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.