5 Lilac Fragrances for April

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Mary Cassatt, Lilacs in a Window, 1880-1883. Oil on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Partial and Promised Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1997. 1997.207
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland (I. The Burial of the Dead)


If you asked me to name my favorite flower, or my favorite floral note in perfume, lilac wouldn’t be the first one I’d name. It might not even appear in my “top five.” Yet every April there’s a day when I have the opportunity to visit the blooming lilac trees in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and I suddenly want to spray myself with a lilac fragrance.

Here are a few recommendations, including three from independent female perfumers and one from a preeminent female “nose.”


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Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums En Passant (2000): A niche classic, inspired by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti’s memory of walking past a bakery and a florist shop on the same city street. (Robin’s review on Now Smell This)

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Dawn Spencer Hurwitz La Belle Saison (2016): an all-natural, impressionistic lilac perfume. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find because it was a limited edition. (my review on Now Smell This) … Consolation prize: DSH’s White Lilac!

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Ineke After My Own Heart (2006): a clean, gentle lilac soliflore, the first fragrance (“A)”) from this indie line’s “Alphabetical Collection.” (Victoria’s review on EauMG)

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Aroma M Geisha Violet: This is perfumer Maria McElroy’s tribute to the pale purple shades of spring, with lilac and lotus flowers balanced by a bittersweet chocolate note. (Victoria’s review on EauMG)

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Gucci Guilty (2010): It’s marketed as something torrid and rebellious, but it’s actually a pleasant, slightly fruity lilac fragrance in an inappropriately flashy gold bottle. (my review on Now Smell This)

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YSL Paris Jardins Romantiques (2007): This one is also hard to find, since it was a limited edition, but I’ve spotted bottles on eBay, etc. It’s a sheer, dewy take on the original rose-and-violet composition with added lilac and leafy green notes. (mention on Now Smell This)


I hope you’ll have a moment to enjoy some spring flowers, in any form, this week.


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