One of many beautiful, interesting places to visit on the island of Bermuda is The Bermuda Perfumery, home of the brand Lili Bermuda. The perfumery was founded in the 1920s. Today, its staff creates particularly beautiful floral perfumes as well as other scents, and you can tour part of its operation in historic St. George’s, which is where I discovered Lili Bermuda several years ago.
I came home with two fragrances: Lily and Coral, both of which I love. Lily is a pretty white floral with several fruity notes that work surprisingly well with its strong note of muguet. According to Fragrantica, Lily’s top notes are clementine, tamarind and fresh mint. Heart notes are: lily of the valley, calla lily, guava and pear (I’m confused by the “calla lily” reference, as I don’t think calla lilies have a scent). Base note is a simple white musk. What I enjoy about Lily is the unexpected juxtaposition of the fruits with lily of the valley, especially the citrusy opening. The clementine appears very clearly, with its sweet, light tones of orange balanced in a nice contrast with the slightly astringent tone of the tamarind and the fresh green hint of mint. The lily of the valley note makes its presence known right after that and never really fades away. The fruit notes are succeeded by guava and pear — again, light and sweet fruit scents that have no sourness at all. The white musk base grounds Lily but never dominates. Although it is a light, white floral, I find that Lily lasts for several hours on my skin, wafting up with scented reminders of its beautiful island home.
Lili Bermuda’s owner, Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, seems to be a remarkably creative lady. A recent project of The Bermuda Perfumery was to resurrect a perfume that was found, intact in two bottles, in a shipwreck found off Bermuda’s coast: 150-year-old Perfume Unveiled in New York. According to that article: “The intact bottles were embossed Piesse and Lubin London, signifying they came from a now defunct perfume house on Bond Street in London. It was a place sought after by the world’s elite and its perfumer, G.W. Septimus Piesse, who wrote the first book on modern fragrance-making in 1857 called The Art of Perfumery.” These are the only bottles of Piesse and Lubin’s perfumes ever found. Some of the process of re-creating the perfume is described here: Scent of 150-year-old Perfume Re-Created at NJ Laboratory. The re-creation is sold under the name Mary Celestia, the name of the shipwreck.
More recently, the Bermuda Perfumery has re-released what it calls “The Legacy Collection”, updated versions of some of its earlier popular perfumes: Lili Bermuda — The Legacy Collection. Ms. Ramsay-Brackstone explains her approach, including her analogy of creating perfumes to creating music, and the handcraft that goes into each bottle of fragrance, from the continuity of the in-house perfumers’ knowledge, to the elegant bottles and packaging to the little medals around the necks of the larger bottles and the ribbons that are hand-tied to them and their boxes. If you go to Bermuda, you really should visit the perfumery and enter its charming world.
But if you can’t get there any time soon, you can order a Discovery Set of Lili Bermuda fragrances and happily sniff your way to this enchanted island!