Lavender Land

Snobbism, like crime, doesn’t pay.  If something works, and works well, why avoid it?

The answer is, you don’t, and the reason, as far as lavender in fine perfumery goes, is probably familiarity.  There are fields full of the plants all over Provence and you can’t suggest much exoticism with good old lavender, he’s been around for far too long.  So, if we posit that all the world of scent is like a corner bar, then lavender is the garrulous old regular.

He’s a very good raconteur, though.  Consider some of the classic narratives he’s told: Jicky (that’s a good one. I particularly like it when he gets to the lemon part) and Mouchoir de Monsieur (it’s the raunchier version, you know, but a good yarn, and who doesn’t appreciate stories set in New Orleans cat houses?) or the old fairy tale Pour un Homme (gets to me every time).

The reason for this, is the range the old boy has.  Lavender is a bad lad who’s been every place.  He’s been to the Isles below the Wind where he smells like wood and citrus fruits, but then he’s got his high chapparal plains rider side too.  He can handle the resinous dry air of the desert, and does in Patou Homme.  Then there’s his domestic side bounded by the kitchen with his old lady vanilla, and the bedroom with his girlfriend amber.

Put it another way, lavender is a hub material.  He knows everyone, he’s worked with everyone in the business.  He’s Kevin Bacon.  If you’ve got old lavender in your mix ,it’s not six degrees of separation, it’s only four.  Consider the case of Moment Supreme, which manages to leap from lavender to coca cola to roses and jasmine to vanilla in about two hours.  The transitions are extremely smooth, too.  Or take the case of another Patou, Ma Liberte, which goes from lavender to cognac to tobacco in a matter of an hour and a half.  See what I mean?

He’s also fathered a whole tribe of scents in the fougere category, starting with Fougere Royale (which has been re-issued, by the way).  His later progeny by his partner coumarin is vast and full of by blows which coumarin insists are his but of whose paternity he is doubtful – like Jazz, and Rive Gauche Pour Homme.  One of which he can be proud though, is Nicolai Pour Homme, a completely identifiable child of lavender, and related to Caron’s The Third Man, both perfectly respectable members of the lavender family.

If you genuinely like him, by himself and for himself, there are many soliflor choices, although IFRA restrictions on lavender may affect their authenticity.  The lavender to choose is the one that lets him sit down and begin one of his interesting anecdotes.

Personally, I’d take them with a grain of salt.

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2 Responses to Lavender Land

  1. Bryan Ross says:

    Lavender, being a member of the mint family, is indispensable (older incarnations of Pour un Homme showcase a mintier lavender – the current is a bit more herbal/caramelic). Love this post.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Glad there are a few other lavender lovers out there! I grow the stuff by the bushel in my garden, and dry it, and use it all over the house, but I also like lavender scents as you can see. Pour un Homme is an old fave of mine, though I also wear the discontinued Haute Provence of de Nicolai, which occupies a strange ground mid way between PuH and Mouchoir de Monsieur.

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