Perfume Review: Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet

 I knew very little about Crown Perfumery when I first ran across a mention of Crown Bouquet as being “the greenest of green florals.” It was more than a year between the mention and the sniffage, but Crown Bouquet stayed on my To Test list all that time, and when I failed to find a sample source, I just went ahead and bought it unsniffed.

I know, I know, we should absolutely never, never, absolutely never, buy anything without knowing whether it’s going to work or not. Well, I lucked out with this one: it’s beautiful. And if not the very greenest of green florals, certainly a lovely representative of the genre.

A little background on Crown Perfumery, cribbed mostly from and It grew out of the corset-and-crinoline business begun by William Sparks Thomson, whose son William concocted lavender smelling-salts for ladies whose tight corsets made them swoon (from lack of air, I assume, not surfeit of pleasure). By 1872 Crown Perfumery was producing fine fragrance, having gained permission from Queen Victoria to use the image of her own crown as part of the bottle. The company did well until World War I, when Wm. Thomson Sr. died. By 1939 the company was sold to Lever Bros., and ceased making fragrance. In 1993 the company was revived, and several of its signature fragrances produced using the original recipes. However, the company was sold again in 1999 to Clive Christian, who ceased production of the Crown fragrances and began producing his own scents.

I haven’t smelled any Clive Christian scents, nor am I likely to given their cost structure. But I’ll say now that if Crown Bouquet is anything to judge by, Mr. Christian has probably done the perfume community a disservice by discontinuing all the Crown scents. His own fragrances are probably very pleasant – Perfumes: The Guide found them all acceptable (three stars). But the website is unconscionably pretentious, in the eyes of this thoroughly-democratic-minded American.

Crown Bouquet was first released in 1936 under the name Crab Apple Bouquet. Notes: galbanum, green notes, gardenia, tuberose, hyacinth, and orange blossom. It was reportedly inspired by Wallis Simpson, the American woman whose love prompted Edward VIII to renounce the throne. I admit it seems little odd to me that Mrs. Simpson, who had been divorced twice before setting her cap for the Prince of Wales, and who appears to have been a strong-willed, opinionated, sensual woman, should inspire such a tender, delicate, fresh-faced fragrance.  (One of my favorite books, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, describes Wallis as “that gold-digger with a butt like a boy’s.”)  Here’s the accompanying ad copy from Crown:

A fragrance to uplift, inspire, and refresh one’s senses, capturing spring white flowers and greens… The greenest of green flower gardens. One should not only smell the pretty flowers of the bouquet, but sense all the characteristics that come with a freshly cut bunch of flowers: green leaves, earthy roots, the freshness of the few remaining water pearls clinging to its cut stems.

For once, the ad copy is appropriate and succinct. Crown Bouquet smells of green, juicy leaves, with a cool damp galbanum breeze, and spring flowers. That is all. Luckily, that is all it really needs.

It does start out with a breath of galbanum, and some very crisp, nearly mouth-watering green notes. I can almost hear the leaves and stems crunching juicily in my hands as I gather them. Hyacinth joins the green notes, and then gardenia. I do smell each of the listed floral notes, one after the other, and it’s not much of a blend, but that doesn’t bother me at all because the progression is so pretty. The orange blossom is a little soapy and the tuberose is a little sweet, but fear not, white-floral-phobes. They are extremely quiet and well-behaved, no indoles at all. There is very little in the way of a base, although I think I smell the ghost of vetiver there at the very end, and possibly a tiny bit of musk. My guess is that these notes are there to provide a vase for the bouquet – not really meant to be smelled on their own, but merely to offer support for the top and heart notes.

Edit: The more I wear this fragrance, the more I’m convinced that there is a big slug of marigold (tagete) in there along with the listed florals.  There is a deliciously bitter edge to the greenery, and I’d swear it’s due to marigold.

This is a simple, pleasant scent, utterly unsophisticated, and if you subscribe to Gabrielle Chanel’s point of view that “a woman should not smell of flowers,” this one will not suit you.  It smells very natural, and, perhaps consequentially, does not last forever.  I get about five hours’ wear out of two spritzes, with the last two hours being rather faint and the perfume only noticeable upon bringing my wrist to my nose.  It is an edp but probably wears more like an edt, due to the all-but-unnoticeable basenotes.

One interesting observation: Crown Bouquet reminded me, upon first wearing, of another tender green floral I had worn recently – Jean Patou’s Vacances, frequently referred to, wistfully, as the greatest green floral of them all. It was only upon visiting for background on Crown Perfumery that I found out that Crown Bouquet and Vacances were released in the same year. There is a fresh simplicity about them both that I find affecting. They would both be nostalgic period pieces, unwearable except as costume, if not for the green notes breathing the air of spring over the florals.

Perhaps it’s me. Spring always makes me wistful and labile, dizzy with beauty and the knowledge that time is passing. I’ll leave you with A.E. Housman’s most cheerful poem:

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now of my three score years and ten,
twenty will not come again.
And take from seventy years a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom,
Fifty Springs is little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A. E. Housman

 Photo of Crown Bouquet from  Photo of Wallis Simpson from  Photo of White Hyacinth from NanciD at  Photo of Wild Cherry from Lallee at  Housman poem from  My bottle of Crown Bouquet came from (not affiliated), but there are still a few other online sources.  (Don’t wait too long, though.)


21 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet”

  1. I didn’t know about Crown Pefumery, and Crown Bouquet sounds lovely and right up my alley. I wish I had a bottle, too!
    I like green florals, much more than, say, green fougères!
    Talking greens, I just fell in love with ninfeo mio (a fruity green?), I might even go FB today!

    1. Z, I cannot wear fougeres because they say “shaving cream” to me, rather loudly! I still haven’t smelled Ninfeo Mio – which I put in the Herbal Green category and probably will also put into the Citrus Green – it sounds very nice, but also very Not Me. (Fig leaf, citrus, and woods. I think I’d be disappointed in it.) I’m so glad you like it! AGs are done so well, I think.

  2. You got it!
    I know everyone sort of discourages buying things unsniffed, but I sometimes cannot resist and do it myself as well. 🙂
    I’m glad it turned out good – and it sounds really wearable for spring.

    1. Yep, Ines, I toppled off my NO BUYING UNSNIFFED high horse. I figured I could do that for $30… It is very, very lovely. I may wear it when it gets hot and humid in the summer, too; those crunchy-juicy leaves are so refreshing.

  3. I also bought unsniffed-
    And feel similarly !

    Love the poem 😉
    There is a song to which it is set, just lovely ….

    Wistful, winsome Springtime to you 😉
    [“In Springtime, the only pretty ring time…”]

    1. Oh, did you, Chaya? It was a good gamble, I think. Occasionally that does work out for me.

      I don’t know the song… there are so many settings of poems, aren’t there? My college choir performed some settings of the nonsense poems from Through the Looking Glass – The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Jabberwocky, and Father William, and the one about the baby turning into a pig, whose name escapes me, but I still remember the phrase, “Cry, cry, you ugly pig baby!”

      [“Sweet lovers love… the spring.” Why do I associate that song with Jeeves and Wooster?]

  4. Mals, this post is fab. Though I may need to tsk tsk at you for a moment…I, too, am generally lemming averse (okay, I’ve gotten better at that after some practice)…but oh, this sounds so up my alley. I had read about CC dismissing the Crown catalog, and put on my “na na na na boo boo I don’t hear you” hat, since I KNEW the other option was to hurry up and find some unsniffed.

    I’ve got a little CC to toss your way. Not worth the elevated price, IMHO. Though I kinda like that they sponsor a music composition competition.

    1. S, glad you enjoyed… one day we will be entirely proof against lemmings, right? (ha.) It did strike me as very odd that Wallis, with her whole striking face saying, “I get what I want!” should be the muse for CB, as tender a smell as it is.

      Those CC prices are ridICulous. But a music composition thingy (please tell me there’s a generous cash prize for the winner) is pretty cool.

      Watch your incoming email. 🙂

      1. There is a cash prize! If I were a wealthier sort, I’d consider buying the perfume to help subsidize the competition.

        Nah. I’d hold my own competition. And buy some of the new Parfumerie Generale coming out…UNSNIFFED!!! mwa-ha -ha….

  5. Yikes! This is Housman’s most cheerful poem?? I am averse to any mention of death, ever (Ginsberg makes me cry) and will stick to my Whitman, methinks.
    I have been following your green series with great interest. Florals always rub me the wrong way because they ALWAYS have a jasmine note, so “no indoles at all” sounds very good to me.

    1. Hi, Ari! Yep, I’d call that one Housman’s most cheerful. Srsly. I mean, the guy fought in WWI, so not a cheerful sort of occupation… a lot of death in his stuff. (That’s not to say that it isn’t beautiful. Frequently it is.)

      I tend to have difficulty with indoles in jasmine (the “Ho Panties Effect”) and in orange blossom (the “Tang Dust Effect”), but generally love floral scents. The florals in this one are soft and pretty and unchallenging. Gaze’s comment was, “That smells like flowers. Nice. I like it.” He likes most everything, though (this is the kid who preferred Divine edp to Ysatis and Ubar).

  6. I love that we both have green on our minds, Mals! Great post, and another green scent for my list! As for buying things unsniffed, as long as it’s not too expensive, why not? You only live once…

    1. Green is in the air! and on the ground…

      I have bought a number of things unsniffed, actually – largely vintage miniatures on ebay, which is a big crapshoot. You NEVER know what you’re going to get: could be ruined by age (an improperly-sealed Byzance), could be Just Not for You (anything Lauder – before I figured out that there’s an EL base that I just hate in everything they do), could be the most amazing thing you’ve ever smelled (one of my 3 bottles of vintage No. 5 is just stunning).

      But this one was definitely worth buying unsniffed. Now I’m thinking, Hmm, do I want another bottle before they all disappear??

  7. Hi MalsNano86 – sorry to go wildly off topic, but I’ve finally updated my swaps list and would love to do some swaps with you – if you fancy it. Anyway, it’s over at my blog if you’re interested.
    Have a great weekend!

    1. Ooh, I’ll go have a look… (sometimes have trouble commenting, if I’m using my home ‘puter, though – *(@& porn filter blocks waaaay too much stuff. Like comment boxes on Blogger.)

  8. I didn’t know about marigold’s other name– I kinda love it– so I learned something today….yay! You’re not missing anything with CC, I tell ya’…

    1. Marigold always smells more like herbs to me than flowers. I love to sniff them. (I like those orange Mexican ones with the really enormous heads!)

      Sounds like CC should be shot at dawn for screwing up the Crown Perfumery line…

    1. Hi GGS, glad you stopped by.

      It’s a little confusing – I did a bit of research while writing – but Crown *Bouquet* is not one of the ones that Anglia is currently producing. The link lists Crown of Gold and a few other scents, but sadly Crown Bouquet is not among them.

      Crown of Gold seems to be an oriental floral, as far as I can tell. If you try it, let me know how it is?

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