Hyacinths

blue and white hyacinths

It’s that time again. It’s spring, and I’m craving spring florals bursting up out of the wet ground. Narcissus, hyacinth, tulip, I want ’em all – in bloom, and in my perfumes.

Hyacinth in perfumery often seems to take one of two tacks: either spicy floral, or chilly metallic. I have a definite preference, and frequently find that fragrances which are supposed to be “hyacinth” don’t smell anything like the real flower to me. (Looking at you, Bas de Soie.)

I love hyacinths in bloom, however, even with that hint of decay they give off along with their greenness and their spicy aspect.

Fragrances with a hyacinth note to consider:

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie – Oncle Serge’s list of notes, always brief, includes galbanum, hyacinth, iris, spicy notes and musk. Unfortunately for me, Bas de Soie comes off as all metal. I tried twice, but wearing it was like chewing tinfoil. (I shudder to remember it.)
Eric Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth – I could wish for a tiny, tiny bit more floral stuff, but this is green and stemmy to a perfect degree, with no metal. Gorgeous.
Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth – Another icy metallic one. Notes are galbanum, hyacinth, cloves, incense, and benzoin, and I should have loved it. I don’t. I might have liked it better had it been named “Ombre Argent,” but then again, maybe not.
Guy Bouchara Theosiris Classique – Described as a green floral with hyacinth and narcissus. I’m intrigued enough to be watching it on eBay.
Penhaligon’s Bluebell – Five minutes of beautiful green/spicy floral, followed by Gigantic Chemical Spill. Double no.
1000 Flowers Fleur No. 1 – green notes, galbanum, narcissus, hyacinth, iris, magnolia and violet. How can I turn that down? (Well, actually, I’ll tell you how: I can’t get a sample from this Canadian company. Would love to try it, though.)
Union Gothic Bluebell – notes include hyacinth, narcissus, violet leaf, ivy, oak and bellflower. (Do bellflowers have a smell? The ones I’ve grown don’t.) See my note on Fleur No. 1 as to why I haven’t tried this one, except that this is a British company rather than a Canadian one.
Annick Goutal Grand Amour – another hyacinth-floral mix, this time with a deep, sweet ambery base. I think it’s nice, but I don’t love it and I don’t know why not.
Gucci Envy (discontinued) – another supposed green floral with hyacinth and lily of the valley, that instead smells of aluminum foil.
Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – the newer version (smooth leaf bottle) is probably more hyacinth-and-green-leaves than the old (upright veined leaf bottle), which has a more strongly floral cast and centers more on lily of the valley. Both are nice.
DSH Perfumes Jacinthe de Sapphir – gorgeous spicy hyacinth, not green at all, with orange blossom and jasmine over a deep balsamic base. Loved the hyacinth, couldn’t deal with the Youth Dew balsams.
CB I Hate Perfume To See a Flower – this is the wet spring dirt accord from CHIHP’s Black March, along with green notes, hyacinth and narcissus. I love the smell of this, but I can’t wear it. It makes me cry.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise – Not really hyacinth-centered, but it’s there amid the galbanum, iris, rose and musk. Gorgeous.
Guerlain Chamade – Again, I don’t find this one centered around hyacinth. It makes the list because it is beautiful all the way through.
E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose – Rose and hyacinth, pretty much, with a touch of peach and a bit of green over musk. It reminds me of a shower gel I owned and loved in college (named, inventively, Peach Rose Hyacinth, though I can’t remember the company name). It’s simple, but very very pretty.
Ralph Lauren Safari – Safari is pretty busy, actually, jam-packed with notes. Galbanum, marigold, hay, woods and benzoin are prominent to my nose, but the hyacinth is in there.
Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge – with a name like that, I expected (and wanted) a bit of rose in there with the other florals, including hyacinth. Layer it with a fresh rose fragrance (like Diptyque Eau Rose, or any of the YSL Paris Printemps editions) to get that feeling of sticking your head into the chiller and picking out your own bouquet. I can’t be the only one who loves that, right?
Henry Dunay Sabi (discontinued) – green spring floral (hyacinth, narcissus) with lots of vetiver. Nice. Bottles pop up on ebay for $200 and up, from time to time, but you’ll have to fight its aficionados to the death to snag one.
Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions Supra Floral – hyacinth over amber and oud. The heavy basenotes have scared me off testing this one (well, that and the fact that this was an LE). Could be good, though.
Paco Rabanne Métal (discontinued) – another green floral with hyacinth. I suspect that it is fully as metallic as its name, so I haven’t tried it.
Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet (discontinued) – I’ve raved about this one before: big wet slap of marigolds and galbanum, then quiet white flowers and hyacinth. Beautiful. Curse you for killing it, Clive Christian.

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11 thoughts on “Hyacinths”

  1. I love the dirty animalic side of hyacinths and I recently fell in love and bought Parfum d’Empire Tabac Tabou. What’s this got to do with hyacinth? A lot! Lovely indolic hyacinths, tobacco, honey and the silhouette of Fougère Bengale in the background.

    Thanks for talking hyacinths!

    1. Hi, Christos!

      I recently bought some cut hyacinths and was so pleased by the combination of sweet heady florals and dirty fleshy bits. I need to go get some more. Haven’t tried the PdE one, but I’ll see if I can get hold of it somehow.

    2. Tabac Tabou was my favorite release of 2015. The notes list says narcissus rather than hyacinth if I’m not mistaken. Either way, it is glorious!

  2. Mals! I have a little 5 ml mini of Fleur No. 1. I don’t like it. I would be happy to send it to you. Is your email address the same?

    I have a bottle of Metal and love it; I don’t actually find it crazy metallic (I also loathed Bas de Soie) but I like Envy so don’t take my word for it. Used to have bottles of Parfum d’Ete and Grand Amour and gave them both away; now I miss them. I actually just ordered a sample of Florist’s Fridge now that I realize I want more hyacinth in my life.

    1. I’m at the same place, malsnano86 at the geemayle. That’s so kind!

      I was *surprised* to not like Envy. On paper, it sounds like just my thing. But Florist’s Fridge is wonderful, especially for the price!

  3. Heya Mals86.
    Eric Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth! What a fabulous fragrance. SWOON! Maybe not exactly what you’re looking for in this post but OMG I adore it.
    The bottles are lovely looking too but I would LOVE IT if it was a spritz. I know, decant but…..
    Portia xx

    1. The Buterbaugh is gorgeous! I was just saying that if it had just a tad more flower in it, just a tad, I’d probably have already sold a kidney to buy it. It goes on forever, too, which is unusual a) for a green floral and b) on my scent-eating skin.

  4. L’Eau de Madame de Pompadour from Maison Nicholas du Barry. That was one I remember writing about because I dropped the sample and only then found out ( I think I mentioned this in a comment) that it was hyacinth in a big way.

    Went after every drop recoverable from the kitchen floor and M d P is all floral except for a tiny bit of amber- NO MUSK- and roses jasmine iris carnation plus that big hyacinth. I really liked it the best of all the things they kindly sent me. Got to try Apollo Hyacinth since you and Portia think so much of it…

  5. Thanks for the list, mals! I have several of these, but the one I really want to try is the Buterbaugh. As far as hyacinth goes, I have yet to find the perfect one but hope springs eternal!

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