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Monday, May 14, 2007

Lily of the Valley Week. Day 1. Annick Goutal, Art of Perfumery, Caron

Annick Goutal – Le Muguet

Le Muguet is a Limited Edition soliflore scent released by Annick Goutal in 2001. It is said that the company will reissue some of the other soliflores, but Le Muguet doesn’t seem to be included in the list, which is sad, because, along with Le Jasmin, it is my favorite in the series. I have read many reviews that note a harsh, almost carbide-like note in Le Muguet, so perhaps the scent wasn’t so popular as to warrant a reissue. On me, it is one of the most beautiful lily of the valley scents from beginning to finish, and yet I do see how it can possibly leave a sharply-chemical impression. The lily of the valley note here is so incredibly realistic and sumptuous, like sticking one’s head into the huge bouquet of freshly picked flowers, and the smell of real lily of the valley does in fact have that strange …metallic? gas-like? even almost garlic-like?...characteristic. As I said, I can sense a hint of that natural weirdness of muguet in Goutal’s rendition but it enhances my enjoyment of the scent rather than turns me off it. Lily of the valley perfumes in general are not ones that I would ever characterize as sweet. Having said that, Le Muguet, is perhaps one of the sweetest, I guess due to the fact that it also features a rose note. It is not a strong note, but it does make the typically virginal lilies of the valley exceptionally luscious. Honeyed, so very life-like, lilies of the valley are so appealing here, I could just…bite them.

Art of Perfumery – 3

Said to have been created to evoke “a feeling of serenity”, to be “a perfume refuge”, 3 is a little bit of a paradox in that it manages to be simultaneously clean and rather sweet. The clean aspect is achieved through the use of a prominent aquatic accord, and the sweetness is caused by the presence of melon and orange. Unlike Goutal’s rendition, which makes lily of the valley so real that one feels transported to a forest-glade all white with muguet and sees oneself lying among the flowers, intoxicated by their silvery smell, 3 is not nearly as realistic. Wearing 3 is akin to being in an elegant spa, with the lily of the valley candle burning somewhere in the distance. It is lovely and indeed serene, but rather tame and “sterile”, and not the kind of “refuge” I would ever choose.

Caron – Muguet de Bonheur

There was time when I used to dislike lily of the valley note in perfume, and during that misspent and misguided phase of my life I used to think that all lily of the valley scents smelled the same. How wrong can one be? Trying muguet fragrances side by side reveals an astonishing variety of very different renditions. Caron’s version, first released in 1952, is perhaps one of the most refined lilies of the valley…very ladylike, very proper, white gloves and lacy handkerchiefs, modesty and chastity. It is so dainty and innocent, it feels almost out of place in our rather graceless time…But an old-fashioned feel is not something I would ever resent in a fragrance, quite on the contrary, I think that Muguet de Bonheur’s wistful patina of old-worldliness is its most charming characteristic. Neither do I mind a distinct soapy undertone of the fragrance; I feel that it only adds to the maidenly charm of Muguet de Bonheur. What I don’t like about the scent is the abundance of heliotrope. Heliotrope and I are bitter enemies, and the doughy rascal of a note has spoiled many a scent for me. Objectively speaking, heliotrope is what makes the potentially sharp lily of the valley so delicate and soft here, and those who don’t mind the copious amounts of heliotrope and those who are usually wary of the high-pitched forcefulness of lily of the valley, should find Caron’s Muguet very delightful and very wearable.

Le Muguet seems to be available at, $59.99 for 1.7oz. 3 can be bought directly from Art of Perfumery, at, €59.00 for 1.7oz. 1oz of Muguet de Bonheur in Parfum is right now sold at for only $85.95, 1.7oz of Eau de Toilette costs $29.95, also at

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Blogger tmp00 said...

Lily of the Valley is such an evocative scent for me- it grew in our backyard and was a herald of summer as much as lilac (which also grew there). So much so that I think I have avoided it in scents, perhaps because I want to keep that pristine childhood memory. Like visiting the house you grew up in and finding that its rooms are smaller than you remember Or perhaps worse, having your sense memory Xeroxed (CB, I am looking at you)

I'll be interested in sniffing these, and the ones to come throught the week.

1:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Divina said...

I will be following the Lily of the Valley Week with a lot of interest.. Thank you very much for starting it. Muguet will always be for me the lost youth of a family member I adore and the muguet flowers in her hair on her wedding day. I know you're gonna make this a special week. I am looking forward to it.

5:38 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well, unfortunately, I have not tried any of these--not even the Caron. But you appear to have nailed it with "maidenly charm." I have matching ads for Muguet du Bonheur and Poivre (also on my notepad). The Muguet, with lots of white flowers, is captioned, "parfum de la fiancée"; the Poivre (read and black buds) reads, "parfum de la mariée." Married woman, myself:)

6:16 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

P.S. Didn't you used to be a heliotrope queen?:)

6:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Memory Xeroxed! Ha! Very true.

7:59 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I adore the flowers. And I used to really like the scent of them in perfumes as well, but...this is one of the very few notes I've actually ceased to love. OK, but must confess that I did fall madly, head over heels in love w/ Ellie recently, so there's hope. AG's version sounds like it has real potential for me to like it. Sweet and virginal lotv doesn't really work for me, but luscious, honeyed? Yep. Definitely appealing.
That was a *stunning* photo you used for your weekend post about LOTV week.

8:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

What a beautiful, poignant image!

8:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, that's it, exactly. For a fiancee, and probably not a modern-day fiancee either. Poivre has all the gorgeousness of, ahm, Knowledge. Bonheur is utterly virginal. :-)

8:02 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes. I used to be. I have abdicated. :-) The note, when prominent, literally turns my stomach now.

8:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

L, has some treasures like that. Of course you have to sort through lots and lots of goth-looking, angsty, anime-inspired images first.

I am so sad Ellie didn't work for me. :-(

8:04 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like tmp00, I associate the scent with flowers that showed up without fail every spring in our backyard when I was a child. Yesterday, I brought my mother (who loves florals) some of my tried-but-not-for-me perfume jasmine-ish samples yesterday. She mentioned loving lilac & lily of the valley scents so I made a mental note to find some for her ... and here you are with a whole lily of the valley week, lol. I will have to remember the Annick Goutal next time I go sample-hunting.

8:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am so glad this turned out to be so timely! I hope you find something for your mother that she will love.

8:33 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not notice the abundance of heliotrope in Muguet de Bonheur, rather I noticed the typically rich Caron base, which I love. Goutal's Muguet sounds wonderful, and I wish they would reissue it. I think I have a sample of The Art of Perfumery #3, and will try and dig it up. Wonderful reviews, as always, M. I've been looking forward to Lotv week, and you do not disappoint. :-)

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It's because you don't mind it (heliotrope) :-) It knows how I hate it so it is always very prominent on me, out of spite. :-)

9:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm learning to love LotV, which convinces me that I am possessed somehow.

I need to try the Muguet, that one sounds like it might work. I'm up to TWO LotV scents I love. How can this be?

10:29 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Which two do you love? Ellie D and...? Or no Ellie D?

10:31 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I don't have a sample of the AG Le Muguet any more, but my testing notes say "starts sharp, ends harsh and sour" so I guess it didn't agree with me.

AOP#3 struck me as a pale copy of Diorissimo. Would love to know the perfumer.

11:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I'd love to know all the perfumers who worked for AdP too.

11:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Beth Schreibman Gehring said...

Thank you so much for Lily of the Valley week! I have been a passionate Lily of the Valley devotee since childhood, when I discovered Coty's "Muguet du Bois", which I loved. I am a devoted Diorissimo lover, but I am very interested in trying the Caron fragrance and the others posted this week . These scents have such a hold on me... they are one of the fondest memories of my childhood. I still wander into my parents garden every mothers day to pick a handful for my mom, and to bury myself head first in the scent of the luxurious patch that grows there. They are nestled in a hidden part of the garden so I feel a bit fairylike when I am back there! I love your site, I just discovered it several weeks ago, and it is balm for an obsessed perfume lover like me.
Thanks so much!

2:45 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marina, don't bite into lily of the valley. It's poisonous! :-)

It's interesting that some have experienced a carbide note in the Annick Goutal. I experienced it with Le Jasmin. Skin chemistry sure is a funny thing.

3:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

What beautiful memories you have, it was a pleasure reading about them!

3:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I don't get that in Le Jasmin, but again I can see where it would come from there. The harshest Goutal scent on me is, funnily enough, Vanille! :-)

3:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I like the idea of a lily of the valley week. I like lilies a lot. The are such simply and yet wonderful flowers. My personal favorite is the tulip but I don't know if that would make a good perfume or not. I like shopping for fragrance online

10:18 PM EDT  

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