I have decided to do a little series on white florals – or rather White Florals, the big ones, the sexy ones, as distinguished from the more demure scents that technically contain white flowers but do not pack the punch of the Big White Florals. I am talking about gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine perfumes of course; over the top, sensual, and voted most likely to misbehave. I adore these perfumes, and although it is sometimes hard to fit them into my everyday life – they do not go over very well at the office – I must have them around me to enjoy at home, and to wear when the occasion calls for a perfume that will never be mistaken for “unisex.”
I call myself the White Floral Queen not only because I love them – they love me too. Something about my skin chemistry bonds strongly with this style of fragrance like a Vulcan mind meld, and the longer I wear one of these the better it gets. When I wear them I can pretend that I am some kind of gorgeous, irresistible femme fatale, which has nothing to do with my public persona. I know that there are people out there who don’t like and/or can’t wear these big perfumes – I can only offer my condolences. There is just something about these heady scents that makes me happy, and I would merrily over-apply them daily if I had the kind of life that allowed for such indulgences. Alas, off to work I must go each day to the land of cubicles and professional attire, with nary a bias-cut satin gown, slinky opera glove or crystal champagne flute in sight. Little do my colleagues know that my inner Ava Gardner is never too far below the surface.
My first subject is a new love, although one I had heard about at great length before I tried it. Quite some time ago I won a small sample in a prize draw, along with another Malle release, the ethereally haunting En Passant. I fell hard for with both of them immediately. I doled out the sample sparingly, not knowing when I would ever have more, as it is quite expensive. Recently a very generous perfume friend gave me larger decant in a swap, which I have been wearing regularly. Being able to wear it and live with it has made me appreciate this scent even more than I did the first time. I can easily see a full bottle of this beauty in my future.
This is a most deceptive perfume – it starts out cold and green and stemmy, and it smells exactly like the refrigerated case at the florist when you open it to get one of those pre-made bouquets out, right down to the eucalyptus, a touch of the perfumer’s genius. I was expecting this effect from having read numerous reviews of it, but no written description prepared me for what happened after about fifteen minutes. When this perfume begins to open up, it is the most astonishingly lovely tuberose imaginable. Lush and bright and sweet, it smells like the breath of the living flowers, and not chilled either; the florist’s cold storage is gone and replaced by a warm, damp jungle where this tuberose grows in wild abandon, mingling with other tropical flowers such as jasmine and ylang-ylang. Once it has fully developed on the skin, it retains this lush, full character for hours on end. On me, it just blooms with more radiance each passing hour, revealing the orange blossom accord and the subtle note of coconut. My skin – and my nose - just can’t get enough of it. This is one of those perfumes that must interact with the skin to be understood – if all you do is sniff it from the bottle, you will never know how the chilly greenness transforms itself into an elixir worthy of a Goddess.
Carnal Flower has been compared to the great classic tuberose Fracas by Robert Piguet – dare I say I like it even better? It is less of a hothouse flower, if you will; I love Fracas too, but that one is more of a sophisticated diva, and does not have the fresh, lovely immediacy of Carnal Flower.
The notes are as follows according to osMoz.com: Top notes: Bergamot, Melon, Eucalyptus. Middle (Heart) notes: Ylang-ylang, Salicylates, Jasmine. Base notes: Tuberose absolute, Orange blossom absolute, Coconut, Musks.
This fragrance is an Eau De Parfum introduced in 2005 and created by Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum. It is available in the U.S.A exclusively at the Barneys New York stores and by mail order, in various high-end stores in Europe and the Middle East, and in Paris at the Frederic Malle Paris boutiques. A 100 ml bottle is $275, and now it also comes in a body crème for $190. I understand that the crème has an extremely high concentration of perfume and is of the finest quality, so when I do actually become Queen of something, somewhere, I will be ordering it by the case.
Image credits: Carnal Flower bottle from barneys.com. Ava Gardner photo from operagloves.com, a site devoted entirely to the appreciation of these alluring feminine accessories.