Hyacinth Perfumes That Spell Spring

Spring is not spring for me unless it has hyacinths. I buy the forced bulbs and leave them around the apartment to wait for the moment when the flowers open up and fill the air with their perfume. The scent of hyacinth is not as delicate as that of many other spring blossoms; it’s rather heady and sweet, with an earthy note. It can sometimes be overwhelming, but the contrast is the reason why the fragrance appeals to me – and to other perfumers. Its complexity is an endless source of inspiration. In my latest FT column, Seven perfumes that tap the headiness of the hyacinth, I talk about this note and how it can be used in fragrances.

The green accent of hyacinth is often used in both masculine and feminine fragrances, even if the hyacinth itself plays a secondary role. Its verdant, crisp note brightens up the unripe mango in Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil, adds depth to the fig accord in Marc Jacobs for Men and softens the sharpness of leather and galbanum in Chanel No 19. In each case, hyacinth blends smoothly into the composition, buttressing the elements with an aroma that recalls crushed fresh leaves. To continue reading about my other hyacinth gold standards, please click here.

What are your favorite fragrances with hyacinth or other spring flower notes?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Subscribe

37 Comments

  • Muriel: Aaargh Victoria, you just put your finger on a very weak point… I recently went on a “floral” quest and so far 2 perfumes clearly stand out: Chamade (Extrait) and Grand Amour… but I cannot decide… I love them both… I don’t have any Guerlain, nor any Goutal perfume… I’m also very found of the 2 bottles… the price is of course not the same, but aaargh, I really cannot decide…what to do? what to do?… May 6, 2019 at 7:33am Reply

    • Carla: I never tried Grand Amour but I still recall the day – nine years ago! – I wore my sample of Chamade. Why have I never bought it, it was so gorgeous! May 6, 2019 at 9:25am Reply

    • Karen A: Chamade extrait is my one fragrance I can always put on and feel wonderful. It is so so beautiful. Grand Amour for me was more of a could be perfect or could not be right – but Chamade works whenever I’m not sure what to wear or when I want an elegant, beautiful fragrance (which is almost always).

      It’s pricey but worth it. May 6, 2019 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Klaas: I’d get Chamade…….it’s in a league of its own. The extrait, especially, is of such beauty! Do you have a birthday coming up? May 6, 2019 at 3:37pm Reply

    • Claire_from_France: Hi from France !

      the two perfumes are very similar but GRAND AMOUR is like a floral composition whose flowers are already a little faded. it gives a lot of charm to it.

      Dedicated to Annick GOUTAL’s husband, love was still there, serene.

      Grand Amour is between CHAMADE, Numéro 19 CHANEL and IDYLLE GUERLAIN.

      Grand amour is a big white flowers bouquet with hyacinth. A beauty without age.

      My favorite is GRAND AMOUR.

      Sorry for my awful english ! ^^

      Hope You Will be able to get one of them soon (birthday ?)

      I prefered the previous bottle ! The new one is not pretty

      Thanjq a lot To love french perfumes ! May 20, 2019 at 9:38am Reply

  • Klaas: Hey Victoria, I just came home from a bike ride through the forest (as far as forests go in the highly urbanized Amsterdam area) and there is so much hawthorn growing it made me giddy with pleasure! The trees seem to be covered in whipped cream! So pretty….though the flowers don’t smell.

    I’m not much of a flower man myself (I appreciate them in a vase or in the fields, just not on my skin), but my colleague wears Cristalle and I always ask her to spray some more. It’s such a great, great fragrance. She sometimes alternates with 24 Faubourg, which has lots of hyacinth in it as well! May 6, 2019 at 8:39am Reply

  • Carla: I love how hyacinth bulbs can scent nearly the entire house. Cristalle edt is my favorite although for a heady spring flower I would choose Odalisque. May 6, 2019 at 9:28am Reply

  • Carla: I wonder if Chamade edt would be worth a try. It’s so affordable online. I wish the parfum were not so expensive. I do still remember the scent many years later. I can’t believe I never bought it but then the cost for the parfum… May 6, 2019 at 9:35am Reply

    • eudora: I am interested about Chamade edt also! I remember the first time I smelled it, so memorable, so perfect! Here I read a lot about the gorgeous extrait… May 6, 2019 at 10:40am Reply

    • Karen A: I just spritzed each on to see if I can articulate a little of the difference. But, it’s not the notes but more of the sense or feel that is different so here goes…. It’s like the difference between wearing a gorgeous cashmere sweater to sleep in where you are the one experiencing it’s beauty as opposed to wearing that same sweater out in public.

      The extrait wears close and “rounder” , the EdT is very very pretty and wears wonderfully. The extrait is still discernable the next day – not lots but just like a faint cloud on your wrist.

      I’m sure someone will be able to give a better description of the difference – longevity of particular notes but they are both very well made scents. Just depends on whether you want something quieter but deeper/richer then go for the extrait. May 6, 2019 at 3:26pm Reply

      • Carla: Thank you! I have decided rather than immediate but possibly paltry gratification of a want with a $40 internet purchase of the edt I will take pleasure in the process and order samples of the various concentrations and then decide. May 6, 2019 at 4:46pm Reply

        • Karen A: Being able to try out through decants is a great thing! Plus, even a small amount of the extrait will last for a little while. Let us know how they work for you. May 7, 2019 at 11:09am Reply

  • Gentiana Craciun: Thank you, Victoria for another heart-warming post!
    Hyacints always are among the flowers that make me wonder about the great miracle of the nature… Well, another great interpretation of their wonderful perfume is Silences by Jacomo… Sadly discontinued…. May 6, 2019 at 9:37am Reply

    • Klaas: Silences….that was gorgeous indeed! So airy and fluffy and wonderful……. May 6, 2019 at 3:30pm Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: What makes it different to say Chamade and Grand Amour? The Guerlain is so impeccably beautiful and extremely feminine, the Goutal punchier, more in your face.
      @Klaas, you speak of airy, fluffy. Is Silence wuasi a whipped cream scent? May 6, 2019 at 3:58pm Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: quasi… May 6, 2019 at 3:58pm Reply

        • Klaas: Hey OnWings, I didn’t smell it for a very long time, but I remeber it as a green, floral scent, calm, soothing, like shadow, weightless but without being thin or flimsy (it was the time when aokmoss was still abundant)……..Chamade is much more luminous and luxurious, a true, old school Guerlain…..Silences has more of the Scherrer vibe to it….. May 6, 2019 at 6:40pm Reply

          • Carla: You describe the so well May 6, 2019 at 8:12pm Reply

          • OnWingsofSaffron: Hmm Scherrer: so uncompromisingly green! May 7, 2019 at 1:13am Reply

  • sandra: Chamade!
    Great article, as always!
    Grazie May 6, 2019 at 10:12am Reply

  • StellaDiverFlynn: Another fan here of hyacinth’s complex aroma from sappy green to a somewhat ripe rosy sweetness to its almost decaying meatiness! I keep a few bulbs on balcony during spring and there’s also a small patch of hyacinths near my office building which I take pleasure to walk by every day.

    Some of my favourite green hyacinth perfumes include Serge Lutens Bas de Soie and Annick Goutal Grand Amour, but it’s the ripe rosy sweetness and the meatiness of hyacinth that really drew me in to this flower, and I’m super happy to have found perfumes like Penhaligon’s Bluebell and Guy Laroche Fidji that put these aspects to the front and center! May 6, 2019 at 12:10pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I love hyacinth perfumes and am a great fan of Chamade and Grand Amour! I also read about Silences by Jacomo, and must go in search of that scent!
    A charming trivia tidbit: in the Strauss opera „Der Rosenkavalier“ the ingenue Sophie confides in the dashing young Octavian that she knows all of his Christian names, among them Hyacinth: „Ich weiß alle Ihre Taufnamen: Octavian Maria Ehrenreich Bonaventura Fernand Hyazinth“! May 6, 2019 at 12:35pm Reply

    • OperaFan: Are you a soprano leggero or perhaps a lyric mezzo, OnWings? Your knowledge of this line makes me think you’ve sung either Sophie or Octavian. I once sang “Sophie” in this scene, so your little trivia offering brings a smile of remembrance. Thank you! May 10, 2019 at 6:05pm Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Your question made me smile: as a man, I’m neither. And actually, I don’t sing at all. But boy, how I wish I could perform that range! And if I could, I’d be a Marilyn Horne who could span the whole gambit from profound depths to top C’s! I’ve been in love with opera for over a quarter of a century, and as a young man back in the late 80’s went to all performances in Cologne, Bonn (when it was still the German capital, rich and saturated, and could afford all of opera’s mega stars), Berlin (3 operas in one city!!) etc.
        How absolutely thrilling to have sung Sophie! The moment she is presented the rose and realises that it smells of Persian rose oil, and looks Octavian into the eyes, she literally becomes a different person—a key moment in life. In is not for nothing that she sings: it is a greeting from heaven, to heavy to bear! May 11, 2019 at 2:26am Reply

  • Becky D.: My favorite spring floral fragrance is Peoneve. It features roses and peonies, and it perfectly captures that little green, almost peppery zing found in some peony varieties. I read that the peppery part is attributed to the Bulgarian rose, but I have not had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the real thing. Actually, I like this perfume better than the actual scent of peonies! May 6, 2019 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Nancy Chan: Apart from Chamade, Cacharel’s Anais Anais is a Hyacinth floral bouquet. May 6, 2019 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Lynne: Bas de Soie by Padre Lutens. Also, Chamade-esp the parfum. I don’t think of Chanel 19 as hyacinth heavy, but I love it!! May 6, 2019 at 1:08pm Reply

  • MMKinPA: I have and love Grand Amour. Such a beautiful spring scent! May 6, 2019 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Jennifer Shaw: I have not owned this in such a long time, but Gianfranco Ferre, Gianfranco Ferre for women was a wonderful heady fragrance with hyacinth! I don’t know if this is still around anymore. It was a very luscious feminine scent. May 6, 2019 at 6:01pm Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: I love hyacinths too, they are one of my favorite flowers. In addition to thos mentioned here, Jo Malone’s Blue Hyacinth is amazingly like the real flower, and really lovely. May 7, 2019 at 5:00am Reply

  • Neva: I love the picture you posted, Victoria. This year I’ve also bought white hyacinths for my apartment. I buy them every year and enjoy their strong smell throughout their blooming days.
    Although hyacinth is a rather prominent note in perfume, I like it most in Heeley’s L’Amandiere because it is toned down by the green and powdery notes. May 7, 2019 at 5:40am Reply

  • Figuier: I too love the smell of hyacinths, whether in bulb or bottled form. Cristalle edt is one of my favourite spring perfumes, the edp is v pretty too. I also enjoy Grand Amour and Bas de Soie, although they’re less wearable and more sombre. Having read the comments I’m keen to try Jo Malone Hyacinths and Penhaligon’s Bluebells… May 7, 2019 at 10:03am Reply

  • Figuie: P.S what a gorgeous photo – the white/green contrast is so vivid! May 7, 2019 at 10:05am Reply

  • SamanthaL: Hyacinths are my favorite springtime flower and Jacinthe de Bois is the best hyacinth perfume in my opinion… I hate that it’s discontinued!! Jacinthe et Feu de Bois is amazing for home fragrance too…I still have one candle left. I keep hoping L’Artisan reconsiders and brings it all back!!! May 7, 2019 at 3:54pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I love the freshness and green note that hyacinth brings to Chloe’ Love and L’Amandiere by James Heeley. I am also a fan of Apollo Hyacinth by Eric Buterbaugh. Chanel 19 and Chanel Cristalle will always be favorites of mine. May 7, 2019 at 4:03pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Hyacinths are planted all over my yard, and I look forward to smelling their blooms each spring.
    A majority of my favorite fragrances share the thread hyacinth running through them. Many already mentioned by comments above. I’ll throw a few more favorites into this mix (all based on “earlier” versions):
    Annick Goutal’s Heure Exquise
    Vancleef & Arpels’ First
    Ralph Lauren’s Safari May 10, 2019 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Aurora: I hadn’t realized hyacinth was present in so many perfumes you mention in your article. I love Chamade of course which goes from cool to warmth and I must admit I am fond of Issey Miyake A scent which is not very popular and discontinued, the hyacinth in it is transparent, and I’ve also remained a fan of Anais Anais, my first perfume. May 11, 2019 at 11:50am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2019 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy