Happy May Day! Do you know the stories behind some of the most iconic flowers of May?
Emmanuelle Moeglin, fragrance expert and founder of the Experimental Perfume Club guides you through a selection of five iconic scented spring flowers that evoke the month of May.
Lucky Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley is THE most iconic flower of May. The flower symbolises the renewal of spring, happiness and luck. The tradition to give a sprig of lily of the valley on the 1st May as a lucky charm started in France as early as 1560! The scent of the little bellflower is delicate, green and a touch watery but the flower is completely resistant to perfume extraction. This is why perfumers have to recreate the smell of lily of the valley synthetically. The smell of “Muguet” is found in Soliflore fragrances (fragrances that replicate the smell of a unique flower) and in more complex floral fragrances. Lily of the Valley Soliflore fragrances include the brand new Hermes Muguet Porcelaine and the iconic Diorissimo by Dior and Muguet by Guerlain, a fragrance created in 1908 and re-edited every year since 1998 during springtime.
The subtlety narcotic scent of Hyacinth
Extracted from the botanical species Hyacithus Orientalis, hyacinths have a powerful scent, which can be described as a floral green note with vegetal aquatic accents and sweet and spicy notes. It is hard to extract the scent from the flower, but not impossible and Hyacinth Absolute can be found on the perfumer’s shelves. However, most perfumers recreate the odour of hyacinth synthetically, using components that are also used to recreate the smell of rose, lily of the valley, jasmine or lilac. You can find hyacinth in Bluebell by Penhaligon’s, Jo Malone White Bluebell Cologne and Hermes’ Un Jardin Sur Le Nil.
The handsome Narcissus
Narcissus takes its name from the legendary character of Greek mythology. Narcissus was so handsome that when he saw his face mirrored in a pool, he fell in love with himself. He stayed there gazing at his reflection for so long that he took roots and became a flower (life lesson: don’t admire yourself in the mirror for too long or you might be stuck in your bathroom). Narcissus is a type of daffodil, which smell can be extracted to obtain the very rare and expensive Narcissus Absolute extract. As many as 1200 kilos of flowers are needed to obtain 1 kilo of the precious perfumery ingredient! The smell is close to the one of hyacinth with stronger jasmine and spicy accents. The scent of narcissus is found in L’Occitane Vanille & Narcisse and the iconic Narcisse Noir by Caron.
The sweet smell of Lilac
Lilac has a sweet, delicate floral fragrance, similar to lily of the valley with sweeter powdery balsamic notes. The smell of lilac is recreated by perfumers using a blend of synthetic and natural ingredients. Fragrances based on the smell of lilac include the beautiful Frederic Malle En Passant and Aerin Lilac Path.
Magnolia The Great
Magnolia smells like the way it looks: creamy, velvety and exotic. It can be described as having a delicate creamy floral scent with a hint of lemon, spice and vanilla. You can smell the lovely flowers of the Magnolia Grandiflora tree blooming from early spring through the summer. Magnolia is a flower evocative of the Asian culture and is also one of Louisiana State symbols. Magnolia oil extract is used in perfumery and extracted from the leaves and flowers. You’ll smell magnolia in Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia and Guerlain L’Instant.