Lilies of the Valley and Strong Women

Diorissimo advert

Diorissimo advert

It seems appropriate to quote Nancy Reagan now.  She is credited with observing that women were like tea bags, you could never tell how strong one was until she got into hot water. Some women are so strong, or at any rate their personalities are so strong, that you don’t need the hot water at all and can sun brew them.

Such was the case with my own mother whose personality was of the expansive sort, and I’ve known plenty of women since who were larger than life.  I’m speaking of the personality here mind you, not the character.  Character is different. Largely self constructed a structure that goes up with labor over decades and has little to do with personality. Put it this way, personality you are born with, character you make yourself, it’s akin to the difference between beauty and style.

Anyway this post may get me into some hot water myself for the simple reason that is an unscientific observation of mine over time that the sort of woman who adores lily of the valley and wears it as a signature is almost always possessed of a strong personality. Codswallop?  Possibly, but pop psychologists have always tried to find correlations between scents and their wearers.

More Diorissimo advertising

More Diorissimo advertising

“Psychologists have studied the links between characters and odors, “write Elizabeth Barille and Catherine Laroze, in The Book of Perfume,”and from their findings it appears that fresh, floral notes with immediate charm, such as Christian Dior’s Diorissimo, appeal to extrovert, audacious personalities…”  Hm, well, let’s just say that I had noticed this myself over a number of years, and wondered about the link.

My Mother began by wearing Tabu which was something I remember from earliest childhood and not happily.  I liked lots of things about my mother but not the way she smelled.  She was not as addicted as a friend of my Mother in Law’s from Pittsburgh who craved Tabu so much that literally her whole house reeked of it (she sprayed it on curtains and lamps as well as herself evidently).  For the record my Mother never sprayed anything on a light bulb, but she did like her Tabu and my Father made repeated efforts to wean her off it. Fidji as I recall and Arpege (which he liked because he liked anything with  a smidge of vanilla, and I guess she didn’t) finally someone introduced her to Diorissimo.

Instant hit with her and I thought it was wonderful, but like her, expansive.  You could always tell when my mother was at home because you could smell Diorissimo and as my Hub put it, “The house hums.”

Double Lilies of the Valley

Double Lilies of the Valley

She was not the only strong personality I’ve known who wore it, teachers, the odd neighbor and a relative, all of them quite strong personalities wore either Diorissimo, or in one case the Caron Muguet de Bonheur.  What is it about Lilies of the Valley?  I can’t think.  In the garden they  appear angelic and smell like heaven but have root systems like steel wool and are the devil to dig out or move.  This probably accounts for the respectful not to say, distant relationship I’ve had with Lilies of the Valley all these years.  I don’t grow them (though I should) and when it comes right down to it, and we’re talking about the evening air of May, I prefer Lilac which is maybe a tad more nostalgic and a bit less bracing.

Anyway I don’t seem to have the stuff that makes a Diorissimo wearer.  The closest I could ever come was a strange old green perfume of de Nicolai’s called Eclipse which was basil and lilies of the valley and licorice, not at all in the Diorissimo mode.  Could you ever wear Lilies of the Valley,or did someone you know?  I wonder if the correlation holds?

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19 thoughts on “Lilies of the Valley and Strong Women

  1. That is an interesting theory all right, but the one person I know for whom Diorissimo was a signature scent for a long time was very gentle and fey, which I thought was nicely matched to the scent itself, rather than a contrast. But as a market researcher, I readily admit this is a small and statistically insignificant sample, hehe.

    1. Now you see, this is what Diorissimo users should be, soft spoken folk who tend to stay in the background. Sort of Luna Lovegood people (if you are proficient in Harry Potter characters.)

      Obviously this hasn’t been my experience, but it’s nice to know one Diorissimo wearer is gentle.

    1. Eleanor Roosevelt seems like an altogether more likely source for the tea bag quote. It’s such a good line that i can imagine a fair number of people have used it over the years, and only one of several was Nancy.
      It’s only beginning to seem like Spring here, periwinkles check, witchhazels check, and snowdrops present and accounted for, but as yet nary a daffodil. This will all change overnight and then Diorissimo will be perfect!

  2. An interesting theory this. Like Vanessa I’ve only known rather gentle personalities to wear Diorissimo, but the opposites attract theory but applied to personality rather than character is good. I suppose that’s why one often can’t tell what people will like perfume wise; do they choose a fragrance to suit their personality or their character, or perhaps something else intirely?

    1. Maybe if the Id’s in charge the personality gets to choose, an example being Homer Simpson buying Eau de Donut on impulse, whereas if the Ego were in the driving seat poor Homer would be stuck with Regime Pour Homme 🙂

    2. Yes, a complex question. Do people choose perfume to complement their personalities, or to play around with different – temporary – personas and identities (like dressing up)?

      Do introverts choose extroverted perfumes? Do people who dress quietly choose extravagant perfumes as an intangible accessory? (I do, sometimes.)

      If so, maybe the strong women will choose a quiet perfume deliberately. They don’t need confidence boosters … ?

      1. Massimo Ferragamo is quoted as saying that a fragrance should make you feel more yourself. It’s a nice idea but there are times when I think it’s useful to feel less yourself , a bit braver or more sexy or whatever. Or to use a perfume as an accessory as you say you sometimes do.

        In my Mother’s case I think it was pure id buying and wearing. Maybe that’s the most common kind? Impulse purchasing?

        1. I reckon it is, especially these days. ‘Oh that’s nice … !’ is how a lot of people make a judgement about perfume. I wonder if SAs are still trained to encourage people to go away for an hour to let the perfume develop. The better ones are, I’m sure.

          1. Only Neiman’s did that in Jersey where I lived. They had sense those SAs, and of course a good deal of their inventory was expensive, so impulse buying was seldom a good idea!

  3. I like your theory.
    I consider myself a strong woman and I like Diorissimo, own it and wear from time to time (I thought of wearing it today but then decided that No 19 was a “more green” scent for the occasion), but I’ve never had it as a signature scent. But the only woman in my life who did wear it as a signature scent (my best friend), is an extremely strong woman – though I remember that she thought that Diorissimo was very tender and “girlish” and stopped wearing it once she “grew up.”

    1. You’re confirming my theory here and I can’t help but wonder what your very strong minded friend wore after she was “grown up” because that would be interesting!

      My Mom stayed with Diorissimo to the end though I did get some Muguet de Bonheur for her, it just wasn’t the same though…

      1. My friend still lives in Ukraine where perfumes are both much less available and much less affordable so for a long time she wore perfumes I wouldn’t really know. But I started working on her perfume choices and the last report from her was: a bottle of Lady Vengeance just got its way into her perfume wardrobe.

        1. Lady Vengeance sounds perfect for a a strong person and I’d have said Chanel No 19 as well, though I don’t buy into the “Ice Goddess” reputation. NO 19 simply says you mean business and respect yourself.

  4. This was an excellent read. Mums are so fraught on every angle. Mum wasn’t a LotV wearer but the bathrooms had Lily of the Valley deodorisers all through our childhoods so sometimes the fragrances that include it can have bi-polar reactions. I love it as a scent and wear a couple of LotVs including Diorissimo, Muguet des Bois and a new Aussie fragrance, Be Beautiful by Jessica Mauboy. Some days they’re perfectly fine and other days the same scent can take me straight back to childhood bathrooms.
    Portia xx

    1. And does anybody ever want to go straight back to the bathroom of their childhood? That’s primordial for sure!

      You interest me with Muguet des Bois , Edmond de Roudnitska evidently thought it (I assume it’s the Coty you’re wearing) was really beautiful, but he said hard to pull off as a perfume “it pushed the green juice out of the flower”. I think I’ve never actually smelled it-shocking that!

      1. The older Muguet des Bois is smoother and richer but I still find the new squeakier version for next to nothing on eBay very wearable.
        HA! Those childhood bathrooms were in my favourite colour of khaki green and white. I thought they were lovely and it made me sad when they had to be remodelled. It needed to be done though.
        Portia xx

        1. I’ll have to try the Coty. Wonder why Roudnitska thought it was difficult?

          Our bathroom was baby blue and yours truly had to clean it so the memories are a little less cordial 🙁 Yours sounds nicer.

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