Perfume Chat Room, September 9

Perfume Chat Room, September 9

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, September 9, and the news is full of yesterday’s passing of Queen Elizabeth II, at the age of 96. There are many other places to debate the future of the monarchy, the British Empire’s impact, etc. This is not that place, as I know how widely opinions vary on those subjects. Today, I am focusing on Her late Majesty as a unique human being, who was born to privilege but also to lifelong service, including her unexpected ascension to the throne at the age of 25. At her birth, she was not expected to become the monarch but was thrust into the role of royal heir when her uncle abdicated, leaving her father to become King. He and her mother were models of duty and service — before, during and after World War II — and the young Elizabeth absorbed those lessons fully, performing official duties from her childhood until two days before her death, when she welcomed and appointed the UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Extraordinary. (Ok, one political side note: I’m glad she lived long enough to see the changes in leadership in the USA and the UK, given the markedly poor manners of the two former leaders).

Full disclosure: I was raised by an English mother who, although she chose to leave England and its post-war constraints when she herself was in her early 20s, kept a high regard for Queen Elizabeth, her contemporary, and even identified with her as the older of two sisters, engrained with that sense of responsibility and duty. Her younger sister, my late aunt, had a personality more like Princess Margaret’s, but they were devoted to each other until my aunt’s early death from cancer in her 40s.

Bringing it back to fragrance, I’ve read that Queen Elizabeth’s favorite fragrances were Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue and Floris’ White Rose. I haven’t tried the latter, but I have and love L’Heure Bleue. I also have a new fragrance that had already reminded me of Elizabeth, and will now be forever linked to her in my mind: Miller Harris’ Violet Ida. I received it earlier this month as a birthday gift, and it is lovely! As regular readers here know, Miller Harris is an English brand founded by London perfumer Lyn Harris. Violet Ida is actually based on iris and heliotrope, with top notes of bergamot and carrot seed, and base notes of vanilla and amber. It was inspired by the heroine of an English novel, whose name was Ida, whom the Miller Harris says “represents goodness, tenacity and morality.” That does seem appropriate for the late Queen as a person; and the pale violet color of Violet Ida‘s bottle evokes one of the pastel shades she favored in her public outfits.

Queen Elizabeth II in lavender
Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It always made me foolishly happy that the Queen had such a lovely meeting with the late rosarian David Austin, the year they both turned 90, at the Chelsea Flower Show and the display of his gorgeous English Roses, my favorites. I will think of this great lady when I wear Violet Ida. Rest in peace, Elizabeth, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Queen Elizabeth II and David Austin at the Chelsea Flower Show
May Melange Marathon: Cristalle

May Melange Marathon: Cristalle

Chanel’s Cristalle came to me later in life; my earliest Chanel “love” (for myself) was No.22, which I still love and wear, then No.19, also still a strong love and in regular rotation on my skin. I’m not sure why it took me so long to discover Cristalle; I probably thought my need for a green Chanel was fully met by No.19. Regardless, I first tried Cristalle a few years ago, and yes, it’s love. I wear Cristalle on days when I need a good snap of green but No. 19 feels like overkill. Both were created by perfumer Henri Robert: No. 19 in 1970, and Cristalle in 1974. (I refer to the eau de toilette; Jacques Polge created an eau de parfum version for Chanel twenty years later).

The two share some notes. Cristalle‘s notes are: Top notes — Sicilian Lemon and Bergamot; middle notes — Hyacinth, Brazilian Rosewood, Honeysuckle and Jasmine; base notes — Oakmoss and Vetiver. No.19‘s notes are: Top notes of Galbanum, Hyacinth, Bergamot and Neroli; middle notes of iris, Orris Root, Rose, Lily-of-the-Valley, Narcissus, Jasmine and Ylang-Ylang; base notes of Oakmoss, Vetiver, Leather, Cedar, Musk and Sandalwood. No.19 was launched the year before Coco Chanel died; it seems to be the last fragrance that she personally approved.

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:

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