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Friday, October 14, 2011

She’s Cute When She’s Mad… Serge Lutens’ Vitriol d’Oeillet

by Marla

I spent a few years translating the journals of a French archaeologist into English, so trust me when I say that “Vitriol d’Oeillet” translates as “Pissed-Off Carnation”. Really.

I’m a colonial, so I don’t associate carnations with funerals, grim states of mind, and so on. They were just those cute little flowers boys bought for girls in school when they couldn’t afford roses. We used them in science experiments in freshman biology. And they used to smell so good, now, not so much. The scent has been bred out of commercial carnations, but you can grow heritage varieties that are full of clove-y goodness. That spicy kick is due mostly to eugenol, which I think IFRA banned, or exiled to Capri last year.

So I was really looking forward to Serge’s carnation perfume. The only one in my collection is Guerlain’s Voile d’Ete, long discontinued, and I’m down to my last 5ml!! Would Serge save me? Alas, no. V d’O is really…cute. No anger, no shouting of personal remarks. No Medusas or Medeas here. Just cute little teddy bears throwing cute little tantrums.

Not that it’s a bad perfume. It’s nice. There’s some peppery smoky spice in the opening, just a tad to whet your appetite. Then it settles down into a comfy, old-fashioned floral, more rose than carnation, with some gentle musk and soap. Then in a few hours, it’s gone. Phhft. I could wear this anywhere, it’s quite pleasant, but I don’t want to put on a Serge and then forget that it’s there. You know what I mean?? Chergui overpowers and haunts me (and passersby, too). Serge Noire is a real feast, a scary Tim Burton sort of feast, but truly compelling. Even Gris Clair and Bas de Soie get me to thinking, dreaming, over the many hours I can smell them on my clothing and hair. And don’t get me started on La Myrrhe or Iris Silver Mist or my prose will turn purple.

V d’O? If carnations are for funerals in France, then this funeral is for someone you barely knew, you feel obligated into going, you’re too far from the priest to hear the eulogy, and then you sneak out a little early so you don’t get caught in the cemetery gridlock. Sigh….

Did anyone get more out of this than I did?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I - and that is quite sad - couldn't agree more. You put it perfectly: I want to know when I wear a Serge, and usually there is no forgetting it, but with Vitriol...
P.S.: I do think Eugenol was banned to Corsica! ;)

3:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Tara said...

Totally agree with "a comfy, old-fashioned floral". There's a time for everything but we really don't need Uncle Serge to add to this rather bland genre. It was particularly disappointing when we were anticipating a "pissed-off carnation". Maybe if it had a different name it wouldn't have been such a let-down, but then again probably not.

5:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Birgit,
Glad to hear you agree and I'm not just clinically depressed or something....

6:47 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with you, I really want my "pissed off carnation" perfume!!

6:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Kym said...

I got the same thing. Nice. But nothing special. The musk kinda bothers me. Still, I'll continue to test my sample on days when I don't want to be challenged, or even interested by my scent.

11:59 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't that sad because, after all, this is SERGE? I want to be bothered by Serge, not blanded out.

12:01 PM EDT  
Blogger MoonRae said...

I'm with Kym,the musk kinda' bugs me too.....

10:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do get what you and Kym mean about the musk drydown. To me it's a little too soapy/scratchy. I hadn't thought about that, because I've smelled that particular drydown in quite a few releases this year, I wonder what it is?

7:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the funniest and also the most spot-on review of Vd'O I've read.

I only "disagree" with you mainly because I think you liked it more than I did! I found the sweet amber base incredibly annoying and overpowering -- people here are commenting about the musk and maybe that's it too -- it reminded me of the sweet amber in Kenzo Flower Oriental and not in a good way. Anyway, I couldn't find much here in the way of composition, seemed really random especially for a SL. My friends also agreed that it was annoying. Maybe it's a carnation that pisses other people off.

11:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your kind comments! Kenzo Flower Oriental has a huge amount of Iso E Super, so now I'm sniffing the dregs of my Vd'O vial, and wondering.... A base of strong synthetic musks and Iso E Super would explain a lot. A carnation that pisses other people off? Yes, my family all commented that it smelled like bathroom products and breath mints....

12:18 PM EDT  
Blogger Asali said...

Hi Marla, thanks for the beautifully written review which I do actually very much agree on. However, with Serge you never know, so I'll keep an opening for Vd'O that it might surprise me on a cold and stormy night, and all of a sudden I get it:-) It's a Serge afterall.
I wonder if you got around to sniffing De Profundis yet( or reading some Rilke;-))?

2:39 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes to Rilke, no to De Profundis. I do like chrysanthemums, though, so I'll seek it out!

6:49 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog entry. Floral smells I think are quite modern. Take for example Thierry Mugler Alien peffume I think is very modern.

1:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, florals and resins are the most ancient smells around. The oldest samples of incense and perfume found in archaeological digs contain mostly florals and wood resins. The ancient Chinese prized osmanthus and rose, the Egyptians, their lotus. But Vd'O is certainly modern in that it dissects carnation, uses facets of it, without really smelling like a carnation!

11:57 AM EDT  

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