And now for something completely (okay, not COMPLETELY) different. From the heights of expensive perfumery and Muguet Porcelaine, to the more prosaic and affordable Demeter Fragrance Library’s Lily of the Valley. I love the whole idea of Demeter Fragrance Library: that they try to capture individual fragrances of everyday objects, places or even weather, and you can combine those into whatever blend you like. From the company’s website: “Demeter was conceived in the East Village of New York City in 1996: a unique point of view about fragrance, a perspective that still remains unique, but that continues to expand. The original mission was to capture the beautiful smells of the garden and nature in wearable form. Consistent with that mission we took the Demeter name, inspired by the Greek Goddess of Agriculture.” Continue reading
Thank goodness. I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the new (and last) Hermessence by Jean-Claude Ellena, Muguet Porcelaine. I love his Jardin series very much; the transparency of his fragrances appeals to me although some other perfume lovers do not like it. And I truly love lily of the valley scents, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that Muguet Porcelaine would not disappoint. And it doesn’t.
Before I got my own sample, I read some comments that used words like “cucumber”, “melon”, “watermelon” and even “bubble gum”! No, no, no, I thought, surely Ellena would not play such a cruel joke on perfume lovers who look forward to his new works, or on the lovely lily of the valley flower that has so inspired great perfumers like Edmond Roudnitska, whom Ellena holds in high regard.
He did not. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
I have had a hard time figuring out this perfume, so let me work my way up to that. Le Muguet is a soliflore that was first released as a limited edition in 2001, then re-launched with a few other Goutal soliflores in 2011 or 2012.
The original nose behind it is Isabelle Doyen. The only notes that are listed for it in multiple sites, including Fragrantica, are lily of the valley, benzoin, red berries and rose, although The Scented Salamander describes notes of mustard, pepper and vanilla (none of which I detect). The bottle is simply beautiful: a heavy, classic shape of ribbed glass with a retro vibe and a solid, gold-toned cap, tied at the neck with a pretty bow of colored tulle (aqua-green in this case) and the perfume’s name in script on a gilt tag.
When I first spray it on my skin, I smell fruit. Continue reading
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”.
One of the three most legendary lily of the valley fragrances is Muguet du Bonheur, by the French perfume house of Caron, the others being Dior’s Diorissimo and Coty’s Muguet des Bois. This spring, I bought a small bottle of vintage Muguet du Bonheur, mostly to try a muguet I didn’t know, but also because I fell in love with the special edition Galuchat bottle it came in!
Muguet du Bonheur is the green bottle in the center. And it is even more charming in real life: the outer skin of the bottle is textured, the weight of the bottle is very pleasing in the hand, the cap and little charm are just as pretty as they look in this picture.
So, back to the actual scent! As I’ve been on this learning journey, I keep reading blog posts and reviews where people write that it took them several times to “figure out” a specific perfume. And I had no idea what they were talking about. But now, with my first and only vintage Caron, I think I do. Continue reading
I discovered Jo Malone’s fragrances last summer, in the Heathrow Airport where there is a boutique. Unfortunately, I was there in a wheelchair, on my way home from London where I had fallen and broken my shoulder! So my kind husband took me to Jo Malone to pick out a bottle of perfume. The one I picked that day was Red Roses, as I had been visiting rose gardens during our trip. But I also tried last year’s limited edition Lily of the Valley and Ivy, part of the “Rock the Ages” series and I liked it so much that I later bought a bottle.
According to Fragrantica:
The aim of the collection was to depict different periods of British history through the inspiration of drama, atmosphere and characters of each of the periods. The collection contains the following scents: Tudor Rose & Amber, Lily of the Valley & Ivy, Geranium & Verbena, Pomegranate Noir (reissued) and Birch & Black Pepper.
Lily of the Valley & Ivy is inspired by the Georgian era of pastel tenderness, green landscapes, gardens and ivy-covered fences. The fragrance opens with green ivy, pink grapefruit and sparkling black currant, with delicate floral heart of lily-of-the-valley and narcissus and the base of beeswax, amber wood and white musk.
It is a very beautiful fragrance. Continue reading