Although I tend to wear rose fragrances of all kinds when I'm "off-duty" and not testing something to review here, I also keep an eye and a nose out for interesting violet perfumes. Some of my violet-y favorites over the years have been soliflores (e.g., Annick Goutal Violette) but others are more complex or quirky. I also enjoy encountering violet when I don't necessarily expect it, or when it's included way down in a list of notes but turns out to be one of the stars of the composition.
House of Cherry Bomb Iris Oud is a recent example of the "stealth violet" experience for me. HOCB tends to give its fragrances two-note names (Cardamom Rose, Tobacco Cognac, etc.), perhaps underscoring its collaboration between two New York-based independent perfumers, Maria McElroy (of Aroma M) and Alexis Karl (of Scent by Alexis). Iris Oud's composition includes iris, violet, jasmine, oud, vanilla and beeswax. When I first apply Iris Oud to my skin, I'm a little uncomfortable with its jasmine note, which is simultaneously sweetened with honey and sharpened by oud. (Note: I'm not really a jasmine-lover.) But the rest of the composition woos me with its powdery violet and dusky iris, and then I'm able to settle into Iris Oud as though it were a velvet cushion. I'm not necessarily an iris-lover, either, but when it's combined with violet it's often irresistible to me.
Alchemologie, another brand with Brooklyn origins, is the creation of independent perfumer Julianne Zaleta. Alchemologie's Nethermead — an all-natural fragrance, like all Alchemologie's offerings — is named for a meadow located at the heart of Brooklyn's Prospect Park and is inspired by the scents of the meadow's grasses and other flora, as well as the adjacent forest and the nearby Lullwater waterway. Its composition includes petitgrain sur fleurs, ho wood, anisaldehyde natural isolate, alpha ionone natural isolate, boronia, coffee flower, nutmeg, amber, atlas cedar, vanilla, fossilized amber and violet leaf. Nethermead is a woody violet that feels gender-neutral. It gives off almost as much greenish violet leaf as soft violet, plus a background of cedar, earth, and an almost leathery note that grounds everything. Nethermead stays close to the skin and has above-average tenacity for a natural fragrance, lasting for a solid five hours on my wrist. If you're a fan of Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette or Balenciaga Paris, you may love this fragrance as well.
Lastly, I've finally gotten around to trying Régime des Fleurs Willows, a "cool, dignified" blend of white pepper, carrot seed, mimosa, orris root butter, rye, violet and tonka bean absolute developed by perfumer Mathieu Nardin. Its name reminds me of the line "Willows whiten, aspens quiver, / Little breezes dusk and shiver" from Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott," and this scent does have a wistful, ethereal quality that would suit the Lady herself — yet it's more floral than leafy. And it's nicely calibrated: there's something of a nod to the classic Après l'Ondée in its powdery violet heart shaded with pepper and sheer musk, while its slightly synthetic sheen makes it feel more contemporary. If Willows were available in a smaller bottle, I'd add one to my wishlist.
Have you ever had a "stealth violet" moment with a fragrance that didn't necessarily include the word "violet" in its name or description? Feel free to share in the comments!
House of Cherry Bomb Iris Oud is available as 30 ml Eau de Parfum ($100) via American Perfumer and the House of Cherry Bomb Etsy shop. Alchemologie Nethermead is available as 15 ml Perfume ($90) or a 1 ml Perfume sample ($10) via the Alchemologie website. Régime des Fleurs Willows is available as 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($200) via Luckyscent and the Régime des Fleurs website.