Uncle Serge Baffles Us Once Again – Serge Lutens Vitriol d’Oeillet Perfume Review


I’ve had a vase of purple carnations sat in my hallway for about two weeks now, they are suitably cheerful and they smell spicy and gorgeous. The problem with carnations is that they tend to hang around. Yes, they’re very beautiful but I’m at the point where I want them to move along so that I can refresh the vase with something else.

This is also how I feel about Vitriol d’Oeillet.

Serge Lutens has described Vitriol d’Oeillet as an ‘angry carnation’ and on the Serge Lutens website the description simply says “What is it, Doctor Jekyll?” [1] These descriptions lead me to believe that my tiny spray vial was going to unleash a huge, evil carnation monster that was going to eat me and ransack my house. A little farfetched I know, but I do have an active imagination.

What did come flying out of my little spray vial was something completely unexpected; A pretty and realistic spicy bunch of carnations. Just like the ones currently lurking in my hallway.

The Notes

Top: Pepper and Cloves
Heart: Carnation, Gillyflower and Woody Notes
Base: Sweet Notes and Powdery Notes [2]

How Does it Smell?

First things first, angry is not the word I would use to describe Vitriol d’Oeillet, and if I were to pick a perfume that displays an ‘angry carnation’ I would most likely pick something like Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, not Vitriol d’Oeillet. Secondly, we should all know by now that Uncle Serge likes to play tricks on us (Jeux de Peau anyone?) and we should always expect the unexpected.

The top notes are a fine mix of sweet and spicy, the pepper is relatively subdued compared to the clove which is quite prominent for the first half an hour or so. I do also detect a touch of ginger, which adds a bit of much needed zest to all of that spiciness.

Vitriol d’Oeillet’s heart is pure carnation and what the perfumer has cleverly done is pick out the individual nuances of the flower; the clove, the pepper, the ginger, the green stems and support these by adding them as individual notes, to give the overall impression of a vase off carnations. Carnation is a complex smell and credit has to be given for the photorealism of the scent.

Whilst smelling Vitriol d’Oeillet the same thought keeps running through my mind – ‘This is all very nice, but where is it going?’ and the answer is ‘nowhere’. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a fragrance being linear, just look at Feminité du Bois (another Serge creation) but I just don’t think Vitriol d’Oeillet is captivating enough to be linear, it feels as if it needs to develop, but it doesn’t. There is a tiny bit of development as Vitriol d’Oeillet moves towards the base, it becomes softer and ever so slightly powdery, but that’s as far as it goes

Part of me does wish that Vitriol d’Oeillet was that huge Godzilla carnation, it would have been fun to wear, but perhaps that would have been a bit too obvious and Uncle Serge doesn’t ‘do’ obvious.


Vitriol d’Oeillet is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £78.


This review is based on a sample of Vitriol d’Oeillet provided by Escentual.com.

Image 1 The stubborn carnations in my hallway

[1] sergelutens.com

[2] osmoz.com