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Blanc Violette – It’s all in the name


Image - Wikipedia - White Violet or Sweet Violet, viola odorata in a park near Paris by Strobilomyces, April 2006

Spring cleaning, a box of saved things with photos, images of a best friend now passed away, taken with his mother whom I also loved. Her name was Violet. Violet was one of those persons who always makes people feel better in their company, she had such an aura of intelligence, humour, and sincerity about her. 

I never thought much of her name way back then, I just thought Violet was an old-fashioned name, but it suited her, and now it’s back in style and I think it’s lovely. Feminine, peaceful, tender. Just like she was.

Names are important and can tell you a lot, even in a perfume. Blanc Violette, for example, translates as White Violet. White violet, known as sweet violet or viola odorata, is different from purple violet, so I expect a perfume with that name to be different from the ones Gwen and I own, such as Bois de Violette, Violet Wood - or Violette Fumée, Smoked Violet - or Violet Empire – or Violette in Love. Just from its name I expect Blanc Violette to be softer, more subtle.

The defining characteristic of the violet note in perfumery is its powdery floral scent. From “…earthy, powdery scent that resembles the iris rhizome when talking about the flower; metallic, green and aqueous when talking about the leaf.”

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette starts with the leaf and quickly leads into the delicate flower. A lovely tangy burst of citrus from bergamot mixed with rooty earthy iris is juicy almost, but soon transforms into the scent of velvety viola blooms tinged with anise. The faint anise adds a licorice sweetness that all but disappears as soon as the powdery floral aspects of the pale violet develop and waft up.

In the heart of Blanc Violette, the earthy violet mixes with rich banana-jasmine nuances of ylang-ylang, and this narcotic floral accord slowly unwinds as the sandalwood, vanilla, musk, and rice powder base notes surround it in a delicate powdery cloud. Blanc Violette dries down as a soft and achingly tender feminine scent, deliciously subtle, just a faint intermittent waft after a few hours, leaving an ethereal downy trace on my skin.

And that’s what I love about Blanc Violette. Some reviews I’ve read criticize its subtle powdery lightness as a defect. I see it as its raison d’etre. Perfumers such as Gérald Ghislain at Histoires de Parfums don’t spend months or years developing scents to be defective. Barring any manufacturing issues, the scents in the bottle are their artistic vision. The Histoires de Parfums website describes Blanc Violette:

“The violet, from Parma or Toulouse, is delicate and discreetly opens out, revealing its powdered floral scent in all subtlety. An alchemy leaving a delicious imprint….”

I think my best friend’s mother would have loved it, too. I think I’ll have another spritz. This one’s for you, Violet.

Blanc Violette is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.