Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

Mark Twain

Oh the sweet little violet. I’ve always loved violets, and my favourite colour has always been purple, but I’m not sure which came first. Violet perfumes, at least the ones I love, are simple affairs, with very little embellishment from other notes. There are the old fashioned original violet eau de toilettes like Violetta di Parma and Violettes de Toulouse, which I’ve had and love. I love them as much as the ones I’m writing about today, but I haven’t owned them in ages. They are sold on discount sites here and quite reasonable in cost – worth buying if you love violets and want to add to your collection. Violetta di Parma hails from around the 1800s and Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise of Austria, put Parma Violets on the map. She was a botanist, and loved purple – seriously. It has a green, somewhat green/vegetal vibe that makes it super fresh. Violettes de Toulouse came from France the early 20th century, and is sweeter, like the violet you think of when you think of soap and the violet flavoured sugar crystals they loved there. I LOVE it. I also love violet candies, always have, the plain ones, and the ones with the little aniseed in the middle, which is a perfect foil for the violet.

Choward's violet candies

violet candies flavigny

Violets have a magical quality as well. As innocent as it is, it can be a flirty little flower – it appears and disappears magically on the skin. Science break- the violet flower contains ionone, a tricky little molecule which fiddles with our sense of smell, as in it renders us unable to smell it for awhile. Then we can again, so the fragrance comes and goes. Often people think their violet perfume has worn off because they can’t smell it. Well, that’s the magic. Onto my favourites:

I Profumi di Firenze Violetta di Bosco

I Profumi di Firenze Violetta di Bosco

The notes are different depending on where you look, but the I Profumi di Firenze website says: anise, peach, violet, iris, lily of the valley, vetiver, benzoin and heliotrope. I don’t know about any of the notes other than violet and iris, perhaps benzoin. This is pure sweet violet candies, with a slightly snuggly woodsy base. The iris elevates the powder levels – but like candy powder vs talcum powder. Pure heaven. And be aware – Violetta di Bosco has power. Perhaps it is a true eau de parfum, as it is one of the strongest violet perfumes I’ve tried. I use the tiniest of spritzes and it lasts all day. But if you like your violets fresh and green, this is not the one for you. Get the Violetta di Parma.

Calypso Violette

Christiane Calle Calypso Violette

Ok, this one is discontinued. You can find it online – I recently got a backup bottle on ebay – at a super reasonable price. Perhaps there are warehouses full of this. The original company became just “Calypso” and now has it’s own line of perfumes that do not include a violet one. Why I don’t know, as I think it was probably the best of all them. I read somewhere that Calypso Violette was one of Rashida Jones’s favourite perfumes, and I love her and want to be her… Anyways, I tracked some down several years ago and still love it to this day. It’s less powdery and stringent than Violetta di Bosco, and smells like pretty soapy candies. The notes: bergamot, violet, lemon, rose, heliotrope, sandalwood, white musk, tonka bean and honey. Violet, musk, and honey must be what make it so sweet and “pretty” with heliotrope and lemon adding a yummy factor. This is soft and easy to wear, and one that I love putting on after a bath or shower, when I’m getting ready for bed. It’s a cuddly violet.

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Annick Goutal La Violette

This is one of the softest and gentlest perfumes I own. It’s cross between the classic French Violettes de Toulouse – soapy candy, with a touch of powder and freshness. The notes are listed as simply violet leaf, violet and rose. The rose gives it a powdery slightly makeup feeling, and violet leaf, which is often used in men’s fragrances, adds a touch of fresh green. It is as soft and delicate as the flower, and is oh so French, and very beautiful. It is part of Annick Goutal’s Les Soliflores, their simple line of single note perfumes. I will never be without it. You can find Annick Goutal shopping info here.

Mona di Orio Violette Fumée

Mona Di Orio Violette Fumée

Kitten with a whip, this one. This is a slightly subversive violet, at least for me! When I read the notes I thought it sounded like Habanita with violets, all tobacco and smoky and so not me. I got a decant from a very generous friend, and it wowed me. Violette Fumée is very precious, smells expensive, and, at $245 US for 75ml, it is. Unlike the descriptions that scared me, it is not all ashtray on me, as fragrances with smoky or tobacco notes are wont to be. It is a dark violet, to be sure, and one that would be perfect in cool weather, and at night. Yes, yes, I know you can where whatever you want whenever you want and that there are no rules, but some perfumes say certain things to me. Mona di Orio’s Violette Fumée says “it’s dark out, it’s night-time”. I have worn a few precious drops to bed, and felt all wrapped up in coziness. I’ve worn it out for dinner, and it smells divine and sexy without interrupting the meal. The notes: lavender, bergamot, oakmoss, violets, violet leaves, rose, vetiver, clary sage, opoponax, myrrh, and cashmeran. Those last three notes ensure a dark, seductive finish on the skin that is cozy and sexy at the same time. This is one va-va-voom-violet, and perhaps one day I will spring for a bottle. The link above is to Mona di Orio’s site, but you can get in continentally at Luckyscent.

Guerlain Apres L'Ondee eau de toilette

Guerlain Après L’Ondée

Last but not least, my favourite violet perfume is also my favourite perfume. Here is what Guerlain says about this classic, created in 1906:

Après L’Ondée is a celebration of the fine weather that follows the rain. Composed in nuances and half-shades, Après l’Ondée opens on aniseed notes and continues with a powdery-spicy floral bouquet whose scent evokes a stroll through the dewy underbrush.

What the description fails to mention is how Guerlain managed to evoke FEELINGS with this scent. Now, I know not everyone is the type to be moved emotionally by fragrance, but given the whole memory and scent connection, it’s not unheard of. Après l’Ondée has been called melancholy, but in a good way. I’ve written about Après L’Ondée here.

Honourable mentions:

There are so many violets, I could go on and on. Santa Maria Novella Violetta is a gorgeous Perfume That I Haven’t Bought Yet (that’s a big category for me). Jessica at Beauty Guru NYC bought a bottle on our recent SMN shopping trip in Miami. I got Rosa but desperately want the Violetta. It is perfection! Aroma M Geisha Violet is lovely soft violet veil, and even though I tried it ages ago, I am thinking I might need some. The simple yet pretty Demeter Violet is perfect for the perfume minimalist as it smells super soft, and just like a violet, nothing more, nothing less. Sage Machado Amethyst adds a little lilac to the violet, which just makes it prettier. There is beautiful green and goregous L’Artisan Parfumer Verte Violette, but this is discontinued. My daughter was in NYC a few years ago and stumbled into a boutique that had a bottle and snagged it for me.

What are your favouite violets?

Annick Goutal La Violette, Apres Londee, Guerlain, Perfume, Santa Maria Novella