Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lilac Perfumes- My Top Picks

It's the end of lilac season, I know, but the lilacs in my backyard have always been underachievers and refuse to bloom until late May or early June. It doesn't make their fragrance any less wonderful,  and I wait for them eagerly every year. My relationship with lilac perfumes, though, is not as easy. Lilac in perfumery has several facets that do not agree with me, mainly the watery cucumbery one. There's also a relationship between lilac and muguet that doesn't work on my skin, making me run for the hills whenever I smell some classic floral perfumes. But there are a handful of these spring flower perfumes that even I can wear or at least adore when I smell them on others. These are the lilac perfumes I enjoy in one way or another:

Puredistance- Opardu. a musky floral, too pretty for its own good, by perfumer Annie Buzantian who's an expert in making delicate beautiful perfumes.

JAR- Jarling. Almond and lilac. I can only admire from afar, but on the right skin Jarling is a dream come true, a beautiful and fragile princess with a naughty streak.

Frederic Malle- En Passant. This Olivia Giacobetti creation is a spring afternoon in the French countryside, complete with the scent of freshly-baked bread.

Ineke- After My Own Heart. Romance and warmth, silk and lace.

Roja Parfums- Lilac Extrait. Straight from the garden yet more complex than I expected, there's a richness here that's straight out of classic perfumery.

Jean Patou- Vacances. A perfect summer and a perfect perfume. If I could only have one lilac perfume that would be it, which makes the fact that it's been discontinued for decades so heartbreaking.

Jo Malone- White Lilac & Rhubarb. A limited edition from 2012. At first it smelled to me like a silly little fruity-floral, but I can't deny that it was modern, cheerful, and actually very well-made with a realistic lilac note that soared to high heaven.

Diptyque- Jardin Clos. Lilac and hyacinth growing by a bubbling brook in the back of an English cottage. Too watery for my own skin, but a joy to smell on others.

Phaedon- Rue Des Lilas. The musky wood makes this a more unisex choice than most other lilac perfumes. It's also incredibly realistic with its green stems and leaves surrounding the lilac bouquet.

Soivohle- Lilacs & Heliotrope. An almost gourmand-animalic floral by perfumer Liz Zorn who makes wearable yet very avant-garde creations.

Do you wear lilac perfumes? What are your favorites?

Art: Lilacs in a Window - Mary Cassatt, 1880.


  1. I agree that Opardu is beautiful, quite possibly the prettiest fragrance I've ever smelled.

  2. Would give a great deal to be able to grow lilacs here, but, despite trying time and again, have never had any success at all. I can get them to survive - sort of - but simply can't convince them to bloom. I've been told at local garden centers from which I've purchased them that there are some people who have actually had them bloom in our area, but I can only assume they are using magical incantations over them which I'm not privy to or they have arranged some sort of elaborate outdoor refrigeration system to fool them into believing they are farther north than they actually are. But I always get out lilac scents each spring (unbreakable ritual) and the ones I've worn most this year are Roja Dove's Lilac, Patou's Vacances, Houbigant's vintage lilac soliflore, DSH's Purple Lilac and SIP's Persica. Would so love to see Patou reissue Vacances as part of the Heritage Collection, but only if they do a completely brilliant job of it - and then I have to stop and wonder if that's possible and if it would be fair to compare them. But I'd like to believe in miracles, so I'll go on hoping.

  3. Have you ever come across the old Mary Chess White Lilac? Supposed to be one of the best fragrances in the world once upon a time.
    I did like the Roja Dove myself, and who doesn't like Vacances? En Passant and Jardin Clos get a bit pale and puddle-y for me though, Wellington Boot lilacs you wade through.

  4. Heeley L’Amandière

  5. En Passant and Miller Harris Coeur d'été.

  6. I received some samples from Leilani Bishop recently and her lilac is the truest I've ever smelled. It captures the herbal aspects and some of the camphor that you smell when you bury your nose in a bunch of fresh lilacs.

  7. A lovely post about Lilac perfumes. Thank you!

  8. Highland Lilac is a good one

  9. I scored a bundle of 1940s and 50s bottles as part of a job lot on eBay, amongst them, Lentheric's Red Lilac, which is very intense at first , then dries down to a much softer, but still unmistakably lilac smell on my skin. I'm having a lovely time introducing a friend to perfumes, and we're slowly working our way through the bottles, comparing how they behave on our differing skins. She's now hooked.

  10. I adore the scent of lilacs and have such fond memories of college in the East and lilacs blooming every spring. I don't wear lilac fragrance, too sweet for me, but I do want to share that I purchased a "Lilac Blossom" candle from Bath and Body Works (I know...), and it is so wonderful. For anyone who lives where there are few lilacs, you might enjoy this cheap thrill. It's made my office so heavenly in the morning!

  11. you are missing one of the earliest and best. Le Tems De Lilas Houbigant 1922 or later versions Lilac Time. This is the perfume of Lilac perfection


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