No shrinking violet fragrances

No shrinking violet fragrances

By Deborah Fulsang

Elizabeth Taylor: We hear the name and we think eight marriages, seven husbands, Michael Jackson, and violet eyes. Yes, violet eyes. Even with Richard Burton and Eddie Fisher, we all think violet.

And today, violet is in. Both the colour and the flower.

In the world of fashion, the runway is passionate for purple blooms, appearing fresh and ladylike at Michael Kors and formal and ethereal at Pamela Rowland. In the fragrance world, the old-school bloom has shown up as the centre point in many a recent perfume launch, from Marc Jacob Violet (in the cute-quirky Dot and Honey-style bottle) and Chanel Misia at the designer level to Katy Perry Spring Reign and Lady Gaga Eau de Gaga on the celebrity front.

The flower has also found its way into trendy prohibition-style cocktails. At the staging of Montreal’s first Cocktail Week, for instance, violets came in the form of sugar as an accent in the cryptically named but delicious sounding libation I.H.C 343, with Chambord, vodka, fruit juices and bitters at La Champagnerie on Saint Paul Street East.

There’s definitely something old-fashioned and subtle, even regal, about the violet bloom. Purple has, after all, long been associated with spirituality, royalty and majesty. It’s a classic, and its traditional aspect appeals in today’s uncertain world. (On that note, roses also continue to trend, but more on that later.)

VIOLET FOR MEN AND WOMEN
Violet has also been used in several new men’s releases, such as in the Mont Blanc Special Edition toilette, and in Burberry Brit Splash. In the former fougère aromatic, violet leaf is one of the heart notes playing alongside sparkling citrus, lavender and mint top notes and a warm woody, amber base. In the later, violet and cyclamen lie at the centre of a fresh aquatic spritz in combination with honeydew and rosemary, musk and moss. With those recipes, these are assuredly fragrances that can be worn by women and men both.

For Misia, the new Exclusif spritz at Chanel, perfumer Olivier Polge was inspired by the hyper feminine: the fully maquillaged ladies attending the 1920s performances of the Ballets Russes—in their red-tinted lips and furs.

“If these legendary evenings had to be concentrated into a single scent, violet would stand out above them all,” he says. “This fragile flower with its powdery accents refuses to render its secrets during extraction, yet it recalls the powders of yesteryear and the makeup of all eras.”

For the juice, the master perfumer swirled together violet in combination with rose, iris, tonka bean and Laotian benzoin. It’s a plush and powdery, luxurious scent that smells both vintage-like but also of sultry skin. In that it is truly timeless and modern.

IRONIC VIOLET
Then there’s cheeky ironic violet, played in the hands of Marc Jacobs, the man who has built an empire on the irresistible concept of the girl who looks like an ingénue packing street smarts. She would wear a violet perfume and four-inch stilettos.

Therein lies the beauty of violet. It can be very chichi and timeless, or sassy and young. It’s all about the individual who wears it.

PHOTO: iStock (woman)
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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.