TEXT: Ksenia Golovanova, author of the telegram channel Nose Republic
Toward the curtain of spring – and in the wake of the growing popularity of this perfume note – we tell you about the most beautiful lily of the valley perfume. Delicate, bright, weird and a little old-fashioned – there are many shades of lily of the valley in our selection.
It would be more correct to call these spirits Muguet et Lilas – “Lily of the valley with lilacs”, because they are obviously two-tiered: a meadow of lilies of the valley on the lower level, fragrant lilac caps on the upper level. The combination, it would seem, is completely frontal – there are no two plants that are more related to each other in their radiant “Mayness” than these two, but before Molinard no one pushed them together so shamelessly and successfully. Masterful manipulation of buying behavior.
The Thai brand Parfums Dusita has become famous for its unusual style – recognizable quotes from the great perfume classics, reformulated with the help of modern fragrances into something fresh and relevant, albeit with a vintage touch. In this sense, Cavatina – an homage to Diorissimo, Dior, the best perfume lily of the valley, killed, as is commonly believed, by numerous alterations – was just a matter of time for the brand: few perfumes are remembered with the same nostalgia as the classic Dior fragrance. Indeed, Pissara Umavidzhani produced an exemplary lily of the valley soliflor – pure and sonorous, like real crystal, without bubbles and impregnations of any additional meanings. Just a very nice lily of the valley, but sometimes – for example, in May – that’s quite enough.
In world artistic culture, the lily of the valley almost always has sublime and supernatural connotations: according to the apocrypha, the tears of the Mother of God, shed on the cross, the blood of St. George, wounded in the battle with the serpent, and the sweat of the virgin goddess Diana, who has to flee from the crowd, turn into these flowers lustful fauns. In perfumery, this cultural tradition is willingly supported – most lily of the valley perfumes sound pure and deliberately ethereal, “crystal”. But not Yes I Do: in them the lily of the valley is grounded with a dense and sweet accord of marshmallow and cocoa, and for fidelity, so that, in spite of all the burdens, it does not soar, trampled into dark, earthy patchouli. The result is something completely unexpected – a gourmet lily of the valley with a dark, almost chypre depth, a rare, and perhaps completely unique perfume animal.
The new work of the Canadians Zoologist, the main naturalists of perfumery, is dedicated to the polar owl, but from the first seconds it quotes the most famous fragrance of the brand – Bat (“The Bat”), a perfume with a distinct smell of freshly dug soil. And if in “Mouse” the damp earth, mixed with fermented fruits, creates the illusion of an echoing cave, which was chosen by a colony of bats, then in “Owl” we are shown a completely different ecosystem – spring tundra with loose, grainy snow, damp glades and primroses. The last one here skillfully pretends to be a slightly frozen, slightly metallic lily of the valley – not quite, of course, a snowdrop, but just as fragile and thin.
In the Les Épures de Parfum line, which includes Pur Muguet, perfumer Matilda Laurent tries to get as close as possible to the natural sound of natural scents, be it the scent of kumquats (Pur Kinkan), magnolia (Pur Magnolia) or rose (Pure Rose). Making a 100% fragrant cast from a live plant is very difficult: perfume extracts, such as essential oils and absolutes, rarely smell exactly like the source of fragrant raw materials. And the story with the lily of the valley is further complicated by the fact that it is impossible to extract its flowers in the volume necessary for perfumery needs, therefore, lily of the valley is collected in perfume like a Frankenstein monster – from various aromatic substances, natural and synthetic. There is no single recipe, but the one that Matilda Laurent uses is perfect: on her skin, lily of the valley breathes and shimmers like a soap bubble. A nice bonus is the resounding crunch of a green “Granny Smith” apple in the background.
Perhaps the most unusual lily of the valley of all – it flies in fragments of light through an impenetrable storm of spices, called by perfumer Mark Buxton, completely dazzling against the background of warm, fragrant darkness. If you like lily of the valley soliflora, then it is better to try to get Lily of the same Comme des Garçons before it finally disappeared from Rive Gauche (the Series 1 Leaves, to which it belongs, is taken out of Russia). And if you prefer lily of the valley in the form of shining splashes of white paint, in “Convergence” by Jackson Pollock, then White has every chance to please you.
Once we already wrote about the beautiful “Lily of the Valley” of the elderly British brand Floris, but since then its value – but not the price – has only increased: in recent years, many good perfumes with lily of the valley have left the race, mainly due to the newest prohibitions on the use of the most important lily of the valley odorants in perfumery, and Lily of the Valley survived. And still very good – tart, dark greens, pink blush and faint echo of forest violets.
“Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena makes this lily of the valley blossom to the very end,” writes stern critic Luca Turin in his Perfume Guide. And he adds: “Perhaps at some point, Muguet Porcelaine stops smiling, but stubbornly holds her back while other lilies of the valley fall apart – a technical miracle.” Indeed, to make a lily of the valley soliflor, which would not get washed out over time, would not cling to the skin with a weak-willed white rag and would keep fresh throughout its life, is a great professional success even for a perfumer of Ellen’s level. Indeed, his lily of the valley comes out “porcelain” – thin and translucent in the light, but surprisingly solid.
Horticultural Ensis is ideologically close to Eau de Campagne, Sisley, and Sublime Balkiss, The Different Company, spirits praising active, elbow-deep in village mud, life in the fresh air. Another thing is that its black currant is sweeter and more glossy than usual, the lilies of the valley on the stems are round, fat and fragrant, like drops of village cream, and the lilac is so powerful that it boils over the edge of a solid fence. In a word, this is a real ode to the fertility of the middle zone, summer ardor in the bosom of nature – continuous, as in the song by “Krovostok”, “orgies in estates, delights in estates.” Best of all, like in a greenhouse, it opens up in the very heat, when other spirits fly away into oblivion after half an hour.
A good example of the flawless match of perfume to the brief that formed its basis, White Suede smells exactly what the name promises – white suede. The illusion of white color here is created by a radiant triumvirate of lily of the valley, pure musks and milk sandal, a great find of the perfumer, but perhaps all these loud and cumbersome words – “radiant”, “triumvirate”, etc. – do not quite correspond to White Suede, perfume delicate and, by the standards of Tom Ford perfume, quite quiet. In English-speaking perfume forums, these are often referred to as skin scent or second skin, literally a second skin, which usually sounds a little scary. But in this case it is appropriate: I would like your own skin to always smell like something similar to White Suede, especially on the summer subway.
PHOTO: John Lewis