Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee : Perfume Review

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White_lily

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Lys Mediterranee is a lily in the floral bouquet of Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums, which includes two lush roses (Lipstick Rose and Une Rose), indolic jasmine (Le Parfum de Thérèse), rain drenched lilac (En Passant), elegant iris (Iris Poudré), sensual tuberose (Carnal Flower) and powdery mimosa (Une Fleur de Cassie). Woven by its creator, Edouard Fléchier, from several different lilies, it shines like dew drops on a large white flower floating in a bowl of water. Its heady sweet aroma is underscored by the succulent verdancy and aquatic transparency, giving a sensation of a cold waxy petal and golden pollen that spills leaving a dusty trail.

The linear nature of Lys Méditerranée and its static crystalline beauty are liable to leave me cold. On the one hand, it makes me think of lily symbolizing purity and, on another, of its funereal associations. Lily as a dominant theme has an effect of a cold crispness, which I find lovely but distant, wishing for a soft velvety touch to balance out the chilliness. …

Yet, the green muskiness of angelica root lends a quality that allows Lys Méditerranée to shed its impression of a bouquet of flowers carefully arranged on a pristinely white table cloth. A touch of saltiness is as welcome in the composition as a savory component in a dish made overly sweet. A vision of a large white flower begins to fade until one is left with a hazy impression of its scent. Suddenly, it becomes a smell of a place–a garden overgrown with grass and lilies, a florist refrigerator case containing cold flowers, an Old Delhi stall selling flower garlands… I still wish that Lys Méditerranée took me on a longer, more adventurous journey, yet the glimpse it shares with me is lovely enough to revisit this Frédéric Malle perfume from time to time.

Lys Méditerranée includes notes of water-lily, ginger-lily, lily of the valley, angelica root, orange and ambrette seeds. Editions de Parfums fragrances are available from Frédéric Malle boutiques, Barneys New York and Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums website.

Photo: White Lily from scrg.org.uk.

Please see other Frédéric Malle reviews:

Carnal Flower

En Passant

Iris Poudré

L’Eau d’Hiver

Le Parfum de Thérèse

Lipstick Rose

Musc Ravageur

Noir Epices

Une Rose

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45 Comments

  • portlandia: Interesting impression – I have been curious about this one. I did not realize that it does not really have ANY lilies in it – the three listed flowers with “lily” in their name are not true lilies, and only lily-of-the-valley is even distantly related. I would like to smell this one side by side with Serge Lutens’ “Un Lys” which has actual white lily (Madonna lily)as its focus, and which I own and love. I do like the “chilly” idea however – sometimes you just need a cool, elegant perfume that makes you feel a little bit aloof. 🙂 February 9, 2006 at 1:46am Reply

  • N: Dear V, I tried to like this perfume but it did not suit me at all. Recently, I tried the Lys M Oil which is wonderful. Like Portlandia above, I adore Un Lys by Lutens.
    Another new love from FM is the Iris Poudre body lotion. Did you love the lotion too?

    Have a super day! February 9, 2006 at 3:42am Reply

  • Judith: I am a fan of many FM perfumes, but this one did not move me at all. Of course, I tried it only briefly, and your interesting review makes me think that I should perhaps have given it more of a chance—but it also reassures me that it is not really my type of scent at all. Ah, well–there are so many others to love! February 9, 2006 at 7:43am Reply

  • Christina H.: Well,I was lucky enough to recieve a sample of this from the Malle boutique and I fell in love with it instantly!You’re right that it is fairly simplistic and doesn’t evolve much but I have just fallen for this one and hope to add to my repertoire of spring/summer fragrances.Thanks for the review!I think the florist’s refrigerater sums up this one to a tee! February 9, 2006 at 8:44am Reply

  • Marina: Lily (of any sort, really) is one of the most difficult notes for me to wear. So I found it hard to appreciate Lys Mediterranee. It was everything I came to associate with the lily accord, it was metallic, a little aquatic, very cold. This and Une Rose are the only scents I did not like in Malle’s line. February 9, 2006 at 9:00am Reply

  • Linda: You captured LM perfectly with your description of its being like a large cold flower. I would prefer it as a room scent or a candle. February 9, 2006 at 10:58am Reply

  • violetnoir: I think the above comments pretty much sum up my feelings about this fragrance. I just can’t get a handle on it, perhaps because the very nature of the fragrance of these lilies leaves me cold.

    Hugs! February 9, 2006 at 11:22am Reply

  • Donna: I grow Madonna lilies and my perfume dream is to find one that smells just like my beauties. I like Un Lys, but it is too much lilac on me. I should try Lys M. February 9, 2006 at 11:25am Reply

  • helena: I love your idea of Frederic Malle line as a bouquet of flowers. I find lily difficult too, especially lily of the valley. The flowers have such a heady fragrance that I cannot keep them in the house. In general, lily makes me think of funerals too. February 9, 2006 at 11:29am Reply

  • marchlion: Well, all these comments make me feel better… I kept feeling like I flunked the Lys test, missing the subtle beauty that was going to draw me in. I did foist some of the blame on the angelica, which is a mixed blessing, in my opinion. This is a far less interesting fragrance than the others you’ve reviewed from the line. Which is your favorite, V, if you were forced to choose? February 9, 2006 at 11:52am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I find it curious too, although I am sure that the list is far from complete. Most lilies are synthetic anyway, and there is a little bit of a Madonna lily here, although it fades quickly. I like Lys Mediterranee, but it is not among my favourites most likely because of its chilly effect. February 9, 2006 at 11:56am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, yes, the body lotions are very nice, and body products in general. I have not tried Lys Mediterranee in the oil form, but I will. February 9, 2006 at 11:57am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, I like Lys Mediterranee in the spring/summer from time, because its chilly crispness has a nice refreshing effect, but overall I would have preferred something more complex. February 9, 2006 at 11:59am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, yes, spring/summer is when I reach for it the most. Yesterday was such a lovely spring day that I really felt that Lys Mediterranee was appropriate. February 9, 2006 at 12:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, I would say that Lys Mediterranee would be among the ones I reach for the least, but with time, I grew to like chilly and green notes. There are moments when I crave them. February 9, 2006 at 12:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I agree that it would make a very nice room scent. I am always looking for a nice lily candle, but so far I have not been successful. Most of them are just off. February 9, 2006 at 12:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, lilies are cold flowers, and I can completely understand what you mean. Actually, I have a memory of my grandmother’s lilies and their scent was completely different–velvety and warm. I have not encountered anything like this in perfume. February 9, 2006 at 12:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Donna, I like Un Lys, but it strikes me as a bit dainty, and I somehow do not feel drawn to it. Lys Mediterranee is actually the lily I would prefer. It has a bit of Madonna lily, but it may not be close enough. February 9, 2006 at 12:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helena, nice to see you! Yes, I was thinking the other day about the FM collection, and the flower themes certainly dominate it. Not that I mind! February 9, 2006 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Cait: Thanks for this investigation as I haven’t tried this. It interests me now as I am recently obsessed with Angelica. Has anyone smelled the difference between the flower and the root? Then you have the seeds, too. I bet there’s a difference. SL Un Lys was yummy, but I had a strange reaction where it made my throat sort of close up. This happened to me with some cheap full oil, too. I gave both frags away. Strange. I’m not what you’d call chemically sensitive, after all. February 9, 2006 at 12:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, why do you not like angelica? I find it somewhat problematic if it smells like angelica seeds, but angelica root oil has a very interesting scent. I heard someone else mention that they do not like angelica, therefore it made me curious. February 9, 2006 at 12:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, I have a similar reaction to Narciso Rodriguez, but it was mild and went away quickly. It is not anything to take lightly though.

    In perfumery, angelica oil usually means oil extracted from the root, which has a musky, juniper-like scent. In small quantities, it is used as a fixative, and it is one of the few non-animal sources of musk. A very good example of its qualities is Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous la Pluie. The flowers have a green, slightly earthy scent, although since there are dozens of varieties, some smell honeyed as well. The seeds you must know from cooking. They are the reason I love Persian cuisine. February 9, 2006 at 12:20pm Reply

  • carmencanada: You’ve nailed the reason why I made Lys Méditerranée last summer’s most-worn fragrance for me: the chilliness. There’s something aquatic about it, and the fact that it isn’t very complex seemed to actually soothe me in the summer heat (I’m not big on hesperides). The oil is quite lovely, and rather true to the scent. It’s not FM’s most fascinating, but sometimes when it’s hot it’s the only scent I can bear. February 9, 2006 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Ayala: I really enjoyed your review, Victoria, though I never smelled this perfume. I also need some softness in a floral bouquet to help me warm up to it (and keep it on…) but it’s for those moments when I get a glimpse of a garden or a favourite flower shop that make those florals really previous for me (even though I can rarely wear them). February 9, 2006 at 1:15pm Reply

  • marchlion: V, sometimes its green, musky earthiness seems to me like a perfect counterpoint to whatever else is going on in the fragrance, particularly if the other notes are fairly sweet. Sometimes, though, it smells like …. celery. Or mangelwurzel. Just too rooty. February 9, 2006 at 1:30pm Reply

  • Cait: The seeds in Persian food don’t exactly agree with me. But they have a binding effect which is useful. I also don’t smell the muskiness in the Angelica oil. I think of Angelica as a latticework that binds a scent together. February 9, 2006 at 1:44pm Reply

  • Robin: Well, like many of the other commenters, I’ve never been able to make up my mind about this one. I have been near to buying it several times, only to decide that I don’t really like it that much. Will need to revisit… February 9, 2006 at 3:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I have low tolerance for heat and in the summer I usually wear very light things or nothing at all. Therefore, Lys Méditerranée usually works wonderfully. Where in the winter it strikes me as cold and distant, in the summer, it is like a drink of iced water. February 9, 2006 at 4:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ayala, thank you. I find that Lys Méditerranée is interesting in terms of being tenacious despite its lightness. The fact that its chilliness persists in the drydown is a very nice thing. I cannot say that it is among my most favourites, but there are days when it is just the thing I need. February 9, 2006 at 4:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, thank you for explaining. I guess that in some compositions that quality would work better than in others. February 9, 2006 at 4:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, musks are very interesting in terms of their diversity and complexity. There are some I cannot smell that well. For instance, I cannot smell that much in NR Musk for Her (no such problem with other concentrations and versions of NR). February 9, 2006 at 4:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, I find that it is one of those fragrances that needs its own occasion and time. On some days, it is just perfect. On others, I only notice its linearity. February 9, 2006 at 4:48pm Reply

  • marchlion: V, I promise I’ll quit commenting — I remember reading somewhere (Chandler Burr’s book?) that anosmia to different kinds of musk is so common that makers of “musk” perfumes actually put several different compositions of musk in there. I was surprised because I would have guessed musk would be something homo sapiens would be able to pick out easily as a smell. February 9, 2006 at 5:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: No need to make such promises! It is true that most musk bases contain several different kinds in order to ensure that everyone can smell musk. I read that musk is chemically related to human sex hormones. If humans are able to secrete a given chemical odourant, then it may not be surprising why some may not be conscious of its smell. The brain would have switched off to it. I always want to read up more on the topic, since I find it fascinating.

    Adding: another reason for anosmia might be that the musk molecules are fairly large. February 9, 2006 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Preya: I got a very sharp citrusy note (or maybe someone else can point it out more accurately) at first and then, like has been said, it became a more linear arrangement of lilies. It’s sweet, a tad bit watery (fresh), and very cold, like real lilies. I love the fragrance of lilies, so I fell in love with this one immediately, but I don’t think I could wear it, strangely enough! I’ll have to give it chance though and see. It definitely transports me to flower stalls in Hanoi, Vietnam, where they sell huge bouquets of stargazer lilies. February 23, 2006 at 9:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Preya, I love the imagery you paint. I have never been to Vietnam, but I always wanted. I have worked on Vietnam for both my undergraduate and graduate work, and it is one of the places that fascinates me. February 25, 2006 at 12:46am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Preya, I love the imagery you paint. I have never been to Vietnam, but I always wanted. I have worked on Vietnam for both my undergraduate and graduate work, and it is one of the places that fascinates me. February 25, 2006 at 12:46am Reply

  • JKH: I think the chilliness of this blend is part of its serenity. This is the cool, sweet scent I would wear into a particulary crazed day at the office. Sweet enough to gentle the temper, not cloying like supermarket lilies at Easter, very steady. Portable calm. January 22, 2007 at 4:04pm Reply

  • Sophia Bacica: sophia B

    I adore this lovely sea ,salty floral.It makes me dream of a tropical island so luscious.I have been to the adriatic sea ,and on a hot summer night this is the sent floating on air. August 21, 2011 at 1:56pm Reply

  • Karen: I just received a sample of this with a recent FM order – oh dear, oh dear oh dear – it is just so beautiful on me! Perhaps since it is hot here and my car a.c. is not working that I needed some chilliness (although I am not picking up chilly, but detecting a hint of vanilla like, could that be the ambrette seed?).

    It’s going to be trouble when I get up to the FM shop and have to limit myself! Trying to be judicious with the 10ml bottle of CF – but this may be another choice for wearing at son’s wedding. Perhaps I can wear a different one for morning, afternoon, then evening! (not really) May 6, 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love its clarity and dewy feel. Dewy without being sharp or artificial. Enjoy! May 8, 2015 at 3:41am Reply

      • Karen: It is just such a lovely scent! And I love lilies – have lots in my gardens, purchase bulbs on super sale and pick up Easter lilies once Easter has gone by and lilies are seriously discounted.

        It has been a lot of fun exploring the FM line and I am really looking forward to going up to the shop in June. May 8, 2015 at 5:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: We have Madonna lilies in our garden, and the scent is enough to make one feel intoxicated. May 9, 2015 at 4:59am Reply

  • Surbhi: uncomplicated, pure floral but not cloying, not too sweet (my biggest complaint with most of the new perfumes) too sweet or they will have oud. This one seems just perfect with the spring right around the corner. March 5, 2016 at 5:40pm Reply

    • Karen A: It’s funny, I just put some on and thought – This is perfect for spring! I had forgotten how much I liked it until reading my comments right above. March 31, 2016 at 7:08am Reply

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