Eugenol intersects well with rose, geranium, anise, violet, pepper (pink or black), cinnamon and other "hot" spices. Serge Lutens' Vitriol d’Œillet (roughly, Carnation Rage) contains many of these, plus a curious incense-smoke note that sends me right to church. Or maybe it sends me right to this absolutely hilarious blog post by Kitty Lapin Agile, who makes a startling observation which (once you get used to it) seems as though it's been obvious all along: Necco® Wafers strongly resemble communion wafers. Sweet sacrilege! Enter Picasa's image-tinkering tools, and there you have it: violet holy wafers to appease a violent-sounding perfume.
Let Serge Lutens himself describe the smackdown your nose is about to receive:
Je vais tout vous dire mon enfant : prenez un œillet, du poivre de Cayenne en quantités suffisante ma foi. Enfoncez le bien, au centre de lui-même par des clous de girofle puis, avant de passer à l’acte, pour conclure, augmentez cela d’une paire de gifles offerte par la giroflée. (Listen, my child, and I will tell you everything. Take a carnation and a sufficient quantity of Cayenne pepper. Firmly drive it into the very center, using the "nails" of a clove. Before committing the final act of violence, let wallflower throw in a few punches.)Whoop! That's some back-alley prizefight you're running there, Uncle Serge. He continues:
No more ghostly than a train, nor more sudden than death, nor quicker than the opening of a grave, my vitriol is distilled from carnations. After a moment of hesitation, the carnation -- alias the clove pink -– is what I am in every sense: this fragrance fraught with anger is my riposte. Its petals, laced with tiny teeth, hold out the solution: a burst of fragrant spikes... Yet the carnation is an obsessive and intrepid flower. When it doesn’t bloom on market stalls and in open fields in southern France, the carnation -– blood red, as if bitten by a dapper criminal with a fox-like smile -– perishes.Thenceforth follows a rather lurid description of a film noir heroine meeting a gruesome fate. I don't want to see her come to a bad end; I'd rather she summon up the moxie to belt her shadowy adversary upside his head. Hard. But if a hint is wanted, she's not likely to get it from Vitriol d’Œillet.
Despite the provocation inherent in both its brief and its name, Vitriol d’Œillet is not a very forceful fragrance. It's no Poivre. It's no Parfum Sacre, nor a Sacrebleu. It's not even Bellodgia, bless its heart. It's a meek, hazy, charming little confection with absolutely no injurious designs on the wearer. From its elusive violet incense opening, it meanders into a typical carnation accord whose complementary peppercorn blend is unexpectedly bright and fruity. From there, it's soft, dry, Grey-Flannel-esque woods all the way down.
I envision Vitriol d’Œillet folding its little white-gloved hands nicely during Sunday Mass... and perhaps surreptitiously enjoying a sweet or two during the homily. No vitriol. Not a particle. But purple Necco® Wafers? An ample supply.
Scent Elements: Clove, nutmeg, black pepper, pink pepper, cayenne, œillet (carnation), wallflower, lily, ylang-ylang, woods