Spotlight On: Violet

Posted by Clare on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 2:43 PM

How do you explain the scent of something so ethereal as a violet? A powdery, candy-like sweetness that whispers instead of shouts. A fragrantly carpeted woodland in spring. Soft vintage powder puffs and delicate Victorian posies.

Demure but youthful, shy but sweet, delicate but unmistakable. Native to the Mediterranean and Asia, Violet Odorata has been cherished for centuries, its iconic purple petals serving as the symbol of ancient Athens and the boutonnières to Napoleon's army. It adds an ethereal, demure note to classic fragrances, due in part to its unique molecular structure: the same compound that gives the violet its powdery fragrance is responsible for its fleeting, “shy” qualities.

Molecules known as ionones stimulate and satiate our scent receptors, then shut them down temporarily, rendering the violet note completely untraceable for a minute or two. Give it a few moments, sniff again, and it’s back in all its delicate, sugary-soft glory. With such an unusal quality to the note, there's little wonder that it's been a favorite of the great perfume houses for centuries. Today, perfumiers are breathing new life into the demure violet by showcasing it in daring new roles, playing on a natural affinity with notes like rose, cedar and leather.

We've gathered four of our favorites below...