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Œillet Bengale – Bringing sexy carnation back…. - October 20, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Œillet Bengale by Pierre Joseph Redouté courtesy of Wiki

Adolescence is such a drag – the hormones, the insecurity, the hormones, the gawkiness, the hormones… but looking back on it, there were some fun times. Like, getting together with your girlfriends and trying to figure out if the boys you liked, liked you back. Did he smile at you, punch your arm as you passed in the hallway or ask you for help with his homework? All very telling signs of a true HEA romance. But would this love last? Were you meant to be? How many children would you have? This required more than talking – this required research. Susie’s Magic 8 Ball became the oracle in my crowd until her little brother broke it asking about hockey scores.  Then, Mary got a Ouija board for Christmas one year and we were all at her house after school every day trying to divine the future until the day her mother, no doubt tired of having a bunch of girls around the house at dinnertime, suggested we read our horoscopes in the paper each day. That was a game changer!

Learning about yourself through your sun-sign was great fun, but if you didn’t match with your latest crush – “Bill is a Gemini, you are a Virgo. It will never work” Lina, our expert astrologer predicted - you had to go further afield. Chinese horoscopes, tarot, palmistry, runes, numerology were all consulted. Your birth month, your name, the gemstones assigned to your month of birth and birth flowers – it all meant something.

It was birth flowers that ended it all for me. My birthday is in Janaury so my birth flower is the carnation – that goofy looking flower with the edges that look like Susie’s little brother cut them with pinking shears. I love flowers on a long stem. I wanted iris or gladiola for my birth flower not that loser carnation. I realized that I didn’t want to be defined by this flower – or any of the other sources of divination we were obsessing over. I decided then and there, to trust the future and let it come to me instead of trying to see it.

And that’s how carnation snuck through the back door of my psyche, disguised a fragrance of course.

A few years ago I found a bottle of L’Artisan’s Œillet Sauvage, wild carnation in English, in a small furniture store in Geneva. Long story short – the long story is another blog - I loved it right away. I loved the carnation – the rose/ylang ylang faceted floral note with spicy clove-like nuances that give it a fiery brightness. I tumbled down the carnation rabbit hole. Soon, Bellodgia by Caron was added to my shelf, then I wore only Series Two: Red Carnation by Comme des Garçons for a while, Garofano by Lorenzo Villoresi was a revelation, Garofano by Santa Maria Novella made me swoon and, most recently, Œillet Bengale by Aedes de Venustas clutched my heart.

Launched earlier this year, Œillet Bengale is the third fragrance from Aedes de Venustas (fourth if you include the collaboration with L’Artisan Parfumeur). Despite my hit list above, carnation has had a reputation as being old-ladyish and lame and had fallen out of fashion with perfumers. But with Œillet Bengale, nose Rodrigo Flores-Roux has found a way to make this old girl hot again.

‘Œillet’ means carnation in English, but Œillet Bengale is actually a variety of China rose – dark, nearly black, cluster-flowered and globular, it looks more like a carnation than a rose. This was the inspiration for the fragrance.

Œillet Bengale’s opening is a bracing blend of bitter bergamot and deep, earthy white pepper. It blooms languorously on my skin – a rose note is slowly revealed, spiced up by cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, turmeric, clove and set aflame with sharp black pepper. Smoky incense does a slow-burn down through the base where vanilla adds an exotic sweetness while Tolu balsam gives Œillet Bengale a sweet, ambery warmth. Ylang ylang is here too, to bolster the rose and extend the carnation effect. The drydown is spicy, smoky and feral and perfectly unisex. It starts out hot and fiery and then smolders on my skin for hours.

Œillet Bengale is a rose disguised as a carnation, only carnation’s granny panties have been incinerated. She’s not just the lame flower for the month of January, she’s Miss January, the sexy calendar girl who brings the heat to winter.

No one could have predicted carnation's sexy comeback.

Œillet Bengale is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00.