Notes on Lavender in Eaux de Cologne & Further Thoughts on By Kilian Prelude To Love {Scented Thoughts}

Lavandin Abrialis

Reviewing By Kilian Prelude To Love yesterday, I puzzled over the question of why this young and exclusive niche perfume house had decided to compose a bold citrus-y fragrance, quite literally plugging into a group of notes that from a certain perspective can smell a bit plain. Or perhaps I would not have asked myself this question had the jus smelled different.

The next puzzle I have had in mind is why they had decided to take on the added challenge of doing not only a citrus-y perfume but also do it in a rather minimalist, even straightforward style? It seems to compound the difficulty of attempting to uplift the lemons and mandarins from the level of the mundane. Indeed, the resulting impression makes you perceive the difference existing between metaphorically expensive and literally expensive...

Lavandula-Vera.jpg                                                            Lavandula Vera
I was therefore interested to realize while looking more closely at old formulas for eaux de Cologne, classified hierarchically according to their quality grades, that the best qualities of those do not contain any lavender. Only the ordinary kinds include lavender and it is advised to use either French lavender or the English kind. Remembering the airy impression in Prelude To Love and going back to its formula I note that it contains French lavandin which has a coarser smell still than French lavender and of course English Lavender. Lavandin is also cheaper than lavender. Lavandin Abrialis used here was historically the first clone of the real lavender or Lavandula Vera, enabling higher yields of oil. It is a staple ingredient in cheaper perfume formulations. Calice Becker may well have had considerations other than economic for choosing this improved oil, French Lavandin Abrialis Orpur Oil, but the fact remains that the scent of lavender in an eau-de-cologne type perfume is considered non-essential and seems to be considered as a slight bastardization of the original eau de Cologne.

In this case the proportion of citruses remain important and even rich, so the lavandin does not act as replacement for more expensive citrus fruits and a more accessible and substitutive source of freshness. It even creates here a pleasant oxygenated feel.

I am all ready to accept the argument that rougher materials can be used for a certain desired effect.

Going back also to Escale à Portofino, which smelt more elegant and "expensive", I note that it does not contain lavender nor lavandin.

It may well be that unconsciously we are used to smelling different grades of fineness in eaux de Cologne and that this puts a constraint on the free use of lavender or lavandin in a modern eau de Cologne formula. 

This problem however, I do not feel for a lavender cologne like (vintage) Yardley English Lavender, when the lavender is the main carefully chosen focus.

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