I love cloves. And today I find myself really craving them. Maybe it was writing about Nuit De Noel the other day, maybe it’s the colder weather, or perhaps it’s because my chest feels a bit vulnerable today, but the searing dignity of this most aloof of spices is what I am feeling. So I am wearing some of finest cloves in my possession: Diptyque’s L’Eau de L’Eau; Caron Bellodgia parfum, and Floris’s gorgeously carnationesque Malmaison, the latter two adulterated by me to make them more spicy: two drops of ylang ylang, black pepper and clove essential oil in each, and boo ha we have what we want (I know it sounds heretical, but the Bellodgia is just too musky otherwise, and the Malmaison too polite and trust me, my sharper remix works nicely).
Still, I am not quite satisfied. And just now it suddenly struck me. What I need, in fact, is Caron POIVRE. Yes I know that it means pepper, and there are plenty of fiery, whip-cracked peppercorns lurking in the heart of that scent, along with carnations, and a fascinating, dark, miasma that wraps the wearer like a cloak, but it is cloves, cloves, cloves that this perfume really smells of – cloves regalized and embellished until they become parfum; the vintage edition of this perfume undulating within itself in a shrouded rhythm of solitude – and quiet, drawn-out, heat. Divinely self-conducted and assured, Poivre is a Cruella De Vil, dressed-up excellence of spice and refined taste with a gloomed and obfuscated heart that makes you wonder if it has one, but it is that that I love – this scent is a scoundrel. Just one that is dressed like a duchess.
I have only ever had one parfum of Poivre, one bought for me online by a Japanese friend who got it for my birthday. But grateful though I was, it just didn’t cut it. Yes it was clovy (and I added even more), yes it was peppery and full of oeillet, but it was definitely not like the vintage. Too clean, too angular, too transparent, there was none of the blackness, the incorrigible, spicy contempt. Looking the perfume up online just a few minutes ago I find this
3 .oz (89ml) bottle of vintage perfume extract (ah, how I covet it), priced at $2,800. Wow. It’s not just me, then, who realises how good this scent once was, who knows that it is unique in the world of wintry spice perfumes, that there there has never been a peppercorn, or more particularly a clove bud, quite so profoundly distanced and beautiful.