My oh my, muguet! Oriza L. Legrand’s Muguet Fleuri opens with a decisive, spicy greenness that comes from top notes of green leaves, grass and lily-of-the-valley, per Fragrantica. The middle notes are galbanum, angelica, violet leaf and lily-of-the-valley; base notes are lily-of-the-valley, oakmoss and lily. Kafkaesque attributes the spiciness of the opening to the violet leaves, but I wonder if it doesn’t also come from the angelica. The firmness of the green top notes reminds me of the leaves of lily of the valley, which are very beautiful in their own right and offer just the right contrast to the delicate silver-white bells of the flowers on their long, slender stalks. The leaves are sculptural in their form, larger than the flowers and sometimes even hiding them. They are smooth and firm like the leaves of hostas, and reach to the sky in pairs like hands lifted in prayer.
I love the opening of this fragrance. It just happens that I am staying this week at my sister’s house, where she has an old, well-established patch of lilies of the valley, so I am able to compare the perfume and the flower directly while I type this. Muguet Fleuri is very true to the flower’s scent, with the flower being even a little greener (probably because I picked a little bunch of them with their leaves). It gives you that wonderful light lemony note that is so characteristic of muguet, which the original Diorissimo captured by using hydroxycitronellal as a main ingredient. Hydroxycitronellal is now banned from use in fragrances under IFRA and EU standards; this article in Wired explains how and why.
As Muguet Fleuri dries down, it still has a strong lily of the valley fragrance but that has been joined by something more soapy which I believe is the violet leaf. The lemony opening fades away, to my sorrow, but the scent is still lovely. Kafkaesque points out that because it includes lily of the valley in top, heart and base notes, it has a linearity to it, which I find very appealing but not boring, because the other notes combined with the muguet provide the subtle shifts and changes that many perfume-lovers want.
On a separate topic, BGirl Rhapsody posted this fascinating piece last fall about a perfume-maker named Angelique Perfumes, based in the Connecticut town next to the one I am currently visiting (where I grew up). Interestingly, the post includes an article about them by Percy Knauth, in Life Magazine, 4th December 1950, that discusses what we now call “linearity” as a desirable quality:
Creation of a new perfume demands an art combining some of the more recondite skills of tea-tasting, musical composition and advanced chemistry. The final standard of quality, aside from the individual reputations of the ingredients used, is determined by the nose. Some of the basic smells, which come in the form of natural or synthetic essential oils, are almost unbearably sweet. Others are so horrible that an incautious whiff can cause acute nausea. But each one has a particular quality which the perfumer knows will give certain notes in the harmony he wishes to create. Once he has assembled and mixed them, he “fixes” them with some such substance as musk to insure that they all evaporate evenly together, rather than at rates according to their varying volatility. “If you didn’t ‘fix’ a perfume,” the men of the trade explain, “you would have a lady smelling differently every few minutes as the various oils evaporated, and some of the smells might not be too pretty.”
Muguet Fleuri has a lovely combination of consistent lily-of-the-valley notes with a shifting array of companions, which gives both the linearity one seeks in a soliflore and the nuances one seeks in a well-crafted perfume.
This one is a strong contender, among the top of my list of muguet fragrances. You can buy it from LuckyScent, whose Los Angeles store Scent Bar was where I got the sample I am now enjoying (during the visit I chronicled in Fragrance Friday: S(c)en(t)sory Overload). I haven’t sprung for a full bottle yet, but it’s going on the wishlist! Have you tried it? What did you think?