Serge Lutens has just released Vitriol D’Oeillet in Europe, due in the U.S. in September. Although a rough translation might be “anger of a carnation,” this rather literal treatment underplays the meaning of the word “vitriol,” which refers to a caustic, damaging rage. Before I tried the scent, I suspected that I would like the rage more than the carnation.
Carnations scents are difficult, in the U.S. this is a very common funeral flower. Of course, Serge Lutens plays off dark references easily, his description of the scent is quite dark:
…Yet the carnation is an obsessive and intrepid flower. When it doesn’t bloom on market stalls and in open fields in southern France, the carnation – blood red, as if bitten by a dapper criminal with a fox-like smile – perishes. North, across the English Channel, London gentlemen wear white carnations in the buttonholes of their silk lapels. In the crimson velvet interior of a cinema, a girl in a film is being used as bait. She stumbles in the eerie flicker of a street light. As usual, she’s poor and her hair is dishevelled. The street corner suddenly goes dark. Unable to see, the poor thing braces herself for the worst. And one fears (and hopes) that it will happen. And it will, unless the projector providentially overheats and the film catches fire, plunging the room into inky blackness. Yes, things look very bad for our heroine. We hear her shriek – «No!» – and read the French subtitle: «Non!»
Vitriol D’Oeillet mixes spice with cream. Serge Lutens’ interpretation pares out many of the unpleasant notes from the flower to create a polished, creamy clear fresh note. The spices include cayenne pepper, pink pepper and black pepper and clove. There is a slightly woody base, but it is very subtle and very soft.
The scent was extremely strong on first application, a rush of intense flower, creamy carnation and very strong dark spice. The scent is refined and complex, and takes over the senses. As the scent dries down, the spice predominates although the creamy flower never recedes entirely. I found the combination so intriguing that I missed the scent when I wasn’t wearing it. The scent is uncompromising without being sharp or overpowering.
I have read that Vitriol D’Oeillet dries down to a gentle scent, with a sillage that remains steady and subtle hours after application. This was my experience on my quieter days. The scent’s lasting power was at least 24 hours, although at far lower volume than the initial hour. In that sense, its office-appropriate (although edgy). I find myself holding my wrist up occassionally, as its does recede quite significantly to a subtle spice. To be clear, it did not fade gradually to nothing–rather, it dropped down after the first hour and then remained at approximately the same level of subtlety for at least a day.
However, even a dozen hours after application I found Vitriol D’Oeillet extremely responsive to my body temperature. On days when I became very warm late into the evening, the deeper, spicier notes of the scent came back very strong– and perhaps even stronger than when I first applied it–like a secret released under very strong heat. I’ve concluded that Vitriol D’Oeillet perhaps does not dry down, but rather it rests a bit until awakened.
Vitriol D’Oeillet works beautifully on both men and women.
Gorgeous. Highly recommended.
U.S. buyers can look for Vitriol D’Oeillet at Aedes, Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and from some Neiman Marcus locations. Scents are also sold on Serge Lutens website. This sample-size was sent from the Serge Lutens Palais Royale Boutique/Paris without charge to Cafe Makeup for review.