May Muguet Marathon: I Love NY for Earth Day

May Muguet Marathon: I Love NY for Earth Day

I haven’t tried many Bond No. 9 fragrances, partly because of their prices, partly because they sometimes seem a bit gimmicky, and partly because their bottles don’t appeal to me. I don’t often think of myself being that affected by a fragrance’s bottle, although I really love some of the beautiful bottles one sees and can sometimes be swayed to buy a fragrance because of one (have you seen the adorable new Nina Ricci Bella? I’m hoping they will do a coffret of minis with the other “apple” bottles!). But I’ve rarely felt put off a fragrance because of the bottle. Daisy is another bottle that doesn’t appeal to me AT ALL, though I love the Daisy Dream bottles. I’ve successfully resisted buying any of them, though.

Bottles of different Bond No. 9 I Love NY fragrances

Bond No. 9 I Love NY fragrances; image from http://www.parfumo.net

Today’s fragrance with lily of the valley in it is Bond No. 9’s I Love NY for Earth Day. I found it at a great discount at a local store, with I Love NY for the Holidays, and thought, why not? So they both came home with me. I lived in New York for several years, and grew up outside The City, as we called it, and I do appreciate how Bond No. 9 has worked to create scents that capture various aspects of New York life and different New York neighborhoods. I really enjoyed For the Holidays and have been looking forward to trying Earth Day.

Here’s the thing: Earth Day is a lovely fragrance, very floral, but I get almost no lily of the valley from it! From reading other reviews, I know that my experience differs from others’, as a number of commenters and reviewers have said they found the lily of the valley to be very prominent. My experience of the fragrance was much more like the review by John Reasinger at CaFleureBon: all about the tuberose. And in fact, this seems more like what its creators intended, based on this excerpt from their promotional materials when Earth Day was launched in 2011, which I found on The Candy Perfume Boy blog:

“Like New York, this lush green tuberose is also sophisticated and assured. Its wakeup opening notes, sprightly tangerine and orange flower water, blended with more tropical orchid, segue into the heart of the scent: a stunning floral composed of intoxicating tuberose, lily of the valley, and orris. Base notes of durable musk, amber, oakmoss, and sandalwood sustain this heady bouquet.”

So now that we’ve put the muguet to bed, so to speak, what is Earth Day like? To me, it is very tuberose-forward, teetering on the brink of too much without tipping over the edge. If I applied more than a couple of modest sprays, though, I think it would overwhelm. Tuberose is such a complicated fragrance note: in real life, the flowers’ scent is intoxicating, so much so that an oft-repeated legend is that in some countries, young women were forbidden to walk among gardens of tuberose lest they be overcome by lust! Perfumer Pierre Benard spoke at length about the note with Fragrantica, and the interview is well worth reading, as it leaps from science and chemistry to perfume to history: Tuberose: Flower, Scent, History, and Perfume.

tuberose flower

Tuberose flower; image from http://www.attarperfumes.net

Earth Day is supposed to be a unisex fragrance, but to me it is very feminine, because of its strong floral nature and the voluptuousness of the tuberose. I don’t think of men as “voluptuous”, although that may be my own limitation more than anything else! And this is a somewhat voluptuous scent, though not languorous. The city of New York has an energy and liveliness that is captured in this fragrance. What comes to mind? Princess Giselle in Central Park, in the movie Enchanted:

Princess Giselle in Central Park, NY, from Disney movie Enchanted

GIselle in Central Park; image from http://www.disney.com

Not a muguet, but definitely a happy, lively, green floral scent, with, as another reviewer said, a “sprightly tangerine” opening. It is very appealing on the right day and in the right weather, which to me would be spring and summer. Try it! But not if you dislike tuberose. Have you tried any other I Love NY fragrances? Which do you like, and why?

 

May Muguet Marathon: Lily Hand Therapy

May Muguet Marathon: Lily Hand Therapy

Crabtree & Evelyn make some wonderfully scented products, many with floral fragrances. One of them is Lily Ultra Moisturizing Hand Therapy, a rich hand cream that smells like lily of the valley. The Lily fragrance also comes in a body lotion, bath and shower gel, and home fragrance. It used to come in an eau de toilette also, but I think the whole collection has been discontinued, so while it is easy to find the other products, the eau de toilette mostly appears on online auction sites.

The hand cream is excellent: it is in fact very moisturizing without being greasy at all. It sinks quickly into dry skin, but lasts a long time. The scent is very evident but does not overwhelm. Like most Crabtree & Evelyn scents, it is floral, light, fresh, and it gives a natural impression. I like it very much although I don’t use hand cream very often. The notes listed for the eau de toilette are: hyacinth, ylang-ylang, oak moss,  lily-of-the-valley, violet leaf, woodsy notes, musk and green notes. While. of course, these play differently in a hand cream formulation, the hand cream still has a green floral scent.

Crabtree and Evelyn Lily hand therapy

Crabtree & Evelyn hand therapy cream

The ultra moisturizing hand therapy line of hand creams is based on shea butter and macadamia seed oil, and its texture is silky and soft. Lily would make an excellent base to layer with other muguet-centered fragrances, as it will prolong the green floral notes. The style magazine Marie France Asia raved about the line, and had fun matching each fragrance with a different celebrity; Taylor Swift was their pick for Lily on the basis that it is a fresh and free-spirited woodland scent. I don’t know that I would necessarily associate her with a lily of the valley hand cream, but I would agree with their assessment that these hand creams are unusually appealing and effective.

Do you have a favorite scented hand cream? Floral or not? Why do you like it?

May Muguet Marathon: The Nuptial Bouquet

May Muguet Marathon: The Nuptial Bouquet

It seems fitting that there is a lily of the valley fragrance called The Nuptial Bouquet, given how often lilies of the valley appear in bridal bouquets. Atkinson’s fragrance by that name includes notes of lily of the valley, violet leaves, myrtle flower, sandalwood, and musk. It is supposed to refer to the flowers carried by Queen Victoria in her own bouquet at her wedding to Prince Albert. From the website:

A cherished bouquet of ardent Romance composed of the very blooms Queen Victoria carried down the wedding aisle to her beloved Albert. Hearkening back to a time when flowers, steeped in meaning, spoke volumes…
A fragrance for royal romance, a retro contemporary interpretation of Queen Victoria’s bridal bouquet: the green and white loveliness of lily of the Valley, violet leaves and exquisite myrtle flowers enhanced with delicate white musk and sandalwood.

It’s a lovely story, but I can’t find any reliable source that confirms Victoria carried lilies of the valley on her wedding day. In fact, although the inclusion of myrtle has taken on a life of its own as a royal tradition, that too may be a myth. While it is true that there are myrtle plants in royal gardens descended from one planted by Victoria, it seems that was NOT in her own bouquet but was from a gift to her by Prince Albert’s grandmother. Nevertheless, it is true that royal brides from the 19th century forward have had at least a sprig of myrtle in their own bouquets, including Queen Elizabeth.

In fact, since Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in 2011, and The Nuptial Bouquet was launched in 2013, I think its floral notes refer more directly to Kate’s bouquet, not Victoria’s. And we DO know that Kate carried lilies of the valley.

Kate Middleton's wedding bouquet of lilies of the valley.

Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet; image from http://www.TheKnotNews.com

The Nuptial Bouquet is a very lovely muguet fragrance. It opens as a light, green, lemony muguet, the green also coming from the note of violet leaves, which lend a certain crisp freshness. It is very much a bouquet of spring flowers, without being overly sweet. Its floral notes don’t last terribly long, but they do last for a while, and the drydown, which is a green-tinged musky sandalwood, lasts a long time as a skin scent.The myrtle note adds an herbal aroma that I find very appealing. I prefer aromatic florals over fruit florals; this is not a full-on aromatic floral, but it is definitely not “fruity”. It is a feminine floral, light and fresh, with a sheer, floating airiness that reminds me of a bridal veil.

Speaking of veils, wasn’t Kate’s veil gorgeous? As we have another royal wedding coming up next weekend, let’s bask for a moment in the beauty and artistry of the craftspeople whose work will be on display. Kate’s veil was of silk tulle, embroidered by hand with garlands of flowers by the Royal School of Needlework. I was able to see the veil, and her dress, and other accessories, when they were on display at Buckingham Palace after the wedding, and they were simply beautiful. My only disappointment was that I wish the embroidered flowers had included lilies of the valley, which I did not see in the garlands, as there are many truly lovely lace and embroidery patterns for lily of the valley blossoms.

Detail of vintage lily of the valley lace pattern

Lily of the valley lace; image from http://www.sovintagelinensnlace.com.

A minor matter! If a bride wants the effect of a sheer, lacy, floating lily of the valley on her wedding day, she  might be very pleased with The Nuptial Bouquet. I am!

May Muguet Marathon: Mother’s Day

May Muguet Marathon: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

Serenity Now

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it! Just as May is the month for May Day and muguet, it is also the month when we recognize and appreciate mothers. So today, instead of commenting on a specific fragrance, I’d like to share a bit of Lily-of-the-Valley folklore. Apparently, one of its other names is “Our Lady’s Tears”, or “Mary’s Tears”. According to one website: “It was said that when Mary wept at the foot of the Cross, her tears fell to the ground and turned into the tiny fragrant blossoms of this early spring plant. In England it had the name “Our Lady’s Tears” because when viewed from a distance the white flowerets gave the appearance of teardrops falling.”

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May Muguet Marathon: Live in Love

May Muguet Marathon: Live in Love

Another affordable muguet-focused fragrance comes from Oscar de la Renta: Live in Love. Launched in 2011, it was created by Jean-Marc Chaillan, Carlos Benaim, and Ann Gottlieb, according to Fragrantica. Top notes are hyacinth, galbanum, bergamot, lily-of-the-valley and orchid; middle notes are jasmine, african orange flower and rose; base notes are sandalwood, virginia cedar, woodsy notes, amber and musk.

Racked published an interview with M. de la Renta when this fragrance was launched:

… the notes in the fragrance were inspired by his own vast garden, which includes a sparkling ginger orchid that was flown in from France. De la Renta, if you didn’t know, feels very passionate about flowers, particularly their scents: “I think that a flower that doesn’t smell is like a woman with no fragrance. For example, one flower that they say is an unbelievable flower is the camellia; it’s a shame that it doesn’t smell. It’s such a beautiful flower but it has no scent. I wonder why Chanel decided to use camellia.”

The bottle itself is very pretty, eight-sided with a sectioned top. According to the Racked interview, the name came from a tattoo that M. de la Renta glimpsed on the arm of one of his colleagues during the creation of Live in Love; he was so intrigued by the phrase that he made it his new fragrance’s name.

The opening isn’t particularly reminiscent of lily of the valley, though it is very pleasant: bright bergamot that morphs into a light, fresh floral. As it evolves, the fragrance actually gets a bit greener than that very first stage when the galbanum emerges. Fragrantica readers find the lily of the valley and hyacinth notes most prominent, but I don’t. Most of what I smell is the African orange flower. Again, very pleasant, but not muguet! As it continues to dry down, it continues to be a fresh, pleasant, light floral, but not one where it is easy to pick out specific notes. Live in Love would be a good everyday office scent, especially in spring or summer, but if you’re looking for a true muguet-centric fragrance, it will disappoint you.

May Muguet Marathon: Virgin Lily of the Valley

May Muguet Marathon: Virgin Lily of the Valley

Eric Buterbaugh has long been a “florist to the stars” with a renowned flower shop in Los Angeles. Some years ago, he branched out (pun intended) into fragrances and other lifestyle products like candles and gifts. He launched his fragrance collection, EB Florals, in 2015 with eight scents based on the flowers he knows so well, one of which was Virgin Lily of the Valley.  And here is where I am very thankful, specifically, to Scentbird. I was able to snag a nifty 8 ml sprayer of it through my monthly subscription, which was the only way I was going to own it, as a 100 ml bottle retails for $295! So although I don’t own the gorgeous bottle — which is clear and curved like a large drop of dew — I do have enough of the fragrance to try it out really well. The Eric Buterbaugh website says this:

Pierre Negrin conceived this delightful Lily like a tower of glass, where all is visible from the start, from top to bottom. The tingle of a citrus, the beauty of the Lily and the softness of musks, are all present at once. The result is a Lily floating in the air, in all its white purity.

TOP NOTES
Linden, Quince, Litchi, Fleur de Narcisse Absolute, Nectarine, Natureprint
HEART NOTES
Fleur de Oranger Supra SFE, Fleur de Tiare, Jasmin Sambac Firabsolut
BASE NOTES
Osmanthys, Tuberose Absolute, Muscenone, Ambrox
Notice that neither muguet nor lily of the valley is listed, despite the fragrance’s name! This is a very dewy floral, watery and fresh, not intensely green. It is very pretty, but I’ll confess that I don’t smell much lily of the valley at all! So I think the name is misleading; this is a fantasy lily, not a muguet. Interestingly, the notes listed on Fragrantica are quite different, though I’ll take the company’s own website’s word for what they are. Fragrantica lists top notes as bergamot,  palisander rosewood, and orange blossom; heart notes of lily of the valley, ylang ylang, and amaryllis; and base notes of sandalwood, musk, and ambrette.

Scentbird had a brief interview with Mr. Buterbaugh earlier this year. He described the link between his floral designs and his fragrances:

I first look at a floral composition as an overall shape. For me, proportions matter most, which is why I mostly like to work with one or two species of flowers only in each composition. If you mix too many kinds of flowers, you lose control over texture, dimensions, proportions. I spoke at length with the Perfumers about this concept. It fits well with the idea we had from the start to celebrate one flower per scent. Which doesn’t mean creating monolithic soliflores. Our creations are layered and complex. But they are articulated around one specific flower every time.

The opening and early stages of Virgin Lily of the Valley remind me of Lily by Lili Bermuda, probably because of the fruit notes combined with flowers. As it dries down, though, I do smell the musky basenotes, including a semi-woody, herbal note that I think is the ambrette (or Ambroxan), and I like the combination.

However, I am really intrigued by EB Florals’ new “muguet”: Floral Oud Lily of the Valley, one of a collection of floral scents combined with oud. Here’s the description:

This union of opposites opens with a fruity/ spicy combination of bergamot and cassis buds, but the lily soon starts weaving its way into the mix, supported by a subtle hint of Tuberose. The oud is there almost from the start, but tamed in a way that allows for the floral notes to breathe and blossom.

The rest is amber and sandalwood, all the way to the end.

A delightfully original creation.

Original indeed — who would think to combine muguet with oud? And talk about a gorgeous bottle:

Black bottle of EB Florals by Eric Buterbaugh, Floral Oud Lily of the Valley

EB Florals, Floral Oud Lily of the Valley; image from http://www.ericbuterbaugh.com

So now, having satisfied my curiosity about Virgin Lily of the Valley, I can only hope that Scentbird arranges to carry the new Floral Ouds, especially this one. Because I am really interested in trying this combination! Have any of you tried any of the EB Florals, and especially the Floral Ouds?

May Muguet Marathon: Gucci Envy

May Muguet Marathon: Gucci Envy

One of the great pleasures of reading Turin and Sanchez’ guide to perfumes is the occasional surprised snort of laughter when one of their reviews snarkily turns a phrase that perfectly captures their — and your — experience of a fragrance. One of my favorites: “cK IN2U Her: OMG PU. Insanely strong fruit meets insanely strong woody amber. KTHXBYE.”

The snarky humor applies evenly to perfumes they praise, such as Gucci Envy:

Envy (Gucci) ***** green floral $$

Maurice Roucel has a knack for putting together perfumes that feel haunted by the ghostly presence of a woman: Lyra was a compact, husky-voiced Parisienne, Tocade a tanned, free-as-air Amazon. These have another Roucel hallmark, the spontaneity of the unpolished gem. When subjected to the full grind of the marketing department, Roucel’s style can become cramped and tends toward brilliant pastiches of classical fragrances: 24, Faubourg; L’Instant; Insolence. Envy is to my knowledge the only time when the balance between Roucel’s magic and the real world gave rise to a work that, like a diamond, needed both heat and pressure to form. My recollection is that Envy was panel-tested again and again while Roucel adjusted it until it outperformed Pleasures, then at the top of its arc of fame. It is amusing to think that such a comparison between apples and pears could be considered meaningful. However, it did constrain the woman inside Envy to be at once seraphic and suburban, complete with the sort of suppressed anger that such a creature would feel at being reincarnated as a florist in eastern New Jersey.

Why a florist? People describing fragrances often describe very green, hyacinth-dominant scents as smelling like the inside of a florist’s refrigerator. And that is the major impression of Envy after the sharp, tangy-green opening. Envy’s heart notes are: hyacinth, lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, violet and iris, after an opening that is dominated by bergamot and freesia with support from minor top notes of peach, magnolia, and pineapple (for the record, I don’t smell pineapple, but that could be because my bottle of Envy is several years old; it was discontinued).

The muguet note is very prominent in Envy, but it isn’t soapy AT ALL, unlike some lily of the valley scents. It is green all the way, with hyacinth hot on its heels and gaining ground throughout Envy’s progression. Fragrantica has an interesting summary, describing it as a “metal accord surrounded by a floral bouquet”:

Envy could be compared to a breeze that brings spring into the city. Its architecture is modern; it denies gaudiness, accentuating minimalism. The composition starts with green notes with a cool metal note that freezes the senses. Gradually the scent warms up due to woody notes and musk.

Envy does start off as a very cool, contained, green scent, and I can understand the comparison to cold metal, given the “florist’s refrigerator” vibe it gives off, especially in the first hour or so. Maybe the seraph of Luca Turin’s imagination is trapped inside the florist’s refrigerator, not reincarnated as the suburban florist.

Gradually, Envy starts showing glimmers of — not warmth, exactly, but a mossy woodiness that grounds it. The base notes are oakmoss, sandalwood, cedar, musk, and jasmine. The green notes from the muguet, hyacinth, and freesia are still powerfully present, but the fragrance takes on an earthiness that brings them back to ground. The progression of Envy resembles the slow descent of a winged, green creature whose feet lightly touch the mossy floor of a forest.

Novel Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Green Angel, by Alice Hoffman

I haven’t yet read the book Green Angel, whose cover is featured above, but in my search for an image that captured the final stage of Gucci Envy, this popped up and it seemed just right. The College Gardener has a brief review of the book, and it may have to go on my reading waitlist. That’s for another day. In the meantime, I have to go liberate a green seraph who has been imprisoned within a tall bottle of eau de toilette.

Bottle of Gucci Envy eau de toilette

Gucci Envy

Featured image above from Angels, by Olga Rezo.