Pinks! DSH Souvenir de Malmaison + a giveaway

I have been trying to write this review for eons and every time I start I get so much anxiety!  How do you review a perfume that tries to snatch your very soul, every time you twist the cap on the little sample?

Well.  I don’t know.  But I’m going to try.

Back in late Autumn a delightful little package arrived on my doorstep.  Wrapped in the loveliest aqua tissuepaper, that little package contained 3 new DSH Perfume samples.  I tried Chinchilla first because everybody and their mother was raving about it – and with good reason; it’s an amazing honeyed animalic that goes on growly and softens to a sexy purr – yeah, yeah.  Portia wrote about it fabulously here.  I loved Chinchilla but by the time I got around to doing a review it’d already been done wayWAY better than I could’ve (see Portia.  And Donna Hathaway’s evocative review in the Portland Examiner)…..

…and I got busy.

But…I had to pull out Chinchilla again for the Best of Winter (or 2017, perhaps) and in doing so, took a look at one of the other little samples in her lovely package.

Souvenir de Malmaison.  Carnations/dianthus (or, as the English call them, pinks).   Even as I am writing this I’m sitting here, trying to describe what happened to me when I unscrewed that cap.  I didn’t gasp (as I did when I opened a little perfect vial of vintage Coty Chypre).  I didn’t swoon.  I….I dunno…I think I went into some sort of fugue state.  Not a ‘real’ fugue state, to be sure – more a sense of forgetting myself in this current time and place.  In fact, I don’t think I was even on a physical plane! Rarely do I get so caught up in the throes of a perfume that I can’t figure out where I am but I swear to you, every time I smell Souvenir I just lose myself.  The funny thing about it?  I’m not a huge fan of carnation – I quite like the smell but I don’t gravitate towards it, y’know?   My mother wore L’Origan, which is the quintessential carnation scent imo (yes, yes L’Heure Bleue but my mother was Coty); I loved it on her.  Feel no need to wear it.  Dawn’s Souvenir came and I thought it was a rose because malmaisonwhich I grew and loved before a Polar Vortex killed it stone dead.  So imagine my surprise when I opened the little vial, expecting Rose…and got…omg.  This dark, plush, opulent, spicy Carnation.  dshmal


Not the cute little frilly carnations at the florist, this carnation has a hint of post-coital sweat and a little bit of black dirt in there.

if this flower wore fishnets & stilettos

if this flower wore fishnets & stilettos

I….I dunno….I dunno how to describe this swoony, deep, dark, rich (but not overwhelming) scent.   One of the things that makes pinks so seductive is that peppery undertone atop the cheery little floral sweetness.  Pinks, in their cheerful faces, trill fun!  and frolic!  ..but sniff a little deeper…and suddenly you start to wonder how such a simple little flower can be so  intriguing…and sexy!! There’s not a moment that I wear this where I don’t feel that tumbao of dark, rich dirt running beneath.  And the dirt has the mouthfeel of those little shards of dark chocolate you get at the bottom of a bag of bittersweet discs. Everything about this scent is a chiaroscuro, with the happy little flower heads bouncing atop the vegetal dirt – yet it has no vegetal smell to it at all – but when you sniff this, somehow the world goes black  and primeval for a minute!  I was going to say that if Idris Elba wore this…but Idris Elba could wear Polo and I wouldn’t care.  So here.  Ya wanna know how much I LOVE this?  If Bill, the guy who helps me back the trailer into its slot, wore this I would probably have to snuggle up.  Bill has (and I am not kidding) a total of 4 teeth in his entire mouth and he and the shower are rarely on speaking terms.

I don’t know how Dawn did this – but I do know it is one of the most compelling scents I have ever smelled.  And I’m scared to death of it – in a Very Good Way (and because omg.  what if Bill ever found a bottle and spritzed it on?  I’d have to kill myself!

The lovely Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has kindly offered a 10ml voile as a giveaway (and reward for listening to my insane blatheration).  Tell me:  how do you feel about carnation?  Is there one that you have fallen in love with?  Do you hate it?  I guarantee – if you hate it, you won’t hate it after sampling this.  It’s that gorgeous.   She’s also going to throw in a couple of other samples – and if you have not tried any of the DSH Perfumes line, this is a perfect opportunity – these are rare and wonderful offerings, indeed!

  • calshopper says:

    I have always had a soft spot for carnation, though it has become really hard to find good examples in recent years, so I would be really interested to try the new DSH – especially after reading your wonderful review! Thanks for the drawing..

  • civet says:

    Roger & Gallet Blue Carnation. I just loved it and figured I’d go online and buy it for cheap but no, it can’t be had for love or money. Anyway, I love to try this carnation!

  • pats133 says:

    Catching up on emails – just saw this – sat still – DSH! dark spicy carnation! perfume! – what’s not to love. Dawn makes the most wonderful scents and i would be ‘in the pink’ should i happen to win. I really have to try this – my most favourite carnation scent so far is Vitriol D’Oeillet which i adore and i am always looking for others to try. If you think it would smell good on ‘Bill’, think of how beautiful it would smell on an Irish Girl! 🙂 thanks for the opportunity to try this…. and hope i’m not too late…

  • suzela says:

    What a wonderful giveaway! I’ve been in love with the often overlooked carnation since I was just a wee scent enthusiast, nicking my older sister’s bottle of L’Air du Temps and never looking back. Hard to believe I haven’t sampled this yet. I think I’ve been stuck on Bellodgia and CdG for far too long. Time to branch out while I’m waiting for springtime and the emergence of my many backyard dianthuses!

  • otamom says:

    Hoping I’m not too late for this one, what a lovely giveaway! 🙂 I just ordered my first DSH sample, it is chinchilla and should be coming today–so excited! I don’t know much about carnations in perfumery as I don’t have any fragrances that feature this note. I do enjoy their spiciness in bouquets, though, as it helps offset the sweetness of other flowers. Thanks again for the chance!

  • Tami H. says:

    Holy cow, what a review! I do love carnations but haven’t really found a scent that I like. Thank you or this generous giveaway!

  • lena says:

    Though my Yia Yia (my Greek grandmother) died before I was born, I grew up with the knowledge that the carnation was her favourite flower, which has meant it’s always been special for me (perhaps as a way of connecting, if you will, with her??). Beyond that, I love carnations on their merits anyway – the glorious range of colours and their beautiful fragrance make them a winner!

    I have an oldish bottle of Malmaison by Floris, which is a favourite. Thank you for the draw 🙂

  • Rosemary says:

    Great review, color me intrigued! I really love carnation flowers, both visually and the deep earthen fragrance they possess. I haven’t had the chance to try any carnation perfumes, but would definitely like to see how it translates in that regard. As for Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, I am awaiting a sample of Dark Moon, looking forward to it! Thanks for the drawing!

  • BostonScentGuy says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! I like the bubble-gum meets clove scent of carnations (and some “stock” flower varieties). Poivre is a favorite classic, even though it has an antiseptic feel to it; the slightly off-kilter “carnation-ish” Vitriol D’Oeillet is also a person favorite. I wish scent hadn’t been so readily bred out of most florist carnations!

  • tiffanie says:

    Many years ago I worked with a very fun and funny woman who often used the phrase “Be still my beating heart” and it applies here.

    I love the fragrance of carnations in that toe-curling, tickle the back of my knees, oh dear, now my heart is melting manner. It sounds like this one is a winner. Or THE winner. That was some convincing blatheration.

  • Taxi says:

    Great description! No draw entry for me as I purged Bellodgia, L’Air du Temps, etc. years ago but I will go to a florist & re-sniff the flowers. I never knew that Brits call them pinks, either. Thanks.

  • M. says:

    I wish more flowers projected scent into the air like carnations. So many flowers force you to practically pull them up your nostrils before they give up their perfume, but carnations dgaf. Give me a giant bouquet of carnations anytime! But, ya know, being a bit of a perfume newbie, I’ve never smelled a carnation-centered perfume! I’m so curious! Ooo oooo! Pick me!

  • Kandice says:

    What a wonderful review! I would love to try this. I don’t know that I’ve tried any perfumes with carnation in them. My mother used to grow roses and carnations. It would be lovely to have a perfume that reminded me of those times, but unfortunately rose perfumes give me a headache. Perhaps carnation is the answer 🙂

  • hannah says:

    I love carnation flowers. I have an old sort on the balcony, inherited from a fabulous gardener. Last year I collected the flowers and put them into oil, to see if I could conserve some of this wonderful scent. It is stored here in my kitchen and still smells sweet and spicy, but now after several months has an additional sweet-fruity component. I love it and use it as a body oil.

  • DSH says:

    OMG. Where do I start to thank you, Musette, for this WONDERFUL review??? I loved every minute of it and I have to admit, I’m still giggling as I have read everyone’s (also great!) comments. I’m delighted and very humbled that a supernova reverie occurred for you and my Souvenir de Malmaison sent you into a perfume fugue state. What more could any artist ever ask for??
    I send heartfelt thanks for sharing your experience of SdM and to everyone who posted. I feel very blessed indeed. <3

  • mim says:

    I adore carnation! We’ve been getting these soft pink vanilla/clove smelling ones every spring. I always loved the clove edge but florist ones often were faint and cold. Bellodgia was a favorite for a bit but it smelled sour on me sometimes and I felt like I was ‘supposed’ to like it more than I actually did. Then the discovery of Golconda and the Prada one put me back on course, but I kinda hoard my teeny samps.

    Please count me in, I’d love to try this!

  • hotlanta linda says:

    Caron`s classic Bellogia (that they have sadly dropped) was my 2nd serious perfume buy – 1/2 0z parfum in the 70`s, when we were in high school 🙂 The bottle is still front/center on my first mirror tray, smells divine, and the box is stowed too…Never lost my love for carnations! ;-)!! Thank you for the draw!

  • solanace says:

    Carnation team. I very much enjoyed my Vitriol d’Oillet sample, and would buy the Prada infusion if it were a little stronger and longer lasting. Thank you for the draw!

  • Caroline says:

    Love carnation, and was disappointed in the current Bellodgia. A vintage bottle of L’Air du Temps came my way, and it’s uplifting and has staying power. Would love to try DSH’s carnations, too.

  • Barbara B says:

    Have still never tried a DSH fragrance. Love carnation scents ( and Idris Elba!). Thanks for the draw.

  • CbSutcliffe says:

    Carnations are my birth month flower and my sorority flower so it is lucky I like how they look and smell. There was a carnation fragrance Lucky Scent sent me once but it has since been discontinued. For now I’m wearing Bellogia, but I would love to try this.

  • maggiecat says:

    Well, now I feel as if I HAVE to try this. I have always loved carnations and at times preferred them to roses just based on the scent. One of my first perfume obsessions was a little cream carnation perfume from Avon, which I dearly loved and probably over-applied. I haven’t sought out carnation scents as of late as some of them veer too close to pure clove, rather than the fresh flower in my mind, but I see clearly now that I need to reconsider this. Thanks for the lovely review.

  • I do love buying carnations for my kitchen table ever so often…..But for some reason I don’t think of this flower first when thinking of perfume. Would LOVE to try DSH’s version and fall in love like you did! 🙂

  • malsnano86 says:

    Love love love carnations. DNEM, because I’m heading over to Dawn’s for a sample of this one. I love Oeillets Rouges already (and haven’t worn it yet this winter, shame on me!), and there’s an old Prince Matchabelli called Potpourri which is really nice. I have yet to find a scent that smells like fresh carnations…

  • Rachel W says:

    The only scent I’ve tried with any carnation is Puredistance Opardu, which I like but is not quite “me” (and also too rich for my blood even if it was). Haven’t tried any DSH and would very much like to!

  • grizzlesnort says:

    Equipage has a carnation note I really like. I love carnations and grow them in my garden. Please enter me in your giveaway/ draw.

  • Janice says:

    I don’t have many carnation scents, but I like Oeillet Bengale and CdG’s Carnation–possibly now discontinued? This sounds just wonderful, and I always look forward to trying something new from Dawn.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    I used to have a lovely patch of cheddar pinks (light pink flower, exquisite and spicy scent) growing near my street side garden. Unfortunately, the snow plow did them in, I think, because I haven’t seen them since the winter of 2014. Haven’t always gravitated toward carnation as a note, but then I notice that some of my faves have quite a bit of it! Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is a perfume genius (as well as a lovely person) so I would love to win this. Love the pink roses–are they David Austins? I would grow roses if I weren’t so lazy and thus neglectful of the needy little beggars.

  • rosarita313 says:

    Eeek!! This sounds so good! Love carnations. Etro Dianthus was a favorite and of course Caron Bellodgia but I think of that more as rose dominant. Dawn is as generous as she is talented, thanks for the chance!

  • Alison says:

    I love carnation and totally understand the fugue state upon smelling “the one.” Please enter me in the draw!

  • foxbins says:

    I love carnation scents and already have DSH Oeillets Rouge, but I’d love to smell Souvenir. Thanks for the draw!

  • Maureen says:

    I wore L’Air du Temps in my 20’s. I would love to try this new DSH fragrance. Love your stories! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Luanne says:

    I love carnation scents. I have also been looking for the perfect carnation-scented soap… any ideas? Would love to sniff this, thanks.

  • Bastet says:

    I love carnations. My current favorite is LAP’s Oeillet Sauvage. It doesn’t last long but it’s so soft/spicy and beautiful.

  • HeidiC says:

    Your sensory reverie is fantastic — I think I love writing about perfume just as much as I love perfume itself — both are such an ephemeral art. I really enjoy carnation scents as well, as long as they’re spicy — I love Bellodgia and your mom’s L’Origen, though I didn’t care for Vitriol d’Oeillet. I’d love to try any of those DSH’s but after that description, especially the Souvenir! Thanks for the draw!

  • AnnieA says:

    I love the smell of carnations but only remember an Avon perfume from childhood.

  • Tiara says:

    I don’t have many carnation scents but my fave is Terracotta Voile d’Ete, which is sits in my Top 10. It’s not quite what the Pinks smell like at the garden center though. If we had more sun, they’d have a spot in the yard. Dawn has really done some remarkable work these past few years.

  • kayceebee says:

    I love carnations, both in fragrance and the garden. The only straight up carnation I have tried was Dawn’s Oeillet Rouge which I enjoyed very much. I would love to try her new take on the flower.

  • AnnJune says:

    I’m woefully ignorant when it comes to carnation fragrances, but based on your fabulous description would love to try it – thanks for the draw!

  • Claudia S says:

    I love the scent of carnations and stock! Spicy goodness. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Sapphire says:

    I like the smell of carnations (even the florist kind). Not sure I really know any carnation scents other than the Diane Vreeland one at NM, and it was pretty nice (must look to see if I still have it). Would be thrilled to try the DSH. Thanks for the drawing and Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Connie says:

    I’ve not tried any carnations I don’t think- but I’m such a big DSH fan 🙂

  • jenbat says:

    I love carnations! I love that you went into a fugue state from smelling a wonderful perfume! You know something has really touched your soul when this happens.

  • Marilee says:

    I love carnations but have never tried a carnation-centric perfume. Not intentionally — I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect rose with my sampling – to no avail – so it’s high time I started in on other notes! I have also not sniffed any DSH perfumes; a tragedy!

  • Kirsten duffin says:

    Please count me in! thank you so much for the draw! What a review! I think I’d buy this unsniffed based on that, my hearts pounding just a little 😉

    I love carnations, dianthus, pinks they’re so pretty and some can be potent too.

  • lizbee says:

    Best. Perfume. Review. Ever.
    For your sake I hope Idris Elba shows up at your door scented with this one before Bill does.
    I love the smell of carnations so much, but I haven’t yet found a carnation perfume to love. Could this be the one? I hope so! Thanks for the draw.

  • I love the smell of carnations (esp white ones) but have yet to find a fragrance that I feel does it justice. I would be honored to sniff this. Thank you for the draw!

  • bevfred says:

    I love carnations in all forms and think the smell is divine. I’ve wanted to sample DSH fragrance for ages and Malmaison would be a great way to start. Happy Valentines day to all!

  • Neva says:

    I lke the smell of carnations in nature but in perfume most of those I’ve tried are too sweet on my skin. It would be nice to find one that is right. DSH perfumes are hard to find in my part of Europe and I’d love to try it. Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Klára says:

    When I think of carnation, I think of Gres Cabochard. I don´t even know if it´s listed in the notes, but on me Cabochard smells like the reddest of carnations + sage on tons of oakmoss with a little leather.
    The “post-coital sweat” definitely got me hooked 😉 count me in!

  • Koyel says:

    I once tried Oeillet Rouge and quite liked it, but i don’t think I have a consistent opinion of carnation yet! You’ve made this one sound exquisite. You know, until I started thinking about perfumes, I never thought of carnations as spicy.

  • CristinaM says:

    Love Apree L ondee
    My grandmother used to grow a variation called Chinese carnation which are smaller and simpler but with an intense smell

  • Sassypants says:

    I love carnations, and my favorite carnation-centric scent is JAR Golconda. I’d definitely like to try DSH’s take on these gorgeous flowers!

  • TaffyJ says:

    Oh, this Chinchilla sounds magnificent.
    One of my favorite carnation scents is an old one: Roger & Gallet’s Blue Carnation. Just wonderful.

  • Sarah says:

    Been looking for a carnation scent that likes me for years-could Souviner de Malmaison be the one? 🙂 The usual suspects never hold the scent on my skin. I have neglected DHS perhaps because there seemed to be so many and an ever changing selection. Thank you for sharing your hopeful and lighthearted self (and perfume expertise!)with us.

  • Clarochka says:

    This sounds great. Ms DSH is a very talented perfumer.

  • Tarena says:

    I feel similar about carnations. They’re gorgeous flowers but they don’t excite me fragrance wise.. but then again, I don’t really have any carnation dominant perfumes. Souvenir de Malmaison does sound incredible though. Consider me definitely very interested!

  • Paige W says:

    Pinks, Sweet Williams, Carnations… what an appealing little flower! Your wonderful review has me on the path to hunt down a sniff of this fragrance. Thank you!

  • Maya says:

    When I was a kid everyone seemed to have the big carnations in their gardens and they smelled absolutely wonderful! I rarely see them grown anymore. Pinks all seem to smell differently from each other and from the large carnations. Sadly I have never found carnation in any perfume that I like and I admit to being skeptical despite your great description, but you did make me want to try Souvenir de Malmaison.

  • Kate E. says:

    I have fond memories of growing carnations with my grandmother so it is a nostalgic love for me. Somehow I haven’t investigated carnation fragrances yet. You’ve intrigued me!

  • Ellen M says:

    I love carnation. Estate Carnation by Soltice Scents is gorgeous. And who can ever forget, Opium which has notes of carnation. I’d so love to try this. Thanks for the draw. Please include me.

  • WendyHett says:

    My mother was a florist, so carnations have always reminded me of funerals, BUT my great-grandmother grew pinks, and I have always loved their character. This might be one of the most descriptive reviews I have ever read, and I would love to try it!

  • RoseMacaroon says:

    I have a sample of Vanille Botanique, which I dispense obsessively and miserly, but have tried no others yet – which is insane, because I’ve been very keen on DSH since the year she released not one but TWO muguet-centered frags (all-natural, for gods’ sake!!!) . Please count me in, and big thanks for the draw!

  • What a wonderful review! I love Dawn’s work, but am not quite sure how I missed this one. Growing up my BFF’s mom wore Blue Carnation by Roger & Gallet, and I have loved carnation ever since! So much so that MY mom gave me 3 dozen carnations for my 21st birthday. For me its all about Bellodgia Extrait these days, but your review makes me need to try this one! Thanks!
    -Robert H.

  • Tara C says:

    I have not yet found my carnation scent. Perhaps this could be the one! Thanks for the draw!

  • Coumarin says:

    I bought a sample of this among others during their sale. Souvenir was by far my favorite! It rivals my vintage Bellodgia EdT as best carnation. Even if I don’t win, I know a bottle is in my future.

  • When I was just starting to explore perfumes I was really surprised to fall in love with carnation as much as I did. Vintage L’Air du Temps was my first. I would love to try the DSH.

  • Jeanne says:

    You should write novels. The way you seduce us with your descriptions. Please enter me in your enticing contest. Thank you.

  • mikasminion says:

    I haven’t tried any DSH scents yet so am super excited at a chance for a giveaway.
    I haven’t found a carnation perfume that has spoken to me yet. Perhaps because I adore the scent of pinks and they smell nothing like perfume carnation? I guess I will have to adjust my perceptions and try again. Your excitement for this perfume is really palpable, so Souvenir de Malmaison goes on my wishlist (along with Chinchilla, because how could I not want to try something called chinchilla?!)

  • Gigi says:

    I can conjure the smell of carnations, my Mom really liked them and they were often in the house. I can’t think of a single fragrance that I’ve tried with carnations, though. Your review has me intrigued though and I’ve always wanted to try DSH but never had the chance. Wonderful giveaway, many thanks to you and Dawn for the chance!

  • LaDona says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever even tried a carnation scent, but this sounds delightful! Sign me up!

  • Nina says:

    I LOVE the smell of carnations, especially in nature. It’s often called old fashined and dated, but it doesn’t seem that way to me (maybe because I’m not old enough to remember anyone wearing carnation-centered perfumes).It seems like perfumes usually don’t quite capture the full scent spectrum that the flowers emit. They often seem to rely on eugenol and veer too much into clove territory. I would love to smell Dawn Spencer Hurwitz creation as I love and own a few of her fragrances. Thanks for the draw!

  • FeralJasmine says:

    I am crazy about all kinds of carnations as long as they have scent. I like most perfumes that have a carnation nude, although I have come across a couple that smelled soapy. But this one sounds like it might be my dream carnation. Please do enter me!

  • Luna Green says:

    I love the scent of actual carnations and I am still looking for my HG carnation perfume. Maybe this could be The One!

  • Anna Egeria says:

    I grow pinks and gillyflowers in my garden. I find the scent of any carnation intoxicating. Thank you for this drawing!

  • thegoddessrena says:

    Will just about always try a carnation prominent scent. DSH Oeillets Rouges is on my to-buy list

  • Patty says:

    Oh, hell. I need this, don’t I? do I? I love carnation, no matter how simple or complex. Right? Crap.

  • greysilver says:

    I’ve not been a fan of carnation scents- tried Bellodgia and it was too something but not my cup of tea. However I love DSH scents and I would love to try this one. Thank you both for the chance!!

  • Pam says:

    Well, I LOVE carnation scents and enjoyed your rave review. I have Bellogia and use it sparingly so it will last.

  • Merry Rower says:

    I’ve always felt carnations were a criminally under-rated flower, at least in the US. They are ruffly and full, they come in a gorgeous variety of colors and sizes, they last a long time and oh – that smell! Green and flowery but peppery too and way more sophisticated than anyone gives them credit for.

    That said, I’m always looking for carnation scents which suit me. A lot of the usual suspects don’t, but the 1999 Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete was one that did. I’d adore the chance to smell Dawn’s carnation creation.

  • Paddy says:

    I can,t say I even know what carnations smell like but I’d loved find out! May you have a beautiful Valentine holiday tomorrow! Swooning!!!

  • rickyrebarco says:

    I like carnation scents generally, such as Bellodgia and Les Infusions de Oillet by Prada. Would love to try this one by DSH!