Like any other perfume lover, the receiving of bottles of scent for Christmas, or a birthday, or any other special occasion, is reason for excitement. My in-laws are from Norfolk, home of the world’s finest lavender (I prefer it to the French or the Bulgarian, this very English, camphoraceous lavender with just the right balance of purpleness, herbs and fruit) and they generously brought over a bottle of Yardley English Lavender in my Christmas package when they came over in December. I was of course delighted to receive it, particularly as I totally associate where Duncan is from with the scent of this hallowed, ancient plant.  Daphne will always send me sachets of dried lavender flowers from her garden, which I love to put under my pillow, and we even once went on an fascinating lavender tour all together somewhere out in the countryside in Norfolk, being guided through the differing varietals and seeing the distillery plant where the essential oil is produced. I shed a tear as I saw the machine produce a pure drop of extracted lavender, and watched it drip slowly down into the receptacle beneath.



As for lavender perfumes, while I am not a massive fan of the note on myself, I do love it on the D, from Guerlain’s exquisite Lavande Velours, to Penhaligons’ suavely rendered Sartorial, to Serge Lutens Gris Clair. I have worn Caron Pour Un Homme on occasion, that sultry, musky vanilla fused masculine lavender that is still extremely successful among men back in its homeland (as is that other lavender classic, Eau Sauvage, another one of my youthful favourites when I was seventeen), but as a brilliantly health preserving essence (there is no other essential oil as useful as lavender), I only have the highest veneration for lavender anything in general.   I suppose in comparison to these other lavender kisses, Yardley’s English Lavender was always a very old fashioned scent – if you really want to look at it that way and adopt that tedious mindset-  but for me it was more like timeless.











Yardley English lavender, especially in the extrait form you see it above, the one I always bought for myself, was clear, removed from reality, refined, cold, and disdainful almost: unsweetened and unadorned, sharp yet soft; natural, very English, and utterly, utterly dignified. I would sometimes buy it to just wear at those moments where I just wanted quiet and repose, and even picked up a hair pomade once which I sometimes use even now by my bedside to relax me at night.




Sadly, Yardley seems to have gone down the trash-it-in-desperation route common to plenty of perfume manufacturers hoping to stay relevant and modern and in the process have utterly desecrated this once simple but beautiful scent beyond description. My relatives back in Norwich were not to know this of course, and I was still pleased to receive it (as I am virtually any perfume), and I know this is going to come across as me being ungrateful and petulant. Forgive me if that is the case. But the indignation I feel upon smelling this cheap common muck that is imposting in the place of the original perfume does need to be expressed. Where once there was a mauve, muslin clarity; thick glass pools that were dry and healthful, uplifting yet calming, now, once the brief and very incongruous top notes of real English lavender have dissipated, all you have on the back of your reeking hand is a vanillic, inexpensive ‘sexy’ bathroom spray chemical accord that has defiled and sacrileged what was once a pillar of perfumery for those who liked it quiet, dream inducing and classical in an attempt to make it pertinent and somehow ‘sensual’.






Absent mindedly picking up the new bottle today has suddenly and inexplicably set off this furious rampage, sorry








(no!!!! look at it!! Sheer toilet cleaner! Surely the whole point of keeping perfumes like this is actually for the very heritage they represent: surely the olde worlde Anglophilia of the original products were the reason that they were still very popular worldwide in the first place ( I actually picked up my tub of lavender brilliantine in Dubai airport, where there was a huge array of the originally packaged Yardleyy products on display, for people from that region probably appealing as total Anglo-Exotica). But in not only giving us an ugly and unattractive bottle, but also taking away the heart of the original fragrance, with its delicately strewn bouqet garni of rosemary, moss and eucalyptus and replacing it with this ‘puking party slag’ overall vibe, Yardley have created an irreconcilable monster that will be incompatible, I would imagine, with virtually anyone. Who the hell will want this shit? The ‘young’ will still find it boring and old fashioned, or just think that it smells like something that belongs in a toilet. Older devotees will simply mourn the passing of the scent they originally loved, and shun it like the grave. As for me, I am just looking forward to having access to the real thing when I come back to England in August. Those lavender fields still waiting for me, hopefully, if we have time for another visit (Daphne and Rod, can we?), and that perfect, perfect essential oil that I would like to stock up on and bring with me back to Japan, to sprinkle on my sheets or in my morning bath water;  the smell of raw lavender flowers and leaves, sunning themselves in the late evening English summer light…..




This new and ugly bastardisation, on the other hand, can just go and screw itself.




Filed under Flowers, Lavender


  1. Daphne and Rod

    Yes Neil, this was very hard to come by and I totally agree with your comments but what is the alternative? Like my Lancome Magie Noire has changed too, but I still love it. What should we all do – write to the people concerned”””’
    Love Dx

    • Magie Noire has been more leeched out I would say. Cheapened, certainly, but it smells like Magie Noire at the end of the day, just less dense. The essential structure is still in place: I’m sure that if you are wearing it when we see you in the summer it will still smell lovely on you. This new version of English Lavender, though, smells NOTHING like the original whatsoever! Not even vaguely. So weird. I of course noticed when I opened it on Christmas day (and didn’t say anything) but then just put it away until today and then realized that it was actually even WORSE than I had thought initially. It’s a travesty! Thankfully I know it isn’t too costly so Andrew and Louise weren’t ripped off too unbearably but even so, it’s a shame that it ended so ruined.

      • Tonny

        Sorry, my English is not so good but I must say that I’am very sad that they have changed the Original Lavender into something that I not reconnaize,I used it against stress and fear and have tryed many other labels but nothing is like Original Lavender.How can they change someting that is so good?
        I wrote to Yardley but no luck, the answer is no.
        Greetings from Holland,

  2. Holly

    Oh good grief and wtf?
    I’m not a fan of lavender in perfumes for the most part, but this was a staple for me for decades. I think it’s time that we create a perfume cemetery where we can go to mourn the lost ones.
    The good news is that the old version is available on evilbay!

    • I should damn well hope so! I wondered at first if this was an alternative version, in which case I could accept its existence as a pointless and ugly flanker, but from looking at the website it looks as if this vile evil clone has taken over from the original entirely. If I am wrong about this anyone, please let me know!

      It was different to everything else, don’t you think? Pure and untouchable, somehow.

      • Holly

        I think the new version is what they’ll be offering and that’s that.
        It was different from everything else and I’m beginning to feel old and cranky that yet something else has disappeared.

        Yardley also used to do one of my first perfume loves waaay back in the sixties: Oh! de London. I still miss it. Grump…

  3. I completely empathize with that singular feeling of outrage and loss. Glad you let us know! I see that there is some “old packaging” version still out there, so perhaps you could stock up now before it disappears – assuming that old packaging means original formulation. Price is right: twelve bucks USD and change for 1.7 ounces. Here’s one link for you (I have no connection to this business, of course, just use them quite a bit myself):

    • Thanks R. Actually, I am not such a lavender lover that I am desperate to get my hands on some bottles, really, but I would have liked the one that I was given to have been how it was intended. I was more infuriated by the general feeling of idiocy and pointlessness of trashing an old classic so mercilessly: this doesn’t even try to smell how it did before, and the balance of the entire composition is extremely off (and I don’t think it’s my bottle: it smells brand new). I offered Duncan it to smell and he wrinkled his nose. It really does smell BAD!.

      • Ah, I see what you mean. Right. Yes, the principle of the thing. Yardley is a chump change player compared to the likes of Chanel (we know what we think about the current No 19) and Dior. Why those houses don’t just scrap the names altogether instead of slapping them on sad/ugly caricatures of the originals baffles me. I suppose they’re just hitching a cheap ride on the reputations of the brilliant seminal compositions. I see that the 2012 reissues of Diorling et al, for example, are supposed to have been “made more contemporary with an intention to achieve balance between the original fragrance and modern fragrance.” Dior has the audacity to call them Les Creations de Monsieur Dior. He is no doubt rolling in his grave.

  4. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    I have some old bottles that I bought years ago in France. Ma favourite lavender grows in the south of France, the region of the Lot, north side of the river, met on a walk across the Causses, dark mauvish blue and getting across so strong, that I can still smell it!! Never surpassed. I always put lavender among my wool and silk clothing to keep out the moths.
    I mourn for your Yardley. Off with their heads! Hope you will find some on your stay in Norfolk.

  5. rosestrang

    What a disappointment that must have been, incomprehensible why people do this with a decent thing that was originally made in good, high quality but simple taste – unfrilly yes, very English in its way but calming and much appreciated for that reason at times.
    However, though verging on non PC I think ‘puking party slag’ should become part of the lexicon of perfume critique. Your phrase invention? Kudos!

    On a similar subject but in a completely different style – have you tried the reformulation of Coco Chanel? Bingo-wing bling, a weird soup. I never totally loved the original though I wore it in the late 80s briefly, but it did have great personality and impact, perfect for its time.

    • Ugh, has that been wrecked as well? ‘Puking party slag’ – yes, very much mine. I never think about whether things are PC, just whether they express what I want to say (or make me laugh, like that did). How else could I express the muddle at the centre of the perfume?

  6. Such a sad state of affairs when such a simple and iconic fragrance is ruined. I have such fond memories of wearing Yardley’s English Lavender when I was young, I think my father gave it to me, that it makes me saddened to think of it gone forever. I really wish I had purchased a bottle before the whole travesty occurred, just for memories sake. I might just have to go on to EBay and look for a bottle. Good luck finding a vintage bottle also. Damned be these companies and their marketing people.

  7. Tanya

    So I’m not the only one…

    Actually I’m not a perfume/fragrance-person (I get headaches from almost all of them… just from other people wearing them), but the only thing I’ve always loved (adored actually) was Yarldey English Lavender! The original one!
    Last year (after decades of not buying any fragrance at all), I bought some sort of bodyspray, which scent brought me back to beautiful times, so that spray had still something of the old Yardley English Lavender in it. But later that year, I bought an eau de toilette… and it was a strange experience… that was not the one I loved so much… 😦
    Today, in my search for the old one, I came across this page, and I’m so glad to see that there are others like me 😉

    I’ve seen pictures of the original botlle on Ebay, so hopefully I can buy one (I live in the Netherlands, so it will cost me even more), and if I’m able to get my hands on a botlle, I will treasure it for the rest of my life. I wil not use it randomly… I just open the botlle and smell it, just to go back to happy times ❤

  8. teresa Fitzgerald

    Agree. I bought the body lotion recently, expecting it still to be the lovely, unique, fresh, soapy scent that was Yardley English lavender. Not even close. I’ve thrown out my purchase.

  9. Lynn

    I buy my Yardley Eau de cologne when ever i can find it as it is difficult to find the handbag size 50ml.
    I purchases one with the so called new wrapping and OH to my disgust it stank. I thought it was wrongly labelled.
    I took it back to the chemist with the bottle i was still using but running out fast. I was promptly given a refund.
    So I look on the net and alas I find the original bottle and label OR SO I THOUGHT.
    I received my parcel yeaterday with glee only to be TOTALLY disappointed.
    I was enraged to say the least because it had the NEW designed box. I thiught this doesn’t look good. I opened one and PHEW !!!!
    So I investigate. Now I read Yardley is the culprit.
    Please help someone please ??!!
    I can’t stand the smell !!
    Will Yardley ever revert back. I want to return my (over $100) order to the USA

    • I am very pleased that others have reacted as strongly as I have. It really is VILE, isn’t it? I think definitely the worst and most unjustified reformulation in the history of perfumery. And Yardley English Lavender really is, or rather WAS, a beautiful, historical treasure.

      It is nothing short of a travesty.

  10. Patrice

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking my mind so eloquently!
    I emailed complaints to Yardly (as well as a negative review on Amazon). At no surprise I received no reply.
    As a serious Yardly lavender fan, for decades, I was sickened by the fragrance and angry over the lack of warning. Fortunately, I received a refund for what seems to be a cheap Chinese knock-off, smelling nothing like authentic English lavender.
    I will no longer buy ANY product from Yardley! They totally screwed their longtime customers..and, again, without warning.

    • Tonny

      I also complained to Yardley and first the Original Lavendel eau de toilette was for sale in the U.K.( but they did not send it overseas) but now it is not available there aswell anymore. It is very sad and unbelaeveble,

      • You just have to invest in eBay I am afraid. There is a lot on there, and perhaps using it sparingly will make it even more precious. I agree, though: it was a total TRAVESTY.

      • Tonny

        I have looked at eBay but I think it is not the ORIGINAL Lavender Eau de toilette beause the name: Original is missing on the bottle (see the picture on the English Yardley site)and the model of the bottle is not the same but curved. Can any-one send me a link to the genuine Original Lavender spray if there is any? I will be so grate-full! 🙂

  11. Annie Cook

    I am sitting here at the end of the comments, reading Patrice’s words, and I note that she received no reply from Yardley. So I need not expect one to mine. I didn’t actually, although I hoped. The desecration of Y’s L has just reached me, in darkest Tasmania. There must have been some old stock they sent down here. Yardley’s April Violets has also been modernised, and, somewhat analogous to a 60 Minute Makeover for your period property, they all smell the same and could double as room freshener. If they are still By Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, she must be unamused by the change. Yeah, I know, things change, get over it. But why do they fix things that ain’t broke?

    • The Desecration Of English Lavender is clearly becoming a global movement!

      You have such gorgeous lavender in Tasmania, though. Before I went into hospital recently I was at an aromatherapy shop in Tokyo that has a selection of about ten different lavenders and I chose the Tasmanian. Just get some essential oil, put it in rubbing alcohol and spray: the reformulation of the classic Yardley wouldn’t even qualify as air freshener for me. It is disgusting.

    • Maggie

      Annie, I agree with your remark about using it as room spray, however I just did that before I sat down to try to find a review of Yardley products and wish I had read these reviews first! My house sadly smells like I’ve sprayed a cheap chemical air freshener around, with a harsh public toilet smell. I can’t say fragrance because it’s absolutely not fragrant. I hadn’t seen a Yardley product for years, so when I saw it packaged for Christmas gifts yesterday at a Pharmacy I bought a pack. I was so incredibly disappointed that it bore no resemblance to the original. It is a ghastly amalgamation of chemical compounds guaranteed to give one a headache and assault the olfactory senses. I laughed when I read that The Queen endorses this product. I can’t imagine that and the Royal warrant of appointment should be revoked. An embarrassment really.

  12. I only have vague, pleasant memories of my grandmothers Yardleys English Lavendar (YEL?!) but i recently ordered some Canvey Island Lavendar for my mum and she and i both love it. It strikes me as very uncommercial – made by monks on a tiny Welsh island – and is a very truthful and unpretentous soliflore. I would highly recommend it to lavender lovers but obviously it is no replacement of what has been lost.

  13. I’ve been wearing Yardleys Lavendar since 1947 when I was given my first bottle as a 10th birthday present from my father on the first birthday we’d spent together since the war started….even lavendar’s from Grasse never compared with Yardleys…I always get my children to buy it when they travel overseas as it’s now un-obtainable here in New Zealand… but what a heartbreak to know we’ll never have our old version again…

  14. Mariana

    I have the older bottle you love so much it’s in a gold and white flip over box it was my grandmothers and still smells loverly I believe it’s become a collectors item and I’m willing to sell ,

  15. My wife has just thrown away 2 bottles of Yardleys ‘so called’ Original Lavendar ! one bottle had turned brown ! and had virtually no smell at all, the other which was still sealed ,we opened up and that also was void of any scent! . Don’t know how they have managed to retain their use of the Royal Purveyors privilege, can just imagine what Prince Phillip would call it !

  16. I have been a lover of Yardley’s EnglishLavender since the age of 5. It was one of the few perfumes allowed after Saturday night bath and Sunday morning before church in my childhood. I recently picked up that same atrociously ugly bottle of the “contemporary” English Lavender in India & was appalled to smell Avon’s Wild Country (1967) when I applied it. WTAF? I nearly cried!
    However, upon visiting the Yardley UK site it appears you can still buy “Yardley London’s Original English Lavender” – “a beautiful, elegant scent that combines lavender leaves, neroli and clary sage with a heart of lavender oil and geranium, enhanced with deeper notes of sandalwood and tonka bean.” It has a different packaging but the scent pyramid looks like the old English Lavender. It Is only available in the UK but I have ordered a bottle to be delivered to me in the US. The original brilliantine is on the website also.
    Fingers crossed!

  17. Beautifully written as ever.
    Yardley’s English Lavender transports me back to my childhood and seeing it on my grandmother’s dressing table. This memory then bizarrely made me think about violets, Devon Violets – a strange green perfume I had as a child.

    • Which only makes what I have written about all the more poignant. These ‘old-fashioned’ soliflores are underrated in my opinion – they can have a real simplicity that can sear itself into the conscious, as with your own memory here.

  18. Beau de l'Air

    I heard that they bought back the original due to the uproar from devoted customers but it’s only available in the UK. I’ve never smelled it, so I might never know what was lost. Here in North America the soap is available in almost every dollar store for chump change I’ve used it for years.

    • Hopefully I contributed to the uproar! Glad to hear it

    • Kit Kat

      “I heard that they bought back the original due to the uproar from devoted customers but it’s only available in the UK.”

      Beau de l’air, one wonders why, if Yardley can still feasibly (by their own economic metrics) produce the classic potion, they would have bastardized it to begin with. Don’t they employ marketing experts, and wouldn’t such experts remind them that, unlike a fashion house, their raison d’etre is the very opposite to new, youth-centric, trendy and “hot”?

      Wouldn’t the experts point out that the entire point of Yardley as a house is the cult of yesteryear, classic charm and reliable tradition?

      So stupid, and I rarely use that word.

  19. Can’t really comment with any degree of authority on the Lavender drama but I completely understand your position on this. However, ‘puking party slag’ as a description of the crap ‘smelly likey’ – BRILLIANT.

    • You know what though, the way the internet and the world is, I was literally worrying about that line yesterday. I can just see it. The book starts to do ok and then someone finds that line, twitters it, and then next second I am persona non grata – a misogynist, blahblah blah …but I must admit, I was chuckling as I wrote idxx

  20. Chris Cameron

    Thankyou for this review of the desecration carried out upon my all time calmative fragrance! I thought I had been scammed. In late 2017 Bought 3 large bottles through an international perfume distribution company (I see they are listed in another comment below); finished my last pre existing bottle of Eau de Toilette and opened one of the new ones in anticipation… yecch! Toilet room spray! Actually I cannot smell ANY English lavender notes at all.
    It stinks. Literally. I don’t know whether to toss the bottles, I guess I should write to the company I purchased them from. And maybe Yardley. Very saddened by this.
    Warning to others; there is only this ‘new’ style now; the packaging on the 3 large bottles I bought was very similar to the old.
    Maybe someone in NZ is making English Lavender fragrance; I shall go searching.

  21. Chris Cameron

    Update; wrote to Yardley and will report back re any response. Offered to post the the three unuseable bottles 😈
    Will try buying EL essential oil from growers here in nz, and blending w a carrier oil such as sweet almond, to make my own fragrance.
    Will also write to fragrance net who I purchased the bottles from.
    V sad
    Chris C

  22. Betsy

    My grandmother’s house and especially linen closet smelled like moth balls and Yardley’s English lavender. She passed away last summer and I attempted to create the scent memory in my own closet- but it’s not the same. She and the Yardley’s scent are gone, and I miss them both.

  23. Danielle

    I know I am very late to this thread, but I just wanted to say thank you for writing your post and to the comment folks. I am soooooooooo disappointed by the impostor fragrance. Besides stinking to high heaven, I thought my own memories had gone whacko. Silly to say, but I am relieved to know that the lovely smell in my past was true. So much love in gifts, in romance, in tender moments was wrapped up in the original that this sorry pretender made me sick. Now I can have all my delightful memories back.

    • This is good to read, actually. In solidarity we realize that our nasal receptors in fact have NOT gone haywire and the revised version really is a repulsive, cheap and unsmellable hot mess.

      I wonder if Yardley has ever seen this thread ? They should.

  24. Paula

    Any idea why they changed it? It saddens me so much. It was my mom’s cologne then ours and now the new one is simply something else.
    I wrote Yardley and they utterly ignored me.

  25. Claudia

    Hi, this might be a 4 years delay comment, but I live in Brazil and I am allergic to most perfumes. I have only used Yardley’s original lavender my entire life. Now, my last bottle is coming to an end and I am desperate to find something like it. Any ideas??? Thanks in advance!

  26. Lady Murasaki

    I have a weird relationship with lavender, probably prompted by a somewhat traumatic experience I had when I was a child (this rich girl from church whom I was ‘friends’ with didn’t let me of try out her lavender perfume because I was poor – just typing it sounds so absurd I feel like I’m lying – and the smell haunted me even before I knew what lavender was) but now it’s probably one of my favorite notes, even if I can’t be sure it was because of that day so long ago. Most people my age (I’m 25) dislike it and associate it with cleaning products but I could never shake it off. Something about it’s cleanliness, that cold, purple, genderless smell always calls me. This year however I created a new memory involving specifically Yardley’s English Lavender (the reason I’m daring to comment here again). After I read your article about the desacration of this scent it was always on the back of my mind, that little itch that as a lavender lover I should get the original someday. Then I found out this colleague wanted to trade a bottle of the original English Lavender plus half a bottle of the long discontinued Avon 007 Bond Girl I’ve been looking for a while, but in exchange he wanted a geranium cologne my boyfriend gave me. I told him and he was incredibly mad I even thought about it. Then now, he gave me the new version (as far as I know only the new version is available here in Brazil, one of the reasons I wanted to deal with my colleague) as one of my Christmas presents and… I liked it. And now I feel terribly guilty about it since judging by the comments and the article it’s absolutely hideous. Am I one of those people who fill public spaces with the fumes of awful perfume? Commiting crimes against humanity as a bad perfume lover? I feel I’m almost too old to be commiting those crimes too. The worst thing is that I’m still lusting after the old version. Why the unobtainable lavender insists to haunt me throught my life? Just reading The Black Narcissus worth the pain though. Love your work and love from Brazil!

  27. Tonny

    Is there ANY change that you know that Yardley will make the Original Lavender Eau de Toilette again? I have tried só many others but they come not in a very distant area with the Original. I’am keep hoping… How can Yarley do such a thing, unbelieveble 😦
    Sorry for my English language

  28. Brenda

    I bought a package of Yardley of London lavender “perfume” with lotion. I could not believe the back of the lotion stated “made in China’. Does that mean the plastic tube was made in China or the lotion inside? How can it be called “Yardley London” if it is made in China? I tossed the lotion, but the “perfume” isn’t much better. I used to by Norfolk English Lavender but they do not ship to the USA, I don’t know why.

  29. Tonny

    I’am still desperate looking for a replacement of the originial Lavender eau de toilette by Yardley.
    Is there please anyone who can help me with advice? I used it for stress-situations and have nothing now.

  30. Judith Sharon

    Sadly back in 1997 when i was in high school my friends suggested my Yardley Petunia and Yardley Lavender smelled like toilet spray. That was the last time I ever used it.

  31. Ruth Thomas

    Absolutely right ! The “lavender” products Yardley thought up stink !! I chucked them away. However I managed to buy s original lavender talc on Amazon 11th July 2022. It is the original too.

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