Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Today’s Sample: Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Carnal Flower was one of the samples I bought off eBay. On Sunday I went through my little basket o’ samples to decide what to try this week, and I pulled this one. I was somewhat apprehensive. Although I liked it at first sniff, I worried that A) Bob might think it was too strong; B) the people at the office might think it was too strong; and C) it might be too much in the sudden heat wave we’re having.

But despite my reservations, I went ahead and applied it this morning. When I went downstairs to leave for work, Bob told me I smelled good. This isn’t unusual, because he thinks most things smell good on me (except Mitsuoko, which he thinks smells like household cleanser, and Hermes Un Jardin sur Le Nil, which on my skin actually becomes something more like Un Jardin sur Le PEW).

Our morning conversation about fragrance usually goes something like this:
Me: What do you think? Holds wrist up for Bob to sniff.
Bob: That smells nice.
Me: Really? Do you like it? What do you like about it? Whips out notepad and begins to take notes.
Bob: Well, it just smells nice. Everything smells nice on you. Let me smell it again. Moves in closer, sniffs neck.
Bob: It’s nice, but it’s…well…
Me: What? What? Taps pen impatiently against notebook like journalist waiting for mad alleged serial killer to finally admit he’s guilty.
Bob: Flowery. But it’s nice. You know, just flowery.
Me: Flowery? What’s that supposed to mean? Slams pad on table.
Bob: Flowery. Um, you know, like flowers. Backs slowly away.
Me: Do you like it better than what I wore yesterday? Shines flashlight directly into Bob’s eyes.
Bob: I don’t remember. Please don’t hurt me. Crawls under kitchen table.

But this morning’s conversation went like this:
Bob: That smells good. Sniffs air nearby.
Me: Thanks. It’s not too much?
Bob: No, I mean, that smells really good. I like that. Just the right amount. Blocks doorway to garage in order to keep me from leaving so he can continue to sniff.
Me: Really? Thanks.
Bob: I really like that. Is that the lily of the…the one with the lily you wore the other day? (He tries, he does.)
Me: Iris. It was Iris. No, this is called Carnal Flower.
Bob: I like it. That’s my favorite. That’s the best.

He’s never said that about anything I’ve tried, not even the scents I used to wear before I started all this sampling mania. For him to say that something is his favorite is akin to…akin to…akin to Bush or Cheney admitting that they are wrong about anything. (Woops, did I say that out loud?) The only other fragrance he’s been this enthusiastic about is Nanette Lepore.

Although there are other notes in Carnal Flower, the main note is tuberose. You can read wonderful reviews of this fragrance at Bois de Jasmin or Now Smell This. To be quite honest, this is the first tuberose fragrance I’ve tried.

I do love this fragrance, and it reminds me of my grandmother. I associate Ormonde Jayne’s Osmanthus with the scent of her character, but I associate Carnal Flower—or rather, tuberose—with the scent of her physical being. Before getting my sample of Carnal Flower, I received a sample of Fracas. When I sniffed Fracas, I identified that scent as the smell of the inside of a perfume decanter that sat on her dresser. There was no juice inside the bottle, but the scent was still strong, though a little dusty. I had to ask my mom if my grandmother ever wore Fracas, and she told me no, but that the decanter had originally belonged to my grandmother’s sister, and so it was possible that she wore that scent. We don’t know. Maybe they both did, maybe long ago?

I do know my grandmother wore White Shoulders, Youth Dew, Chloe, Private Collection, and Jungle Gardenia, because she received them all as Christmas presents for me or my mom over the years. But still, tuberose is the scent I associate with her. When I sniff my wrist, I am instantly transported back in time to West Texas, to my grandmother’s house, and it’s summer. Strangely vivid.

Sorry to ramble! This is a beautiful fragrance. I do think this will hold up against the heat, because the tuberose is much calmer than I expected. And nobody at work has said, “What are you wearing?” (which in the group I work with means “You have on too much perfume.”) And Bob has declared this his favorite! Would it be worth a bottle?*

*My birthday is at the end of July, and I plan to buy myself a bottle of my favorite, if I can figure out what that is!