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:

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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: 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!

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

Expanding the Horizons of Floral Design

Expanding the Horizons of Floral Design

From David Austin Roses USA and Florabundance — just beautiful. Click below to see the gorgeous, imaginative wedding flower arrangements.

Source: Expanding the Horizons of Floral Design