Lily perfumes: Of Easter, spring and sexy white flowers

Lily perfumes: Of Easter, spring and sexy white flowers

Lily perfumes channel the dark sexy side of white flowers

I’m a flowers person—love them: Big gorgeous roses, lilacs overflowing in the garden, peonies bursting in full, almost-drunken glory. But generally, I’m not a floral-perfume-wearing person. There are, of course, exceptions.

Lily perfumes being one of them.

Now that Easter weekend has come and gone, and spring is in the air, I’m craving variety in my fragrance repertoire. And big white lilies are top of mind.

Of course a certain perfume restlessness is also an occupational hazard but no matter, I’m enjoying a little floral preoccupation.

Lilies are dramatic and quintessentially feminine—both in a big glass vase but also in a glass perfume flask. And for me, the grand white lilies are the ultimate; ditto in fragrance. And call me crazy, but it’s when the lily is at its pungent, almost dying, peak that I love it most.

The dramatic white lily

So drama: In the world of flowers, the white lily is a queen (well yes, along with the rose and a few other royal members too). Stately and grand, it’s a spectacular bloom. In perfumery, it’s got guts as well as glory. Like the gardenia, this is a white flower not for the faint of heart. That’s in part to the indole, the molecule found in the lily as well as other flowers such as Jasmine. It’s a potent substance and gives a funky, almost-decaying-but-in-a-good-way vibe to the bloom—and to the fragrances that employ its essence as one of their notes. The stuff has an earthiness, a grittiness that is at least part of the reason I love lily perfumes.

So if you’re looking for a sexy white floral fragrance, channel the lily. Perfumers have finessed formulas to include the flower in modern floral perfume combinations. Three of my favourite lily perfumes are Fréderic Malle Lys Mediterranée, Le Labo Lys 41, and Tom Ford Lys Fume from the Jardin Noir collection. All are spectacular.

Three lily perfumes worth wearing, again and again

FredericMalle_LysMediteranee1. Fréderic Malle Lys Mediterranée

A full-blown lily perfume but experienced with the breeze of an ocean. There’s earth and wood and gorgeous greenness here.
Fréderic Malle Lys Mediterranée EDP, $298 (50 ml), $435 (100 ml),


2. Le Labo Lys 41

An unapologetically upbeat and feminine spritz. It’s lilies growing in glowing sunshine with a dose of almost edible sweet but not too sweet vanilla.
Le Labo Lys 41, $175 (50 ml),

TomFord_LysFume3. Tom Ford Lys Fume

We fear it is being discontinued as it’s difficult to find so we’re cherishing the one bottle we do have. Seek it out as where Fréderic Malle and Le Labo’s take on the lily is upbeat and sunny, Ford emphasizes the spice and darkness of the flower by mixing it with resins, vanilla, ylang-ylang, nutmeg and rum. We wish we could drink it.
Tom Ford Lys Fume EDP, $ (50 ml),


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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.