Vitriol d'œillet is not so much about angry carnations, and more about toxic violets. Chemically speaking, vitriol is the archaic name for sulphate (also spelled sulfate), referring to its colourful, glassy-looking crystals, and brings to mind alchemy, magic and medicine (The name originates in Latin (vitrum means glass) and Old French); And œillet simply means carnation in French. Vitriol is also defined as "cruel and bitter criticism" - also an interesting note because this perfume has received such lukewarm reviews at the time (it was launched in 2011) that I didn't even bother procuring a sample.
A few days ago, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find a wide selection of Serge Lutens at Sephora on Robson Strasse. I immediately fell for Vitriol d'œillet's mysterious opening that is at the same time floral, warm, powdery, spicy and mysterious. Pink pepper, mace and a gentle dose of helioitropine, anisaldehyde and a hint of jasmine combined with ionones give both mystery and familiarity that is comforting and intimate. There is hardly any of the characteristic molecules of carnation (iso-eugenol), nor cloves (eugenol); but rather, pink pepper reigns supreme above all the spices here, giving it a bit of a cool edge, rather than the expected spicy heat.
Rather than conjuring up the jagged petals of the clove pinks, Vitriol d'œillet's juxtaposition of heliotrope, jasmine and anise brings to mind angel's trumpet (or datura) and combined with violets it creates a very interesting fragrance.
As Vitriol d'œillet progresses on the skin, it becomes less complex, and more about cedar wood and violets, accentuated by musk, and vaguely references the Lutens-Sheldrake original collaboration on Feminite du Bois, sans the honey, much more toned-down spices, and an additional pencil-shavings note of Virginia cedar wood. It also brings to mind two other favourites of mine - Si Lolita and Ineke's Sweet William, yet is a lot less spicy and vibrant than these two. Another scent it greatly reminds me of is Kisu by Tann Rokka. While these are all lovely perfumes, neither has the same audacity as Tubereuse Criminelle, the other flower for the Lutens collection that Vitriol was meant to emulate.
Top notes: Pink Pepper, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Anise
Heart notes: Carnation, Iris, Cloves, Jasmine
Base notes: Atlas Cedar, Virginia Cedarwood, Musk, Heliotropine
More reviews of this perfume can be found on the following perfume fora and blogs:
Bois de Jasmin
Grains de Musc
Now Smell This
The Non Blonde