Lilac Time

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 websiteIt’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.”

Jardin de France Eau de Cologne 1920 Lilas  (Lilac, jasmine, rose, musk)  No reviews of this one anywhere.

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.

Crazylibulelle and the Poppies Lilas Spiritual  (Lilac leaves, lilac, lily and vanilla)  I think this is one of the Crazysticks solids.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Angelique Lilas  (Angelica, white lilac, ylang-ylang, cedar, heliotrope)  Reviews at Now Smell This and Blogdorf Goodman.

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 ShrineTested 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.

Yves Rocher Pur Desir de Lilas  (Lilac, almond)  Another simple and inexpensive one.  Some people find the almond note distracting, some don’t.

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 againFrom 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. 

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32 thoughts on “Lilac Time”

  1. While I love the smell of real lilacs (and miss them quite a bit since there are none in San Diego – I’m originally from MD), I’ve never searched out or tried any perfume with lilac. When I was a kid, I recall we had an air freshener spray with lilac back before most AFs smelled decent that was so fake and chemically, so I probabably associate it with that. I’m intrigued by the Rochas Tocadilly – can’t wait to hear what you think about it when it arrives! And I have the Ineke sampler set and haven’t yet tried After My Own Heart – perhaps I’ll try it tomorrow!

    1. Oh, no – no lilacs in SD? I’m surprised. (I imagine they have orange trees or something else that blooms smelly, though?)

      Yep, that air-freshener lilac is just hideous. If I run across one that’s like the flower I’ll be sure to say so on the post. Let me know how you like AMOH – I’m probably going to try that today as well.

      1. N, haven’t seen any lilacs around : ( With the warm weather, lots of things can grow here, but most need more rain than we get. Plenty of fruit trees though – I have a loquat tree going crazy in our backyard right now.

        I am wearing AMOH today. It’s nice, but it seemed very soapy (ha!) to me at first. Now it’s settled down a bit and I don’t get that soap note, but don’t think it’s anything I need – would like a little more green-ness.

  2. Not a full sampling, but an SA sprayed me with En Passant at Barney’s once and I found it quite lovely. My boyfriend even commented on it unsolicited when I got home, which is rare.

    1. Hi, Elisa! How nice to have one of those spritzy scents be pleasant for a change – whenever I go into a big store, which isn’t often because I don’t live near a large city, I get bombarded with things I hate immediately. (Angel comes to mind. And Parisienne, which I actually liked for fifteen minutes and which then turned into YSL Paris on a starvation diet.)

      It is really nice to find something that your SO likes, even if you’re wearing scent for yourself.

      1. Oh I know — I don’t normally let them spray me but she did ask first, and I figured a Malle couldn’t be that bad.

        I am one of those crazy people who likes Angel (I know from reading your blog you don’t like patchouli) but I’m careful about when and where I wear it since I don’t want to piss anyone off. 🙂

        My SO, luckily, doesn’t mind my perfume habit and generally thinks I smell nice, but doesn’t often comment out of the blue. Another one he commented on was Narciso Rodriguez for Her (EDT).

      2. How nice of your sweetie!

        Yeah, me and patch… not a good mix. And on behalf of people in auditoriums everywhere, Thank You!! for being careful with Angel. (That’s where I keep smelling it, at concerts where I can’t LEAVE.)

  3. Hi, just discovered your wonderful blog. May I link to you on mine? I love the scent of lilac, unfortunately most lilac perfumes I’ve tried don’t hold true to the flower. Yves Rocher makes my favorite, but I also enjoy the note of lilac in Lauder’s Pleasures. I’m on a mission to test Vacances!

    1. Hello, Mary – yes, please feel free to link here. I hadn’t been aware of your blog, either, but I will probably come and play there later.

      I haven’t tried the Yves Rocher either, but people do say nice things about it. Vacances is gorgeous and almost equally leaves as lilac flowers. It’s too bad no one’s doing a recreation of it – oh, why do the stunning ones get discontinued? Wail.

      I don’t do well with something in the basenotes of Lauder fragrances, and it’s been years since I tested Pleasures so I don’t remember the lilac. The lilac-in-composition fragrance I really like is LeLong Pour Femme, which is a lot like a sweet orchid satin halter dress, tea length, that a young woman might wear to a dance. Determinedly pretty.

  4. Mals – nice roundup of lilac scents. I love lilacs too – there are these ancient and very cold hardy lilac trees growing right outside my apartment house, and they smell like heaven. They should go in about 2 weeks – and I can’t wait. We have abandoned houses and locations with many bushes up here and it is a regular thing to see people gathering up huge bunches to enjoy while they last. The abundant lilacs are the real first breath of spring up here in the frigid boonies, so everyone adores them. (Then come the ancient cold hardy peonies and bearded iris, but that’s another story.)

    I used to have some lilac fragrance oil from the Body Shop that I loved for a while, and then it would smell soapy and I waffled about how good it was. Lilacs in fragrance are tricky. I find that this MPG Secrete Datura has a slight accord that smells like hyacinth/lilac and is very pretty.

    I also think the L’AP Jacinthe des Bois is a very beautiful and accurate lilac/hyacinth soliflore. It is rather stunning, but would be much after the desire to smell like spring passes.

    1. I’m sure you can’t wait for the lilacs! I love them. Every time I pass my neighbor’s yard I stop and roll down the window and sniff… it’s probably terrible for my allergies, but I don’t care.

      I haven’t smelled the JdB – it was LE, right? It’s definitely gone now. Pout. (Well, a little pout.)

      You’re right, they are tricky. I totally caved and went to order a small bottle of the Soivohle Lilacs & Heliotrope today, so I hope it’s as good as Rustic Dove says.

      1. I do believe the JdB is LE/disc – too bad – only the good die young, right? I can probably squeeze a drop out of my sample for you if you want. It is beautiful, but not so much that I am heartbroken it is not available. I feel more so about the L’AP Orchidee Blanch which is super lovely and gone forever…..

        I see everyone going on about the L&H – I am trying very hard to ignore it, lol.

      2. Well, I’ll send you a bit of it when it comes. (But no need to squidge me any JdB – it’s GONE, it would just make me cryyyy.) Lessee, must go find your email address…

  5. Ooooooohhh, do I love lilacs! The smell, the colors, the flowers themselves. When I read on NST about the Soivohle Lilac & Heliotrope, I almost fell of my chair reaching for the mouse to click over to the website (love heliotrope too). But I stayed my hand from ordering, as I’m trying to control myself. Maybe in the near future. I’d like to check out the Yves Rocher version – don’t mind almond, and have heard good things about it. I used to own the Caswell-Massey Lilac, but found it got cloying (all their scents do that on me after a while).

    1. Patty, I admire your fortitude. I’m going to go order a L&H sample today, though…

      If I could find the YR Lilac for cheap, I’d probably try it too. I like almonds.

      1. OK, so I did order a sample vial of Highland Lilac of Rochester. Never knew about their lilac festival, how spectacular that must be!

    1. COOL! I had seen it on ebay (don’t you dare ask me what I wuz looking around on there for… vintage, of course) and the only bottles I saw were $25 or so.

      $12.50 is more my speed.

      (I pull the “whatchutalkinbout, willis?” on my kids every now and then, and they just look at me like I’ve got three heads.)

  6. En Passant. One of the few fragrances that have earned, after much agonizing, a full price full bottle purchase. And happily so. Gorgeous, interesting, suitable for more than one context.

    Lilas Spirtual is one of the solids, and is a lovely realistic lilac. Which is saying something, given the odd synthetics and too sweetened options out there.

    Rock on, Yves Rocher. The soliflores tend to be quite nice, and their Voile d’Ambre is one of my secret wonders. (SSsssh, don’t tell.) PLUS, they have 50% off specials at least twice a year.

    I’m not going to say anything about the PG. I have a decant. It’s lovely.

    1. I’m thinking En Passant would be much more “present” if sprayed. I was having to hoover my arm, despite using 1/2 ml (a shocking amount for me) at once. I dunno about the Malles, though – they’re sooo expensive. I now have this little bit o’ Carnal Flower, but that’s probably going to be all I get my paws on.

      So Lilas Spiritual is good? And the YRocher? The 50% off is going on right now, too. I’m thinking, though – can I actually USE 2 oz of lilac cologne? I think I might pass. Did order the Soivohle 5ml.

      Not saying anything about that PG is like eating your Fudgesicle in front of the neighborhood kids after they missed the ice cream truck… you’re not taunting them, exactly, but you got some and they got none. (I might trip over my bottom lip, too.)

  7. What lovely photos indeed! I must say I feel a relative lilac virgin – if one can have degrees of virginity – having looked through your list – I only know Vacances and En Passant. There’s also Eclat d’Arpege on the designer side, and I think Jardin Clos has a bit of lilac in there, but overall, I am very green on the lilac front!

    1. Degrees of virginity… um, not going there.

      I did leave off the “lilacs in composition” scents like LeLong Pour Femme, sticking with the soliflores. OTOH, lilac isn’t one of those notes that tends to take over the entire fragrance, so it’s very possible that it might be hiding in a number of scents.

  8. I recall very positive reviews of ElizabethW Lilac, as being a very true-to-life lilac soliflore, just lilac, no trimmings. I can’t remember where I saw them (no reviews in Basenotes), but I wanted to mention it.

  9. Pingback: Lilacs Abloom

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