Friday, May 01, 2009

Urban Lily

Day 374: Lily of the Valley, originally uploaded by amanky.

Many great perfumers have attempted to re-create the scent of Lily of the Valley, a modest looking white flower that in fact does not belong to the lily family at all. Unlike the showy flowers of the true lily, Lily of the Valley bows to her own green leaves with its little bells of white, as if to conceal itself from sight even further.

For those looking for a Lily of the Valley perfume, I will share that my search came to end an before it even began – one of the first perfumes I’ve ever worn is Diorissimo by Edmond Roudnitska. I did not know what lily of the valley is or how it smells, but this perfume captured my heart on first sniff. In my mind, there is yet a lily of the valley perfume that comes even close to it’s precise and haunting beauty. Like the gowns from the couturier it was created for, its strict structure creates an illusion of freedom and eternity.

But just because I have already found a Lily of the Valley to my heart’s desire does not stop me from curiously trying other attempts, the latest one being Urban Lily by Strange Invisible perfumes. The perfumer here had the added challenge of not being able to use any of the essential molecules for replicating this unique scent for replicating this unique scent. Instead, perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis uses the sharp greenness of galbanum and the raw-earthy carrot-seed & iris notes to create that crystal-clear charm of the lily bells, and underlines it with sultry notes of narcissus, jasmine and vegetal musk. I think I'm also noticing a touch of lotus... It is neither as accurate nor as clean as most lily of the valley fragrances tend to be, but I find it intriguing, nevertheless. And I like it's abstract and less than straightforward botanical feel.

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At May 03, 2009 6:47 AM, Anonymous Suzanne said...

Hi Ayala,

I'm a frequent lurker at your wonderful blog -- delurking now to ask a question. You say that Lily of the Valley does not belong to the lily family at all, yet researching the flower on the internet, I've come across a number of sites claiming that it is a member of the lily family (here's one such reference: What I'm wondering is...was there a reclassification for this flower, perhaps? I suppose I'm most curious because I just wrote a post in which I state that Lily of the Valley is part of the lily family -- and if my information is incorrect, then I'd like to correct my post, as I'd don't want to mislead my readers. Thanks for any help you can provide.

At May 03, 2009 7:43 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Lillies are from the Liliaceae family. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is from the Ruscaceae family (genus Convallaria). I'm not a botanist, but in the past there were different classifications of these species and they were considered part of the wide Lilaceae family. This seems odd, because these two families currently don't even belong to the same order!
My guess is, the classification was mistaken and was originated in the popular (misleading) name for lily of the valley. If you look at species from both families you'll see they have very little in common.
I will look into this further though once in a real library (which won't be until the end of May as I'm going away to France soon), for now I'm relying heavily on the internet and I don't trust this too much as a reliable source for plant classification and nomenculture.

At May 03, 2009 10:55 AM, Anonymous Suzanne said...

Thanks for the clarification, Ayala. Hope you enjoy your trip to France!

At May 03, 2009 11:31 AM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

Hope you had a terrific 1st of May and thanks for adding another LOTV scent to my list.
Trust the blow-out sale was a success! :-)) (got my payment?)


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