One of my favorite winter-themed songs is the American standard "Violets for Your Furs." Billie Holiday's interpretation is the one I love most, although I'm very fond of Frank Sinatra's version, which was probably the one that introduced me to this song. The nostalgic mood, the intimate gesture, the contrast between a wintry urban setting and some fresh flowers — it would make a wonderful inspiration for a perfume. And now that winter has arrived in my own city, I'm suddenly in the mood for any and all violet fragrances. Here are two new ones that I've recently tried...
The latest from indie natural line Aftelier is Violet Ambrosia, with notes of violet, broom, vanilla, violet leaf, raspberry, ylang ylang, mimosa, bergamot and sandalwood. Mandy Aftel describes Violet Ambrosia as soliflore fragrance evoking "fresh honeyed violets." Ambrosia meant "the food of the gods" in classical Greco-Roman mythology, but Violet Ambrosia feels more to me like the food of the fairies; it makes me think of the Cicely Mary Barker "Flower Fairy illustrations" that I grew up loving.
This is a gentle kiss of a perfume. It opens with a virtual handful of broom flowers (from an aged broom absolute), smelling like sun-warmed hay — grassy and slightly sweet, almost almondy. Its heart is violet, of course (thanks to the natural isolate alpha ionone), with its honeyed facet boosted by mimosa and its powderiness supported by the vanilla and just a soft touch of sandalwood. Violet Ambrosia turns duskier and more subdued over its development. Due to its all-natural composition, it's a fleeting pleasure, but one that's easily recaptured by applying a few more drops of scent.
Meanwhile, in a completely different vein, French niche house of Olfactive Studio recently expanded its Sepia collection with a trio of floral-inspired fragrances: Rose Shot, Iris Shot and Violet Shot. All three were developed by perfumer Dominique Ropion. Violet Shot, my favorite of the three, features top notes of mandarin, pink pepper and cut grass; heart notes of violet leaf and safraleine; and base notes of patchouli, labadanum and vanilla.
Violet Shot is described as an "elegant and woody" take on this flower; when I sniffed my sample vial, I had an impression of candied violet, but on skin, Violet Shot is more complex and, yes, elegant (yet modern). In its initial phase, the violet leaf and an anise-like note are most prominent, making Violet Shot feel like an older, more worldly sibling to Lolita Lempicka. Then it becomes more of a woody violet, with some refined vetiver and resin notes underscoring the floral heart.
In its dry down, Violet Shot does turn a little sweeter and more vanillic, but it recalls a liqueur more than the candied violet that I caught in my first dry sniff. If you love Balenciaga Paris, you should give Violet Shot a try as well; it has a little more intensity and feels slightly more gender-neutral than the Balenciaga — which is now ten years old, apparently?! And yet I'm still not tired of violet fragrances. Give both of these a sniff, if you're able, and find some April in your own December.
Aftelier Violet Ambrosia is available as 30 ml Eau de Parfum ($195) and 2 ml ($50) and 8 ml ($195) Perfume through the Aftelier website. Olfactive Studio Violet Shot is available as 15 ml ($79) and 100 ml ($275) Eau de Parfum; for buying information see the listing for Olfactive Studio under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image via Olfactive Studio.