Violets in perfumery tend to come in recognisable tropes. There are the delicious Guerlains, and other powdered classics that, while divine, if you are not in the right mood are sometimes just too much frou frou fin de siècle. Then there are the the bizarre-for-the-sake-of-it violet futro-weirdos such as Malle’s Dans Tes Bras, D.S & Durga’s Vio-Viola and Tindrer by Baruti; gaseous and volatile ; shrieking, made for urban hipster ‘iconoclasts’ to slice open a room. The third type is the prototypical violet soliflore by Berdoues, Yardley, Borsari – pretty and satin-boxed keepsakes for the hopeless Romantic.
I personally like a full-bodied violet, without too much violent experimentalism. German independent perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit’s Violet Moss is a good one, opaque and dense with violet and dark mosses and wood notes, a little mushroomy in its inner morass as you lose your way in the forest of oakmoss, labdanum and nargamotha but perfect for spraying on a velvet cloak to conceal your person – if you are a thirsting vampire about to keenly descend upon a timorous and rosy-cheeked boy or girl.
Fresh of cheek and pulsing with natural vitality is Jasmine Rose by Essen Minimal, a new natural perfumery based in Liverpool. On skin, this gives off a triumvirate of jasmine, rose, and an overdose of raucous ylang ylang ( coming off as very cloved, my favourite spice). The beginning of the scent will undoubtedly be too much for a lot of people as the tingling essential flower oils rouse each other into the air space around them
(Duncan, on smelling Jasmine Rose yesterday)
but once the perfume settles in on the skin you get a deliciously lily-like freshness that is long lasting and petal-spiced; vitalising. Wearing this one today I smell like freshly cut flowers in a vase.
Both of these perfumes are definitely worth trying for those who want to ‘say it with flowers’ and are tired of wan, chemical florals that are essentially repugnant. Violet Moss has an intriguing depth, like a woozier Fahrenheit gone to the Other Side; Jasmine Rose the lily white creature who is sighing unselfconsciously with her stamens to tempt him (this perfume almost has the redolence of a starker, de-musked Caron Bellodgia) : a clever and intuitive blending of materials that takes the lifeblood of flowers, and fixes them candidly in a perfume bottle.