Once upon a time, unless you lived in the countryside or possessed enough wealth to retain either a gardener or a private florist, you might live your whole life without ever encountering lilies-of-the-valley. Fey and elusive, lending a half-wild presence to even the tamest garden setting, Convallaria majalis emits an aroma that can rightly be termed magickal. And yet -- tricksy in the way of all magickal things -- it yields up not even a ghost of itself to the perfumer.
In hydroxycitronellal, science managed to approximate what Mother Nature refused us: a facsimile of the divine. Plentiful and inexpensive, this aldehydic molecule scented some of the most luxurious floral fragrances on record-- and also, quite democratically, cheap detergents and cakes of hand soap priced for the hoi polloi. From the dimestore to Diorissimo, it was a surefire crowd-pleaser. People wanted to smell it everywhere and in anything, reliving over and over an olfactory thrill heretofore too rich for their blood.
But society's tastes (along with its values and its bank-account balances) are so changeable. In the manner of things once exclusive that have become ubiquitous, the scent of lily-of-the-valley today strikes us as safe, familiar, prim in that very particular manner we call 'mumsy'. It doesn't excite feelings of surprise or sensual danger the way that oud, leather, or tuberose do. Its melody, once so enchanting, has become Muzak.
Every so often, though, a wisp of the original song reaches a willing ear, and the magic comes alive-- quite as if it had never had the life pressed out of it.
The white-blossom goddess of Bouquet Lenthéric Muguet emerges from her greenery like a burlesque idol peeping through a thirty-foot waterfall of emerald velvet draperies. This is not to say she's cheap or showy, and lord knows it's difficult to accuse a lily-of-the-valley of being voluptuous. But she is so gorgeously pale, so powder-smooth against that endless depth of green, she has no need of feather fans or sparkling sequins to capture my attention. I'm just as nature intended, her smile says. And even though I know that chemically speaking, she's telling a white lie... I want so much to believe.
Some muguets project cool sophistication; some suggest buttoned-up modesty; still others even achieve a sort of Byronic romance. Bouquet Lenthéric Muguet evokes -- quite simply -- a 'pale wildwood flower'. And that's a song I can listen to time and again, without end.
Scent Elements: Lily-of-the-valley, aldehydes, a lemony citrus, and most likely some oakmoss.