Fascinating Perfumery : What Do Modern Violets Smell Like

The discovery of ionones gave modern perfumery a distinctive violet inflection. In the first article on this topic, I’ve described how ionones were discovered, what was significant about them and how they were used in classical perfumery. Today, I would like to talk about contemporary fragrances.

The fragrances mentioned in this episode include

Of course, ionones are used not only in perfumery, but also in cosmetics (e.g., shampoos, soaps), household detergents, flavoring agents. It’s one of the most important ingredient for imparting a soft, sweet scent and to lend a natural note to fruit and berry flavors and accords. If at the end of the 19th century, the scent of violets was rare and luxurious (it took 33,000 kg of violet flowers to obtain 1 kg of violet essential oil), today’s global usage of α-ionone and β-ionone is between 100 and 1000 metric tons per year! Despite its ubiquity, the violet aroma retains its charm.

The first film in the violet series: How Ionones Made History.

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15 Comments

  • Ugo: Victoria, I wanna ask you why violets fragrances don’t smell like real violets to me? I smell a lot of times violets this year and to me that are really similar to jasmine: creamy, animalic and a little powdery and not astringent, citrusy and green like the most of perfumes like Violetta by Santa Maria Novella. To me Misia doesn’t smell like violets in my garden. May 14, 2021 at 7:38am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m not sure what violets you have, but typically, violets don’t smell like jasmine. They smell sweet, powdery, fruity. However, there is a quirk, the main component that gives violets their scent, ionone, temporarily desensitizes the olfactory receptors and some people are more sensitive to this than others. This may be why violets either don’t have any scent to some people or the ionone-rich fragrances don’t smell like violets to them. May 14, 2021 at 9:56am Reply

      • Ugo: I’m not sure of what kind of violets grows here, in the center of Italy. They are not so identical to jasmine but in my opinion they share the animalic facet, they make me think of horse sweat. I smell the powdery but not the fruity side and luckily they doesn’t make me anosmic. I would like to find a perfume like that kind of violets. May 14, 2021 at 11:31am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I and love these informative films about violets. As a teenager I had a very nice little bottle of “Violettes de Parme”'(and Yardley Lavender).
    Modern perfumes I like are Cuir Amethyste and
    Eau de Velours. It seems to me that I can smell violets in the drydown of Acqua di Parma Profumo, but maybe that’s only a fancy of my nose. May 14, 2021 at 7:38am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: I love these films, I mean. May 14, 2021 at 7:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, I’m glad that you like them. Eau de Velours is another lovely fragrance, with an interesting combination of notes. May 14, 2021 at 9:56am Reply

  • Bastet: Thank you so much for the interesting video! I’ve been wearing two of my favorite modern violet perfumes, Amouage Opus III (mostly violet with mimosa and broom) and LAP Violaceum, quite a bit this spring. May 14, 2021 at 10:43am Reply

  • Tara C: I love violets! Maurice Roucel’s Dans Tes Bras is one of my favourites, as well as Misia, Violet Shot, I Miss Violet and Kerbside Violet. May 14, 2021 at 11:29am Reply

  • Brigitte: I’m currently obsessed with Balenciaga Paris eau de Parfum which has both violets and violet leaf. May 14, 2021 at 1:56pm Reply

  • Silvermoon: Hello Victoria, thanks for another very informative video. I have Violet Ida, and really like it’s warm facets. Similarly, I very much like perfumes with the ionones-woods combination, like in Feminité de Bois. When used to soften and elevate, ionones seem to really come into their own. May 14, 2021 at 3:31pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I have a bottle of Penhaligon’s Violetta (on the box a photo of one single proud violet, and the bottle etched with the stylised flowers) which was sold with a bar of soap. Anyway, there is nothing powdery or sickly here. This is very green and may I say piercing? I suppose it has to do with the leaves. So it would be interesting to see whether the scent of the violets’ leaves adds to a contemporary violet perfume being “modern”?
    The idea would remind me of the use of blackcurrant leaf like in, say, Diptyque’s L’ombre dans l’eau. May 15, 2021 at 3:12am Reply

  • Cyndi: I love Chanel Misia. I also love Guerlain Insolence edp, which to me, smells similar to
    Misia. Is Insolence considered a violet perfume? May 15, 2021 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Deanna: ……. also would Guerlain Aqua Allegra Rosa Pop be considered a violet perfume? May 16, 2021 at 1:59am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I love both these videos, so informative. I am a huge ionone fan. I love ionones in traditional powdery scents like Caron Aimez Moi and I love them in contemporary fragrances like Misia and Bvlgari The Vert. Thank you so much for discussing how ionones can be used in different types of fragrances to achieve different effects. Very enlightening! June 26, 2021 at 10:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for watching! I’m glad that you found it helpful. I love these notes in their diversity and the way they can suggest florals, fruit or even woods. I need to make a new list of perfumes on this topic. June 28, 2021 at 7:43am Reply

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