Perfume Review: Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
The latest addition to Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfums, Carnal Flower was created by Dominique Ropion, the nose behind Aimez Moi, Pure Poison, Amarige, and Alien (among many other scents). Ropion’s goal was to come up with a scent that was as close to real tuberoses as possible, which meant that, like tuberoses found in nature, Carnal Flower had to “exude a mixture of flowershop freshness and carnal opulence.” In my opinion, Monsieur Ropion fulfilled the first part of that formula; Carnal Flower is certainly fresh, but, even though it is quite strong (to the extent that, when I smell it, I can actually taste it my mouth), it does not convey opulence, sumptuousness, or any sort of carnal image.
The first impression is of a pretty, fresh, spring-like scent; the beginning is slightly citrusy and gently floral, with bergamot, tuberose and orange blossom being the most prominent notes, to my nose. As the fragrance develops, it becomes more intense, at the same time the cold, harsh accords of eucalyptus and camphor come into play. Carnal Flower is almost like Tubereuse Criminelle in reverse. In Lutens’s creation the cold menthol-like accord comes first, shocking in its unexpected weirdness, thus preparing us for the entrance of tuberose, which seems exceptionally stunning, absolutely exquisite in contrast with the jolting ugliness of the top notes. In Carnal Flower, the lively and lovely, spring-like sunny prettiness comes first and, instead of being let to continue blossoming, it is more or less overwhelmed by the unpleasant middle notes. As far as I am concerned, the fragrance never quite recovers, even though the drydown, consisting of tuberose, a little bit of orange blossom, and a dash of musk, is much more pleasant than the middle stage.
Like Diptyque’s new tuberose scent, Do Son, Carnal Flower is a heady but fresh, almost “green” tuberose fragrance. I am not quite sure what note or combination of notes was meant to convey the carnal aspect of tuberose, whatever it was, it did not manifest itself on my skin and to my nose. As far as I am concerned, Fracas still reigns supreme as the most Carnal of all floral scents.
Carnal Flower is available at Editions de Parfums, or at Barneys, $155 for 50 ml, $230 for 100 ml.