Hey, carnation lovers. You know who you are. You dream of Caron Poivre Extrait and hoard old bottles of Bellodgia. You lard your linen closet with discs of Roger & Gallet Carnation soap and mourn their discontinued Blue Carnation. You plant red dianthus up your walkway. You put extra clove in your molasses cookies.
I have news. First, I hear on good authority that carnations are making a comeback among chic florists. I’m not talking about fat, stiff grocery store carnations dyed Easter egg colors. I mean real carnations, the little ones pungent with spice. More good news: to inhale the aroma of carnations in a modern yet irony-free way, Carner Barcelona Sweet William is a sure bet.
Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux developed Sweet William. Its notes include white pepper, cardamom, cinnamon bark, galangal (type of ginger), dianthus superbus scentrek (a headspace-derived carnation), ylang ylang, rose water extract, tobacco flower, Ambrarome (a synthetic ambergris), styrax, Florentine iris, and vanilla absolute.
Sweet William delivers carnation dusted with pepper and mixed with a modest helping of spice and vanilla. Otherwise, it’s a straightforward carnation perfume. It’s not a crisp green carnation straight from the garden, but a warm carnation with a sheer heart. Unlike vintage carnations like Bellodgia or Jean Patou Adieu Sagesse, it doesn’t mess around with an opaque baroque framework, but is happy to be a featherweight shawl of relatively uncomplicated scent.
For some people, Sweet William’s simplicity might be its greatest drawback. Carnation soliflores don’t get a lot of love these days. They can seem prissy and old fashioned and not all that interesting. Perfume brands seem to agree. Recent carnation-centered fragrances like Aedes Oeillet Bengale and Une Nuit Nomade Memory Motel stylize the flower to iron out its Victorian ruffles. That said, clean white sheets after a hot bath aren’t groundbreaking, either, but they’re one of the finest treats of daily life.
Sweet William dries down to a soft woody vanilla with a freshly sanded texture. It lasts a companionable half the day on my skin. I'm starting to agree with my favorite florist: maybe it's time for carnation's comeback.
Are you a fan of carnation? What are some of your favorites?
Carner Barcelona Sweet William Eau de Parfum is $180 for 100 ml and $120 for 50 ml. For information on where to buy it, see Carner Barcelona under Perfume Houses.