Caron Carnation Sisters — Poivre and Coup de Fouet


Before we delve into my Carnation mini-series part I, I must wish you a happy New Year.  January doesn’t feel like the beginning of the year for me.  My clock seems to reset itself in the fall around September, which I am sure is due to having been a student most of my life.  However, the first of the year does bring a sort of cleansing reassessment and internal detox.  I like to think about how I am doing on my goals and adjust.      Anyhow, Carnations.  It never occurred to me that the cheap grocery store standby flower would emit such an intoxicatingly spicy perfume.  When combined with other peppery and floral notes, the humble carnation achieves perfume art in the form of Caron’s Poivre and Coup de Fouet Poivre is the parfum edition, CdF the toilette were created in 1954 and 1957 respectively.     From Caron’s website:


In 1953, Félicie Wanpouille – who was by no means oblivious to the emergence of new fashions such as Dior’s New Look –– asked Michel Morsetti to create a new fragrance. The olfactory concept involved a geranium rosa base, the peppery undertones of which had seduced her. To get an original, easily-remembered name, she bought the Poivre brand from Parfums Rival, with which she baptized this essence-in-progress.
In 1954, CARON created The Event with POIVRE, whose explosive scent is still without parallel on today’s market.Assured of her success, Félicie Wanpouille organized a splendid launch party at the Place Vendôme, between the CARON mansion and the Ritz. The Tout Paris and the Tout New York rushed to be part of the scene.COUP DE FOUET
Félicie Wanpouille’s last creation, in 1957, is called Coup de Fouet –– Eau De Cologne Poivrée. A refreshing fragrance on a base of rose and carnation, accentuated with a hint of pepper.
It’s the alter-ego of POIVRE, worn with equal ease by men and women alike.”      Nothing like the story from the horse’s mouth.  Poivre’s  richness prompts a mental vignette       The night air is particularly frigid in the desert.  The royal caravan had covered a great distance during the day and well into the night and the Princess looked forward to resting at the camp set up by the servants sent ahead.  As the litter approached the large white tent, the Princess stretches and raises herself to a sitting position   Her litter stops and her massive eunuch gently aides her out of the litter and onto the sand.  As he draws back the tent’s entrance flap she feels the warmth and color inside the tent greet her chilled skin.  She enters and is greeted immediately with a cup of hot chai, which she sips daintily as her bath is prepared. 

      Amidst the brightly colored cushions, flowers and candles a golden bath tub is prepared by her servants.  The smell of the chai tea grows stronger as the servants pour hot water into the tub over the same mixture of spice, tea and flowers as she had been served in her cup.  The pepper berries, cinnamon and cloves in the tub would amplify the warming sensation of the bath, quickly banishing the chill of the night air from her skin and memory.  Finished with her cup of tea, her maids help undress her.  Gracefully, she steps into the tub of tea, enjoying the tingling sensation of the spice’s effects on her skin.  No longer cold and tired, The Princess signals her maids to add the milk steeped with her favorite flowers- carnation and ylang-ylang.  As milk and honey are added to the bath to temper the heat and tingle of the spice, as well as to soften and condition her skin, she breathes in the languid, luxurious perfume of the flowers mixing with the myrhh-sandlewood incenses of the tent.    She dreamily splashes about as one maidservant brushes out her long dark silky hair and another readies her palaang so she can nap before the night’s festivities.  Out of the tub and onto soft silk, she reclines as iages of richly colored silks, swirling dacers and swirling smoke flitted across her brain and behind her eyes.  The lingering scent of her bath clings to her skin perfuming her sleep.

     Over the top a bit, however the mental image seems to nail the exotic spice and floral experience of the chai tea bath that is Poivre.   I find this parfum best worn in extremes of temperature, either very cold or very warm.  Silage and lasting power are impressive, only a drop is needed to invoke the spicy perfection of this gourmand.     Coup de Fouet on the other hand id more suitable for warm weather, as the composition is much lighter, more woody and aqueous.  The spice is still prominent in the beginning; however it quickly wears off into watery, spicy woods where the perfume deepens into a creamy sweet then dark base.  I do not actually have a bottle of CdF, so I was unable to get the effects of a spray and assume a spray application would bring out more of its Poivre roots than does a dab.  Sometimes application is everything.        In any case both compositions glorify the humdrum carnation and reaffirm Caron’s place as perfume genius.                                       Notes red pepper, black pepper, giroflore, carnation, ylang ylang, opoponax, sandalwood, vetiver, and oakmoss.     

Published in: on January 3, 2008 at 3:30 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Oooh. I love the scent of carnations. This is hereby officially added to my “must try” list.

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