Glorious Lilac

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Glorious Lilac. Your natural bluish color is the root of your name, as the Arabic for it is lilak. Your hollow branches, similar to a reed, reminded the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus of the legend of the Satyr Pan chasing the nymph Syrinx who transformed herself into a hollow reed. Your Latin name, derived from Syrinx, is syringa vulgaris or common syringa. You are native of the Balkans and were the jewel of Spring in the garden of Suleiman the Magnificent. You were introduced to the New World in the Eighteenth Century, and both the Presidents Thomas Jefferson and George Washington fell in love with you. Rochester NY is today the Lilac Capital of the World. Glorious Lilac, in the Language of the Flowers you represent the early emotions of Love, the sweet time of romance.

Lilac is a species of flowering plants rich of more than two thousand cultivars, many of which were developed by botanists. As a member of the Oleaceae, lilacs are cousins of Olive trees and even Jasmin.  Lilacs bloom once a year in Spring, from mid-April to the end of May depending on the latitude, and for only a couple of weeks. They have small and odorant four-lobed flowers arranged in large panicles. Their color varies from purple-blue to white, and their scent is just heavenly, floral and green, with hints of almond and spicy sub-notes of clove and aniseed.

Lilac fragrance oil with lilac flowers on an old wooden table

Lilac essential oil or absolute is very rare since the yield is extremely small, making the oil just too expensive. Instead, lilac fragrance oil is readily available, affordable and composed of a blend of aroma chemicals identified in the headspace analysis of the flowers. Beware that fragrance oils do not have therapeutic properties and should be exclusively used in perfumery and aroma diffusers.

Terpineol is the main molecule responsible for the scent of blooming lilac flowers.

In perfumery, the lilac note is created by a subtle assemblage of EO and fragrance oils such as petitgrain, rose, lily of the valley, almond, cinnamon and clove, and many synthetic molecules such as terpineol to add consistency and character. Some formulas can be found in books or online with more or less resemblance with the natural note.

My picks of the week are fragrances with a distinguishable lilac note:

En Passant from the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle is perhaps the best-known fragrance based on white lilac. I love the name which means “passing by” as this is often how we notice a lilac tree in our European towns and villages, just by passing near one of these trees and breathing suddenly a divine scent in the air. The lilac of En Passant is accompanied with some green notes of cucumber and wheat, to add some fresh green and gourmand feeling to the floral experience. For me, this perfume is a fragrant poem from Olivia Giacobetti and I particularly love it.

I discovered the line of AERIN fragrances during my last trip to Geneva in April.  Aerin Lauder is the granddaughter of Estée Lauder and is today the style and image director for the Estée Lauder Companies. She has also her own cosmetic, perfume, fashion, and furniture. Lilac Path from AERIN is a very green lilac fragrance thanks to notes of galbanum and angelica that decorate the lilac note. Jasmin and neroli add some floral warmth to the composition. Pretty original lilac for me, but most reviews are very positive, so I would be surprised if you would not like it too.

Lilac Love from the Oman house of Amouage will leave no-one indifferent. The beautiful lilac color bottle contains a very complex blend of notes which will surprise and please most of us but perhaps not immediately at the opening. Lilac Love is a composition of rich floral notes centered on lilac, sweetened by some gourmand accord of vanilla-cocoa-tonka. The particular effect of this fragrance is the addition of orris root that reacts with vanilla to create a powdery note. The die-off of this fragrance is surely not linear and will not leave anyone bored. For me, Lilac Love is either the work of a lucky junior perfumer or the masterwork of a quixotic master.

The author smelling freshly harvested lilac flowers in Geneva in April 2017

That’s all for this week my friends. I will try to discover a few more fragrances with lilac notes for my next article on this glorious tree.

I wish you a wonderful fragrant week.

Laurent

 

 

 

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