Apparently lavender has a reputation as being for old ladies, but I’ve never felt that way about it. To me, its fresh, uplifting brightness is incredibly modern. I’m not alone, it seems, as lavender is having its moment in the sun this summer. (It was all about the gardenia a couple of years ago, remember?) With a movement towards bright, light, yet very radiant perfumes, lavender has a place front and centre in the perfumer’s palette these days. Indeed, perfume creator Antonio Gardoni of Bogue Profumo has been working on his next fragrance and lavender is a key element: more on that in a later post, but he’s promised me a sample to test and I’ll keep you posted.
I will come straight out and say that lavender-hearted Jicky from Guerlain is one of my all-time favourite perfumes; it has bright citrus topnotes, and a warm base of vanilla and animalic civet. This creation from 1889 feels incredibly modern and relevant when compared to Guerlain’s recent blockbuster, Mon Guerlain. The similarities are evident right from the start, with the lavender and bergamot topnotes of Mon Guerlain echoing Jicky’s most prominent features. Both rest on a vanillic gourmand base, but these are radically different fragrances.
Guerlain makes perfumes for amazons and adventurers, enchantresses, melancholy maidens and literary heroines, and I wanted something that lives up to this great and glorious picture of womanhood. Unfortunately, on my skin the latest Guerlain is far too much like the rest of the girls, which disappointed me no end. I am a fan of Jicky for the high pitch and brightness lemony-green lavender combination in its opening, which is famously unisex and bracingly perfect for day wear. With Mon Guerlain, in contrast, I struggled to get any lavender until I sprayed it on my décolletage – this is a rich caramel lavender that seems to emerge with some warmth – but I had a massively radiant undertone of warm, edible amber (coumarin, apparently) that isn’t my cup of tea. I’m delighted that lavender is returning and popular, but this isn’t my version of it, it reminds me too much of the huge patchouli note that is so popular now. Perhaps partly because of this feel of a patchouli gourmand that I think Mon Guerlain would smell wonderful on a man. I wonder if it has more in common with Jicky than I’d thought (Jicky smells fantastic on men, as Sean Connery will tell you.)
Two fragrances don’t make a trend, of course, but L’Occitaine en Provence is a company that usually has its eye on the trends and their latest release – Terre de Lumière – is inspired by a walk through Provençal lavender fields just before sunset. It is definitely laden with lavender, on a gourmand base of almonds, musk and tonka. The similarity between this and Mon Guerlain makes me very keen to try Antonio’s next creation, to see whether he, too, has fallen for the warm aspects of lavender. Watch this space for more information.