Soul of a Carnation – Œillet 000 Guerlain Vintage

You’re not seeing wrong, and I’m not re-blogging my post from a few weeks ago, today is about carnation, but this time it has not been re-constructed or re-imagined, it’s the real deal. This is Guerlain from 100+ years ago.

Fashion 1879

Fashion 1879

As vintage hunting becomes ever more popular, increasingly much gets written about vintage fragrances. How they alter over time, macerate so that they cannot be compared with what they would have originally smelled like, or in fact as the perfumer intended to. And at the same time the market for vintage fragrances and the prices paid has never been as high as now. Is that simply because it’s possible and the internet allows for worldwide sales, or is it the hunt for a lost treasure, or for authenticity and perhaps even a dream of innocence from a time long gone, a perfume market we can dream weren’t as cut-throat as it is now? For me, it’s possibly a bit of all, but most of all, I like vintage fragrances. Perhaps I’m kidding myself and what I like about the vintages, is all down to the maceration, and the deepness is only due to age, but in many cases I feel that the precious extracts which have been used, do either not exist like that anymore and/or would be too costly to use, and/ or for me to buy. And there is something truly otherworldly about smelling a fragrance, for which many roses had to give their lives in 1879, and a 100 years on bring them back to life, if only for a day, in 2015.

The original version of Œillet 000 was (perhaps*) created in 1879, fitting of the fact that soliflores were especially popular before 1900. I have no idea whether the bottle that I got my sample from, dating from at least 30 years later, would be of the same composition as the original, but it is true, that even if soliflores were the rage, they were still quite a bit different to what we think now. They weren’t necessarily meant to be a realistic rendition of the flower they were called after, but rather an imagery, a romantic impression of the flower. At least that’s what I learnt it was like when sniffing the recreated Muguet from the recreated vintages (to be sniffed only at Maison Guerlain in Paris), which smells nothing like the sprightly lily of the valley fragrances we now expect. It would perhaps also explain why it was even possible for every perfumer in Paris to have an Œillet or Muguet perfume; it was ‘his’ special floral ‘impression’.

Music Performance 1879

Music Performance 1879

Guerlain Œillet 000, or so-called triple extract. There are no notes for this anywhere that I could find, but here’s what I smell: A carnation spicy yes, but not overly so and deep, deep red and velvet smooth. It feels like an equally dark almost black red rose is added for diva-drama and consequent chamber separée. There’s also a bit of make-up powder in the shape of orris and perhaps a hint of heliotrope, to add a bit of vamp to the lady. Not to mention what I perceive as definite animal musk*, mixing in heavenly with the spicy flowers. The velvet curtains are drawn to the last notes of vanilla and tonka, and what feels very Guerlinade. I don’t think I’ve ever tried a carnation fragrance as incredibly lush and beautiful as this. It’s a soliflore, no doubt about it, but even the best soloist needs the best accompaniment to be able to stand out, and that’s exactly what she gets here.

I hadn’t dreamt of the fact that this should be so heart achingly beautiful, but I’m afraid it is. And as always I am amazed at the fact that this doesn’t smell old-fashioned, perhaps retro or not-contemporary, but in its simplicity this is as gorgeous as they come. I don’t know what this would have smelled like in 1879, or fresh of the bottle fillers, but what I wouldn’t give to find out – in 2015.guerlainoeillet000


*There are a few different years for an Œillet perfume 1839, 1881, 1879… I’m for now going with what it said on the Perfumed Court where I bought the sample from, and seems more plausible than 1839 for this fragrance.

*verified by feline God child, who sniffed my wrists several times with a very puzzled look – she never sniffs perfume normally.

Hopefully soon my post on Guerlain’s Heliotrope Blanc 000 a vintage fragrance will follow.

* In my search I encountered also the fact that according to Cleopatra’s Boudoir, Maison Guerlain released about 100+ new perfumes in 1877, now take that Luca Turin, who laments how Guerlain has slipped standard by bringing out 14.

Sunbeam Heliotrope- Oriza L. Legrand Heliotrope Blanc (2014)

I am going to write about another of Oriza L. Legrand’s soliflore fragrances; heliotrope blanc.

And since I already talked about soliflores and Oriza L. Legrand’ when I wrote about ‘Royal Œillet’, this post will be a bit shorter than usual 😉36026

At this point, I have to let you in on a little secret; I own a bottle of a rare Guerlain: Heliotrope Blanc 000, or so called triple extract, so of course I was extra curious to see how Oriza’s would compare. Especially as so far I would say that Legrand makes an effort to try and make their perfumes as purposely old-fashioned as possible. What I thought at first might just a trick to stick out in the niche perfume jungle, I’ve come to respect for their insistence in sticking to their program.

Would Heliotrope Blanc try to be complex and mysterious, would it be something different to a (blue/ purple) heliotrope or would it be more in line with the old style soliflores I talked of before?

How’s the white heliotrope white? In this case it has an old fashioned cleanliness about it that oozes white and light with a touch of floral smelling soap. It’s yellow like little sunbeams dancing on lilies of the valley through washing lines of white sheets hanging out to dry. There’s a light powderiness to begin with, with a bit of very light tinge of greenery. The powder is very anti-boudoir in style, more talcum than make-up, and feels like a comforting little cloud of homeliness.heliotropium_arborescens There’s sweetness, of course, but at least in the beginning it feel more like it’s coming from the rice giving a milk-like appearance, than an almond or candy like sweetness. It has an innocence about it, a cuteness without being twee or girlish. It dries down yet a little sweeter and more powdery with the added tonka bean. It’s a comfy fragrance, if your sense of comfort is going into a bet of new washed and ironed linen, feeling its coolness against a warm cheek.

Top; Orange Blossom, Heliotrope, Violet leaves. Heart; Almond, Heliotrope, Mimosa, Iris. Base; Musk, Heliotrope, Rice powder, Benzoin, Tonka Bean.

If your typical heliotrope fragrances are too candy-sweet/ almondy and the typical powders of comfort fragrances like Nirmal, Teint de Neige or Verte Violette are too powdery, Heliotrope Blanc would be worth trying. Equally, while it might still not quite win over the heliotropophobes, this would be a good place to start if it is the almond part of heliotrope that causes worry.

Have you smelled white heliotrope, and how does if differ from the blue/purple heliotrope? How do you like your soliflores?

Disclaimer; samples bought from Luckyscent. Feature pic by me, and I couldn’t find attribution to the two other found online.

Brand-spanking Age-old Soliflore – Oriza L. Legrand, Royal Œilllet (2014)

There’s something ever so charming about old(- fashioned) soliflores. I enjoy them in a way that perhaps can compare somewhat to an office fragrance in terms of the simplicity of the structure, even if not the degree of inoffensiveness.

I normally prefer my perfume to be complicated and of structural finesse, but sometimes a soliflore is truly all I need, particularly in regard to notes I love. However, even if there are many new soliflore releases, there’s a different vibe to the new ones compared to those you find from old and long gone brands named simply: Muguet, oeillet, iris etc. I have tried quite a few of this category, and they are nearly always great uncomplicated single note inspired fragrances. So, for instance Coty Iris, simply a really great full on iris, would stand more than its ground around the milestones of iris soliflores; Iris Silver Mist and Xerjoffs Irisss.oeillet 006k

I like my carnations spicy, like pepper and mischief, not dainty and fluffy. When I tried the first carnation fragrance from Oriza L. Legrand ‘Oeillet Louis XV’, I found it a bit too much in the second category, and so it was more of a coincidence that I ordered the sample of Oriza’s new carnation offering ‘Royal Œillet’.

The first sniff of Royal Œillet is peppery and has an orange peel waxiness about it. It feels a bit weird until it blends properly on the skin with a great and unexpected myrrh note. This opening is not a quickie, it lasts a good while and took me some getting used to. Every time I reapply, I keep wondering if it will ever turn into a carnation fragrance. It does, eventually, and when it does it makes me truly appreciate that coy opener. In fact it turns into exactly that luxuriously spicy fragrance which reminds me of all the great single notes of yore. It feels deep red, almost burgundy, with serrated petals. It’s peppery but cosy and sweet from the sandalwood, and the overall character is of velvet and candlelight.$_57

I think it’s great that Oriza chooses to bring out soliflores in a way that reminds me of those old perfumes. Obviously, even if this might have been a real vintage composition, there would still have been a lot of updating to do I imagine, in terms of IFRA regulations, but also availability of ingredients… However, perhaps apart from the somewhat strong myrrh in the start, I truly feel that emphasis has been put on recreating, not to accommodate for modern times and modern tastes, but in the spirit of the old. Here it fits superbly; to the house, the design, and most importantly it fits the fragrance, it wants to be this exact way, no berries to make it go down easier, no disguising the old fashioned carnation behind other flowers, but letting it properly strut its old-fashioned-stuff with humble pride.

While we’re mourning many gorgeous discontinued carnation fragrances, we can rejoice ‘L’Œillet est mort’ ‘Vive le Royal Œillet’

*Main pic by me and the Legrand is from ebay seller Guenzone.