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Carnation Min-Sniff Fest

Carnation Min-Sniff Fest 8 years ago plant-carnations.html

Carnation Mini-Sniff Fest

Having just added carnation to my favorite florals list (along with Jasmine and Rose), I’m doing a mini sniff-fest of the following 17 which supposedly have it as a prominent note. Sniffing my carnation sample from Perfumers Apprentice first. If I had to describe it to someone who’d never smelled carnation, I’d say: imagine a mild narcissus spiced with clove and a little vanilla and you’re close.

Here goes.

Honour Woman

Carnation’s definitely in there, if subdued by the amber and leather. Pepper in the top note makes my nose twitch, but this is an appealing fragrance, the other heart florals (Gardenia, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-Valley, Tuberose), highlighting the carnation. The base is amber, leather, opoponax, vetiver, frankincense. Not a buy for me but far from awful.

Balenciaga Paris

This one is a carnation/violet chypre. Didn’t love it on first try, but this time I enjoy the smooth sophistication of oakmoss, labdanum and woods. If I didn’t know it was called Paris, it would remind me of the city. Probably not a buy, but who knows what the 3rd sniff will bring.


One sniff at a perfume counter and I was in love. This is pure carnation and rose. For me, irresistible. Mint lifts it, vetiver adds freshness, amber richness and caladium leaf—it must be adding to the green. Love, Love, love.

Calvin Klein

Oh, nice! At first I thought there must be too much else in here for the carnation to stand out, but after the beautifully green-citrus top note settles, after the woody, musky, amber base rises and calms down, the heart florals rise with carnation as a star, if a muted one. Delightful.


Here’s another I fell in love with on first sniff. To me, this is practically a drug. Musk, sandalwood, vanilla and carnation in the base create such a richly luxurious smell, along with the heart florals that a mere whiff sends me into ecstacy. Can this magic be produced by only 8 notes? Checking my Caron catalogue. Yep, that’s what they claim. Each of the 8 must be the finest of its kind. This is a masterpiece.

En Avion

Another first sniff love. Carnation, Jasmine, Neroli, Opoponax. Carnation and opoponax anchor the scent, creating a frame to civilize the indoles in Jasmine and Neroli. It’s just tremendous.

Poivre (EdP)

Smelling this one for the first time and a little leery since poivre means pepper. Wow, somehow clove, red and black pepper in the top note make this a totally funky perfume. I’m sure resinous oak moss and opoponax in the base help, as does the sandalwood. The heart is carnation, rose and yang ylang. It reminds me a bit of vintage Tabu. To me it’s a very suggestive perfume. Clove stars in the dry down, saving it from the gutter and the carnation hangs in there against it, if barely. This is much spicier than I like but it will surely turn heads.
Carnation Min-Sniff Fest, Part 2 8 years ago

CARNATIONS (continued)

Black Cashmere

Don’t like this one. It was included in a carnation collection on surrender to chance but carnation isn’t listed among the notes here. Trying again to detect it by sniffing carnation sample then the perf. Yes, I think it’s in there, but overpowered by the saffron and woods. Beginning to realize I don’t like super funky fragrances. Objectively, this is beautiful. The nutmet, saffron and frankincense create an exotic and alluring top note. More frankincense in the base, along with amber and woods, really make for a … what is the word for it … dark loveliness. It’s just not for me.


This has “golden pollen, gold dust, and golden resins” and I have no idea what they smell like. The top note for me is initially confusing but the carnation soon rises strong and beautiful, equalling the heart floral, Jasmine, and the lily in the top. Amber and patchouli in the base are wonderful. But there is this sort of bright mustiness overlaying it all, which may be what the “gold” is meant to smell like. I own it, but don’t wear it much. Maybe I should

Estée Lauder

Again, this was on a list of carnation perfumes, though carnation isn’t listed among the notes here, nor is it a prominent scent. Beautiful this is, though, as a symphony of florals in the top and heart ride above a fabulous amber/sandalwood/vetiver base. Gotta wear it.

L'Heure Bleue

I wore this splendid beauty on my wedding day and felt as special as this fragrance is. My guy wore Bois D’Ascese, IMO the perfect pairing. L’Heure Bleue is one of the handful of fragrances that transport me and can leave me speechless in admiration. Now I realize carnation is its star. Aniseed and violet lend magic, neroli and bergamot sultriness. Iris is charming in the base (along with vanilla, benzoin and tonk a). To me it ranks with vintage Mitsouko and Bal à Versailles as one of the reigning queens of perfume.

Sous le Vent

Created for Josephine Baker, I give respect to this unusual grand dame of a fragrance, though it’s not for me. Beautiful, luxurious flowers are made a little strange by Tarragon, which I’m sure was just the thing for this exotic performer. Surely she didn’t smell like anyone else.

Issey Miyake
L'Eau d'Issey

Another love at first sniff at a perfume counter though at the time I didn’t know why. Now I do. Lovely, lovely carnation plays among fresh notes (cyclamen, freesia) and melon. In the dry drown, lily, peony and rose join in. And it has my kind of base: amber, woods, musk (along with osmanthus and tuberose). This was one of the first marine fragrances for women, but it’s the carnation that does it for me.

Nina Ricci
L'Air du Temps

I think I wore this for a brief time long ago. No memory of what it smells like. Trying it. Now I remember, but it smells old to me. It’s a heaviiy floral scent with only Bergamot, Peach, Rosewood and Sandalwood departing and not strongly. I find it too sweet, wanting resins and musks.

Roger & Gallet
Blue Carnation / Œillet Bleu

I’ve been eagerly looking forward to testing this because I think I remember it on my mother’s dresser in my childhood. Its notes aren’t listed at parfumo, so here goes a blind first sniff. Yes! My mom wore this. I remember smelling it on her. She was such a grand gal, a one-of-a-kind beauty (the kind that stops traffic) and so talented. I spent my childhood just delighting in looking at her and hearing her sing all over the house or read to us. She would have loved something unusual like this. Besides Carnation I smell pepper and something else …an herb …oh, that’s clove. What else …some sort of wood. Something green. Vetiver? Nope this fragrance isn’t me, but it’s definitely mom. She had the verve to carry it off. I like a more sensual and romantic scent. Hat off to her and her perfume. So glad I found it.

Serge Lutens
Vitriol d'Œillet

Vaguely similar to Blue Carnation, but the clover and pepper are less strong. I could wear this one. In fact i want to wear this. It has Gillyflower. Never heard of it, but it’s sure beautiful with the carnation. It feels like a gift. Something I can wear to remind me of mom. An opera playlist has been running as I sniff and, by coincidence, Madama Butterfly’s love song is playing now. My older brother, who was a tenor, and my mother, a coloratura soprano who gave up her career to raise us, actually sang this around the house. How blessed I was to be there and hear it.

Eau du Soir

Last but by no means least, this is my latest acquisition, another fragrance counter love-at-first-sniff, a chypre so beautiful it could compete in a contest with Mitsouko (yes, it would lose but it would be a runner-up). What a haunting, musky enchantment of powerful carnation reigning over the fantastic heart of florals, oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli and spce. The top and base are magnificent in their simplicity: grapefruit and mandarin then ambergris and musk.

So that’s it for the carnations I have, one new acquisition emerging from it: Vitriol d’Œillet. This was such a joy. My hands and arms are splashed with versions of lovely carnation and my ears have heard the ecstasy of great music — a wonderful way to pass the time.

Logging off before Butterfly sings the heartbreakingly beautiful Con onor muoure. I’m too happy to hear her die.
8 years ago
Do you want to include this lovely carnation scent in your Sniff-Fest?
8 years ago
Yes! Thanks, Pipette, I'll find a sample.
Do you want to include this lovely carnation scent in your Sniff-Fest?
8 years ago
I own three perfumes with strong carnation notes, though they are by no means soliflores. "Fidji" by Guy Laroche, "Anais Anais" by Cacharel and "Vanderbilt" by Gloria Vanderbilt.
It used to feature in men's fragrances (e.g. "Old Spice") far more than today. I suppose it is regarded as somewhat old fashioned these days.
8 years ago
Thanks, Triffid. I have Vanderbilt somewhere! Must dig it out. Haven't tried the other two. I see what you mean, but luckily Carnation is new to me, since I'm still discovering genres and notes.

I own three perfumes with strong carnation notes, though they are by no means soliflores. "Fidji" by Guy Laroche, "Anais Anais" by Cacharel and "Vanderbilt" by Gloria Vanderbilt.
It used to feature in men's fragrances (e.g. "Old Spice") far more than today. I suppose it is regarded as somewhat old fashioned these days.
Carnation Mini-Sniff Fest, Part 3 8 years ago
Comme des Garçons
Series 2 Red: Carnation

Initially this is beautiful. A strong carnation note married with jasmine and rose is hugely enhanced by goji berry juice. I chew on them often and can smell it. Apparently, many perfumers seem to think it mandatory to pair carnation and clove, which has worked in some of these fragrances, however, these folks also thought pepper would help. Soon after the initial loveliness I'm overcome with spice. After a while it becomes tolerable, but not enough to strongly appeal until well into the drydown.

Gloria Vanderbilt

This is a classic oriental (bergamot-jasmine-musk-vanilla-opoponax instead of amber), but it has a strong carnation note. I prefer more indolic florals to star in my orientals but this is lovely, too. Think Opium in her sunday best.

Oriza L. Legrand
Oeillet Louis XV

Wow, interesting on first musty whiff. What am I smelling? Pink Pepper and clove again, lots of carnation paired with iris, rose and sultry orchid. Woods, rice, honey and musk in the base. Legrand knows what they're doing. Here, clove and pepper don't overpower, they enhance. This is a gorgeous softly woody-musty scent. Mandarin in the top is the right citrus -- not too astringent. Thanks, Pipette for suggesting it.


Another nice one. Deeply resinous-wooody musk surrounds the carnation, joined by tuberose and ylang-ylang. A man could wear this as well as a woman. Frankincense and myrrh, saffron, whiskey, ambrette seed and more? I'm noting how leather can tame potentially harsh notes. It's really divine. Smells like a perfume stand in a Turkish bazaar situated next to the only church in town.

Tiziana Terenzi

I often love Tiziana Terenzi perfumes, this one included. Carnation is the only floral in this even more musky-resinous-woody spicy scent, vermouth of all things enhancing the top and it works. What a richly fragrant unisex perfume. It's in the same family as the Penhaligon, but more compelling. Mmmm.

A final quick sniff of my hands and arms tells me if I buy one of these it will be the Legrand or the Terenzi.
That is what I call enabling 8 years ago
It is because of your Sniff-Fest, dear ScentFan, that I got myself a roll-on of "En Avion" by CARON.

Stunning. A true CARON scent.
Re: That is what I call enabling 8 years ago
LOL! Yes, stunning. I'd apologize if I didn't think having a new beautiful fragrance is the best thing ever.

It is because of your Sniff-Fest, dear ScentFan, that I got myself a roll-on of "En Avion" by CARON.

Stunning. A true CARON scent.
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