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Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
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A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

THE BOTTLE THAT LED ME HERE: Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

 

“How long have you been into wine?” Paul Giamatti, playing the role of Miles Raymond, a bitter divorcee whose heart is shuttered except for this one passion, asks his date and fellow oenophile, Maya (Virginia Madsen), in a scene from the film Sideways.


“I started to get serious about seven years ago,” she tells him.


“What was the bottle that did it?” he asks.

“Eighty-eight Sassicaia,” she replies.

 

I’d be willing to bet that you could pose this type of question to a serious collector or connoisseur of anything—cars, antiques, wines, cigars, perfumes—and get the same kind of definitive answer. If someone asked me, “What was the bottle that did it?” I’d reply in an instant, “Carnal Flower.”

 

It wasn’t the first bottle I purchased when I discovered the perfume blogs in 2006 and decided to order a few things; Bigarade Concentree, Jicky, and a mini of Bal a Versailles parfum hold that distinction. I remember being pleased with those purchases and curious to try more things, not to mention utterly fascinated to discover that there existed this online community of perfume lovers who viewed perfumery as more or less an art form, and who collected what seemed to me (then) as an ungodly number of fragrances. But I had no intention of joining their ranks; I’d merely stumbled on the blogs when I was searching for Jicky parfum, and having already dropped a good chunk of change on that purchase alone, I considered myself done.

 

Then I found a store on Ebay that was selling the 10-ml. “discovery”-size bottles of the Frederic Malle fragrances (the only place, at that time, where you could buy them singly rather than as part of a set), and that’s when the doors to perfume obsession blew wide open for me. Though I’d always loved perfume, never in my life had I smelled anything so exquisitely, acutely beautiful as Carnal Flower. To say it touched a chord, something deep inside me, well, as corny and clichéd as that sounds, that’s how it felt. I ended up going through two 10-ml. bottles of Carnal Flower in only two months; it’s a miracle I didn’t kill anyone with my sillage during those early days of my infatuation with this intensely heady scent.

The über-talented perfumer Dominique Ropion, who created Carnal Flower, reportedly worked on its formulation for two years, and when it launched in 2005, Carnal Flower was said to have the highest amount of natural tuberose absolute of any fragrance.

 

“The frequent stays of Frederic Malle in California, where the odor of Tuberose and Gardenia is everywhere, were very inspiring and led him to encourage Dominique Ropion to reinforce the solar and carnal character of the flower,” states the description on the Frederic Malle website. This single sentence says so much about the fragrance and would be even more accurate and concise if you crossed out the “carnal” reference. In my opinion, the “solar character” is what epitomizes this fragrance and distinguishes it from the other two scents—Robert Piguet Fracas and Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle—that, along with Carnal Flower, form perfumery’s triumvirate of iconic tuberose perfumes.

 

Carnal Flower, despite its name (and even though I love the name), is, to my nose, a whole lot less carnal than it is the perfume personification of sunlight. It has such a saturated floral smell that when I wear it, I feel like I am in sunny California or even the south of France—Nice, maybe—the kind of place where grapes and olives grow, and artists and tourists flock to take advantage of that certain “quality of light.”  Having spent most of my life in central Pennsylvania—where a basin of land edged by mountain ridges traps clouds and makes for lasting periods of gray skies and rain—I’ve always longed to live in a place with a fairly dry atmosphere and lots of brilliant sunlight. I believe that’s why Carnal Flower exerts such a strong pull on me: it smells the way I imagine a flower stall in a farmer’s market in sun-drenched Provence might smell. It smells the way I imagine an orchard (or vineyard) in bloom in Southern California might smell. It smells, in other words, like my deepest longing. Let others dream of grand houses and fancy cars: I want to live in a land fecund with fruit and heavy sun.

Though a fairly linear scent, on initial application Carnal Flower exhibits not only its solar floral character, but also a bit of greenery. One detects the lightly camphorous facet of the tuberose flower and a hint of stems and leaves. Then, rather quickly, it waxes so lushly floral and warm, you might feel as if you are the bloom receiving the full weight of the sun on your small frame. In this regard, I suppose it is a carnal fragrance—for what a sensual pleasure to be touched by the sun!—and, too, it is a rather intense perfume experience. Tuberose never plays coy, which is why Carnal Flower’s potent beauty thrills fans like me, and, conversely, overwhelms others. I’ve learned so much about fragrance through this one scent, with the most important lesson being: don’t over apply.

It also taught me that, if you fall in love with something, allow yourself to own it in every sense of the word. I never imagined myself as a collector of anything, let alone pricey perfumes, but here I am, and what a gift!  I feel like I’ve discovered what others have known (and what the characters Miles and Maya in Sideways come to express in that film): Being a collector (a connoisseur, an aficionado) is not so much about amassing stuff as it about learning to make the kind of studied choices that lead you to define what you want and—in the process—who you really are.

Carnal Flower can be purchased from the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle website or from Barneys.com ($195 for 50 ml.).

Images: (top) actors Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen in a scene from Sideways is from NPR.com; wine picnic scene from the 2004 film Sideways is from IMDB.com.

Video of Miles and Maya discussing pinot noir wine in the 2004 film Sideways is from YouTube.com, originally uploaded by pitstop5.

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 5/28/2009.


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