40 Days and 40 Nights of Fragrance Notes: Violet
As I write these perfume note reviews for Blogdorf's 40 Notes In 40 Days, one of the things I like to do is to choose one of the fragrances I own which contains that particular note. I wear it while I'm writing. So, with today's review about the violet, I went to my perfume tray to see what I would find. After a few minutes, I came to realize that I was having a very hard time choosing! Next to rose perfumes, violet is my second-favorite fragrance note. And my perfume collection definitely proves it. I pulled all of my violet fragrances and set them inside a box. I thought that might make it easier, if I saw them all gathered together. It didn't.
It began to be perfectly clear to me why I was having so much trouble just choosing one to wear as I write. Violet scents are utterly fascinating perfumes, so varied in style that none of the ones I had in the box seemed to be an overall representation of the entire group. So, what I did was to choose my favorite violet fragrance of all of them (that was hard to do!) and spray it on as I gathered my thoughts. I'll tell you in a bit which one it is.
My first real violet fragrance was a bottle of Borsari Violetta Di Parma, which I found in a pretty box on a markdown table at our local TJMaxx. I knew I had found something special, I knew it was legendary. I bought it ($10!) and brought it home, and then did some research. It seems that the most true violet notes come from Italy, and many of them were done by the Borsari house. I did not even know that real violet flowers even had a scent. The little wild violets that grow in my back yard might smell a bit greenish, but there's no floralcy to them at all. I can't say I loved the Violetta Di Parma. It was dry and dusty and thin. It's long gone from my collection, and in the hands of someone who appreciated it much more than I did.
I did not give up on Borsari, though, because what I was learning is that the violets of this particular part of Italy produce the violet scent which is treasured in perfumes. While browsing a European website that specializes in beautiful and rare mini perfume bottles, I spotted a gorgeous Borsari called Bouquet Di Violette. I ordered it, along with a few other pretty minis, and when it arrived, I opened it to try out the scent. Ahh! This was way more appealing to me than the first Borsari. Less green, more floral, a bit powdery, I was enchanted. I'd never smelled anything like this before. Of course now I wanted to explore and find more violet perfumes. I even found another Borsari (this time at Marshalls! Again on a markdown table!) -- Violetta Classica, which turned out to be a very musty earthy fragrance which I find almost too dirty to wear. MAC Asphalt Flower is another one of those dirty violet types, but I love that one, with its juxtaposition of feminine florals and a gritty downtown vibe. I tried a sample of Serge Lutens Bois De Violette, which to me was too much bois and not enough violette.
On a trip to New York City, visiting perfume counters with a group of friends, I discovered my treasure. Barney's has one of the best fragrance departments in the entire city. And off to one side, on a pretty tray, I found some Italian fragrances called I Profumi di Firenze. The representative for the company was there that day, Miryana, and she started to ask me what types of scents I like. She held up an almost-empty bottle of Violetta Di Bosco and told me that the reason it was almost empty was that all of the beauty floor sales associates would stop by and spray themselves with this scent. I held up my wrist so she could spray some on me. It was love at first sniff and it's been that way ever since. Violetta Di Bosco is a candy-sweet violet. It's the one I am wearing as I write. I Profumi di Firenze lists no other notes, but I detect a woodsy base.
In my search for other violet scents, I found many new loves and surprises. Violet scents can be incredibly green, and those I don't care much for at all. They smell like broken stems rather than flowers. In the green violet category, I would list L'Artisan Vert Violette, Fresh Violette, and Fragonard Apres-Tout. I have that last one, but I don't wear it very often. I tried vial samples of the other two and was not wowed. Violets blended with woodsy-incensey notes are ones that I love, and those include Nanette by Nanette Lepore, John Galliano, and the gorgeous but limited edition MAC Hue:Violetrix.
Violet scents that tend to be more powdery are FlowerbyKenzo and the stunning Balenciaga Paris, which has a rich base of patchouli, woods, and oakmoss.
I like floral blends with a dominant violet note, such as the original Caron Violette Precieuse. Perhaps the most rare of my violet scents is Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Eau Des Arts, in its silver metal spray cannister. I found this at a tiny cosmetic boutique in Cleveland, where the owner told me she was able to obtain a few CSP scents that were never intended to be sold in the United States. It is a blend of violets with jasmine, lily of the valley and heliotrope in a soft base of woods and spices.
But I continue to love the candy-type violets the most of all. Next to my beloved Violetta Di Bosco, I am crazy for Frederic Malle's Lipstick Rose. The perfumer, Ralf Schweiger, is given credit on the label of the bottle, as are all of the Malle scents. The initial aldehyde moves quickly into a sweet violet with rose, iris, coriander, and a vetiver and vanilla base. It's so addicting that when I purchased my first bottle of Lipstick Rose, it is all I wore until I finished the bottle.
When my two favorite perfume notes, rose and violet, are combined into one perfume, something magical happens. Paris by Yves Saint Laurent is the best example of this combination. Many of the scents I've listed here have rose notes combined with the violet. Within these scents, one plus one is bigger than two! There is something about the rose-violet blend that becomes its own entity. It's as if they belong together.
Do you love a violet fragrance? Which one is your favorite?
Disclaimer: In the photos, every bottle was purchased by the reviewer, with the exception of one which was a gift.
Reviewer: Patti F aka Cavewoman
Graphic Credit: Melanie Parker
Photo Credit: Patti F aka cavewoman