Category Archives: Violet








Jolie Madame.


Or, SWARTHY Madame as I like to call her, as there is nothing ‘pretty’, petite or eye-lashed about this scent, coming as it does from a time (the late fifties) when women’s perfumes could be quite genuinely risqué and ripe, moving under surface, acceptable presences of civility.


I have never smelled this extrait as originally intended ( ie. on  a woman),  much as I would love to (WHY DON’T PEOPLE SMELL MORE INTERESTING?!!!!!!!!)  but I can quite happily tell you that Jolie Madame, in vintage parfum, can also smell quite wonderful on the right man’s skin, if he can take the dense, rich tuberose and jonquil absolutes, percolating down rich, and dirty with  leather  (I, of course, can).









This gorgeously viscous floral accord, unusually accentuated with coriander and artemisia, remains throughout the long duration of the perfume, but is not the main theme, which is in fact an extraordinarily earthy blend of cedar, beaver, patchouli, leather, musk and civet.


Quite ‘PERVY Madame’, in other words.



Complemented by the rich floral entrance, particularly a thick, syrupy violet that floats on top of the perfume like a slick, Jolie Madame makes for a very intriguing scent :  an aphrodisiac liqueur, utterly uncontemporary,  but in my view all the better for it. Unusual, unforgettable, it is a perfume meant for warm spring days, a lumberjack shirt, and no deodorant.










Filed under Chypre, Flowers, Leather, Violet







‘Aimez moi‘: an insistent, clamouring plea.  Love me. 

But to whom?  A lover? An unrequited passion?  ‘Aimez,’ in the formal, or plural form of the French verb suggests the unknown.  Anyone –  a complete stranger; the world. And the first blast of engorged, extravagant top notes surely suggest the latter, this perfume reaching out with outstretched, desperate arms – all cards on the table –  saying LOVE ME, LOVE ME to whoever out there who will listen. There is an almost deliriously sweet intensity here- a greedy, peach-licorice violet, with lushly overladen uses of anise, vanilla and mint, that at this stage in the perfume quite simply either overwhelms ( you fall in love), or repels. It is certainly something of a love gamble….

Aimez Moi had been absent from my olfactory mental landscape for a very long time until a few weeks ago when I came across a very cheap bottle of the vintage juice at a second-hand emporium in Yokohama. I spied it there, unassuming under glass in its crappy, quite badly designed blue and yellow box, but the smell suddenly came flooding back to me in a flash… recoiling, when I first smelled it in a Japanese department store all those years ago, and couldn’t quite believe my nose. Yet here it was again, calling to me, and I couldn’t resist buying it ( having many other monsters in my perfumed closets to keep it company), and, as we walked down the street in the Autumnal sun I sprayed. And laughed. And then sniffed. Then sniffed again; and again; and again; inhaling continuously, more emphatically with each breath; my nose glued to my wrist as the purple yellow weirdness was transformed into an extravagant, velveteen violet that struck me as amazing and almost grotesquely beautiful. Compelling. And sighably tactile, like sun-drenched, indigo velvet.  A glorifying madness, like the first onburts of passion, that, likewise, does not last forever, for at the heart of Aimez Moi there is sanity, legibility.  The opening salvo of confectionery mercifully (or otherwise, depending on your dependency) mutes down, slowly,  to a delicately balanced anisic rose/violet, with whispers of blackcurrant and peach/vanilla:  a sweet entreaty to love that lasts for hours on the skin and is ultimately, surprisingly very wearable.  (The usual top to bottom progression is reversed here: rather than the more aphrodisiacal notes blooming later on the skin, as in a Guerlain, these are all brought out in the first moments, only to coalesce quietly under the perfume’s tender main theme later on.) In any case, amazingly to me, Aimez Moi has quickly become a favourite. A suffocation of pleasure. I have never really worn violets before, but soon after buying this perfume, as I walked out into the starry night in my patchouli-lined coat, having sprayed my Caron on liberally, I felt like Lord Byron, enveloped in a haze of romantic, deranged poetry.

And then, when sliding the door open of the local bar with a certain trepidation ( expecting to be thrown out smelling as I did ), I was really quite amazed to hear people I had never met before, saying out loud to themselves: “My God, what is that perfume? It is gorgeous”, looking at me with softened,  changing eyes.


Filed under Flowers, Perfume Reviews, Violet

Dans Tes Bras by Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum

Like a skunk pissing in a violet, this bizarre salt-floral-musk is seemingly an intellectual exercise from master perfumer Maurice Roucel (creator of cult sensation Musc Ravageur), and like that fragrance it is a fusion of traditional, romantic ingredients and notes of sweaty warm skin. Dans Tes Bras (‘In Your Arms’) smells extremely synthetic, odd, but riveting: once the sour, mushroomy endocrines of the ‘violets’ fade, you are left with a very personal smell that is unforgettable.

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Filed under Flowers, Perfume Reviews, Violet


























November 1992.



I was twenty one and had been living in Rome for a month, looking in vain for a job, and staying in the cheapest hotel I could find – a garish, pink-painted pensione near the infamous Stazione Termine. One muggy afternoon, hot, bored, and mildy depressed – but too lazy to look for work – I decided just to hop on a train and see where it took me. I was idling on the Linea B, looking at the stations to come, when I saw ‘Piramide.’





I got off. As I turned the corner from the station, there it was: a two thousand year old pyramid – the last thing that St Paul is supposed to have seen before he was crucified. It was embedded in the tall, thick-stoned walls of a sealed off garden, which seemed closed to visitors but on closer inspection turned out to be the Protestant cemetery of Testaccio: grave, still  and somnolent in the cool shade of trees.























I eventually found the entrance.





You rang a bell, and an old attendant, taking his time to get to the door, let you in. A place of serenity – lush and dark, where cats basked on the stones in the afternoon light. A place where your soul could stop and breathe.








Walking down a path, I suddenly saw before me a sign: ‘Here lies Shelley’s heart.’ Then, to the left, another that said, to my astonishment, ‘This way to Keats….’








My own heart beating, I wandered in the direction of John Keats’ tombstone, and as I stood before it in amazement (I had no idea he was buried there and had not long before been doing his poetry at school, which I had adored), somehow the clouds had cleared and rays of watery autumn light filtered down through the leaves, illuminating his grave. Alone in this far off corner; smothered in violets.






I cried. The violets were not quite yet in bloom but the leaves were flourishing, there, in a dark, oily green that I imagined were imbued with (but soothed), the bitterness that Keats is said to have felt before his death. It was as if they were protecting him.







Caron Violette Précieuse is like those leaves. It is tender and poetic, with a central note of strange, bitter violet leaf. The flowers are there (and iris, muguet, vetiver), but quiet;  as if cowering in woodland rain.































Filed under Flowers, Perfume Reviews, Violet