Single note floral perfumes used to be short lived on the market. Back in the day they were called “handkerchief” perfumes because in the pre-Kleenex era, you sprinkled a drop of rose or lavender water on your handkerchief rather than your skin. Those little fragrances “sent bons” were miniature essays in the perfumer’s art. Not many of those perfumes survive today. No one wears Yardley’s Lavender, or Coty’s Jasmin de Corse, few wear Tea Rose the big late seventies hit from Perfumer’s Workshop, and Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare is diluted out of recognition- which makes me wonder- which are the new classic soliflores? Which ones will survive for decades on the consumers’ skin? Continue reading
Big honking lilies and not those tiny little lilies of the valley, that’s what I’m referencing. They’re not shy and they’re really not understated either, but the big lily’s smell can be beautiful.
They can also be great big honking hits with the public. Consider that billboard sized lily Cacharel’s, Anais-Anais. Cacharel let Anais-Anais loose on unsuspecting mortals in 1978 and the beginning was a heavenly whirlwind of florals: White Madonna Lily, black currant, hyacinth, lily of the valley, then a midsection crammed with even more flowers and woods. Everything was stuffed inside Anais -Anais’s delicate skin, jasmine, Grasse rose, iris, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, vetiver cedarwood, oakmoss, patchouli, finally an almost apologetic ending trailing behind this monumental arrangement, a few leather streamers and a tiny bit of musk as though Anais had stepped out of one fragile leather slipper and left it behind. Continue reading
When they fester, they may smell far worse than weeds, but lilies, especially the great big oriental and trumpet lilies of July and August, are still among some of my favorite garden flowers. They’re favorites with many people. There was a time in the nineties when no chic New York interior was complete without an extravagant display of pure white oriental lilies nearly toppling out of a vase. So far though I don’t wear any lily (meaning these big lilies, not pee-wee lilies of the valley) scent successfully- that is, up to now. Continue reading
Is there a particular flower scent that is your signature floral? Something you return to over and over and find addictive, something that speaks to you on a molecular level especially in spring time? Of course I know we’re supposed to be lovers of orientals, or florals, or chypres, and identifiable by all sorts of methods, but really, all of us have a floral that does a lot of our self definition for us even more effectively than pant cuts, skirt lengths, or color choices, and that we return to with the warm weather, just like swallows to Capistrano. Continue reading
People get tangled up in lilies. Half the time they confuse little lilies of the valley with towering Regale lilies, and that is why you sometimes notice posters on perfume websites complaining that a “lily perfume did not smell like lilies of the valley”. The scents are quite different.
But the world of lilies is almost as crowded as that of niche perfumes. It’s not as though you simply have Easter lilies, or Asiatics, you also have Orientals, Tiger lilies, and a whole assortment of lilies from China, which usually have been hybridized to produce huge blooms and sometimes an even more ginormous scent, a miasma of perfume. Continue reading