Lavender cologne reminds me of wash day or scented tissues. Tuberose makes me feel I'm wearing silk panties and fishnet stockings. Lilac reminds me of the silver-haired lady who arranged flowers at church.
We all have flowers we love to smell in nature but avoid in fragrances. Lavender, tuberose and lilac always are given revered spots in my garden...but not in my perfume cabinet.
La Parfumerie Moderne (founded by Philippe Neirinck in concert with Parfum d'Empire perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato) recently launched Désarmant,1 a lilac scent. According to La Perfumerie Moderne:
Désarmant resurrects the scent of the mysterious bottle found in a splendid Neo-baroque luxury hotel…. Now, putting out a lilac scent today is a pretty bold move. Of course, everybody loves the spring flower. But it’s been ages since perfumers have given it a starring role. Mossy undergrowth, luxuriant mauve clusters, vanilla-tinged nectar, and then that heady, animalic, almost leathery whiff the flowers exhale at the height of their blossoming…. Désarmant returns lilac to its proper rank and refinement.
Lilac seems to be having a "moment" in perfume and I hope I can, at last, find a lilac fragrance I enjoy: a lilac for Tarot readers, not church ladies, if you will.
Désarmant goes on smelling like sweet lilac wine (queue the great Nina Simone song of that name). This "wine" has a spring flavor, with added notes that remind me of hyacinth and jasmine. Mixing with the lilac are pale cinnamon, ylang-ylang and rose. Too soon after application the lilac becomes "dry" (I miss the wine) as a powdery note (orange blossom?) emerges. Désarmant wraps up its show pretty quickly with benzoin-vanilla and off-white musk (conjuring the scent of a sudsy basin of delicate hand washing — see panties and fishnet stockings above). Mildest lilac remains throughout the life of Désarmant, but it's way too pastel and tame for me; what I was hoping for was a bold, liquor-y deep-purple lilac with ripe greens and damp earth (some strong vetiver or iris root would have been welcome). If you enjoy pastel, spring florals, don't discount Désarmant, give it a try.
I didn't find my lilac perfume with Désarmant; if you can recommend a great lilac fragrance, please do! (And don't assume I've tried something just because it's famous!)
La Parfumerie Moderne Désarmant is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum at Jovoy Paris in France (€160) or Twisted Lily in the US ($220).
1. Listed notes of orange, lilac, storax, cinnamon, ylang-ylang, rose, osmanthus, benzoin and vanilla.
Note: top image of a Syringa microphylla 'Superba' from the author's garden; this heavily scented lilac blooms TWICE a year.