Posts Tagged ‘violet scents’

The last review of this week’s joint blog project concerns Penhaligon’s Violetta.  You can go check out Redolent of Spices and Scent of the Day for more violet scent reviews, as well as my list of violet scents

Violetta, created in 1976, is a straightforward violet fragrance.  That’s more or less what you need to know – except that where many other violet soliflores tend toward either the powdery (Borsari Violetta di Parma) or candy-sweet (Berdoues Violettes de Toulouse), Penhaligon’s is all flower and leaf.

The official notes, according to Penhaligon’s,  include citruses, geranium, violet, sandalwood, cedarwood, and musk.  However, I’m almost sure there’s some violet leaf in there too – it’s quite sharp and green for quite some time, and has a spicy, aromatic quality that seems to indicate violet leaf.

From the Penhaligon’s website:

Created in 1976, Violetta is a dark, dusky and mysterious fragrance suffused with the achingly nostalgic purity of violets. Surprisingly green and sharp to begin with, it becomes lush and velvety as it develops. The sweet violets are complimented by green notes of garden geranium and supported by subtle woods and musks at the base. One of our most surprising fragrances, it captures the elusive violet with incredible clarity and potency.

“Surprising?” Not really; like I said earlier, it’s pretty much all violet leaves and blooms.  Violetta begins with the bright, clean green note of violet leaf, and the intense sweetness of deep purple violets.  It stays here for most of its three-hour experiment, with an interesting spicy accent and a floral freshness to its heart – it’s violets All The Time, but for me very much like crushed fresh plants: no powder, no candy.  Which is the way I like my violet scents, to be honest.  The light woody drydown gradually becomes apparent during the last hour.  There’s a whisper of musk, too, but not enough to be distracting, and I think this restrained, woody drydown may be the part of the fragrance that really sells me on it.  It’s not entirely masculine, but there’s a dryness from the cedar and sandalwood that keeps Violetta from being wholly girly, like the Goutal La Violette.    Too, it’s reminiscent of a walk through the woods, complete with patches of blooming violets among the trees. 

This is an Eau de Toilette, and like most EdTs, it doesn’t have great staying power.  I don’t mind that, though – three hours of this beauty is well worth it.  After testing as many violet fragrances as I could get my hands on (oh, there are more I haven’t gotten to yet, but at last count my Violet Scents Tested list numbered 24!), I still think Violetta is my favorite violet solflore, with Soivohle Violets and Rainwater as runner-up.  It blends well with other fragrances, it stays fresh and clean and woody-floral, and that bottle is just darling.  I need one.  My decant is rapidly disappearing.

Here’s a review of the talcum powder formulation of Violetta, by Jessica at Now Smell This, and a brief review by Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am.

Image of perfume bottle is from Fragrantica.com; image of blooming violet is from Wikipedia Commons.

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My second review for Violet Week, a joint blog project along with Redolent of Spices and Scent of the Day, is for Annick Goutal’s La Violette.  This scent is actually a violet soliflore, where Caron Aimez-Moi is not, though it’s not as violet-focused and simple as some of the other violet scents I’ve tried. It’s part of Goutal’s “single-flower” series, which also includes Le Chevrefeuille, Le Jasmin, Neroli, Rose Absolue, and Tubereuse. Released in 2001, it was composed by Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal.

The Perfumes: The Guide review is fairly complimentary, giving it four stars and the description “vivacious, fresh and pink-cheeked,” while also mentioning a slight off smell of glue or paint thinner and comparing it to L’Artisan’s girly Drole de Rose (also four stars). I don’t get the “vivacious” description; to my mind, it’s shy and pretty and romantic instead.

Here’s part of the ad copy from the Annick Goutal website:

This fragrance is mischievous and flavorsome like a violet candy, tender as an ancient lipstick, shallow like the little stem once worn in women’s décolleté.

And from Lucky Scent:

Annick Goutal loved the subtle and extremely feminine smell of this flower. This is why Camille decided to dedicate this perfume to her mother with whom she liked to nibble lightly on violet stems to get its sweet taste.

Harmony of flower, leaves, and stem, for a floral fragrance subtly touched with a green note. When a touch of rose is added, the violet becomes even more seductive. This scent is mischievous and savory like a violet candy.

The notes for La Violette are bare-bones notes: violet leaf, violet, and rose, and darned if that isn’t just about as simple as the fragrance actually is. There may be other materials in there, but if so, they’re awfully quiet and serve only as supporting cast members technical crew. There is indeed a very fleeting haze of paint thinner or nail-polish remover in the top, but it is literally gone within seconds. There seem to be no basenotes to this fragrance: no musk, no woods, no moss… My experience with it is this: fresh green and intense violet to start, then powdery-woody violet and a bit of pale rosewater later, and then a fade into skin. The scent experience, even “sprayed wet” the way I do to increase a gentle scent’s impact and staying power, is ephemeral and light, and only lasts two to two and half hours on me.

The whole thing is about as girly and innocent and sweet as you could ever want – if you’re looking for the perfect smell for the flower girl in your wedding, this is it. If you’re looking for a fragrance to announce, “I’m harmless and lovable” to your dorm mates or new neighbors or prospective in-laws, this is it. This is actually a terrific handkerchief scent, too: the tiny hint of powder along with the sweet violets makes it extremely ladylike without calling to mind the dreaded “old lady” soubriquet. It’s perfect for wearing while lifting a flowerlike face to your young swain for that first chaste kiss, or for worshipping from afar.

It is definitely not a scent for seduction, however – it’s far too innocent for that. It’s too gentle and retiring for an office scent, too (you don’t want to smell innocent and romantic at the office, or people will dump their work on your desk and expect you to do it for them).

That said, La Violette is downright pretty. It’s as pretty and shy as the flower that inspired it. If “just pretty” tempts you, you couldn’t go wrong with this one.

Here’s a lovely review from Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am.

Top image is from LuckyScent; lower one from Rainbows4All.

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Today kicks off A Week of Violets, a joint blog project at Redolent of Spices and Scent of the Day.  We’re each reviewing three violet scents this week, so be sure to go read their reviews today, and then check back later in the week for more reviews.   First up here: Caron Aimez-Moi.

In general, I haven’t been a big fan of Caron scents so far.  It’s true that I’ve largely limited my Caron testing to the currently-available fare, without resorting to the vintage ebay finds that make up most of my vintage experience, so I’ve never smelled, say, Narcisse Noir or Tabac Blond as they were before the current round of Richard Fraysse reformulations.  Those classic Caron scents are fairly rare and sometimes available, but at long-lost-love prices.  It’s true that, with a few exceptions, I haven’t been all that impressed with the current Caron offerings.

Aimez-Moi is one of the exceptions.  Two years ago, I was trolling along looking for recommendations for violet scents, and ran across a review of Aimez-Moi by Robin at Now Smell This.  It would eventually become clear to me that Robin’s tastes and mine share a very small area of overlap, but I didn’t know that at the time, and her description of Aimez-Moi as “deep, cool and mysterious” pulled me in.  Shortly after that, a sample became available to me via swap – and I was hooked.

The scent opens with a dry, almost nail-polish-y overlay, which is more noticeable on fabric than on skin, and which might be a bergamot note beginning to go off.  It doesn’t matter, because very quickly, AM blooms into an anise-violet accord which is both sweet and pungent.  If you think of candy at all – you may – you’ll think of those odd, old-fashioned British candies called Liquorice Allsorts, which are bits of stiff, chewy licorice, tougher and less sweet than the American stuff, encased in thick, chalky-tasting pink, orange, or green candy coating. 

Shortly after that, a pleasant rose note appears, staying to hang out with the anise and violet for at least an hour or two, while gradually a dry, powdery vanilla-heliotrope accord surfaces under that.  It actually reminds me a good deal of Apres l’Ondee, if Al’O were less misty and ephemeral.  Aimez-Moi becomes cheerful and friendly, a sort of perky, quirky yet wholesome ingenue version of Apres l’Ondee’s ethereal, wispy poetry-writing maiden.  Think Emma Woodhouse, from the Jane Austen novel, and you’ve got a pretty good idea.  She’s known some sadness in her life, but generally things go her way, and since all she really wants is to make all the people in her life happy, she’s optimistic and rather naive.

The first time I wore Aimez-Moi, I thoroughly enjoyed it, only realizing toward the end of the four-hour ride that I wished that I’d known of it when I was young and optimistic myself.  I thought it was the perfect scent for falling in love – and then the moment that thought occurred to me, I became terribly sad that I was no longer that young, optimistic, in-love person.

Heliotrope tends to make me unaccountably wistful. 

The second time I wore Aimez-Moi, and every time since then, the entire experience was cheerful.  No sadness – which after all had more to do with my life than with this scent – at all. 

 If Apres l’Ondee is a silk chiffon scarf in lavender and silver, Aimez-Moi is a fluffy, girly sweater in mauve and pale silvery purple, cuddly as a basketful of blue-eyed kittens.  It is a fairly quiet scent, and not very sweet beyond the brief initial blast of weirdness.  It’s also good for what I like to call a “handkerchief scent,” one that’s feminine and unobtrusive enough for spritzing your linen handkerchief before tucking it into your purse.  If you just said to yourself, “Tucking a what into my what?” then it’s possible that Aimez-Moi may not be for you.  But, of course, I might be wrong, and who am I to say that biker chicks in black leather who carry wallets chained to their belt loops might not love it? 

Notes for Aimez-Moi, which was composed by Dominique Ropion (Dominique, will you marry me? I’d at least like to thank you for Carnal Flower, Alien, Ysatis, Jungle L’Elephant, Safari and Une Fleur de Cassie, as well as Aimez-Moi) and released in 1996:   Top notes include bergamot, star anise, mint, and violet.  Middle notes are jasmine, iris, magnolia, vanilla, peach, rose.  Basenotes are musk, amber, woody notes and heliotrope.  What I mostly smell, as I mentioned, is anise, violet, rose, vanilla and heliotrope. 

I bought a small 1-ounce bottle for about $17 at one of the discounters, and I’ve been very happy with it.  I was lucky enough to discover one of the pretty, original-release bottles; it looks like an ornate Victorian cushion with tassels on each corner, interpreted in cut glass.  I don’t care much for the standard Caron bottles, and have been known to call them “butt-ugly,” but who cares about ugly bottles when the scent inside them is so pretty?

A few more reviews for your consideration: Robin at Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things .  Tania Sanchez, in Perfumes: The Guide, says of Aimez-Moi (****)  that it “begins with a pretty fresh violet and ends in sweet powdery vanilla, and has a humor and cheer largely missing from Caron’s current lineup of feminines.”

Images of Aimez-Moi ad and bottle from Fragrantica.  Image of Liquorice Allsorts from Wikimedia Commons.

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There is something about cool weather that makes me long for violets.  I don’t know why I love violet scents, given that the violets that grow wild in this part of the country are scentless, shy little things, and I have never smelled fresh Parma violets.  I keep coming across them in novels, and have always loved the idea of them – small purple flowers with a heavenly fragrance.

Violet Week is coming up the first week of November!  You can read reviews of several violet scents at Redolent of Spices and at Scent of the Day, as well as here at Muse in Wooden Shoes.  I’ll be reviewing Caron Aimez-Moi, Annick Goutal La Violette, and Penhaligon’s Violetta.   Others to be featured include: Creed Love in Black, Parfums de Nicolai Violette in Love, Soivohle Violets & Rainwater, Guerlain Attrape-Coeur, CB I Hate Perfume Violet Empire, Balmain Jolie Madame, and (maybepossiblyI hope) Stephen Jones for Comme des Garcons.

Violet was one of the first notes I explored upon becoming interested in perfume, and I’ve tried quite a long list of violet scents, both soliflores and violets-in-composition.  Violets, composed largely of ionones and irones, can have fruity, powdery, woody, and/or sweet aspects as well as the expected floral ones, and you may enjoy some of those aspects while not enjoying others.

If you’re interested in investigating violet as a note, here is a compendium of the violet scents of which I’m aware, along with brief descriptions of the ones I’ve tried, to help you get started.  I hope you find at least a few you enjoy, and if there are any other violet soliflores or violet-focused fragrances you’re aware of, please let me know of them.


Borsari Violetta di Parma – an old, old-fashioned, reference soliflore.  Very quiet, very powdery, and although the notes don’t list it, I think there may be a bit of rose in there.

Berdoues Violettes de Parma – another old-fashioned, powdery violet.  I didn’t like it at all.

Berdoues Violette Cherie – a flanker that’s even softer and more powdery than the original, as far as I can tell from descriptions.

Berduoues Violettes Divine – a “dark version” flanker in beautiful packaging; deep, sweet, and fruity with a woody drydown that eventually gets a little tiresome. 

 Annick Goutal La Violette – Upcoming review (here).

Penhaligon’s Violetta –  Upcoming review (here).

Possets Silver Violets – sugary-fruity violet.  Could come in a cereal box labeled “Violet Puffs.”  Urgh.

Soivohle Violets & Rainwater – Upcoming review at Redolent of Spices.  My take: after reading Musette’s descriptions of this at Perfume Posse that repeated the phrase “little whump of dirt,” I gave in and tried it.  Nothin’ but violets, floral-sweet, no powder at all.  Nice, but linear.  Or so I thought, until about the fourth try, when I finally got the “dirt,” which to me was more like a dry, earthy base that made me think of forest floors.  Still, the “dirt” note is not the focus, but leads to a very pleasant, coherent drydown that puts this one high on the list of violet soliflores.

Caron Violette Precieuse – I really should invoke the Thumper rule on this one, because the only thing I have to say about it is this:  Hideous.   I am, of course, talking about the current reformulation of an old favorite, so if you’re still hoarding some from the days when it was good, please realize I’m not talking about The Precious.  (And share, for heaven’s sake.)

L’Artisan Verte Violette – powdery violet plus powdery green.  I don’t know how they got the green to be powdery, and I don’t wanna know.  I found it to be deeply boring.

Laura Tonatto Eleanora Duse – the favorite violet of March over at the Posse.  Like Violets & Rainwater,  you get a lovely sweet deep violet over a pleasant woody drydown.  I think I prefer V&R due to the ghost of cologne in ED, but I’d pick either one ahead of any number of other violet scents.

Soliflores I haven’t tried, with brief descriptions of their “angle”:

Devon Violets – traditional powdery violet

CBIHP Wild Pansy – green and violet, reportedly simpler than Violet Empire

Yardley April Violets – traditional powdery violet

Santa Maria Novella Violetta – citrus violet green

Devon Violets – traditional powdery violet

Molinard Violette – violet woody musk

Geo. F. Trumper Ajaccio Violets (discontinued, apparently) – green violet

Guerlain Meteorites – powdery rose-violet

Prada No. 7 Violette – galbanum, rose, violet, iris, leather 

DSH Perfumes Violetta di Murano – green notes, violet, woody

Violet compositions:

Caron Aimez-Moi – Upcoming review (here).

Balmain Jolie Madame – violet, leather, moss.  Upcoming review at Scent of the Day.  My review is here.  (Oddly, violet is not listed in the notes, but there’s a ton of it in JM.)

Stephen Jones for Comme des Garcons – aldehydes, violet, and metal/tar (“meteorites”).   I have a sample of this one that I’m still testing and trying to figure out.  I hope to review it here in November.

Coty L’Origan – orange blossom, violet, and anise.  The vintage parfum is a mossier version of L’Heure Bleue, which it predated.

YSL Paris – rose and violet.  Flowers larger than life and fifteen times as romantic.  Don’t overspritz or you’ll radiate like Three Mile Island.  Most of the Printemps flankers are nicely done, and far quieter than the original; I own Paris Pont des Amours.

Bvlgari Pour Femme – mimosa and violet.  I hate this one – there’s something like a musty basement in the middle that I can’t stand – but it certainly has its fans.

Guerlain Attrape-Coeur – Upcoming review at Redolent of Spices.

CBIHP M4 Room with a View – hay, baked earth, violets.  Based on the famous romantic scene in the E.M. Forster novel, where George Emerson kisses Lucy Honeychurch on a hillside outside Florence.  Oddly, I didn’t find this one all that romantic.  Instead, it feels a little like a thrown-together soup that needed more time on the back of the stove for the flavors to meld.  It doesn’t smell like a Florentine hillside; it smells like hay and violets, period.  I don’t know why I’m snarky about this, except that I wanted to swoon and didn’t.

Ava Luxe Midnight Violet – violet and cedar.  An utter disaster on me, given that the amber in the base is the variety that comes off to my nose smelling like shaving cream.

Serge Lutens Bois de Violette – violet and cedar.  I liked Feminite du Bois, but wasn’t all that impressed due to the fade-out and -back-in during its development.  I really like PdRosine Poussiere de Rose, and I love Dolce Vita.  My opinion on this one is – Meh.  Nice, but transcendent? No.

Guerlain Insolence – berry rose violet.  The EdT and EdP are slightly different formulas.  The EdP is shrieking insanity, if you ask me – it chased me out of the room.

Balenciaga Le Dix – aldehydes, violet, sandalwood.  I had actually forgotten to add this one at first, largely because I’ve only tried it from a vintage mini bottle bought on ebay – and I didn’t smell any violets in it!  Could have been that particular bottle, which I’ve since swapped away – but everybody else says “violets” for Le Dix, so I added it to the list.  I should probably retry it, from a reliable source.

Worth Je Reviens – aldehydes, green notes, mixed florals including violet.  Seems more “floral bouquet” to me personally, but some people get violets out of it.

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman – evergreens, violet, amber.  Intriguing and unusual.  Sadly for me, the amber tends to take over and I can’t smell anything else, but this is the darling of many a perfumista, and deservedly so.

Frederick Malle Lipstick Rose – Powdery violet and rose.  My personal reaction to the sample?  “Yes, it smells like old-fashioned lipsticks – exactly like them.  Very clever.  Brilliant work.  Kudos to F Malle.  Now gimme my money back.”  I have no idea why I like YSL Paris and dislike this one, but that’s the case.  I make no apologies.

More violet compositions I haven’t tried, with descriptions pulled from fragrance forums like Fragrantica, Makeup Alley, and Basenotes:

Fresh Index Violet Moss – violet and moss, both powdery, with a white (laundry) musk drydown.

Balenciaga Paris – violet “modern chypre.”  Both reviled and praised for its quiet, non-ditzy office-wearability.  

CBIHP Violet Empire –  Upcoming review at Scent of the Day.

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette – mossy violet floral.

SSS Wood Violet – violet and cedar.

Soivohle Purple Love Smoke – grape Jimi Hendrix violet.

Alexander McQueen MyQueen – violet patchouli vanilla.

DSquared SheWood – citrus violet cedar.

Jean Charles Brousseau Fleurs d’Ombre Violette Menthe – mint violet woody.

Parfums de Nicolai Violette in Love – Upcoming review at Redolent of Spices.

Creed Love in Black – Upcoming review at Scent of the Day.

Christiane Celle Calypso Violette – rose honey violet.

Lush (now Gorilla) Tuca Tuca – violet vanilla vetiver.

Roxana Villa Illuminated Perfumes Gracing the Dawn – violet-floral chypre.

Images of Viola Odorata from Wikimedia Commons.

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