A quote from the man, himself ~
“And so he would now study perfumes, and the secrets of their manufacture, distilling heavily-scented oils, and burning odorous gums from the East. He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in the sensuous life, and set himself to discover their true relations, wondering what there was in frankincense that made one mystical, and in ambergris that stirred one’s passions, and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances, and in musk that troubled the brain, and in champak that stained the imagination; and seeking often to elaborate a real psychology of perfumes, and to estimate the several influences of sweet-smelling roots, and scented pollen-laden flower, of aromatic balms, and of dark and fragrant woods, of spikenard that sickens, of hovenia that makes men mad, and of aloes that are said to be able to expel melancholy from the soul.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Brilliance in articulation...and thank you to, Jack Hunter. That is a wonderful site that I was fortunate to come across a while ago. Malmaison sounds like a scent Mr. Wilde would have definitely worn. Borrowing from the site, as it is about half-way down the home page and one can get lost long before then with some great insight into his sheer genius and historical significance...
"The main scent in Malmaison is, of course, the Malmaison Carnation. It was created in the 19th century, in an era when Malmaison Carnations had become all the rage within the elegant circles of society since their introductions from France in the early 1860s. Named afterJoséphine de Beauharnais’ residence of La Malmaison , they soon intoxicated England. They were commonly displayed by the fashion-conscious as a buttonhole or corsage accessory whose heady spicy scent was but another mark of refinement and distinction. Oscar Wilde is famous for having had a fetish for the bloom, which he liked to dye each day anew in green. Apart from the carnation, it has top notes of Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Midtones of Rose and Yland, and base notes of Cedarwood, Musk, Patchouli, and Vanilla.
Here is how the experts describe it...
Malmaison eau de toilette is a rich carnation scent that through the interplay of different layers of secondary notes imposes its main character nevertheless as being carnation throughout. The scent is therefore linear in that sense. But there is also the sense that it rests upon a more complex bouquet of flowers and woods, hence a rather rich feel, if not openly complex. Complexity has in this manner a supporting role rather than a main role. The scent opens on an impression of spicy carnation that is powdery, softly sweet and woody with marked clove nuances bordering on the medicinal, but not quite.There are subtle almond-y undertones, reminiscent of heliotrope, on an aqueous and green background. The progression of the perfume is not dramatic although there are shifts in nuances as next, the powdery character fades into a creamier heart where the piquancy of sandalwood comes more to the fore. Fresher floral notes of narcissus and lily of the valley seem to escape inadvertently from the rich, warm concoction revealing in fact the restrained and balanced personality of the fragrance containing fresher notes in its core. The woody and powdery-musky dry-down is the surprise of the scent. With time, this stage becomes more and more distinctive. It is extremely seductive betraying a dark purple and dark red tonality, an overripe fruity-floral nuance, and a deep sensuality that one did not expect to encounter. For this reason, we would be tempted to classify Malmaison as one of those “closet-musk” scents that we find particularly attractive, as they reveal their deeper and very efficient erotic personalities only after some patient waiting. It mimics in this sense the dynamic of a well-regulated courtship. It makes one feel each time like waiting for that moment of rejoining with the loved one and introduces a structure of secrecy and anticipation in the perfume that is very alluring and sexy."
I adore posts like this. It brings historical context to fragrance, notes and iconic figures whom we still treasure today.
Thank you for posting this, Prince Barry...sincerely.