First, a word about Esxence for those of you who’d been expecting my impressions… To be frank, I clearly overestimated my gift of ubiquity and underestimated both the sheer number of brands to discover and the amount of time I’d have to give over to promoting The Perfume Lover. I did pick up a few samples, for instance at Ys Uzac and Maria Candida Gentile, which I will review in due course… Next time I attend a trade fair, I’ll make sure I schedule a proper meet-up with all the lovely people I barely had a glimpse of!
I did come home to Paris to a pleasant springtime surprise while replenishing my favourite shower product at my local Yves Rocher store, the ultra-luscious Oriental shower oil with organic Moroccan argan oil (but none of its sometimes rancid-nut notes) and a glorious, spicy orange blossom and vanilla scent…
There are practically no lilac soliflores in fine fragrance, namely because the smell is so ubiquitous in functional products (the disinfectant properties of alpha-terpineol, a pine oil derivative with an intense lilac-like odour, have led to its widespread use in soaps and detergents). So that fans of the unloved blossom have had little to fall back on apart from Olivia Giacobetti’s whimsical En Passant for Frédéric Malle – more of a fleeting impression of a lilac tree in a hidden Parisian garden, with a strong aquatic cucumber note. But there’s been a tiny uptick lately, both in the mainstream with Idylle Duet Jasmin Lilas, and in niche with Phaedon Rue des Lilas. I didn’t get much of a sniff of the Guerlain; the Phaedon, a “white lilac” according to the brand, is an aldehydic rendition with strong almondy tones.
And then, of course, there was Yves Rocher’s Pur Désir de Lilas by Annick Menardo, an excellent portrait of the flower. It’s just been replaced with Purple Lilac, available in eau de toilette, body lotion and shower gel. The new version improves on Pur Désir de Lilas with more naturalistic effects due to the addition of fresh green top notes and more distinctly rosy heart – less soapy than its predecessor – on a powdery vanilla base. Menardo has done away with the slightly tinnish, synthetic effects of the Pur Désir version, though the spiciness and honeyed animalic notes of certain lilac blossoms is not showcased – the scent, featured in a “Morning in the garden” trio along with Rose Fraîche and Agrumes en fleurs, leans towards spring-time freshness.
Like most Yves Rocher products, Purple Lilac is amazing value for the money, and though I might be more inclined to use it as a room spray, I’d definitely recommend it to city dwellers who haven’t had their fill of lilac…
Now, on to you: is there any little-loved flower you’d dream of seeing featured in a perfume?
Illustration: Claude Monet, Les Lilas, temps gris, 1872, Musée d'Orsay