National Fragrance Week: Jo Loves

National Fragrance Week: Jo Loves

Since National Fragrance Week is a British thing, and I’m not in the UK, I’m going to write about some of the British fragrance houses I have come to know and love. First up: Jo Loves. I had the pleasure of visiting the Jo Loves boutique in London a year and a half ago, and what a delight it was!

Jo Loves fragrance boutique on Elizabeth Street in London

Jo Loves

I came home with the “Discovery Gift Experience”, a discovery of all the line’s fragrances at that time and a gift certificate for one of them, my choice. I was able to narrow down my pick to one of these: Red Truffle 21, No. 42 The Flower Shop, and White Rose and Lemon Leaves. I also liked Fresh Sweet Peas, but it felt a little young for me — better suited to one of my young adult daughters. I ended up getting No. 42 The  Flower Shop, a lively green floral, with my gift certificate, and recently found White Rose and Lemon Leaves on an auction site for a very reasonable price. I love them both!

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Jo Loves

Both scents are the kind of fresh florals I love. No. 42 is very green, also a favorite theme of mine, and smells very like a florist’s refrigerated storage area. White Rose is a fresh, citrusy rose that almost photorealistically captures the light but strong scent of a fresh white rose. It lasts a long time, too, still discernible on my wrist after 13 hours and counting. I really enjoy the liveliness and cheerful optimism of both scents; they capture the air of spring and early summer, when everything is bursting into new, fragrant bloom and various garden woes haven’t yet taken hold.

We gardeners are eternal optimists; we think that this is the year when the powdery mildew will spare our roses, when sudden storms won’t strip the trees of their blossoms, when insects will magically pass over our borders and feast on someone else’s flowers. Alas, it is never quite THAT year in our gardens, and yet we fool ourselves every spring into believing this might be the one. That is the kind of cheerfulness and optimism that these two fragrances capture.

Have you tried any of the Jo Loves line? What did you think?

May Muguet Marathon: Diorissimo

May Muguet Marathon: Diorissimo

Today is the last day of May, so it’s time to address the most legendary muguet fragrance of all: Diorissimo. So many words have been published trying to describe Diorissimo in its many forms and reformulations! CaFleureBon has a wonderful short article by perfumer Michel Roudnitska, son of the legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska who created Diorissimo for Christian Dior. It includes his memory of the large patch of lilies of the valley his father planted in order to study and capture their fragrance.

There are many discussions of Diorissimo on various notable perfume blogs and websites, listed here: Now Smell ThisBois de JasminThe Black NarcissusThe Perfume ExpertPerfume-Smellin’ ThingsThe Candy Perfume BoyThe Perfumed DandyThe Non-Blonde , Undina’s Looking GlassAustralian Perfume Junkies, and even perfumer Ayala Moriel at Smelly Blog. These people are very knowledgeable, so please read their insights!

I own a few versions of it: a vintage eau de cologne in the tall, ribbed bottle; a mini flask of eau de toilette from a “Dior Voyage” set that includes Tendre Poison, so it must date after 1994 but before Tendre Poison was discontinued by 2010; a 2013 bottle of the eau de toilette; and a 7.5 ml flask of the parfum from December 2010. (For dating fragrances or cosmetics, try CheckCosmetic.net if you have the batch number; for dating Dior perfumes, read this helpful post by Raiders of the Lost Scent, and for dating Diorissimo by bottle, go to Perfume Shrine; these are all really helpful if you decide to try to buy a vintage bottle). Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Guerlain Muguet 2016

May Muguet Marathon: Guerlain Muguet 2016

Deep breath. I am not an experienced perfumista and I’m not sure I can do justice to this new Guerlain, but I will do my best. The new Guerlain Muguet 2016 is an entirely new eau de toilette by Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, Thierry Wasser. It builds on the tradition, begun in 2006, of Guerlain releasing its 1998 formulation of Guerlain Muguet every year in a different limited edition bottle on May 1, the day when traditionally the French present bunches of lilies of the valley to friends and loved ones as a “porte-bonheur”, a good luck token or “bringer of happiness.” So to start, I defer to “Monsieur Guerlain”, the longtime blogger and Guerlain aficonado, to describe Guerlain’s tradition: Muguet.

As you can see, the limited edition bottles are all beautiful, including this most recent one, which is a crystal bottle encased in silver-plated filigree, designed by the Parisian jewelers Ambre & Louise and influenced by the Art Nouveau master Alphonse Mucha. I saw the actual bottle at Neiman Marcus on May 1 this year, which I visited for the express purpose of trying this new Muguet. Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Demeter Lily of the Valley

May Muguet Marathon: Demeter Lily of the Valley

And now for something completely (okay, not COMPLETELY) different. From the heights of expensive perfumery and Muguet Porcelaineto 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

May Muguet Marathon: Muguet Porcelaine

May Muguet Marathon: Muguet Porcelaine

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

May Muguet Marathon: Muguet Fleuri

May Muguet Marathon: Muguet Fleuri

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.

Lily of the Valley leaves

Lily of the Valley leaves; photo from Verdure

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

May Muguet Marathon: Dewy Lily of the Valley and Star Anise

May Muguet Marathon: Dewy Lily of the Valley and Star Anise

Wow, that’s a long name! Dewy Lily of the Valley and Star Anise from Molton Brown is one of their new eaux de toilette and also the fragrance of a whole new line of scented products. I stumbled across it as I was leaving Neiman Marcus on May 1, having gone there for the express and sole purpose of sniffing the new Guerlain Muguet 2016, released on that date  (which I will review before the end of my May Muguet Marathon!). On my way out of the store, I passed a Molton Brown in-store boutique and stopped out of curiosity. Lo and behold, another new muguet!

Molton Brown's new line of Dewy Lily of the Valley and Star Anise fragrances

Molton Brown’s new line of Dewy Lily of the Valley and Star Anise fragrances

It even comes with its own charming video that explains some of the inspiration for the scent: Dewy Lily of the Valley and Star Anise, primarily the annual “Furry Dance” on Flora Day in Helston, Cornwall. Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Annick Goutal’s Le Muguet

May Muguet Marathon: Annick Goutal’s Le Muguet

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.

Annick Goutal soliflore perfume bottles including Le Muguet.

Annick Goutal Soliflores; photo from http://www.nstperfume.com

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

May Muguet Marathon: Coty Muguet des Bois

May Muguet Marathon: Coty Muguet des Bois

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!

Coty bottle of MdB

Modern bottle of Coty Muguet des Bois; photo from http://www.basenotes.net.

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”.

Ad for Coty Muguet des Bois perfume, 1942.

Coty Muguet des Bois, 1942.

Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Caron Muguet du Bonheur

May Muguet Marathon: Caron Muguet du Bonheur

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!

Caron Galuchat perfume bottles

Caron perfumes in limited edition Galuchat bottles.

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.

Green Galuchat perfume bottle with Caron's Muguet du Bonheur eau de parfum

Caron Muguet du Bonheur, in Galuchat bottle. Photo: http://www.beauty-cosmos.com

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