Three Days of Lilies. Day Three: Annick Goutal, Frederic Malle, Serge Lutens...And a Prize Draw.
Today is the last day of lilies, devoted to my most favorite scents featuring the note. These are the lilies to die for, nor a thorn nor a threat stains their beauty bright.
Serge Lutens Un Lys is the lily that I loved even when I did not like floral perfumes in general and lily scents in particular. Reading reviews and forums, I noticed that very often "floral-haters" single out Un Lys as one of a few obviously-floral perfumes they can wear and love. The secret of its success with the floral-phobic and lily-phobic perfumistas, I think, lies in the presence of vanilla. The scent is a perfect example of what a judicious, masterful use of the note can do to a composition. When used right, vanilla softens what otherwise could have been overly-sharp, soothes what could have been too harsh, but it does not overwhelm, over-sweeten or take over the composition. In the case of Un Lys, vanilla rids the lily note of its grating, high-pitched, metallic quality and enhances its lush, sweet (but not too sweet) floralcy. The delicate musky drydown is a comfortable skin-scent, which lingers long after the velvety flowers wear off.
Annick Goutal Des Lys is another lily scent that is soft and non-aggressive. The delicacy is achieved here by the means different from those employed in Un Lys. There is no vanilla in Des Lys, no sweetness added to the naturally sweet-smelling lilies. In fact, the lilies aren't even that sweet here. This is a cold scent, but not in an unpleasantly-aquatic manner. Des Lys is cool as a transparent white fabric wavering in the fresh morning breeze. This is a green (I smell leaves and stems of the flowers, not just the petals, especially in the beginning), translucent lily and the translucency is what prevents the scent from being sharp. The notes listed for Des Lys are casablanca and white lilies, and I am not an expert on lilies, but of the two, the fresher, brighter smell of white lilies seem to me to be more prominent than the spicy-creamy aroma of casablancas. Believe it or not, I also smell a leather-like accord in the base of Des Lys. One would not expect it from a scent so airy, so ethereally-feminine, but I swear there is something in the drydown that makes me think of leather (and, sometimes, hay) ... evoking in my mind an image of a fragile white lily with a black leather stem.
Edouard Flechier's Lys Méditerranée created for Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfum is anything but fragile. This is a Big Flower, just like one would expect from Flechier. Lys Méditerranée is a dazzling beauty viewed in close-up, larger than life, an intoxicating, unapologetically luscious rendition of (ginger) lilies. It starts with a bright, piquant bang of lilies and orange blossom. At times, the top notes are so spicy on me, I suspect the presence of carnations, but that of course might just be the zingy natural smell of ginger lilies. Sometimes the scent has a slightly marine undertone, sometimes Lys skips that part of its composition completely on my skin. When I smell the vaguely aquatic note in Lys Méditerranée, it does not bother me, as it does not possess the jarring metallic quality I abhor. When I smell Lys Méditerranée, I see majestic (and gigantic) white flowers, so big and ripe that their stems are almost unable to hold them, their sultry petals luxuriating in the coolness of the wind that comes from the sea. I love the musky base of Lys Méditerranée; the musk here is neither too clean nor overtly animalic. It is white musk gone slightly wild, led a little astray by the decadent, lascivious lilies. Lys Méditerranée is also available as body oil, and is just as gorgeous in that formulation albeit a little less complex, less audacious and much sweeter. If the regular version seems a little too heady to you, huile à tout faire might be a good alternative. Along with Antica Farmacista's Casablanca, Lys Méditerranée tops the list of my favorite lily scents, with Un Lys, Des Lys and Gold following closely behind.
Un Lys is available at Aedes, $120.00 for 1.69oz; Des Lys was last spotted on 99perfumes.com, $49.40 for 1.7oz; Lys Mediterranee is sold at Barney's, $75.00-$180.00.
If you would like to receive a set of (7) samples of some of the lily scents I talked about this week, including Lys Méditerranée and Lys Méditerranée oil, Des Lys, and more, please let me know in your comment that you want to be entered in the prize draw. A winner will be announced on Monday morning.