Happy May Day!

Lily of the Valley

It is May 1st, and I'm wearing Diorissimo extrait to celebrate whatever this day is supposed to stand for; but more personally because it's a lily of the valley scent that I have a strong personal connection with. I worn it on my wedding day, and to me it will always symbolized non-compromised happiness. Besides, I believe it's one of the best perfumes every made (alongside others by Edmond Roudnitska: Le Parfum de Therese, Eau Sauvage and a few Guerlain classics - Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar, l'Herue Bleue) that are reclining comofrtably in a special case dedicated for emergency evacuation); but also because I don't own any other lily of the valley fragrance.

There are some great Lily of the Valley classics that I owe it to myself to wear and experience and give more proper attention - Coty's Muguet de Bois, Caron's Muguet de Bonheur Guerlan's Muguet. If you have more lily of the valley perfumes that you think are exceptional, please leave a comment. The note used to be far more popular as a stand-alone theme in the olden days; but it lost popularity greatly because of its functional fragrance usage - namely masking the stench of the French metro systems; and other bathroom fresheners, soaps and the like. Basenotes only lists about 27 perfumes with the name "Muguet" in them; and 25 with the word "Lily of the Valley". Not insignificant, but not even close to how popular rose or jasmine themed perfumes are. Many of them have also been discontinued, a sign that this note belongs to another era. There are other lily of the valley dominated perfumes, of course, such as the classic Joy and the more modern musky floral Idyle. So I'm sure we won't be running out of lilies anytime soon... And there are even natural lily of the valley inspired perfumes, such as Urban Lily and Grin.

Most of the other less worthy of mention are sitting in my sample catalog pretty much untouched, and I revisit them occasionally only to come to the conclusion time and again that really Diorissimo is my true love. There can be a very conformist, agreeable yet boring air to them and a very flat, interest-lacking evolution. I am quite certain that should there have been a little extra jasmine absolute and rose otto in them to give them depth and naturalness they would have faired better - in my personal wardrobe, SmellyBlog entries, as well as sales wise. i.e.: Muguet Eau Fraiche (Yves Rochas) is a soapy clean, with modern musks and Iso E Super that bring to mind Thierry Mugler's Cologne of all things. Crabtree & Evelyn's Lily of the Valley, which comes in all the matching ancillary products from body lotion, triple-milled white soap to scented talcum powders - has been promptly returned to the store because it just has no personality whatsoever - flat, synthetic molecules with plenty of headiness and little staying power. Yardley's wasn't much better off. All three were to me what you'd call "scrubbers".

Muguet de Bois (Coty, circa 1949), on the other hand, requires some immediate attention on this beautiful warm spring day: It opens up sparkling and refreshing, with notes of lemonade and fresh-crushed green leaves. It has a fully developed heart phase that's definitely lily, but not just that: it is a tad spicy and more rounded floral than how I experience the fresh lily of the valley flowers to be. I detect resinous styrax and lilac, rose and hints of jasmine. The "Bois" (or woods) part is subdued, and is interpreted as a woody base of sandalwood and musk.

Happy 1st of May!

Happy Labour Day, everyone!
I will be celebrating it appropriately by wearing a lily of the valley perfume (you'll read about it later) and even more appropriately - working hard on getting all those orders out ASAP. The success of the online shopping event yesterday is really mind-boggling, and I'm going to need to work day and night in the next few days to make sure you all get your orders in a timely fashion.

Lily of the Valley arrived early to the flower markets this year but it's time for me to get fresh flowers today. In France, it's a tradition to wear these flowers on May 1st (Labour Day). If you live in a lily-less country, you can wear a beautiful lily of the valley perfume instead. My all-time favourite of all (and in my opinion one of the most perfect perfume ever created) is Diorissimo. But there are others - Muguet de Bois (Coty), Muguet du Bonheur (Caron), Muguet (Guerlain, Molinard), Le Muguet (Annick Goutal), and Lily of the Valley from English perfumeries such as Floris, Yardley, Crabtree & Evelyn, Penhaligon's and Woods of Windsor. And of course this list is far from complete. Which is your favourite lily of the valley perfume, and what will you be wearing today?

Happy First of May!

Lily of the Valley, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I don't know what is it about lily of the valley that makes it smell so happy, but it does. It is a French tradition to offer lily of the valley to your loved ones on First of May (aka Labour Day) to wish them happiness. And if you received a stem with 13 bells, you are considered particularly lucky.

The little flower, convallaria majalis, has a modest appearance, reminiscent of bluebells that lost their colour. The bells point downwards in what could be considered as shyness or modesty (though I’m quite certain the flower have other reasons to behave that way).

It’s important to note that although bearing the same name, the lily of the valley (convallaria majalis) is certainly not the flower mentioned in the bible in Canticles (Song of Songs). The flower mentioned their is either wild hyacinth or some other kind of wild lily, perhaps what is called “Shoshan Tzahor” (literally translated as “white lily” in Hebrew). Lilies, as most bulb flowers, are rather rare in Israel and their beauty and rarity has served as a metaphor in the above mentioned poem. Later on, lily of the valley and other white lilies (namely the Madonna Lily) have become a symbol of purity and of the Virgin Mary in Christianity. But neither of these species can grow in Israel wild and most likely were not known or cultivated when the poem was written.

Bo Jensen’s website tells us that 2,3-Dihydrofarnesol, farnesol, citronellyl acetate, phenylacetonitrile and phenylacetaldehyde oxime are the main molecules discovered in lily of the valley headspace. 3,7-dimethyl-7-hydroxyoctanal or hydroxycitronellal were both discovered in the beginning of the century and I won’t be surprised if one or the other is used in Roudniska’s iconic lily of the valley Diorissimo and Coty’s Muguet de Bois (though they may be have both been modified to accommodate various regulations because both compounds are not particularly stable and can cause allergies, according to the same website).

The fresh flowers are so typically lily of the valley it’s amazing. I haven’t noticed as much variety between individual flowers as I find in other species (i.e.: roses). Besides the obvious “lily of the valley” smell there are also some lemony and green notes surrounding the flowers. They last in a vase for 2-3 days while retaining an impressive amount of the scent, but will never overpower the room like hyacinth or true lilies do.
If you live in the warmer parts of the world and can’t get the fragrant flowers from your florist, I suggest you find yourself a bottle of Diorissimo and scent your May Day with it. I just so happen to be wearing it as we speak.

Happy 1st of May!

1er mai dans Second Life, originally uploaded by natachaqs.

Those who are celebrating the 1st of May or International Workers' Day (May Day) today - may it be a happy and joyous day to you all. Work is our life, so it better be good :)

François Coty used to take all his employees on 1st of May and go pick flowers of lily of the valley in the forests near Paris, and that's how Muguet de Bois was born.

I am not wearing my Muguet de Bois today, but I am thinking about it and promise to post a review of it on SmellyBlog sometimes in the not so far future. If you haven't decided what to wear today, a lily of the valley scent would be a fine choice, Diorissimo being my utmost favourite, seconded only by Muguet de Bois.

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