40 Days and 40 Nights of Fragrance Notes: Lily Of The Valley
Lily of The Valley
by Patti F
My Grandpa (the Roman one, not the Sicilian) had a green thumb. I swear that he could plant a stone, and a week later he'd have a tree growing. He had a talent, legendary among the old neighborhood old-timers, to be able to graft branches from plum trees. He didn't talk much, but he showed his love in non-verbal ways. On Sundays, after dinner, he'd sit me down in the living room, give me a stick of Juicy-Fruit gum, and read the comics to me. He tended his flower beds with great pride and care, showing me in Springtime where the green leaves of his bulb annuals were popping through the ground next to their house. In the early Summers, he would place tiny, delicate bouquets of lily-of-the-valley in a whiskey shot glass, and set them on the windowsill in Grandma's kitchen. It was his little gesture of love for her, and it touched me deeply, even as a child. I knew what he was saying to her, without uttering a word. It was always her favorite flower.
Demi-Jour comes from Houbigant, one of the oldest French perfumeries. Few Houbigants have gained fame over the years, and we mostly think of Quelques Fleurs when we talk about Houbigant. Demi-Jour is a strange scent. It has such huge aldehydes on the top that I'd like to compare it to Chanel #22 as one of the aldehydiest perfumes ever created. If you can get past that, the lily-of-the-valley will reward you. Blended in the mid notes are violet, rose, heliotrope and orris, but they stay back and let the lily-of-the-valley have her starring role. Oakmoss in the base just makes me happy.
One of the most beautiful lily-of-the-valley fragrances I've ever found is Fleur De Fleurs by Nina Ricci. I remember the day I discovered it, shopping with my Mom and her lady friend in the huge Kaufmann's store in downtown Pittsburgh. One spray of the tester, and all three of us were buying. Lemony and green at first, the heart of white florals emerges with the lily-of-the-valley shining through the blend. The base contains sandalwood, civet, and musk. There has never been any fragrance quite like it. I have heard that Ricci recently re-launched Nina, but with reformulation, and I hope that if Fleur De Fleurs ever comes back, it'll be the original formula. My Mom still wears hers, and so do I. Sparingly.
I would definitely be remiss if I did not mention the great Muguet Des Bois by Coty. It's still around, thank goodness. I am sure it has changed over the years, but it was always on my perfume tray when I was a young girl. Mom, Regina and I all shared a bottle, and we went through plenty of them. You can find it in the drugstores or discounters or perfume kiosks just about anywhere. Get one. It's cheap and it is what it is, which is a pretty, true lily-of-the-valley scent that'll put a smile on your face and won't lighten your wallet. That is, unless you have a desire for a more prestigious Muguet, whereupon you can call the Guerlain Boutique at Bergdorf Goodman and reserve your bottle of the 2011 Muguet, it'll set you back around $500 or so.
Do you love a lily-of-the-valley fragrance? And which ones do you know of that I did not know about or mention here in this review? Tell us all about them!
Reviewer: Patti F
Photos: Patti F
Graphic Credit: Melanie Parker
Disclaimer: The fragrances pictured above and mentioned in this review were all purchased by the reviewer, with the exception of the small gold Muguet bottle, that was a gift from her Mother.