Posts Tagged ‘Oeillets France Coty perfume’


I have been in love with carnation perfumes since I started making perfumes (almost) 26 years ago.  At that time, way back when, the notion of making a carnation soliflore was very old-fashioned, and I was most interested in using it to create spiced woody oriental designs; very dry, VERY spicy and less floral than a bridge from the pimento / clove / pepper topnotes to the sandalwood / cedar / patchouli / frankincense in the base.  I still love those early scents…the ones that if you add a bit of bergamot and mandarin, they turn slightly tea-like or mix in some amber you’ll expand the depth of the woods.  But when I started growing the actual flowers in my garden the sense of carnations as florals more than spice came alive. And I started considering, why isn’t anyone making a carnation soliflore?  These blooms are so warm, sensuous, and frankly, delicious.  So, I set out to make my first back in 1997.

Of course, I started to research the historical background of carnation perfumes and found there were many more famous fragrances in that line than the densely carnation oriental that was most close to my “coming of age”, YSL’s Opium, and the Grand Dame of vintage carnation perfumes, Caron’s Bellodgia.  Two very popular carnation perfumes from yesteryear are Blue Carnation, from Roger et Gallet is a fragrance worn by Queen Elizabeth (apparently now only made for her), as well as the now discontinued Malmaison by Floris (we’ll get back to this one).  Francois Coty’s Oeillet France was in production for the first part of the 20th century and many lesser brands had their “Carnation” perfumes.  (Cardinal comes to mind as a brand that sold many soliflores in sets with carnation being among their best sellers).


Some things I’ve noticed about the earlier carnation perfumes is the almost prerequisite use of aldehydes, and more of a bouquet design with a carnation focal note more so than a straight soliflore.  Of course, after Chanel no.5, a straight-forward soliflore would have seemed utterly passé and the same can be said of any perfume without aldehydes… it wouldn’t have been ‘modern’.  Both Bellodgia and Blue Carnation have this kind of ‘outline’ to their design.  What’s fascinating when thinking about how these types of designs, at the time of their creation, were meant to be modern and very ‘new’, they are the epitome of vintage, retro, and even classical from our vantage point.  I considered this when I started creating my own carnation designs, and my first was meant to be a true soliflore, in that I wanted to make a fragrance that smelled as realistically like the red carnations that I grew in my own garden, and very little else.  The perfume still had to have structure and so, of course, there are notes that uphold the focal gem of CARNATION in a setting meant to keep you focused on the gemstone itself.  In Oeillets Rouges, the setting is a simple topnote of bergamot and hints of spice (nutmeg, green peppercorn, and clove) and a base note of beeswax, ambergris, and vanilla.  These setting notes are mild and subtle never overtaking the carnation heart.  To my mind, this is classical in a pre-Chanel no.5 sense; a more Edwardian sensibility with the quest for natural-ness that the late 1990’s had great interest in.

Juxtapose Oeillets Rouges with a much more recent creation, Fleuriste, which came out just a few years ago.  I decided to make Fleuriste after years of people really getting excited about Oeillets Rouges (just the fact that I had a real carnation perfume made some people ecstatic) and I saw that the interest in carnation perfumes was on the upswing in general.  I also wanted to work on a really modern idea for a carnation perfume that came to me after smelling JAR’s Golconda for myself and hearing people’s reaction to it’s beauty.  The thing that I heard again and again about Golconda (besides the exorbitant pricetag) was the kind of cold / “florist’s fridge effect” that was so interesting about it.  This chilled topnote construction was what struck me about Golconda’s modernity and I wanted to see what I could do around that.


“Smell-o-cules”, as one of my wonderful students calls them, are the modern perfumer’s dream as they can help construct out of this world ideas that don’t occur in nature.  Or even if they do, it’s difficult to get the parts that you want without having to also take parts that you don’t.  it’s this leap into man-made molecules that made the ‘chilled rose leaf’ accord possible.  Leaf alcohol does naturally occur (and I have used the natural / isolated molecule in some lovely natural perfumes) but in Fleuriste I used the man-made version along with some captive molecules from Givco (aka Givaudan Corporation) to give me a delicious, refrigerated flowers feel to the very opening.  And this is where the reference to Golconda stops.  I took a turn here to reference another great icon of 20th Century perfumes, realigning the structure of Diorissimo (by the great Edmond Roudnitska) to focus on the lilac – carnation underpinnings and pushing the lily of the valley and other greens to the back.  This with added spices helped tremendously when trying to construct a new carnation that had the sheer modern / cold topnote and still felt like ‘carnation’ which has spice and warmth afterall.

Fleuriste did all that I hoped for and more.  It’s become almost as beloved as Oeillets Rouges, and helped inspire the next two in my trilogy of recent carnation releases.  But for now, I’ll end here.  I’ll be back for more on the state of the {car}nations soon.

and ps: Happy Spring!!

pps: Well this is exciting!  The links to reviews that I wanted share have magically materialized thanks to some wonderful friends (and authors!)
Here’s Ida Meister’s review for Fragrantica.com and her amazing “Scented Snippets” column; and Cynthis Lesiuk’s take on Fleuriste for her lovely blog, “The Fragrant Journey”.  Thanks so much sweethearts! ❤


images: my own carnation digital collage; Oeillets France de Coty from the Artscent Museum collection; and exaggerated pinks bouquet in my painting studio.

*** Kleptomania moment :: Confession:  I stole the title from a blog I’ve been reading and thought  that it was so clever that I had to use it.  I hope it’s ok.




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