Imbibed Violets

yuckMy very first perfume was a violet scent.  It was a present from my father  for my seventh birthday, a green tinted liquid that came in a little bottle with a purple velvet ribbon around the neck.

I don’t actually recall that much about it besides the color and the fact that I put the bottle on my dressing table as a sort of trophy.  The dressing table was a rickety affair salvaged from my Grandmother’s house, and crowded with a changing cast of stuffed animals. Some short time after I received the perfume, my little sister paid it the ultimate toddler accolade.

She drank it.

Poison Control was called, my sister was given soap flakes, I think, or possibly ipecac, in order to throw up. Which eventually she did, and the household breathed a sigh of relief.  All except for me.  My bottle was confiscated by mother, who probably figured that she wouldn’t be two-time lucky, and I got no more perfume until I bamboozled my brother into a small bottle of L’Air du Temps some ten years later.

Some introduction to the world of perfume, isn’t it?  I recall observing at the time that Mom hadn’t gotten rid of her Tabu, and that maybe the baby would drink that; but then, no toddler in its right mind would have drunk Tabu.  My sister, when queried about this episode, has no direct memory of it, but she doesn’t like the smell of violet perfume to this day.

The affair of the swilled perfume did influence me as well, though.  I realize that I very seldom wear violet perfumes.  It’s not that I don’t like them, but somehow they never seem like a good idea. My short roster includes Caron’s Violette Precieuse, (the earlier formula), a bottle of de Nicolai’s Violette in Love, and – to stretch a point – the rose violet formula of Ineke’s Briar Rose.

Of these my favorite hands down was the original Violette Precieuse. I wore it for a couple of years and know the smell so well that I will wing the notes:  it started with fresh violets with a soft green note, probably violet leaf, continued on to candied violets, and finally ended with what smelled like violets and myrrh.

That perfume was nothing to do with the violet/green formula later released by Caron in a square bottle, a doppelganger of L’Artisan’s Violette Verte.  The original was a violet gourmand, and I  will not smell anything like it soon again.  If it reminded me of anything, it was the formula of Attrappe Coeur, which I also owned, but wore less, and liked less.

Then there is Violette in Love.  This is also a violet gourmand, but the gourmand part depends on the different shades of purple you get from violet and black currants.  Violette in Love was largely a violet cassis perfume with the faintest trace of a good red wine in the mix.  It was very nice, but never held your attention as well as the Violette Precieuse did.  Ineke’s Briar Rose is a pretty lipstick scent, with a genuine and more violet dominated dry down.

If I could revisit any of them, I would do the VP again like a shot, and forget about all other violet perfumes.  But Caron no longer has it on the roster.  There is always, however, N’Aimez Que Moi, and Caron has a tendency to re-release old formulas without much notice.  So perhaps I will have to settle for that, while the slow cycle of fashion in scent turns.

In the meantime, it is a relief that my own daughter no longer looks upon perfume as something to drink.

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10 thoughts on “Imbibed Violets

  1. Loved the story! I don’t really have much violet centric fragrance in my collection except Cartier Essence d’Orange and the violets fall a bit flat in that, I love it for the orange fizz and soft fuzzy dry down.
    Portia xx

    • Cartier’s Essence d’Orange is one I haven’t smelled, violets have been making kind of a comeback with all those Balenciagas lately. I like the second one better than the first. What did you think of those?

  2. Are you a fan of Aimez-Moi? (Can’t remember if you mentioned that in the past). I also like the rose-violet pairing of YSL’s Paris.

    • Aimez Moi is a perfume I’ve never really persisted with. It smells like something that it takes time to get to know, and so far haven’t put in the time. But I like other Caron violets, and I liked Eau de Reglisse, so logically should try Aimez Moi again.

      Paris-yes. It’s one of my Mother in Law’s perfumes and is beautiful on her. Actually, it’s beautiful on just about everyone.

  3. Wow, what a tipple that must have been! The only beverage horror story in my family involved three-year-old me, my older sister, a toy tea set, an unsupervised bottle of Clorox bleach, and the statement (made by one of us to our unsuspecting mother) “Boy that lemonade tasted REAL FUNNY!” On the advice of Poison Control, we were each forced to drink about a gallon of milk, which I could not bear to touch for about two decades afterward.

    • Ouch! A whole gallon just on the suspicion of a little Clorox? Don’t blame you for being off the milk for a decade or so.

      By contrast with bleach though, my sister’s tossing back toxins seems kinda tame.

  4. A true classic! Puts me in mind of the high school acquaintance who would not go out on a date without gargling L’Air du Temps first.

  5. For some reason, Cuban mothers douse their children’s hair with violet water (or they did – who knows if they still do!) and to this day, I love the smell of violets and violet colognes. It NEVER occurred to me to drink perfume, but as a toddler, I was fond of pouring entire bottles over myself which led to my mother hiding her perfume (she was partial to Miss Dior).

    • This is unbelievably charming. Violet water on the hair. So much nicer than the chamomile I poured on my girl.

      And it’s entirely sensible to pour bottles of scent over yourself if you are a little girl, because that’s what your mother does! Wonder if this trait will turn up in the next generation of your family?

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