In Like a Lion: 5 Leonine Fragrances for March

“Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair. . .” — C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Does anyone else still use the expression “in like a lion, out like a lamb” to describe the month of March? It used to seem like a fairly common bit of folklore—I definitely remember our entire third-grade class cutting out lions and lambs from construction paper to decorate our classroom windows—but now I’m not so sure.

In any case, I’ll do my part to perpetuate this phrase by listing five lion-inspired perfumes that could be worn in this month’s varied weather. (I’ve opened with Pauline Baynes’s cover design for C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because Aslan has always been the lion, to me, and springtime is an important element in his story.)

Chanel Le Lion (2020): Chanel launched Le Lion last year, to much fanfare in the fragrance and beauty world, but I still haven’t smelled it because I haven’t been inside a department store for a year. I’ve had mixed experiences with Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line, but I think I’d like this one. Angela reviewed it recently for Now Smell This.

Hermetica Greenlion (2018): For something more niche, not to mention a lot leafier, Greenlion from Hermetica would be a good spring pick. I reviewed it on NST in 2019, here, and I mentioned its “aromatic juniper surrounded by other leafy herbs” and its “citrus-amber base.” Time to revisit this one!

4160 Tuesdays The Lion Cupboard (2013): I often avoid the whole “scent-as-memory” cliché, but when perfumer Sarah McCartney describes a fragrance as “the comforting scent of [her father’s] Victorian oak sideboard: herbs, citrus fruit and woods,” I can’t resist. You can read a deeper description on the company website.

Penhaligon’s Roaring Radcliff (2017): To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Penhaligon’s ever-expanding “Portraits” collection (I’m guessing I’m not the target audience, anyway), but I couldn’t leave this lion-head bottle off the list. The fragrance itself is a masculine-geared blend of gingerbread, rum, and tobacco. Visit Colognoisseur for a review if you’re curious.

Ellis Brooklyn Fable (ca. 2017-18): Ellis offers wearable fragrances with a side of green-washy language; just take the latter lightly, and you might find a new favorite everyday perfume. Fable is inspired by Aesop’s tale about a man removing a thorn from an injured lion’s paw. It has notes of orange blossom and petitgrain, cedar and amber; you can find a review by the Pomelo Girl on her blog.

Illustration by Pauline Baynes for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Have I found my ideal lion fragrance? No…but I’m hoping someone will create one, someday, using those late chapters of Lewis’s book as inspiration. It would have the radiant warmth of the resurrected Aslan’s fur at its heart, surrounded by the landscape that he coaxes out of its long winter, with morning sunlight on damp grass, “mossy glades” of elm trees, and “masses of flowering currant and. . . hawthorn bushes where the sweet smell was almost overpowering.”

Wishing you all a smooth approach to spring.

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