Thursday, December 4, 2008

Violets Smell Funny


Possessed as I am with a sort of talent for parsing phrases, all I can come up with is ... Violets smell funny. They just do. Not that I’ve ever smelled a living violet. I’ll leave that to Audrey Hepburn peddling them for Rex Harrison on the back lot at Warner Brothers. Aside from their purpled character, I’d never, say, find them joyous or regal; nor are they particularly sad. Rather, they are demure ... and sort of funny in their demureness. Demure the way that Rei Kawakubo is demure. (Or, is she just quiet?)

Anyway, there are days when I am positively to addicted to perfumes with violet; like, for instance, the other night after a workout. I simply gave no mind to all the hairy pecs and post-shower masculine preening, and splashed some Annick Goutal La Violette on my wrists and neck. It’s one of the best violets out there (and it’s by Isabelle Doyen, a perfumer for whom I have nothing but praise) and it does the trick. It gives me a fine dose of that pastel-brushed petrol (Oeno-olfactospeak for gasoline, guys) note that octin esters (the chemicals responsible for green-violet leaf smells) produce, reminding me of a muscle-hunk wrapped in yards of silk tulle.

Another favorite isn’t even billed as a violet per se: The Different Company Bois d’Iris by Jean-Claude Ellena. Aside from having one of the most divine dry-downs of anything I’d put on man or woman alike, it plays those frosty ostrich-feather-grey irones (the chemicals responsible for iris/orris root notes) against cedar and vetiver (both top-notch materials), overlaid by a holographic veil of moody, pouting violets. The only downside is tenacity in warmer weather – to which I say, Spray it like you were a Rockefeller.

Lots of good things in life can smell funny. Use your imaginations and just think of the last time you drank a really fine Mosel Riesling. Jawohl!

8 Comments:

Blogger Parfum said...

I find that violet and iris smell very very similar, and that often some of the same or very similar chemicals are used to achieve the note in different perfumes. Violets to me have a very interesting scent, much less formal and classy than their counterpart of iris/orris notes, they are more playful, young, living and overall.. a bit funny... I guess :)

December 7, 2008 at 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Musette said...

For me, violets trumpet their indolic presence, then I am rendered anosmic to them for awhile, then they come back, a little softer for the duration (Diane Ackerman explains this phenomenon in her book "A Natural History of the Senses' but I forget the reason and am too lazy to look it up)....anyway, I love the smell of violets, grounded in something else. Liz Zorn does a great light violet that I adore: Violets and Rainwater. It could've been all pastel-y and twee but she infused it with a healthy whump! of dirt (to my nose, anyway) that keeps it grounded and interesting.

.... that definitely was not an intended pun!

December 7, 2008 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Parfum, That's a cogent remark. The irone/ionone family of chemicals is responsible for both classes. Violets are a little twisted :)

December 7, 2008 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Musette, I don't know the Liz Zorn scent. Chayaruchama, doyenne of the perfume world, introduced me to some of her creations this past spring. Thanks for the recommendation.

December 7, 2008 at 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Musette said...

Actually, she has several - they are difficult for me, not because they are not beautiful (they are) but because I have difficulty with violet beyond the first 2 minutes or so. The one I do like, V&R, is lighter but she has a couple of darker ones that I haven't yet mastered. Pity, as I love the concept of violets!

December 7, 2008 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Lucy said...

I love the concept of violets too, but often find the perfume execution is not what I have in mind. Violets have a lot of emotional resonance. Adorable photo!

December 8, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Divina said...

Definitely one of my favorite notes - I am absolutely in love with violets. Best violet scents in the world for me: Spectral Violet by Neil Morris & Vintage Le Dix (extrait). In that order, even!

December 10, 2008 at 4:16 AM  
Anonymous maisqueperfume said...

violets, cute little things with delicate strange smell...
also tricky to work with.
Not my favorite but it can give interesting results.

happy holidays,
Simone

December 28, 2008 at 1:12 PM  

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