May Muguet Marathon: Something Blue

May Muguet Marathon: Something Blue

Although I really enjoy niche perfumes, and some pricey lines like Hermes, Chanel, Penhaligons, Jo Malone, etc., it’s wonderful to find and be able to recommend an affordable but pleasing fragrance — a bargain beauty, if you will. Oscar de la Renta’s Something Blue is one such beauty. It is readily available at discount stores and online for less than $20 for 100 ml, sometimes in a set with body lotion. Its name comes from the tradition of a bride wearing “something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue” on her wedding day, for good luck. The fragrance is meant to suggest exactly that: a sunny day smiling down on a beautiful young woman dressed in white.

Ad and bottle for Something Blue fragrance by Oscar de la Renta, with model in wedding dress

Oscar de la Renta’s Something Blue; image from http://www.oscardelarenta.com

The bottle, by the way, is very pretty and appealing. It has a nice weight in the hand, and the blue marblized cap is a delicate shade of sky blue with wisps of white across it like light clouds. The silver band around the neck, with the designer’s name, is meant to look like a wedding band, and it’s a nice touch. Something Blue was launched in 2013, the year before M. de la Renta died, and there are some delightful photos of him at its launch party:

Oscar+de+la+Renta+Something+Blue+Launches+z8vbBq8rPbEl

Designer Oscar de la Renta with his new fragrance

What does it smell like? The opening is based on notes of linden blossom, neroli, bergamot and mandarin. The mandarin offers sweetness, while the bergamot adds some tart greenness; this young lady is tender but spirited. Linden blossom and neroli evoke sunshine and summertime; not summertime at the beach, but a summertime garden wedding. More floral notes arrive, including lily of the valley (a traditional wedding bouquet flower), stephanotis (another bouquet favorite), and narcissus, with a touch of litchi to keep things sweet.  Of those notes, lily of the valley is most prominent, but this is not a muguet soliflore. The linden blossom continues to waft through the heart stage of the fragrance, and there is a nice balance between those two flowers.

The few fruity notes here are very well deployed to lift and sweeten the fragrance without being too sugary. The citruses provide the airiness and sunshine at the start to set the overall impression, while the litchi keeps the heart stage more sweet and less green than it might otherwise have been. I wouldn’t call this a “fruity floral”, it is mostly a light floral, but the fruit notes are important supporting players in Something Blue; they have been used masterfully, which is no surprise since the perfumers who created it were Ann Gottlieb and Frank Voelkl of Firmenich. There is no sense of “white flower” bomb, despite the presence of stephanotis and narcissus.

The final stage includes base notes of musk, vanilla, ambrette seed, ambergris and cashmere wood (which I assume means Cashmeran, especially as that base note seems to outlast the others after several hours). It is soft and warm, like glowing skin or the late afternoon’s golden sun. Here is the clever part: the progression of Something Blue emulates the unfolding of a summer garden wedding. The sunny, summery opening notes set the stage: the garden. The entrance of the lily of the valley and stephanotis notes evokes the entrance of the bride, bearing her bouquet of pure, white, virginal flowers. The gradual drydown to the warm golden notes of the base gives the impression of a late afternoon in the same garden, after the vows have been spoken, the ceremony performed, the refreshments had, the dances danced, the bride and groom departed for their honeymoon. Perhaps this is the hour when the few family members lingering can take a peaceful stroll through the garden, having said goodbye to their guests — it isn’t yet sunset, but the slanting rays of golden sun tell us that the day’s festivities are happily concluded, and it is time for quiet.

I have given a bottle of Something Blue to a young friend as one of her gifts at her bridal shower. She later told me that she did indeed wear it on her wedding day, and she likes it so much that she’s on her second or third bottle! A beauty indeed — both bride and fragrance.

Have you tried any of the many fragrances from Oscar de la Renta? What did you think?  I also like another fragrance from his house that features lily of the valley: Live in Love. Do you have any favorites from his brand?

 

May Muguet Marathon: Live in Love

May Muguet Marathon: Live in Love

Another affordable muguet-focused fragrance comes from Oscar de la Renta: Live in Love. Launched in 2011, it was created by Jean-Marc Chaillan, Carlos Benaim, and Ann Gottlieb, according to Fragrantica. Top notes are hyacinth, galbanum, bergamot, lily-of-the-valley and orchid; middle notes are jasmine, african orange flower and rose; base notes are sandalwood, virginia cedar, woodsy notes, amber and musk.

Racked published an interview with M. de la Renta when this fragrance was launched:

… the notes in the fragrance were inspired by his own vast garden, which includes a sparkling ginger orchid that was flown in from France. De la Renta, if you didn’t know, feels very passionate about flowers, particularly their scents: “I think that a flower that doesn’t smell is like a woman with no fragrance. For example, one flower that they say is an unbelievable flower is the camellia; it’s a shame that it doesn’t smell. It’s such a beautiful flower but it has no scent. I wonder why Chanel decided to use camellia.”

The bottle itself is very pretty, eight-sided with a sectioned top. According to the Racked interview, the name came from a tattoo that M. de la Renta glimpsed on the arm of one of his colleagues during the creation of Live in Love; he was so intrigued by the phrase that he made it his new fragrance’s name.

The opening isn’t particularly reminiscent of lily of the valley, though it is very pleasant: bright bergamot that morphs into a light, fresh floral. As it evolves, the fragrance actually gets a bit greener than that very first stage when the galbanum emerges. Fragrantica readers find the lily of the valley and hyacinth notes most prominent, but I don’t. Most of what I smell is the African orange flower. Again, very pleasant, but not muguet! As it continues to dry down, it continues to be a fresh, pleasant, light floral, but not one where it is easy to pick out specific notes. Live in Love would be a good everyday office scent, especially in spring or summer, but if you’re looking for a true muguet-centric fragrance, it will disappoint you.