One of the most famous lily of the valley fragrances, Coty’s Muguet des Bois was created by perfumer Henri Robert, some time between 1936 and 1941. According to one source, it was created in 1936 as a tribute to the recently deceased Francois Coty, who had a tradition of giving friends and employees the usual May Day bouquets of “muguets”, but his were grown on the grounds of his personal chateau! Muguet des Bois is now available mostly in eau de cologne strength but even that appears to have been discontinued, with stock still available online. The bottle I have echoes the colors of the vintage ad above: light green bottle with a touch of yellow; aqua blue label; light violet cap. Sort of dorky but pretty!
Fragrantica says that the top notes are aldehydes, orange, green leaves and bergamot; middle notes are cyclamen, lilac, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose; base notes are sandalwood and musk. I do smell the aldehydes but not heavily so; definitely the green, green leaves; a light citrusy touch that may be notes of both orange and bergamot and then — LILY OF THE VALLEY! And yes, I meant to put that in all caps, because it just jumps right out at you. I happen to like it very much, especially as it is a very green lily of the valley and it really does smell amazingly like the actual flower. Sad to say, it quickly fades. I find I am left with a faint hint of leafy musk and that’s about it. But oh, that initial blast! It is so, so appealing.
Now Smell This found a wonderful quote about Muguet des Bois by the legendary Edmond Roudnitska, creator of Diorissimo:
I remembered that Coty had a lily that was called Muguet des Bois. No better lily note was ever made. It pushed the green note of the flower. As a lily note, it was magnificent. It was much better than the one I had made myself. I wondered how they had managed to create such a masterpiece in the Thirties, with so little means.
He went on to call it “unwearable” but it’s not clear why. He also said it wasn’t successful, but that is contradicted by the sheer volume of related products sold now on eBay! Gift sets, talcum, parfum, eau de toilette, many gorgeous ads over decades — it sure looks as if it was successful. Many of the most beautiful ads were illustrations by an in-house artist who signed his work “Eric”.
And look at the oh-so-mod gift set that was available in the 1960s or 70s:
I just love the graphic design on that! I also like the old tagline “There’s love in the air” in some of the Coty ads for Muguet des Bois; it captures the lightness and airiness of the fragrance. There is no earthiness or animalic note to Muguet des Bois at all, as far as I can tell. It is purely green and white. Very little soap, and no powder, at least to my nose. I just wish it lasted longer; one commenter on Fragrantica noted that she has had luck extending its longevity by applying Vaseline to her skin first then spraying the eau de cologne on that. Have you tried Muguet des Bois and do you have any tips for making it last longer? I’m not sure I’ll buy it again, especially as I got my bottle very inexpensively but prices seem to be rising rapidly; and there are other fragrances more worth the money. I’d like to try the vintage parfum, though, just for comparison’s sake.