I love lilacs, and they’re blooming like crazy right now. My neighbor’s lilac bush is heavenly. And there’s an abandoned house right near the elementary school that has SIX beautiful lilac bushes in white, lavender, mauve, soft purple, periwinkle, and dark purple. They are stunning, and every day it hurts me that no one lives there and no one takes advantage of the gorgeous blooms. If there was a place to park my vehicle and go clip some branches, I’d do it, trespassing be darned.
I haven’t tried all of these lilac-based scents, but the ones I have, I’ve made a few notes on. I’ll update it as I test some of these. But really, this post is just an excuse to throw out all the gorgeous pictures of lilacs I can find.
Oh, and Happy birthday to Ellen! I’ll have to make that White Lilac Nostalgia cake again when I see you. (I can’t find a picture of it… not even on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s website. It’s in her Cake Bible, which I haven’t used in farrrrr too long.)
Lilacs keep popping up in literature, too: in the poems “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” by Walt Whitman, and “The Barrel-Organ” by Alfred Noyes, and the short story “Lilacs,” by Kate Chopin. Lilacs form a large part of the plot in Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All, by Allen Gurganus. Not to mention the famous T.S. Eliot poem that starts out, “April is the cruelest month.”
Demeter Lilac (Jasmine, white soap, lilac) Review at 1000 Scents.
Pacifica French Lilac (Nectarine, magnolia, hyacinth, lilac, heliotrope) No full-blown reviews of this anywhere, but comments are abundant and generally positive.
Caswell-Massey Lilac (Lilac). Simple and inexpensive.
Highland Lilac (Just lilac). This one has a lot of fans on Makeup Alley, but a few detractors as well. Review (brief) at Perfume Shrine.
I Profumo di Firenze Lilla (Lilac, duh) Very pleasant, simple lilac. (Blame Daisy.) However, this one is no longer on the iPdF website, so I don’t know if it’s still available. I’ve been generally impressed with the very few iPdF scents I’ve tried – they all smell fresh and natural, and they’ve lasted longer than I expected they would. Edit: after boasting that I’ve never lost a sample vial – well, I’ve lost this one. Dang. I wanted to retest.
Ineke After My Own Heart (Green notes, bergamot, raspberry, lilac, sandalwood, heliotrope, musk) Reviews at Feminine Things and Perfume Shrine. Tested this one today (4/23) and am sadly unimpressed. What berries? What green notes? What sandalwood? All I’m getting here is air-freshener quality lilac and some laundry musks. Even the heliotrope is not coming through. I’m sure Ms. Ruhland’s a lovely person, but I haven’t done well with the few of her scents I’ve tested. (Liked Evenings Edged in Gold the first three times I wore it, but then it developed the dreaded Tang Dust Accord, and I had to give it away. Field Notes from Paris was a big ol’ hairy mess on my skin… probably at least partly due to the orange blossom.)
DSH Perfumes White Lilac (“A light and dewy lilac note with a slightly fruity top note nuance”) I’ve ordered a sample from the DSH Perfumes website, which always reminds me of the candy store in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the 70’s movie with Gene Wilder). Update: Ohhh. This is lovely. It’s still a simple soliflore, but there’s a green freshness to it that I really like. Ordered a small bottle, squee!
DSH Perfumes Purple Lilac (“A heady, honey-sweet lilac note with spicy undertones”) Ordered a sample of this one too – my prediction is that I’ll like it better than White Lilac because of the “spicy undertones”, but we’ll see. It’s always a pleasure testing DSH scents. Update: it’s very pretty, but the description is right about it being heady and sweet. It’s almost Too Much, even though I only dabbed a bit. My sample is oil format, so I don’t know if the edp wuld be different.
Parfumerie Generale Ether de Lilas Blanc sur Feuillage Tendre (Leaves, mandarin, lilac, passionflower, orange blossom, bark, iris, musk) I actually can’t find this anywhere but TPC, as part of a Lilac sampler – they don’t even sell it separately at TPC. It was a limited edition, apparently, and has been discontinued. Reviews at Perfume-Smellin’ Things and Perfume Posse.
Rochas Tocadilly (Cucumber, lilac, coconut, jasmine, hyacinth, sandalwood) I admit that I broke down and ordered a small bottle of this – on sale, mind you! – from an online discounter last week and am waiting for it to show up. Edit: I just got an email today that they’ve sold out of it, “So sorry, we don’t got it, we can’t get it, we’ve credited your account and here’s your consolation prize $5 off coupon.” Now I’ll have to go searching again. From the reviews I’ve read, this one is either a love-it-or-hate-it scent, so I’m prepared for the worst. It was inexpensive, or I wouldn’t have gambled. Review at Perfume Shrine (I’ll disclose to you now that this review of Helg’s encouraged several people to buy the scent, and it turned out badly for some of them – there was a short conversation about it on Perfume Posse, but I can’t find it now.) Further edit, 5/28: I found it elsewhere for even cheaper. I enjoy this one – it’s all watercolor florals (lilac, jasmine, hyacinth, & something that Helg says is wisteria) on a background of soft plushy musk. Reviewed today.
Patou Vacances (Galbanum, hyacinth, grass, hawthorne, lilac, mimosa, sandalwood, vanilla?, musk?) The very essence of spring, the most tender smell ever. The delicate stems are bruised by even the most glancing of caresses, and one smells their translucent green scent. Lilacs peep from among the greenery. I only have a sample, but it is stunning stuff. Long discontinued, very hard-to-find, and if you do find it, it will be hideously expensive. I think I found a 6ml mini for sale at an online discounter for $45; they had the big 75ml bottle for $250. Reviews at Perfume Shrine, Perfume-Smelling Things (Donna), Bois de Jasmin, and Now Smell This (Angela, brief).
Soivohle Lilacs & Heliotrope (new, not released yet, due to be released in mid-2010, released as of today, 4/22, at the Soivohle website!) The word on this one is that it does approximate the smell of fresh lilacs in a beautiful soft, non-air-freshener way. From Soivohle: “A formidable pairing of lush iconic florals, opening with the green tinged freshness of lilacs in full bloom, settling to a rich heart of white and purple lilac, a touch of orchid, and the slightest hint of rose melding into the heliotrope, with a base of mosses, soft musk and benzoin.” I caved and ordered a sample. Update: it’s lovely. It’s even more heady and sweet than the DSH Purple Lilac, though, with a relatively weighty base that might be more than I want when I’m wanting fresh lilacs. I’m thinking it will be just right on those gray winter days when I wonder if spring will ever come.
Soivohle Lilacs & Roses (new, just released 4/22/10 at Soivohle, description from the website) “A classic blend of floral notes beginning with our Persian Lilac Accord, Roses, Centifolia Absolute, Tuberose and a touch of jasmine, grounded by a sultry oriental base.” Update: I did not like this one. It was oddly musty and heavy. Further update: Just tested a sample of vintage Coty Paris today, 5/3, and it was everything I expected from L&R: lilacs and roses and jasmine, old-fashioned, faintly spicy, a little powdery. Paris is very pretty and genteel, and I think it would be a perfect handkerchief scent.
Frederic Malle En Passant (Lilac, green notes, aquatic notes, cucumber, wheat) I have a sample of this that’s languishing alone in the sample box. To be honest, I’ve been leery of trying it because I’m afraid I’m going to be disappointed. But… it’s lilac time, and I’ve been claiming that I was waiting for the right time, so no more excuses. Will test it this week. Reviews at Now Smell This, Perfume Posse (Patty), Bois de Jasmin, Scentzilla, and I Smell Therefore I Am (Abigail). Update: Wore it this morning, and from the cool dewy lilac notes through the fleeting whiff of bread, it’s beautiful. It’s also gone in about half a heartbeat (okay, okay, I got somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours), despite hefty dabbing on my part. That is somewhat par for the course for lilac fragrances, but I know that both Lilla and Vacances lasted longer on me. If I am going to fork out for a pricey F. Malle, I want it to last at least a couple of hours. I’ve only got enough in my vial for one more sampling, and I’ll give it another shot. But I’m not holding my breath on the staying power (although I probably could with no damage, it’s that transitory). OTOH, it might last better if sprayed generously.
Edit: I forgot about ElizabethW Lilac, a simple soliflore. I had a sample of this, tried it, and promptly forgot it. Which probably tells you all you need to know about it. It’s maybe half a step up from air-freshener, but not particularly nice.
All photos are from flickr.com. Top to bottom: Last Lilacs from lynda naranjo; Lilacs from Von Taylor Pop 38; Lilac A Floral Fountain from organicpixel; Lilac, MANY SMALL ONES… from magda.indigo; Lilacs in a Blue Ball Jar from patia; White Lilacs from glittering plastic butterflies; Many Lilacs from p h o t o l i f e; French Lilac from imagemakercan; Lilacs a’bloom from KarenMarleneLawsen; White lilacs from simon -n- kathy; closeup of purple lilac from Mrs. Gemstone; white and purple lilacs from anela.