MUGUET DU BONHEUR EXTRAIT by CARON (1952)

Like the cherry blossom, the lily-of-the-valley this year opened early. In fact, it was out just before Easter Sunday: appropriate given that the flowers were said to have sprung from the tears of the Virgin Mary at the Crucifixion.

I have written extensively about these flowers before – particularly in my section on Muguet in my book, which was one of my favourite chapters. The replenished, almost cruel beauty of Diorissimo; the tranquil, transparent ease of Coty’s lovely Muguet Des Bois. . . I have a used up edt of Caron’s crucial addition to the canon, Muguet Du Bonheur, but have never had a chance to smell the vintage extrait until recently when Tora sent me a precious vial, enough to be used at this time of year for several years more to come.

The extrait is gorgeous. Warm, clean, with notes of lilac and neroli as prominent as the calm, private, lily-of-the-valley at the helm ; heliotrope, rose, musk and sandalwood, round out the base like a heavy porcelain basin of quiet, illuminated by afternoon sunlight. The perfume is, as the name suggests, most definitely a happy one. If Diorissimo is nervous;, the more diaphanous and cool Muguet des Bois disappeared into the treetops with the wood nymphs, Bonheur is on a more human plane of spiritual contentment – perfect for mellow Sundays ; just enjoying life.

It is now the beginning of my ultra-busy spring term. I am recovering gradually from the inner ear vertigo disorder, I think, and have fortunately been moved to a different building. I can’t tell you how different it is to have windows. While I have probably bored readers to death on here with my panicked rantings on the subject, in a pandemic situation you need proper ventilation, and in the previous place there were emergency windows only which had to be opened with a crank, sometimes getting stuck, or broken, leaving only a sliver of fresh air in a space with hundreds of students.

Now, I have control over how air is circulating: I can distance the students more and am very relieved by this. It was horrible before. I realized this more clearly on Sunday when going for a walk with a good friend of mine down by the lake. Sometimes you have to talk about these things face to face with a rational, intelligent, empathetic person: to have a person confirm what you know is true, confirm that behaviour that borders on insanity is precisely that, but to try and move on from it. A Buddhist, she chanted for me and for other people (the world) at the top of the ravine in direct sun overlooking the sparkling river beneath – the birdsong surrounding us becoming louder as my focus sharpened (we both became aware of this); the first time I have experienced such a thing in my life. I am open to beliefs, even if they are not necessarily my own, and this was rejuvenating, fascinating. Whatever it was, being together was both stimulating and peaceful, and when we came back, she, D and I had wine, talking for hours in the front garden; some plucked muguet from the forest on the wooden table.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “MUGUET DU BONHEUR EXTRAIT by CARON (1952)

  1. That Caron muguet fragrance sounds sublime.
    I’m not sure why but Asia seems to have the most windowless rooms on the planet. Brings out my latent claustrophobia but doesn’t seem to bother most other folks.

    • Usually I wouldn’t say anything ( well I probably would knowing my very neurotic age claustrophobic self ), but at this time….

      Muguet Du Bonheur is old-fashioned soapy in a way but it has a lovely floral gleam to it. There is something very coldly flirtatious about Diorissimo. I suppose Bonheur is mire ‘homely’, but it does have a real romantic polish to it as well. Most agreeable !

  2. Robin

    All of this sounds lovely and hopeful, Neil. You are out of purgatory, and had a nice launch into a better existence with that time spent with you friend and Duncan. I am almost as relieved as you must be.

    Thank you for writing about Muguet de Bonheur. How generous of Tora to part with some extrait. I’ve never smelled it in that concentration. After reading this, I rooted around in the fridge in my Caron basket and found my edt, the one in the squarish vertically-ridged splash bottle. Yikes. I am shocked by how fresh it still smells. As you say, it’s homely but still has that romantic polish to it. Beautifully described. I find it really complex, more so that I remember. What a little time-and-place capsule it is. It’s really quite strong, stronger than I’d remembered as well. I’d sort of thought of it as a watercolour composition, but it’s actually brighter, crisper, more defined. The muguet stands just a little way above the other florals. Right now, lilac and heliotrope are right up there, and neroli too. What a joyous miniature spring garden. And age-defying. I think it must be the quantity of nitro-musks that has held it all together, suspended in time in its unassuming wee bottle. I’m so grateful you reminded me of it. It’s almost summery here and perfect weather for it. That extrait must be dreamy. Thank you, dear N.

  3. The extrait is dreamy, and I am glad we are on the same page re such scented esoterica.

    As for purgatory, my base school is definitely better, but Thursdays are hell in the school with no windows open because there are no windows TO open.

    With the Olympics looming, I am quite fearful. I could write reams, but don’t want to rile myself up and fear boring everyone to death. At the same time, if I can’t write about reality and the truth of what is happening, I don’t even want to write this blog.

  4. So glad you have a few windows to open now. I do not understand windowless rooms, it just seems so strange to me, not to mention unhealthy.
    It must have been divine to catch up with a dear friend and then top it off with drinking wine. What truly is better than topping an evening off with wine? I can not think of anything better.
    Caron’s Muguet is one of my favorites of the three, I have all three in extrait, and I wear it every year on 1er Mai. Diorissimo is all polished, with pearls and Coty is quite ephemeral, as you stated, but Caron is just joyous and happy. It makes you feel good wearing it. I also have it in the bottle Robin has, the squarish one with ridges all over it, which I splash on lavishly during the summer months.
    I have said it for years, and it still holds true, Caron is my favorite fragrance house.

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