Thursday, June 3, 2010

Violets, wasabi and crispy dollars

Parma violets…where is it from? Leo Tolstoy? Maupassant? Why is it that a nineteenth century romantic heroine is so often followed by violets aroma?

In perfumery a violet is either a synthetic reproduction of the flower scent or more often it’s leaves. The natural violet leaves absolu smells of new leather boots insides. Its synthetic replacements (methyl ionone(s), alpha irone, alpha cetone, Iralia®, nonadienol, undecavertol, etc.) smell harsher and clearer, crispy as a radish or even pungent like wasabi. Crispy, green and sharp – just like that smell of a tight pack of recently printed dollars. 

Interesting violet perfumes:

La Violette (Annick Goutal) ionones, leaves absolu, Turkish rose. A very balanced and beautiful perfume. Best as a feminine violet. (Floral)

Cuir Pleine Fleur (Heeley) starts with a cognac note (hint at the violet flower scent?), then a burst of methyl ionone, then a very perceptible violet leaves absolu accord. An encyclopedia of violet in perfumery. Best as a unisex violet.

Violetta (Penhaligon’s) another violet compendium, but compared to Cuir Pleine Fleur the cognac accord is very subdued.  Violetta is a refreshing flowery-woody perfume. Reminds me of that tight pack of new crispy dollars.

He Wood (DSquared) violet leaves absolu very well rhymed with cedar and vetiver. All is slightly sweetened with amber.

Bois de Violette (Serge Lutens) methyl ionone with something reminiscent of Prunol (sweet prunes, honey, sandal).BdV would have been lethally sugary without that dollop of crispy ionones. And it would have been interesting if it didn’t share that cloying sweet base with another dozen of Lutens perfumes. Actually smells a lot like Coke: artificial sweetness against fuzzy acid bubbles. (Woody)

L’Heure Bleue (Guerlain) created in 1912, today smells of camphor balls... Seriously. (Floral-oriental)

Lipstic Rose (Frederic Malle) Rose and wasabi. (Floral-oriental)

Insolence EdT (Guerlain) powdery synthetic violet, strawberry marmalade, strong note of sweet almonds (Tonka, I guess). Refined relative of Tocade with that signature accord of Maurice Roucel: rose, vanilla and a green nuance. EdP is more tender and sweeter. (Floral-oriental)

Eau de Cartier Concentrée (Cartier)
sour-sweet scent: pungent synthetic violet vs. sweet amber.

Violet perfumes which left me indifferent:

Violette Precieuse (Caron) Sweet cucumber mutating into a sweetish musc. (Floral?)

Blanc Violette (Histoires de Parfums) white floral, powdery and mundane. The violet is mute.

Paris (Balenciaga) rather a pink pepper, which in the end smells like air freshener.

Feerie (Van Cleef and Arpels) LEGO like blocks of ionones and synthetic fruit in EdP, EdT smells more of apples.

The Uncorn Spell (LesNez) basil, methyl ionone and maybe some synthetic reproduction of the violet flower scent.  (Green)

Angel Violette (Thierry Mugler) A LOT OF chocolate and a little of violet from the Caron’s Violette Precieuse. (Woody-oriental)

Farenheight (Dior) impoverished relative of Cuir Pleine Fleur (or rather an ancestor). Cheerful ionones smelling like new leather boots insides. 

Cuir Améthyste (Armani Privé) lacks balance of sour and sweet which was excellently executed in Eau de Cartier Concentrée. CA breaks into dissonant extremes.

More on violets (not tried):

Iris de Nuit (Heeley)
Le Dix (Balenciaga) discontinued
Black Violet (Tom Ford)
Violet Moss (Fresh)
Eau de Cartier (Cartier)
Violet Empire (CB I hate perfume)
Jolie Madame (Balmain)
Eleonora Duse (Laura Tonato) flower and leaves NEW
Violettes de Toulouse (Parfums Berdoues) flower
Purple Love Smoke (Soivohle)
Comme Une Evidence (Yves Rocher)

also they say these ancient perfumes contained good violet flower imitations:

Paris (YSL)
Magie (Lancome)
L'Interdit (Givenchy)
Violetta di Parma (Borsari)


  1. How fascinating. I love the idea of the smell of violets as they are such a beautiful flower. However, whenever I try to smell a violet fragrance I can't really smell very much. Of the ones you list above, I've tried Paris by Balenciaga - but it's an incredibly mild perfume. I must try some of the others that you mention.

    Great blog!

  2. Thanks! I couldn't fine a proper violet flower scent thought, seems its all about leaves now: woody and/or leathery