Two very different carnation soliflores here. I chose to pair them together, not really to compare and contrast, but rather understand how differently one flower can be presented.
Terracotta Voile d’Ete opens with a lovely candied citrus with a hit of cinnamon spice. It smells like a herbal cough drop, and as the carnation begins to creep in, I actually find this visual image becomes more true to life.
TVdE’s carnation isn’t quite as clove rich as I expected – but the eugonol note is very present. I don’t normally like the clove not when it is “warm”, I prefer mine cool and medicinal. Here however, paired with the heated spice of cinnamon, the clove and the green twang of the carnation flower – create a scent that to me smells very similar to those classical herbal “tablet” sweets that smell (and taste) divine – and a little old-fashioned!
The scent is warm, spicy and rich – but relatively translucent. It feels both classical, and yet extremely modern due to the potent cinnamon note which I find quite unusually placed in this composition. Together, these spices have a ginger-like heat; it creates a scent just like you’d expect from the colour of the juice.
Thankfully, the sharp spice (medicinal at first) is counterbalanced by a warm amber, and subtle vanilla note which runs throughout. There’s also a quiet, bubble-gum style jasmine, and a powdery heliotrope which give this carnation some softer edges; the heliotrope element bringing to mind a warmer L’Heure Bleue vibe.
I see pear is listed in the notes: I wouldn’t have even thought about this until I read a note pyramid but now I’ve read it, I really get that! It has a real spiced fruit vibe – but much cleaner and more translucent than it sounds, this is not an overtly indulgent Lutens’ style creation.
The scent becomes quieter in time until it is a very pale, sweet carnation veil. The warmth always rises from the subtle spices and the vanilla/amber/heliotrope really smooth out what could have been an irritating high pitch from the carnation – what is left is a crystal clear “clove drop” if ever there was one. As you’d hope – at the end of it’s life – it leaves with that heavenly Guerlain vanilla base A charming fragrance.
Holy sweet! Vitriol D’oeillet opens with an intense crack of pink and black pepper – right up the nostrils. A heated spice literally flies off the skin, sharp and dry – not at all like the smooth clarity of spice in TVdE’s opening – that seems tame in comparison. The sharp pepper with its chilli-like spice, persists on the skin for a good five minutes before anything becomes clearer to disect.
The opening is harsh and bitter – but not what I’d consider a challenge – it is not quite the surprise of his famous tuberose, but it’s close. Even with its cayenne heat, it almost lets you know that this is not how it’s staying – a classical bouquet is underneath. This becomes more obvious as the florals begin to emerge – the clove ridden carnation of course, paired with spicy lily, and a clean tea rose.
Just like Tubereuse Criminelle, the attack of the opening calms down relatively quickly. Of course the spice is always there, and it isn’t the rich warmth of the Guerlain, it is still that hit-the-back-of-your-throat pepper, just quieter…
The lily is very prominent amongst the florals, pretty much on par with the carnation, which in a weird way makes Vitriol D’oeillet an easier introduction to carnation than Terracotta Voile d’Ete. The lily is very nice, there’s nothing lactonic or sweet here though, that usually is added to enhance the more tropical vibe of the flower. No, here it is stark, almost bitter with its hard hit of spice – but later on in the development when the heart is in its flow, it’s actually much tamer than I am describing.
The heart of the fragrance is actually quite quiet – classical, almost dandified and dated – the old-fashioned personality of the carnation can’t quite be hidden it seems. That’s not to say it isn’t nice. Vitriol D’oeillet sweetens a little (thankfully), and the pepper completely recedes, leaving behind a clove-y stain, and a translucent bouquet of lily and carnation with the rose (which probably isn’t tea like I mentioned before) now managing to keep up with the other floral’s intense personality’s.
Some woods warm up the floral bouquet (which is much-needed as they begin to smell a bit pale and stale), and I smell a delicate waft of incense and amber in the base. Vitriol D’oeillet becomes very quiet, very tame, and well-behaved on the skin from here-on, probably apologizing for making your nose bleed in the opening. Ok so I’m being a little harsh – all along, Vitriol D’oeillet is not quite as angry as it seems, but yes it has “teeth” as Lutens’ describes – at first – from there on it is a little quiet and stale for my taste, but interesting whilst it’s individuality lasts.
Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete EDT – discontinued but can be found easily online for pretty cheap!
Serge Lutens 50ml EDP Vitriol D’oeillet – 99 Euros sergelutens.com