Springtime’s lily of the valley

Springtime’s lily of the valley

Christian Dior so loved lily of the valley that he had his atelier seamstresses sew a dried sprig of the flower into the hem of every one of his couture garments. He was mad for the bloom and wore the blossoms also on the lapel of his gray suit. Lily of the valley was his good-luck symbol, and his Diorissimo fragrance, launched in 1956, celebrated its sparkling essence.

For those who love lily of the valley, experiencing Diorissimo is akin to planting your nose deep into a bouquet of its blossoms. For the master perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska, who concocted the iconically feminine fragrance, it was meant to “capture the scent of a bunch of lily of the valley at dawn and still moist with dew.”
Ah, close your eyes and imagine.
But there are other lily of the valley spritzes to consider too.


Each year on May 1—May Day—the house of Guerlain offers up an ultra-limited edition of its Muguet spritz (fyi, muguet is French for lily of the valley); it has been doing so since 1840.

And FYI, for fellow fragrance geeks: The tradition of giving lily of the valley, the symbol of springtime, began with King Charles IX of France on May 1, 1561, when he received a gift of the flower as a good luck charm. Every year after that, he treated the ladies of his court with the tender blossom.
This year’s very limited—and luxe—offering of Guerlain Muguet mixed a heart of lily of the valley and lilac, with green top notes and a base of jasmine and rose. (Each year, the Guerlain fragrance is slightly different but is always defining by lily of the valley.) Alas if you missed picking up your $545 bottle as the perfume is available for that one May 1st day only, no worries, there are many other lily-of-the-valley scents for the lily-of-the-valley devoted.

If you’re after a more-green and less-white blossom take on lily of the valley, try Stella McCartney’s L.I.L.Y., launched last year. It was actually named not for the flower but in homage to McCartney’s mother—the acronym, for “Linda, I love you” was Stella’s father’s nickname for her. The spritz possesses lily of the valley layered with grassy oakmoss and white truffle. That last note adds an earthy, but subtle sultriness to the perfume. Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y EDP, $90CAD (50 ml), www.stellamccartney.com




For those who enjoy a dose of fruit with their flowers, Burberry Summer For Women sparkles with pomegranate, mandarin and a crisp green greeting while relying on its rose and lily of the valley heart. Its base of wood and musk tempers the sweetness over time with warmth. Burberry Summer For Women EDT, $79 (100 ml), www.burberry.com, www.thebay.com

One thing is certain in all of this springtime discussion: April showers have brought May flowers both in the garden and at the perfume counter.

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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.