Guerlain’s Muguet Millésime 2018

In France, May 1st is celebrated with a public holiday – officially called La Fête du Travail (National Labour Day) but also known as La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day). It comes from a tradition that supposedly dates back to the reign of King Charles IX, when in 1561, the King was presented with a bunch of muguet (lil of the valley) flowers as a token of luck for the coming year. Courtiers were so charmed by the token, they began gifting each other sprigs of the flowers, and so the tradition grew, remaining to this day a way of wishing loved ones a properous and joyful year ahead.

Incredibly, for 110 years now, Guerlain have presented their own fragrant token, in the form of an exquisite (and highly collectible!) limited edition bottle of Muguet – a practice initiated by Jacques Guerlain in 1908.

For 2018, Guerlain have decorated the emblematic ‘bee bottle’ design with a kiss of frost (how fitting, for our currently freezing weather), and as Guerlain explain, ‘…the Bee Bottle contains in its heart the Muguet note, reinterpreted by Thierry Wasser, whose bergamot, jasmine and rose accents announce Spring.

Top notes: green notes
Heart notes: note of lily of the valley, lilac
Base notes: rose, jasmine

To magnify this exceptional piece, Guerlain has called on Maison Guillemette, one of the reference addresses in Paris for jewels and head accessories. Guillemette, founder and creator, celebrates the Muguet with a floral ethereal finery.

A lucky charm of exception that celebrates with refinement Lily of the Valley and the beginning of Spring.

Each year the Muguet eau de toilette is magnified in a bottle sublimated by the know-how of a craftsman to become an exceptional piece.

This year, Maison Guillemette, a Parisian creator of accessories, has imagined a voluptuous and delicate floral finery. It is adorned with a bunch of organza petals cut and sewed by hand; a true prowess of meticulousness and creativity.’

Collectors, Guerlain-a-holics and lily of the valley lovers, form an orderly queue – we’re right behind you, and desperately hoping this heralds the proper start of Spring…

Guerlain Millésime Muguet 2018 £370 for 125ml eau de toilette
Available at Harrods and Selfridges

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley perfume celebrates the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee

To commemorate the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee year, Penhaligon’s have released an exquisite, highly limited edition version of their classic Lily of the Valley perfume. Only 65 of the crystal bottles have been produced – one to mark each year since the Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952.
The bows on every single bottle have been hand embroidered with a number, and the crystal bottle itself was created especially for Penhaligon’s by British manufacturer Silver Tree Crystal. A perfume fit for a Queen of course comes at a suitably rich price, but a percentage of the proceeds from this product will go towards QEST (the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust), the charity of the Royal Warrant Holders Association. QEST provides funds for the education of talented and aspiring craftspeople, thus sustaining traditional British craftsmanship.
Penhaligon’s Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee Lily of the Valley £650 for 225ml.
Available in select Penhaligon’s boutiques and concessions.
Too rich for your (non-blue) blood? You could always pick up a regular bottle of the beautiful original Lily of Valley, which is available for the more pocket-friendly price of £97.
Penhaligon’s say: ‘The sweetness of this soliflore is first of all one of character. With the gentility (of experience) and the innocence (of youth) here is a flower that hangs its bells coyly, that delicately shares its perfume. But a soliflore made from a fine orchestration of notes. The opening is as fresh as May and as optimistic as Spring, geranium brings composure and stature to this citrus. As this imagined and romanticised creamy white flower continues to open its petals, rose, ylang ylang and jasmine release their scent. And because discretion is a virtue; one could almost be unaware of the sandalwood and oakmoss that give Lily of the Valley a timeless and forever finale. Royal wedding posies have taken note.’
Written by Suzy Nightingale

It's our THIRD birthday! To begin the celebrations, we pay homage to our symbolic flower: lily of the valley…

Regarded as a lucky charm ever since its first introduction from Japan to Europe in the Middle Ages, lily of the valley has become synonymous with the month of May and ‘the return of happiness’. For the French, May 1st traditionally represents the start of gifting bouquets of “muguet” to loved ones to signify the regard in which they’re held and as a token of prosperity for the year ahead. A tradition supposedly begun when King Charles IX was presented with a bunch of the delicate blooms, and decided to gift the ladies of his court, too.

In Europe, ‘bals de muguet’ were historically held – lily of the valley themed dances that offered the tantalising prospect for young singletons to meet without their parents’ permission.

With the young gals dressed in white gowns and the dapper chaps wearing lily of the valley as a buttonhole, we’re sure there was many a ‘return to happiness’ on such evenings… Now the custom is tied in with France’s Labour Day public holiday, and the tradition of giving lily of the valley to loved ones during May still holds strong.

No wonder that three years ago, we chose this delightful, flower-filled date in the calendar to launch The Perfume Society – running hither and thither all over London handing sprigs of lily of the valley to fragrant friends.

And my, how our friends have grown in this short time! With a readership that stretches around the globe and our Instagram followers now topping 21K, we have been delighted with some of the truly beautiful pictures some of our followers have been sharing there. Just feast your eyes on the stunning pictures we’ve sprinkled throughout this post…

With your help we’ve come so far already, and we have so many more exciting things to share with you in the weeks and months ahead. We wish we could come and give every single one of you a sprig of lily of the valley to show our heartfelt appreciation for all your support, but for now, accept this symbol of love and luck, from us to all of you…

Written by Suzy Nightingale
 

Happy 1st May! We want this to be the most fragrant day in the calendar…

In France on 1st May, there is a wonderful tradition of offering lily of the valley to those you love and admire. We can’t think of anything nicer – which is why from today, The Perfume Society has introduced this tradition in England. We hope it spreads and spreads. (A little like these wonderfully fragrant nodding flowers do in your garden, if you let them.)

So today, we are ‘flowerbombing’ all sorts of women we like and respect – from Sandi Toksvig to Fearne Cotton, Kate Moss to Marjorie Scardino, Mary McCartney to Emma Freud – with posies of lily of the valley, in the run-up to the Society’s full launch on 18th May.

If you’re not on the list this year (sorry!), then we thought you might enjoy this posting from James Craven, Perfume Archivist at Les Senteurs London on the subject of this very special flower…
‘… Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Always productive and fascinating to smell perfume oils and then return to the original source – the flower which inspired them. The fascination for me lies in discovering how the flower actually smells in the raw, often remarkably different from what we imagined or remembered.

The radiance of the lily of the valley has inspired mankind for centuries. Modern sources sometimes claim it originated in Asia, though Nicolson’s exhaustive 1886 Gardening Dictionary describes it as native to Britain and at that period still to be seen growing profusely (imagine!) in English woods. Medicinal and spiritual qualities (the warding off of evil spirits) are attributed to it, and an extensive folk lore is not the least of its charms. The flower is said to represent Our Lady’s Tears at the Crucifixion; and sometimes named Jacob’s Ladder or Ladders to Heaven – from the Patriarch’s dream of angels, ascending and descending the Divine staircase.

I have a plant before me now: exquisite in form and colour, both the flowers and foliage. With its vivid green silky spear-shaped leaves and pure white bell-like flowers (one of its French names is Clochettes d’Amour) it was a definitive corsage for Edwardian ladies,fashionably pinned to furs or lapels with a diamond clip. As the sun or the heat of the body warm the blossoms, the sweet,fragile yet pungent fragrance arouses almost unbearable nostalgia.

Inhaling it now, the scent is unexpectedly musky,very expensively soapy, verging on the powdery; with delicate hints of jasmine, orange blossom, even rose. Remarkably sophisticated, with a subtle suggestion of spice rather in the style of an old-fashioned clove carnation; complex and bewitching, unmistakable yet paradoxical.

For lily of the valley defies perfumers to extract oil from the plant: it has to be synthesised from other floral oils in combination or reproduced chemically. A conjuring trick of the highest order but you can see from the other flowers that it references, even from a pot on my kitchen table, how it can be pulled off, if very rarely. Dior’s Diorissimo is one such example: it was the designer’s favourite flower. His funeral took place in a bower, a cascade of lilies. Caron‘s Muguet de Bonheur catches the waxy muskiness of the flower: a salute to the Parisian chic of Claudette Colbert who wore it; and a souvenir of the French custom of offering lilies of the valley as a token of love on May Day. If you are after for the green,airy, spring-like quality try Malle’s Lys Mediterranée – a gorgeously fresh garden of white flowers with lily of the valley nestling discreetly but sweetly at the heart.

‘They toil not, neither do they spin’… lilies of the valley earn their place in creation just by being.’
There. Hope you love that as much as we do. And Happy May Day, from The Perfume Society

Written by Jo