violet: 5 posts

Vintage Violets

Swan-down puffs, lace camisoles, ivory fans, tulle skirts, satin shoes… If these words evoke an appealing vision for you, then you’re the right candidate for a Victorian violet perfume. While the 19th century under the reign of Queen Victoria is often described as conventional and stuffy, the favorite aromas are anything but. Despite its reputation for being dainty and demure, violet has a complex scent with a fascinating history. This perfume note is the subject of my latest FT column, Vintage Violets.

I explain how this flower became one of the favorite scents during the Victorian era and what made it even more popular–and ubiquitous–in the 20th century. Then I describe some of my favorite violets, both the sweet and powdery ones associated with the Romantic era and the modern green ones. To read the article, please click here.

As always, I’d love to hear about your favorite violets.

Image via FT

Chanel Les Exclusifs Misia : Perfume Review

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Misia Sert and Coco Chanel shared deep affection for each other. Sert comforted Chanel when her lover Arthur Boy Capel died in a car accident. She inspired the designer and introduced her to a glittering circle of artists, writers and musicians. Misia’s salon in Paris attracted such luminaries as Marcel Proust, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Odilon Redon, Paul Signac, Claude Debussy, Stéphane Mallarmé, and André Gide. She was a talented pianist, captured by Toulouse-Lautrec at the piano, but she was also a cultural icon and a muse. In this last role, the spirit of Sert returns to the house of Chanel in the form of a new perfume, Misia.

misia sert
Imagine a vintage silk purse that still holds the aroma of violet bonbons, rose scented lipstick and rice powder. This, in a phrase, is Misia. Tender and romantic, the fragrance settles on skin in a soft powdery layer, and if it suddenly makes you feel like painting your lips a retro crimson and watching The Red Shoes, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a perfect vintage vignette fantasy.

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Candied Blossoms and Flower Perfumed Syrup

Andy describes how seasonal blossoms can be captured in sugar.

If you love spring as much as I do, you may agree that it always seems to come and go quicker than it should. One week, I was strolling under pink clouds of cherry blossoms, and the next, the petals had all floated away from the branches. I didn’t have time to be dismayed though, when richly perfumed purple lilacs had begun to steal the show. The season always seems to play out like a vaudeville show of flowers, with one beautiful act following the next.

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A few weeks ago Victoria wrote about salting cherry blossoms, but you can also use sugar to capture the delicate flavors of spring. If you have never tried candying flowers before, it is extremely easy, and after you’ve done it once, you will find the task an irresistible way to extend the season of flowers like jasmine, lilac, rose and honeysuckle, to name a few. This spring, for instance, I found myself longing to preserve the beauty of sweetly scented violets, which are common in my area in the springtime. And since I had so many, I decided to candy them and make some perfumed syrup. My instructions below call for violets, but use whatever favorite edible flowers you can find, from pansies to roses.

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Caron N’Aimez Que Moi and Aimez Moi : Perfume Review

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N’Aimez Que Moi

In 1917, Ernest Daltroff creates a fragrance that captured the promises made by the couples separated by the WWI to remain loyal and to await the return of the loved ones from the front. N’Aimez Que Moi was the name given to  this new perfume by Caron. “Love Only Me!” Alas, it is not a promise I can make. While undoubtedly beautiful, N’Aimez Que Moi is too heavy and powdery even for this fan of makeup-like notes in perfume. The top notes are of creamy rose and violet intertwined with soft lilac. The lush floral bouquet is wrapped in sandalwood and cedar, with an accent of earthy vetiver and iris. Unfortunately, that’s when the fragrance becomes unbearably powdery and opaque, and N’Aimez Que Moi and I part ways.

Aimez moi

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Guerlain Apres l’Ondee : Perfume Review

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Guerlain Après l’Ondée was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1906.  I loved this scent right away for its wonderfully delicate combination of orange blossom and violet, tinged with a spicy anise note.

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The first accord is reminiscent of a spring garden after a tempestuous May shower as the damp earth, drenched leaves and flowers begin to warm up under the sun. The aura of this fragrance is effervescent, innocent and joyous. But there is a dark timbre to Après l’Ondée as well. It is similar to the moment after the rain is over; the sun is shining, yet the clouds still cast somber shadows upon the landscape. The heart blossoms with iris and violet, which much to my delight, is a departure from the traditionally sweet candy-like violet notes. The carnation is subdued and merely adds a spicy ornament. The dry down is smooth and tender, with the sugared almond, vanilla and musk lending it an abstract gourmand sensation. Après l’Ondée is a garden in the first flush of bloom, yet to reveal all of its secrets.

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