You came to me to open my eyes
your body- to me- a window, a mirror, a glance
you came as the night approaches an owl
to show it at night, to show it all.
And I've learned: There's a name for every crease and eyelash,
for every hair on my exposed flesh,
and the scent of childhood, of glue and pine,
is the fragrance of bodies at night.
If there were any torments- they sailed towards you.
My white sail to your darkness.
Please let me go now, allow me to leave
and kneel on the shore of forgiveness.
from "Prayers of Atonement" by Leah Goldberg. Crudely translated from Hebrew by me.
Carnation by Mona di Orio is not about the flower. The website talks about "the carnation that blooms on a woman's cheek", which makes perfect sense as soon as you actually smell it. It's all about skin, and not necessarily of the freshly showered variety.
There's the scent of a warm skin after a day in the sun. There's the smell of clean bodies under a freshly laundered blanket. Mona di Orio's musky Carnation is both, and it's stunning and addictive, as long as you're ready to deal with a perfume that doesn't smell like anything out of a modern department store. I suspect that once upon a time more perfumes had such elements in them (think of the original, civet-rich, Guerlains), but finding such sensuality in perfume today is very rare.
It might be surprising, but Carnation doesn't really feel raw or wild. It's actually intimate, introspective and somewhat of an introvert. This is what a "skin scent" is all about- it feels soft and tactile, blooms in warmth and while strong and long lasting, it wouldn't announce your comings and goings.
The official notes are bergamot, clove, geranium, ylang ylang, violet, jasmine, precious woods, musk, amber and styrax. But this list doesn't tell much about the way Carnation feels, and it is worlds apart from any other amber-musk scent I can think of. Like each and every Mona di Orio perfume, Carnation must be tested on skin and allowed some time to develop. It doesn't reach the irresistible stage until about an hour into wearing it, which explains why it's such a hard sale.
Mona di Orio fragrances are currently in a very limited distribution, Les Senteurs in London being the only place that ships them. The good news is that according to the MdO website, the perfumes are coming back to New York and will soon be sold at Takashimaya. I can't wait. For now, samples can be obtained through The Perfumed Court. I bought my bottle when it was still available at Bergdorf Goodman.
Here's a wonderful review of Carnation on Perfume Shrine.
Photograph by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1952