Novaya Zarya Gvozdika

Let’s do a cheap and cheerful summer scent – the Russian house Novaya Zarya’s Gvozdika, a straight-up carnation.

I learned about this scent from Bois de Jasmin years ago, along with the rest of the history of the Russian perfumer, their other scents, and the symbolic importance of carnation (and you can read more of her excellent prose on the subject here.)

The vast reaches of eBay, and a general improvement in international commerce, have made it a lot easier to get ahold of fragrances from all over the world – the sorts of things I used to hope I’d find someone to mule for me. Anyway, I just checked and you can buy an 85ml bottle of this stuff on eBay right now for — wait for it …. $13.99 plus free ship from Russia.  Now there’s a bargain!

Novaya Zarya (“new dawn”) has a quite extensive line, and I’m under the impression that the fragrances, particularly the newer scents, are greeted with something between a shrug and disdain in Russia these days — sort of a Soviet-era Revlon with a lot of messy historical baggage attached to it.

So here’s a photo of the bottle. It’s charming, no? It sits on the counter in my bathroom next to my bottle of 4711. In the hot weather I love to throw one or the other – or both – on after a shower. One of 4711’s best uses is splashed on an ice-cold, damp washcloth to rest on your closed eyes if you have a headache, after all.

What does Gvozdika smell like? Well…. carnations. Sorta. It’s marketed as unisex (I think) and to my nose smells less like ubiquitous floral-arrangement carnations and more like their dainty garden-dwelling cousins dianthus (or pinks.) They’re part of the same family, but dianthus have always smelled sweeter and more alluring to me, although maybe that’s because I only smell them growing in my yard. It’s the difference between a rose you got at the corner market wrapped in cellophane vs. what you smell when standing next to a fragrant bush in your garden at dusk. I mean, which would you prefer?

It’s absolutely charming. I’d probably keep it just for the bottle, so the fact that I like to splash it on is a bonus. It’s also light enough that I keep meaning to pour some in a small atomizer and see how I feel about it sprayed on, say, my sheets and towels.  I’m giving it a test-drive right now alongside some hinoki body wash, and let me tell you: the combo of carnation and evergreen is pretty fantastic.

4 Comments

  1. Oh this sounds lovely and the price is right!

    I currently have three varieties of carnation and one of Dianthus in my garden and all were bought for their fragrance. Dusk and night time do seem to be the best times to enjoy them.

    I got a little worried a few days into having them because the beautiful spicy vanilla scent that I had noticed when I was smelling each of the individual plants to pick the best ones seemed to have disappeared. But with the new Buds and temperature changes it came back!

    I definitely wish I could bottle their scents….

  2. I LOVE dianthus. and omg how I love those fabbo ‘international’ finds. One of my favorite places on Earth is this grocery store on Lido – there is an entire aisle of stuff like this. Also the little grocery store in Playa del Carmen but that’s because you can get Percodan over the counter (or at least you used to be able to – must go back to investigate, maybe in February 😉

  3. Such a lovely post, dear! I’m scribbling notes as I read. Gotta get me some more 4711, and this one sounds nice, too, although I’m not much on carnation (but it sounds like it’s not a jackhammer). And blending it and the hinoki sounds very cool!

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