Lavender has been used in soaps, cleaning products and laundry detergents for so long that it's gotten a bit of a bad rap for fine fragrance. It's unfortunate, but I hope that with my list below, your curiosity might be piqued by these scents and you'll give lavender the chance it deserves to delight you. These are some of the tiny slivers that make up the whole of my joy and obsession with lavender over the years. Below, find a quickie guide to what I think are the best lavender fragrances; giving equal billing to the widely available as well as the super-exclusives. In short, this is how I get my lavender fix.
Lavender, vanilla and civet: a trio of notes that have caused many perfume lovers to swoon uncontrollably. First launched in 1889, Jicky has been subject to some inevitable changes, but it still smells good. It's one of the most perfect unisex fragrances in the world. Vintage Jicky is definitely worth seeking out, if even just a small vial. It contains little twists and turns that make for a memorable ride.
The traditional flourish of Penhaligon's fragrances is something I find rather irresistible. Lavandula is an extremely friendly example of how the British fragrance house create timeless scents that are crowd-pleasers and inspire fierce brand loyalty. Lavandula is multi-layered with spices and aromatic herbs with a gorgeous amber-vanilla drydown. There's never an inappropriate time to wear it.
Caron Pour Un Homme
Caron's classic fougere has been a favorite of mine for years, and I often find myself craving its powdery cocoon. A huge bottle can be had for a song (search the discount sites), so I always have at least one on hand. When you're looking for a light, every day lavender-based scent, Pour Un Homme is your man.
Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande
Encens et Lavande is one of the many fragrances by Christopher Sheldrake for the house of Serge Lutens, and it's one of my favorites. It's an exclusive perfume available in the US at Barneys NY store on Madison Ave. and online via the Serge Lutens website. It has notes of Lavender, Rosemary and incense so enchanting and unusual, it gives itself away as a Sheldrake creation immediately. There is something brutish about it which contrasts beautifully with the classical aromatic elements, creating an impression so memorable that I often lament its exclusivity.
Vero Profumo Kiki
Now for something completely different. Vero Kern's joyous Kiki is voluptuously fruity, bright and tirelessly optimistic. It sends lavender to a faraway island where politics and religious dogma don't exist, and clothing is optional. I love that she releases two versions of her fragrances; an eau de parfum and an extrait-- it's fascinating and decadent for a collector to compare them. In Kiki's case, I only slightly prefer the eau de parfum, where the lavender, passion fruit and caramel do a sultry, symmetrical Balinese dance that you wish would never end.