch of almond oil and cocoa butter to soften, with rose petal infusion and toning tangerine. Carnation absolute lends a distinctive floral note to its beautiful fragrance.” Comments on the fragrance at the LUSH website range from “smells like grandma” and “dentist’s office” to “bewitching” and “just like fresh carnations.” An 8-oz bottle of lotion is $20, which seems a little out of my price range just for lotion, but if a sample comes my way I’ll snap it up.