May Muguet Marathon: Meghan’s Bouquet

May Muguet Marathon: Meghan’s Bouquet

I took a short break from my May Muguet Marathon to travel to London — no, not to see the Queen or the recent royal wedding. But like many Americans, I followed the wedding hoopla with some interest and found myself surprisingly moved by the ceremony and service. While I am here this week, I am visiting some perfume meccas and will write about them soon. But today, we are continuing the theme of weddings and bridal bouquets that include lilies of the valley. They were one of several white flowers featured in Meghan Markle’s lovely bouquet, apparently as a way to honor Princess Diana, who had them in her own bridal bouquet.

Meghan Markle and her wedding bouquet of white flowers

Meghan and her bouquet; image from http://www.express.co.uk.

Town & Country magazine wrote a nice description of the bouquet, noting that, in addition to Princess Diana and Kate, now the Duchess of Cambridge, “other British royal brides who have incorporated the bloom in their bouquets are Princess Margaret in 1960, Princess Anne in 1973, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, when she wed Prince Charles in 2005.” All of the flowers for the recent royal wedding were stunning, and it makes them even sweeter to know that they were made into gift bouquets after the ceremony and sent to hospice patients and residents of women’s shelters in the area.

Flowers given to hospice patients

Wedding flowers donated to hospice patients; image from http://www.independent.co.uk

What scent might a bride wear while carrying a bouquet of lilies of the valley? I wrote a while ago about a Brides magazine article that paired fragrances with various bridal bouquets: May Muguet Marathon: Perfume/Bouquet Pairings. No one seems to know for sure what Meghan wore on her wedding day, but it is known that she favors Jo Malone scents such as Wild Bluebell and Wood Sage and Sea Salt as her everyday fragrances. Apparently, the British perfume house Floris, which has a royal warrant, has created a bespoke fragrance for her, according to Marie Claire magazine. It is meant to be unisex, with notes of bergamot and orange flower. It sounds delightful, and as sunny as the gorgeous weather the happy couple (and happy onlookers) enjoyed in Windsor last weekend.

I have a soft spot for wedding bouquets with lilies of the valley, as I carried them in my own bridal bouquet (and grew those particular blooms in my own garden). I think I also wore Diorissimo that day, as that was one of my two regular fragrances at that time (the other being Chanel No. 22) but can’t say for sure. No matter! My wedding day was fragranced with muguet, and that is a very happy memory for me. May the lilies of the valley in her bouquet also bring great happiness to Meghan and her Prince!

 

May Muguet Marathon: The Nuptial Bouquet

May Muguet Marathon: The Nuptial Bouquet

It seems fitting that there is a lily of the valley fragrance called The Nuptial Bouquet, given how often lilies of the valley appear in bridal bouquets. Atkinson’s fragrance by that name includes notes of lily of the valley, violet leaves, myrtle flower, sandalwood, and musk. It is supposed to refer to the flowers carried by Queen Victoria in her own bouquet at her wedding to Prince Albert. From the website:

A cherished bouquet of ardent Romance composed of the very blooms Queen Victoria carried down the wedding aisle to her beloved Albert. Hearkening back to a time when flowers, steeped in meaning, spoke volumes…
A fragrance for royal romance, a retro contemporary interpretation of Queen Victoria’s bridal bouquet: the green and white loveliness of lily of the Valley, violet leaves and exquisite myrtle flowers enhanced with delicate white musk and sandalwood.

It’s a lovely story, but I can’t find any reliable source that confirms Victoria carried lilies of the valley on her wedding day. In fact, although the inclusion of myrtle has taken on a life of its own as a royal tradition, that too may be a myth. While it is true that there are myrtle plants in royal gardens descended from one planted by Victoria, it seems that was NOT in her own bouquet but was from a gift to her by Prince Albert’s grandmother. Nevertheless, it is true that royal brides from the 19th century forward have had at least a sprig of myrtle in their own bouquets, including Queen Elizabeth.

In fact, since Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in 2011, and The Nuptial Bouquet was launched in 2013, I think its floral notes refer more directly to Kate’s bouquet, not Victoria’s. And we DO know that Kate carried lilies of the valley.

Kate Middleton's wedding bouquet of lilies of the valley.

Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet; image from http://www.TheKnotNews.com

The Nuptial Bouquet is a very lovely muguet fragrance. It opens as a light, green, lemony muguet, the green also coming from the note of violet leaves, which lend a certain crisp freshness. It is very much a bouquet of spring flowers, without being overly sweet. Its floral notes don’t last terribly long, but they do last for a while, and the drydown, which is a green-tinged musky sandalwood, lasts a long time as a skin scent.The myrtle note adds an herbal aroma that I find very appealing. I prefer aromatic florals over fruit florals; this is not a full-on aromatic floral, but it is definitely not “fruity”. It is a feminine floral, light and fresh, with a sheer, floating airiness that reminds me of a bridal veil.

Speaking of veils, wasn’t Kate’s veil gorgeous? As we have another royal wedding coming up next weekend, let’s bask for a moment in the beauty and artistry of the craftspeople whose work will be on display. Kate’s veil was of silk tulle, embroidered by hand with garlands of flowers by the Royal School of Needlework. I was able to see the veil, and her dress, and other accessories, when they were on display at Buckingham Palace after the wedding, and they were simply beautiful. My only disappointment was that I wish the embroidered flowers had included lilies of the valley, which I did not see in the garlands, as there are many truly lovely lace and embroidery patterns for lily of the valley blossoms.

Detail of vintage lily of the valley lace pattern

Lily of the valley lace; image from http://www.sovintagelinensnlace.com.

A minor matter! If a bride wants the effect of a sheer, lacy, floating lily of the valley on her wedding day, she  might be very pleased with The Nuptial Bouquet. I am!

May Muguet Marathon: Queen

May Muguet Marathon: Queen

For such a modest looking plant, lily of the valley keeps some surprises up its green sleeves. For one thing, the power of its fragrance is surprising; its flowers are so small, often partly hidden behind its upright green leaves, that one wouldn’t necessarily expect them to send out such a strong scent. But they do, and it can waft across an entire garden, surprising the casual visitor with its presence, and not necessarily revealing its source without a search. The “pips” of the plant are unprepossessing; they look like a small bundle of tangled roots topped by a growing tip. One plants them in the faith that a green plant will emerge — and when it does emerge in the spring, it can do so overnight.

Town & Country magazine published some surprising facts about lilies of the valley a couple of years ago: 13 Things You Didn’t Know About Lily of the Valley. With another royal wedding in the offing this month, it is fun to note how many royal brides have carried lilies of the valley in their wedding bouquets: Queen Victoria, Princess Astrid of Sweden, Grace Kelly, and Kate Middleton, among others.

But here is the most surprising thing I learned from the Town & Country article: Freddie Mercury and Queen wrote and recorded a song titled “Lily of the Valley”! Who knew?

And there is a powerful story behind the song. Guitarist Brian May, a founder of Queen, told a British music magazine in 1999 (several years after Freddie Mercury’s death from AIDS): “Freddie’s stuff was so heavily cloaked, lyrically… But you could find out, just from little insights, that a lot of his private thoughts were in there, although a lot of the more meaningful stuff was not very accessible. Lily of the Valley was utterly heartfelt. It’s about looking at his girlfriend and realising that his body needed to be somewhere else. It’s a great piece of art, but it’s the last song that would ever be a hit.”

According to Wikipedia, that girlfriend was Mary Austin, to whom May had introduced him and with whom Mercury had a long live-in relationship in the early 1970s, until he began an affair with a male executive in the music industry.

Mercury told Austin of his sexuality, which ended their romantic relationship.[59][78] Mercury moved out of the flat they shared, into 12 Stafford Terrace in Kensington and bought Austin a place of her own nearby.[59] They remained close friends through the years, with Mercury often referring to her as his only true friend. In a 1985 interview, Mercury said of Austin, “All my lovers asked me why they couldn’t replace Mary [Austin], but it’s simply impossible. The only friend I’ve got is Mary, and I don’t want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that’s enough for me.”[79] He also wrote several songs about Austin, the most notable of which is “Love of My Life“. Mercury’s final home, Garden Lodge, 1 Logan Place, a twenty-eight room Georgian mansion in Kensington set in a quarter-acre manicured garden surrounded by a high brick wall, had been picked out by Austin.[80] In his will, Mercury left his London home to Austin, rather than his partner Jim Hutton, saying to her, “You would have been my wife, and it would have been yours anyway.”[81] Mercury was also the godfather of Austin’s oldest son, Richard.[60]

The song “Lily of the Valley” has been recorded by other artists. Why the title “Lily of the Valley”? No one knows for sure, but one wonders if Mercury had in mind one of several other names for the flower, Mary’s Tears. Regardless, this surprising flower with its secrets seems like an appropriate metaphor for the dilemma of a sensitive, loving man, realizing what his true orientation was and struggling with how to tell a woman he clearly loved deeply Although at one point he had proposed marriage to Mary, they never married because he was honest with her about his sexuality. The flowers of lily of the valley seem to have had ongoing meaning to him; when he and actress Jane Seymour had a pretend “wedding” at Royal Albert Hall at the fundraiser Fashion Aid, she wore lilies of the valley in her wreath of flowers, like so many other queens and queens-to-be.

Queen's Freddie Mercury and Jane Seymour at Fashion Aid, 1985.

Freddie Mercury and Jane Seymour at Fashion Aid, 1985.

Featured image: Freddie Mercury and actress Jane Seymour, pretend wedding at Fashion Aid in 1985; photo from http://www.imgur.com.

Swoon.

Close your eyes and imagine… You walk inside a castle and are drawn to a doorway by a lovely scent that gets stronger with each step. You enter the room. Fragrance envelops you — a complex, rose scent with hints of citrus and spice, raspberry and vanilla. A field of David Austin Wedding Roses —…

via Experience David Austin Roses With All Your Senses, at Fleuramour — DAVID AUSTIN ROSES USA

Wedding Bouquets

A bridal bouquet is a fashion accessory that “should accent the dress,” not obscure it,” says floral designer Lorraine Cooper, AIFD, in the September issue of Flowers& magazine. The article, aptly titled “It’s All About the Dress,” includes 12 bouquets she created to complement six popular wedding gown silhouettes — all magnificently photographed by Ron…

via It’s All About the Dress — DAVID AUSTIN ROSES USA