Lavender can be a challenge due to its duel associations; firstly with soap/laundry and secondly with masculine smells like aftershave. My grandmother stored her linens with bunches of lavender and the sheets when I slept over at her house were gorgeously scented. Lavender sachets have the added benefit of warding away moths but beware the lavender sachets sold to tourists, they have a rough spikey smell that can be a complete turn off. Lavender has so many facets to it; fresh-sweet, herbal-floral and can be twisted this way and that. It’s dryness does lend itself well to masculines. In the right hands, or rather with the right nose, magic is made that matches the visual beauty of the iconic lavender fields of Provence.
The best, highest grade lavender comes from Haute Provence where it is a native plant. True lavender oil is steam distilled from the freshly cut flowering tops and stalks of Lavandula angustifolia. The Bulgarian and Spanish lavenders do not compare. So keep it Luxe, keep it sleek and dare to wear perfume with a lavender note.
Here are my top six:
1. Caron Pour un Homme… it may be “for a man” but I encourage all women to try it too. It’s a gorgeous mix of lavender and vanilla over amber. A classic. – 125ml bottle for 75 €
2. Brin de Reglisse by Hermes, from the Hermessences collection. Lavender paired with liquorice. It’s said that Jean Claude Ellena was inspired to create this after walking through Provencal lavender fields. It has the inimitable Ellena touch (light as a feather and airy as the blue sky of summer). It’s delightfully unusual, the liquorice and lavender really work well together. Lasting power is an issue, so prepare to re-apply lavishly. – 100ml bottle for 200€
3. Lavande Ombrée by Au Pays de La Fleur d’Oranger. This is a wonderfully smooth and elegant creature, very fine. Although I love the work of Jean Claude Gigodot initially I thought it wouldn’t be wearable for me, now I have decided its a keeper as the rose note makes it work. In fact I am wearing it tonight. It conjures up leather gloves in my mind and when I checked the notes on Fragantica, leather is listed, so voila! If you like soft leather in perfume it’s a must try. – 125ml bottle for 114 €
4. Gris Clair by Serge Lutens, gentle lavender with smoke and a cold effect. A good antidote to the hot weather we are having at the moment. – 50ml bottle for 90 €
5. Caldey Island, straight up lavender with a musky finish. The great perfume critic Luca Turin rates this very highly and it’s a steal. A more local option in the same vein is Molinard’s Lavande, from Grasse. – 100ml bottle for £ 23 (UK) for Caldey Island; 100ml bottle for 39€ for Lavande
6. Jicky by Guerlain, created in 1889 this is heritage lavender for the perfumista, classical and timeless, do please try it in extrait (the perfume concentration). Expensive but if you love it, it will be well worth it. – 30ml bottle for 291 €
Provence Lavender Photoshoot and Images by: Adi Bukman Photography
For more on discovering Provence’s Lavender Fields, go here…