Vitriol d'Oeillet, Serge Lutens' 'angry carnation' from his regular export line was released around the same time as the exclusive De Profundis with a similar morbid theme. It was received with a similar lack of enthusiasm, including the usual kvetching about the decline of House Lutens. It happens with nearly every perfume release in the last few years, but eventually people get over themselves. I actually love De Profundis and felt it was very me from the very first encounter, but I admit to thinking Vitriol d'Oeillet was too pale for my taste when I tried it on.
Years ago, Clair de Musc made me think of a hand cream. Eventually it became one of my staples, worn on its own or layered with other Lutens perfumes. Vitriol d'Oeillet has also been growing on me from that first impression of a pearl-clutching schoolmarm. It's not the carnation note. I love it on its peppery and spicy aspects and the way it complements floral and musk notes, here and in other classic perfumes. My issue with Vitriol d'Oeillet was mellowness at first, and then a certain soapy aspect that annoyed me about an hour into the perfume's development (Denyse of Grain de Musc makes a comparison to a similar soap vibe in Bas de Soie, but I never had a problem there).
After wearing Vitriol d'Oeillet nights and days I finally succumbed. Gone are the schoolmarm and her crocheted doilies. What I get is a musky-powdery veil that uses the wood and pale flowers as a pretty opening act before it becomes all about skin. I could have sworn there's some burnt incense in the base, but it's not listed among the official notes (pepper, clove, carnation, amber). Vitriol d'Oeillet is a bit too refined to be called meditative, but it offers an inner peace that reconciles one's inner turmoil with the face we put on for the sake of propriety.
Is this carnation angry? I think it's just waiting for her chance to misbehave.
Vitriol d'Oeillet ($140, 1.69 oz EDP) is available from all the usual suspects that carry Serge Lutens perfumes: Aedes, Luckyscent, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, etc.
Photos of Marilyn Monroe by Cecil Beaton, 1956.