Violet is a bit of a tough sell, perfume-wise. The note has a vintage feel to it – a vibe that many would call dated, but also a strong association with the confectionary Parma Violets. So many people shy away from violet perfumes, becoming themselves little shrinking violets that aren’t bold enough to wear something so singular and distinct. But there is a real beauty to violets and no reason to shy away from them. Violets don’t have to be dowdy; in fact, they can be beautifully spiced classics or even neon-soaked rockstars – they can be anything. In this quick guide, I’m going to walk you through four beautiful violets that will make you approach the note with a new perspective. These are my ultra-violets!
La Violette is what I would call an easy violet – it delivers a traditional violet fragrance in a wearable and accessible manner. As with all things Annick Goutal, it feels very French, mixing a sweet, earthy violet accord with the dewiest and most delicate of roses. La Violette brings to mind an intricate floral print where the vivid purple blooms of violet intertwine with the pinks and reds of rose. This is a stealthy violet – you will smell it and think ‘is it a rose?’ or ‘is it violet?’. The answer is that it’s a gloriously calming and fresh floral (with a twist) that will make you think of violets in an entirely new way.
GUERLAIN is not averse to a violet here and there – in fact a number of their classics use it as a central theme. Apres L’Ondee, however, strikes me as the most unusual. An essay in spices, iris and violet, this ode to rain recreates the smell of the cool, soft earth after a downpour. It has a vintage powdery feel, but also an unconventional doughy character that evokes the image of a sweet, spiced loaf freshly pulled from the oven. The violets bring both sweetness and earth, adding a strange garnish to this most unusual, yet beautiful perfume.
But if you want violets, and I mean VIOLETS – violets with a capital ‘V’, signed in neon and delivered with atomic power, then you need Insolence EDT in your life. This is a violet with no shame, no restraint, and no cares about what anyone may think of it. It is about as GUERLAIN as a fragrance can be too, riffing off the classics such as L’Heure Bleue and Apres L’Ondee, giving them a modern twist. Insolence is essentially a burst of vibrant bed berries woven into a cloud of iris powder over a bed of vanilla. The violet comes in the form of a shocking hair spray note that tips the whole thing over the edge into the ridiculous. It’s beautiful, terrifying yes, but still absolutely beautiful.
Violet in Disguise
Now, if you’re of a delicate disposition, I may have put you off with Insolence, and for that, I can confirm that I am most definitely not sorry because Insolence is amazing. Still, as an antidote, I now offer you something that is violet in name only: Violet Ida by Miller Harris. Inspired by Ida Arnold, the titular character of Graham Greene’s iconic novel Brighton Rock, Violet Ida tells a story of 1930s glamour, alluding to the image of a soft-hearted character who wore violets in her hair. Violet Ida is a plush iris perfume that contrasts two soft textures: power and suede, using warm, Shalimar-esque amber and earthy-mineral carrot seed or depth. The result is a cosy, glamorous perfume with the most inviting, comforting character. As for the violets? Well, they can be found on the gorgeous violet shaded bottle.