Old perfumes are the new niche, I've decided. My newest favorite perfume blog is Yesterday's Perfume, where Barbara Herman explores our collective cultural history as embodied in fragrance.
She writes in her profile: “We know what the past looks and sounds like, but do we know what it smells like?”
Well, thanks to Barbara's on-going documentation of releases from the early 20th century to the 1980s, we now have a much better idea.
This is exactly why I shouldn't read these kinds of blogs: I'm already eyeing old bottles of Roger & Gallet Blue Carnation on eBay.
I remember reading some snarky remarks from Turin/Sanchez about carnation perfumes, that they're passé or unsophisticated or boring, but I love that peppery, clove-y, anise-y floral scent.
Comme des Garçons Carnation is such an audacious version of this, entirely over-the-top, almost cruelly unsubtle, and yet I like it (in the smallest dose possible). So one of these days, I expect to buy a vintage bottle of Blue Carnation (it's been out of production since the sixties).
"One of these days" has come and gone. I'm standing by for your Blue Carnation report.
I received my bottle of vintage Blue Carnation yesterday, though I couldn't put it on until this morning because I attended a baseball game last night. With two other men. And if you attend a sporting event with men and wear something like Blue Carnation, you will be ostracized. But this morning, now that I'm alone, I smell great!
The first thing that struck me is how absolutely fresh and vital this stuff smells, considering the bottle is perhaps 60 years old. And it holds together beautifully on the skin.
As I'd read, it's a spicy, clove-y floral, and either all carnation soliflores smell similarly or CdG Carnation used Blue Carnation as inspiration, because the two aren't very far apart. Though Blue Carnation is more elegant and refined. It's still very present and spicy and alive, even with only two small dabs on the wrist. What a lovely fragrance.
|Blue, spicy and alive. Not a carnation.|
I would've been ostracized for simply saying "what a lovely fragrance." I'm leading a dual life. Though one that's much less interesting than the phrase "dual life" would suggest.
I'm fascinated that a 60-year-old bottle of perfume still...works. Is Blue Carnation a pure parfum?
There's no concentration on the bottle, but based on the set-up (no sprayer, just a teeny tiny hole from which to dab a drop), I'd say it's perfume. I know at some point there was an EdC version and a men's version, but this is neither of those.
Plus, I saw print ads for Blue Carnation from the early 60s, not long before it was discontinued, and my bottle looks different than it did at that time. So I think it goes back to the 50s at least. And it definitely works. It's been two hours and it still smells fresh.
It's a full bottle and it's strong stuff, so I'll drip out some for you to sample. Just remember not to spray it or you'll hurt someone. Or they'll hurt you.