May Melange Marathon: Lily

May Melange Marathon: Lily

Parfums Christian Dior is responsible for possibly the most famous muguet fragrance of all time, Diorissimo. A less-known, discontinued muguet fragrance by Dior is the lovely Lily, launched in 1999. The perfumer behind it is Florence Idier, who also created Comme des Garcons’ Series 1 Leaves: Lily, another lily-of-the-valley fragrance. There is another fragrance called Lily Dior, but the one I have is just called Lily; it is an eau de toilette.

Advertising illustration for Lily eau de toilette by Christian Dior
Lily, by Parfums Christian Dior; image from Fragrantica

Fragrantica (which has a photo of the wrong bottle on this fragrance’s page, btw; it shows 2004’s Lily Dior) lists its notes as: Top notes are Green Notes, Fruity Notes, Bergamot and Brazilian Rosewood; middle notes are Lily-of-the-Valley, Lilac, Lily, Jasmine and Rose; base notes are Musk and Sandalwood.

I acquired my bottle of Lily within the past year, so it has never featured in my frequent “May Muguet Marathon.” It wouldn’t be May for me without some reviews of muguet fragrances! I like Lily very much, and if I didn’t already have several true-love muguet fragrances, it would be among my top dozen. Even as a vintage eau de toilette, its top notes are clear and strong, with a noticeable fruit note at the start that reminds me of a green pear. The only listed top note that I don’t really smell is the rosewood; the opening is very fresh and green.

The lily-of-the valley note steps forward quickly and it is very natural-smelling (although LOTV notes famously rely on clever combinations of other substances, as the flowers’ natural essence cannot be extracted). The companion notes of lilac and jasmine are evident, with the lilac slightly more obvious than the jasmine. At this stage, Lily reminds me a lot of the 1998 version of Guerlain’s Muguet, which was created by Jean-Paul Guerlain and launched the year before Lily.

Hmmm. The list of notes for each fragrance is almost identical, according to Fragrantica. The clear presence of both lilac and jasmine in the middle stage, as part of the evocation of lily-of-the-valley, is very similar in each fragrance. Lily‘s opening is distinctive, though, with that green pear note that gives it some zing together with the bergamot. I’m going to give Parfums Dior the benefit of the doubt here, though: Christian Dior’s association with the muguet, his favorite flower, goes back decades and prompted the creation of Diorissimo; the flower appeared regularly in Dior fashions: dresses, scarves, hats, jewelry, and apparently he had a tradition of giving sprigs of lilies-of-the-valley to employees every May Day, which the fashion house continues to this day. Don’t you just love this hat?

Hat decorated with artificial lilies of the valley silk flowers
Lily of the valley hat by Christian Dior

The Christian Dior name is also attached to a wide variety of household goods featuring lilies of the valley as his signature flower, everything from sheets to fine porcelain. A new collection of muguet-themed housewares was launched by Dior last year, and they are quite beautiful.

As my regular readers know, I truly love muguet fragrances. I struggle to grow them here in the South, as it really is too hot and humid here for them, but I have a few plants I have nursed along in dedicated planters on the shady edge of our front terrace, where I can keep them well-watered and mulched with the rich humus compost they love. Lily is very true to the natural scent of lilies-of-the-valley and it doesn’t smell soapy at all to my nose, unlike some LOTV fragrances. It doesn’t last more than a few hours, which is the norm for most muguet fragrances, especially in eau de toilette concentrations. While it lasts, though, it is very pretty. However, most of the prices you will see online for Lily are too high, considering that one can easily find lovely, newer, muguet fragrances that are more affordable, or at least fresh (see my “May Muguet Marathon” posts for some suggestions!).

For a lovely post on lily-of-the-valley scents, check out one of my favorite blogs, Bois de Jasmin. Its author, Victoria, mentions Dior’s Lily briefly in the comment section. She writes about muguet fragrances pretty regularly, as it is a favorite scent of hers. I know lily-of-the-valley scents can be polarizing; people tend to like them very much, as I do, or not at all. How do you feel about them?

My bottle of Lily, in front of my muguet

Perfume Chat Room, April 2

Perfume Chat Room, April 2

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, April 2, and it is Good Friday, for those who celebrate Easter. I love Easter! Today is a solemn day in the Christian church, but it is also the start of one of my favorite holiday weekends, during one of my favorite times of year. In my part of the US, we are enjoying a full outbreak of spring, with daffodils, tulips, and other bulbs blooming in profusion, flowering trees in full blossom, green leaves tipping the tree branches, and longer days of sunshine. The fact that this week has been unusually cool and wet is letting me make up for some lost time in planting seeds that prefer to germinate in colder temperatures. There’s always a silver lining! And today, while chillier than usual, is bright and sunny.

My lilies of the valley are getting ready to bloom outdoors, which is always an opportunity for me to compare muguet-centered fragrances with the real thing. I also have a potted Easter lily for indoors, and some forced hyacinths to bring inside, so my weekend will be filled with the scents of spring. Now I just have to decide which fragrances to wear myself! As many of you know, I lean strongly toward greens and florals, which work well for spring and Easter. I’m sure my perennial favorite, Ostara, will make an appearance this weekend.

I’m happy that all three of our kids will be home for the holiday; one has also invited a friend. Our church has set up for outdoor services, with groups of seats appropriately spaced, and other safety protocols. I’m looking forward to that; they did that last week for Palm Sunday, and it was very meaningful to be back onsite, even outside. I’ll cook the usual Easter Sunday feast, with roast lamb and spring asparagus plus other assorted side dishes. If you celebrate Easter, do you have any special plans?

PSA: Weekend Discount Code

PSA: Weekend Discount Code

Perfumista friends: Beautyhabit has a 20% off code this weekend for purchases of $100 and up, BHFF20, and they have a wide range of niche fragrances in stock, including some Nicolai, Parfums de Rosine, Serge Lutens, and others. Some were already on sale, and the code gives you an extra 20% off the sale price. The code is good until midnight PST on Sunday, July 26. Le Muguet de Rosine and Nicolai’s Week-End in Normandy are on their way to me now!

Perfume Chat Room, May 1

Perfume Chat Room, May 1

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is May 1, and it’s May Day! In past years, I have written a “May Muguet Marathon” series of posts Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, April 10

Perfume Chat Room, April 10

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is April 10, and it is Good Friday, as well as Passover. Easter may be my favorite holiday Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Inflorescence

May Muguet Marathon: Inflorescence

Not many lily of the valley fragrances have been launched in recent years, although they were very popular during most of the 20th century. Their very popularity during that era may have pushed them to the back seat in our own day, as many today associate the fragrance of muguet with older relatives, even grandmothers (I happen to think that smelling like an elegant grandmother is infinitely preferable to smelling like an insipid celebrity, but chacun a son gout!). It is even more rare for a niche brand to launch a muguet fragrance these days, one exception being By Kilian’s Kissing.

Byredo, however, launched a muguet-centered fragrance in 2013: Inflorescence.  The brand describes it thus: “A celebration of Spring’s early blooming flowers. A floral scent capturing the strength and delicacy of wild garden blossoms, as they reach their breathtaking beauty.” It is also described as having the following notes:

  • Top: Pink Freesia, Rose Petals
  • Heart: Lily of the Valley, Magnolia
  • Base: Fresh Jasmine

As The Candy Perfume Boy notes, Inflorescence has a very appealing combination of creamy petals with fresh, light, green-tinged floral notes. That jasmine base really lasts a long time — I sprayed some on a card last week in Liberty London’s famous fragrance department, and it still wafts strongly from its little white envelope, a full week later! And it’s not a standard long-lasting woody or musk note — it is still fresh, lemony jasmine with a creamy undertone. Inflorescence would be a standout for that alone, but there is much more to it. He found the opening a bit harsh; I did not. I got a nice burst of freesia, which I love, followed quickly by those pretty rose petals. The lily of the valley follows soon after and takes center stage; but the magnolia note also clearly presents itself.

Those white flowers merge seamlessly into each other and then into the jasmine base. Inflorescence is deceptive in that it gives the impression of being quite fragile and, one would assume, quite fleeting, but no. It is delicate but tenacious — like the so-called Confederate jasmine that festoons the brick wall on one side of my garden. It is a really lovely modern floral — not in the same league as some of the legends like Diorissimo, but a classic in the making on its own terms. It is modern in that it accomplishes its stated goal with relatively few notes, almost like the more minimalist approach of modern architecture or interior design. I wish the price were not so high, as that takes away much of its accessibility and thus its appeal. I won’t be forking out for a full bottle any time soon, but it is a gorgeous light floral and if you like those, I think you would be happy to try Inflorescence.

Do you have any favorite Byredo fragrances?

background bloom blooming blossom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

May Muguet Marathon: Fleur de Cristal

May Muguet Marathon: Fleur de Cristal

Welcome back to the May Muguet Marathon — I was away in London for a week or so and took a break from blogging, but had many perfume and scent adventures which I’ll recount this summer. Today’s lily of the valley is Fleur de Cristal, by Lalique, launched in 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rene Lalique, founder of the famed crystal maker. Lalique crystal is instantly recognizable, with its flowing Art Nouveau forms, inspired by nature and often featuring female figures, flowers, and animals. M. Lalique created many beautiful perfume bottles, including in collaboration with legendary French perfumer Francois Coty. One of them is the gorgeous “Clairefontaine” bottle, which depicts sprays of lily of the valley blossoms emerging from a crystal globe. (In fact, Jessica McClintock put out a limited edition perfume splash bottle of its eponymous fragrance that has a lily of the valley stopper inspired by the famous Lalique Clairefontaine bottle). I love Lalique crystal; maybe some day I will own one of their iconic perfume bottles! Many are available through online auctions and antique sellers. Lalique has also launched a number of well-received fragrances under the house’s own name, and most come in very beautiful bottles of the house’s own design.

Fleur de Cristal comes in its own striking bottle, a clear, heavy flask whose top is embedded internally with rings of single lily of the valley bells.

Ad for Lalique eau de parfum Fleur de Cristal with perfume bottle

Fleur de Cristal; image from http://www.lalique.com

It is an eau de parfum marked as having 69% alcohol by volume, an unusually low percentage for an EDP.  (Most EDP will show about 80% alchohol by volume). Although this doesn’t mean that the Fleur de Cristal EDP is thus 31% fragrance oil, which would make it an extrait de parfum, it does seem to show that there are additional non-fragrance contents, which I’m guessing may be fixatives to help with clarity and/or longevity. After all, if one is selling a fragrance with “cristal” in the name, one can’t have it turn cloudy! Also, Fleur de Cristal does seem to have unusually good longevity for a light floral fragrance. The other day, I applied a few sprays in the morning, did not reapply all day, and twelve hours later, my husband commented that he liked my fragrance although I could no longer smell it on myself.

Top notes are: jasmine, bergamot, pink pepper; heart notes: lily of the valley, stephanotis, ylang-ylang, carnation; base notes: sandalwood, cashmeran, amber, musk. The perfumer was Raphael Haury. Chant Wagner called it a “solar muguet” on her blog The Scented Salamander, and I would agree with that description. The opening is sunny and bright, thanks to the bergamot and jasmine, with a touch of green. I don’t smell the pink pepper, but it probably adds some rosiness to the opening and ties it nicely to the heart notes, which include carnation (another lightly spicy floral note). The lily of the valley emerges as shyly as the real flower does, peeking out from behind the opening notes and gradually coming into olfactory focus, supported by the other floral notes, especially the stephanotis. Fleur de Cristal reminds me a bit of Something Blue, launched only a few years later, and they have a number of notes in common. The only fruit note in Fleur de Cristal, however, is the bergamot in the opening; and overall, the impression it leaves is more flowery than Something Blue. It also lasts longer on my skin than Something Blue.

If you are wary of lily of the valley scents, this might suit you. It isn’t a soliflore or soapy at all, it is a light, fresh floral with a very pretty progression of gentle flower notes leading to a soft base. It is widely available online for reasonable prices, and I’ve seen it still for sale at Neiman Marcus. Have you tried this, or any other Lalique fragrances?

 

 

Lily of the Valley — The Perfumer’s Craft

In northern climates, the scent of Lily of the Valley is a harbinger of spring after the winter snow has melted. The lovely aroma from the small, white flowers has been sought after since the early days of perfumery. And yet, no essential oil of this flower is available, which is interesting considering the abundance […]

I’m re-blogging this excellent post about the chemistry of muguet fragrances, from the blog The Perfumer’s Craft:  Lily of the Valley — The Perfumer’s Craft

May Muguet Marathon: Woods of Windsor Lily of the Valley

Woods of Windsor’s Lily of the Valley is a true soliflore: it is meant to smell only like that one flower, although it uses a few notes to achieve that. Listed notes include white lily, mimosa leaf, and orange; followed by lily of the valley, geranium, and “May blossom”; with base notes of sandalwood and amber musk (which I believe refers to ambrette). Of course, “lily of the valley” accords are only possible by combining aromachemicals. This LOTV is quite strong on first application and a bit harsh. It smells very soapy, and it’s not a surprise that the same fragrance has been turned into a set of bath and body products too. The original Woods of Windsor company was acquired in 2016 by the company that also owns Yardley London, its former competitor.

It comes in an eau de toilette concentration, and this may be its saving grace: it quiets down pretty quickly to become a fresh greenish floral scent, identifiable as lily of the valley albeit synthetic-smelling. I find that it is best used as a layering partner with another fragrance that has more depth but could use a stronger muguet note; I tried that with Tom Ford’s White Suede, with happy results. I can’t say that I smell most of the listed notes separately; the opening stage is all lily of the valley and geranium leaves, to my nose, with a bit of lemon and maybe bergamot, which isn’t listed, not orange. I think the description would be more accurate if it just listed unspecified “citruses” among the top notes. And what, exactly, is “May blossom”? As it turns out, May blossom is a common phrase for hawthorn, which actually blossoms in either May or June in England.

Woods of Windsor’s version of lily of the valley isn’t unpleasant (after the first harsh minutes of its opening), but it isn’t special, either. It is a utilitarian muguet, better suited to the bath products in which it also appears, and the soap and dusting powder that were among its other formats (now discontinued, I think). I wouldn’t choose to wear it on its own as my primary fragrance, but it is a pleasant companion to layer with other scents.

Have you tried this, or any of the other Woods of Windsor fragrances?

May Muguet Marathon: Soap

May Muguet Marathon: Soap

If you have ever visited the South of France and its open marketplaces, you will know that there are usually several stands selling fragranced soaps, with scents such as lavender, rose, violet, mimosa, and muguet (lily of the valley). Lily of the valley-scented soap may seem redundant, as many people perceive the smell of real lilies of the valley as “soapy”, but this isn’t a coincidence: the smell of lilies of the valley, which has to be artificially re-created, has been so popular in non-perfume, or functional, fragrances for items like soap that in Western culture, at least, we tend to merge them in our minds. That overuse in functional fragrances has been blamed for the relative dearth of muguet fragrances among modern scents; while I tend to agree with that, I also think that the note became associated in many people’s minds with older female relatives, because it was so popular among personal scents about 60-100 years ago.

Luckily for me, I still love a good lily of the valley in most formats, and actually there have been some very interesting muguet fragrances released in recent years, such as Kissing, from By Kilian, and the 2016 Muguet from Guerlain. On my January trip to Nice, I wandered through the market in the old part of the city and saw many lovely muguet soaps, so of course I brought some home as gifts and kept one for myself.

I also own a set of Crabtree & Evelyn “Lily” soaps, which I think have been discontinued. That is unfortunate, because they smell remarkably like the flowers, even more so than my bar of Muguet soap from the market in Nice. Do you have any favorite floral soaps, that smell like lily of the valley or other floral scents?