Carnal Flower for Frederic Malle: Fragrant Thoughts to Enter 2018

Since my last post in October I have had a fairly unadventurous time. I’ve worn much of the same fragrance. A bit of Jicky, lots of Vol de Nuit, a handful of summertime colognes … But, Carnal Flower is decidedly my new and most worn smell, and it’s delightful. I have worn it so much that I have drained at least 30mLs of it since I received a bottle of it in September. I feel that it suits me because it has two personas at once, one more secretive and private than the other.

Carnal Flower’s more obvious facet is the Ropion trademark of aura and presence. It has tremendous sillage – a sort that hosts a thickly layered yet tightly packed mille feuille effect of white flowers ultimately heralding tuberose, then rubbing that with a layer of the spicy, slightly rubbery green note of eucalyptus. That might be the secret for me – I adore eucalyptus passionately, insofar I intend to one day fill my dream house with Diptyque’s Eucalyptus candle in each and every room. And for the longest time now I have actively looked for a eucalyptus scent. The search is over, now that I have realised that Carnal Flower contains a eucalyptus note which is so obviously present yet so functional at the same time.

One must also consider my other tuberose love, Tubereuse Criminelle, which has the same blueprint as Carnal Flower in terms of its content: the fleshy white, slightly stinky note of tuberose flower (bolstered with further flowers and fragrant blossoms), synergistically paired with an unusual tertiary aroma. Carnal has eucalyptus, the sweetly not-yet-rotten aroma of melon, and salicylates. Criminelle has the camphoraceous touch of blood, the singing green of hyacinth, the tiger balmy wintergreen, and salicylates too.

The contents of these fragrances are defined by showcasing the outwards aroma of tuberose, but also lifting its undertones sufficiently. And in that way, its contrasts are innate – tuberose contrasts itself, for freshness meets subtle rot, and the clean natural white of the note is struck with an unusual accord – all to be found within the tuberose note. This is, plainly put, clever, and ultimately very enjoyable.


© 2018 Liam Sardea

But this is an explication of Carnal Flower’s outward appearance. Its secretive dimension requires a fine measure of judgment. There’s equally much to be said about Carnal Flower not by the length or contents of its rather gregarious sillage, but by sitting with it and observing its little echoes. I like this quality because it reflects me. One might seem outward and social, but there’s a depth and complexity that demands gentle reflection. The tuberose flower is wrangled and metamorphosed in the work, compounded with the milky and tropical impressions of fig, coconut, and ylang-ylang, and then there are those flecks of camphoraceous tones licked with a greenness, fleshiness, and salinity. There is something disturbing about this – as if profanity has been gussied up, but that’s what makes Carnal flower indefatigably beautiful as a thinker’s work. It’s an opulent work, perhaps Malle’s most overtly opulent tied with Portrait of a Lady, and yet it seems utterly impossible that its intensity is a result of a sort of some creative unthink or methodical anarchism (resulting in a maximalist work) on Ropion’s part as a creator. Rather, I like to imagine that there’s a rationale for such intensity and overloading, and such an operation can only stem from technical brilliance. And even so, intriguing and sublime creative pursuits necessarily require brilliance on a technical level to indeed be successful and beautiful. Carnal Flower achieves both in stellar fashion.

I am going to continue wearing Carnal Flower, and just like every other signature before it, I am going to continue enjoying its Liam-ness until some other fragrance captures my mood with a higher degree of accuracy.

And it thus follows that I must state that I am not quite ready at the moment to jump right back into fragrance writing. However, if for whatever reason you are pining for a lick of my vivacious fragrant writing – I implore you to seek out the editor’s notes on most of the fragrances present on the Men’s Biz website. They are concise, but they provide adequate brain candy with a good dollop of animation.

It is also perhaps time that I admit my patience for fragrance writing has grown weak. I am wearing fragrances for myself and my own intrinsic self-development. I think it is wise that all reviewers do this, or in time their writing will begin to dull. I certainly felt something akin to this. To remedy this I wrote abundantly about other things: food, wine, social class, my family, metaphysics… and so forth. I was so impassioned by these other things that I have created a new blog to celebrate these: You can tell it’s my writing, undoubtedly. It’s riddled with my form, but the content is quite distinct from anything on Olfactics. You will (most likely) see me on that blog a bit more until I warm back into fragrant writing again. And so, I wish you a fragrant 2018, I’ll be around.

2 thoughts on “Carnal Flower for Frederic Malle: Fragrant Thoughts to Enter 2018

  1. Liam, I want to bundle you up and hug you! But go! Go where your soul takes you! (But the mother in me warns you to stay away from anything that will dull your mind. Your mind is too precious to sully with frivolous, temporary highs.)

    I didn’t think there was ever going to be another person who’d understand AND experience ‘indefatigably beautiful’. But here you are. And you bring a tear from the bottom of my dried up soul.

    Thank you for being you.
    Kate xx

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