or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Carnal Flower

Here are two sentences from a review of a new fragrance called Carnation on Osmoz, a French website:

Carnation refers not to the flower, but to a French word for skin tone.

A sun-drenched, floral-Oriental scent opening with the sweetness of gillyflower and Bourbon geranium.

Sure enough, there are no carnations listed anywhere in the notes, and sure enough, the name "carnation" does in fact come from a French word meaning "flesh-coloured" (referring to the pinky hue of one strain of the flower), from the same source as Spanish "carne", "meat", and of course English "carnivorous", "meat-eating".

However, there's that matter of the gillyflower.

"Gillyflower" comes to English from an old French word, "gilofre", and was obviously influenced by "flower". "Gilofre" eventually became "girofle", where it remains today, and it's their word for the spice known as the clove in English. The gillyflower smells strongly of cloves (both contain an aroma-chemical called eugenol), and it's otherwise known as...

...wait for it...

...the carnation.

Seems kind of obtuse to say that a perfume called Carnation isn't named after carnations when, in fact, the carnation is a principal component of its scent.

If, by the way, you happen to be looking for a really spectacular carnation scent, you owe it to yourself to hunt down Carnation by Comme des Garçons. (I'd go here, myself.) It's magic.


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