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Monday, December 26, 2005

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.

14 Comments:

Blogger Christina H. said...

Well,Colombina,
I have to respectfully disagree with the comparison of Fracas!I was fortunate enough not to notice all the eucalyptus or camphor and it smelled of a fresh green tubereuse to me,thankfully so.I find that Fracas to be way too intense and even though Fracas will also always be a part of my collection,Carnal Flower seems like its replacement for todays' times.I agree that there did not seem to be any thing carnal to this scent and I am glad of that!

9:49 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Christina,
I am so glad you like CF. For me, Fracas remains one of the few tuberose scents that I can love, and it reignes supreme as a CARNAL flower :-)
Merry Christmas!

10:56 AM EST  
Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Oddly enough I awoke in the dark winter morning and decided tuberose was just the thing. I chose Caron's Tubereuse and am about to go out for a trudge through the snow. First I had to stop by my favorite perfume blogs. Dear Marina, how would you rate this scent in comparison to Caron? I have heard it makes Caron seem like a weak little thing. I am wondering if the flower itself has a camphorous or wintergreen kick?

12:23 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Cait,
Merry Christmas. I must confess I have not tried Caron Tubereuse. Is it a fresh tuberose or a warm one, if you know what I mean. I discovered that fresh ones do not agree with me. But I can pull off a warm tuberose scent, like- again-Fracas or Rosine's Mea Culpa (sadly discontinued).

12:48 PM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Caron Tubereuse is sweet and warm, however it is not too opulent and buttery. Carnal Flower is fresher and greener in comparison. My impression of it is somewhat different, because to my nose camphorous notes appear in the top notes, accenting the green accord and then fade into the lush tuberose and orange blossom heart. I find it more wearable than Fracas, which is too rich for me to carry off on daily basis.

1:36 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

V., it would have made me so happy if the camphora et co. came first then giving way to pretty tuberose...but no, no such luck for me. The scent is upside-down on my skin :-(

1:43 PM EST  
Blogger mireille said...

what an interesting comparison to TC ... I enjoyed that. I so admire your and V's ability to tease out, discern these fine, fine differentiations in notes. *goes off alone to practice some more* ♥ xoxo

1:43 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

M, thank you, you are too kind!
Really, when camphora-menthol-like note has accosted one's nose once or twice, one does not forget that smell easily :-)

1:48 PM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

I had to put this on this morning since I just got a nice decant to try. I got the camphor in the beginning and then it's been a well-behaved tuberose the rest of the time. Very nice. I still like TC better just for its bizarreness, but I could wear this as well.

6:10 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Patty,
It seem that I am the only one with such unfortunate skin chemistry where Carnal Flower is concerned. So unfair! :-(

6:23 PM EST  
Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Marina,
maybe when you get the chance to be whisked away to some exotic locale you could retry Carnal Flower. I found that when I tried Tubereuse Criminelle as I arrived in Paris it bloomed as it never had before in Alaska or San Francisco. Victoria, thanks for the input on Caron.

9:16 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

*sigh* I wish, oh I wish...

10:02 PM EST  
Anonymous mrs cat said...

well i find ZERO between Fracas and Carnal Flower but i DO find Carnal Flower Very Very Sexy. its right by my computer and althoufgh Fracas is my number one always has been always will be( i do like to make an entrance!) i find that these frederic malle fragrances are a bit more serious than one would have thought- slot 2 is presentlytaken up completelya nd obsessively by Penhaglions Bluebell- butr Cranal Flower is there for when i need a boy moment although its so green as its on now2 im slightly reminded of Kalx! Lipstick Red is great for work , my bosses love it at work----- Fracas to me is the numebr one day to make your day hapier but i ve been lioving this CF since it hit thwe shelf maybe i even bought it because of the name but i do aso like when perfumers try to cpature tuberose or gardenia it WILL never happen- but i like the attempt uyes yes yoyur right as its dryiobng its so green and theres some turn off moments here- why thank you- youve opened my eyes!

4:54 AM EST  
Blogger Gail said...

A sensuous name for a sensuous fragrance. Rich with tuberose Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle is alluring, addictive and totally glorious. If taken quite literally the name would be a flower that is related to sexual, physical pleasures. Precisely as it is said that in some cultures young women are not allowed to experience the scent of tuberose after the sun sets. I love to wear it 24/7. .
For me, the slightest spray on pulse points is all that is needed. It is lasting, retaining its scent for hours. ‘Tis said that Frederic Malle's inspiration for this fragrance was his aunt, actress Candice Bergern, who starred in the memorable film Carnal Knowledge. Whatever the case, whatever his inspiration, it is sheer genius, as irresistible as the Sirens' call.
- Gail Cooke

6:40 PM EDT  

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