Saturday, January 17, 2009

Yardley English Lavender

I've always enjoyed the cool, high-pitched, aromatic-herbaceous scent of lavender essential oil, known for many healing properties from First Aid to dealing with fatigue and insomnia (read about the history of lavender and its many uses here). Lavender is one of two essential oils (the other is tea tree) considered safe enough to be used directly on skin without base or carrier oil, although dilution is still a good idea since overuse could cause dryness. Also, in high amounts, lavender can be stimulating, not calming (and keep in mind it is often perceived as a spicy scent). Used in the Fougère fragrance family usually reserved for Men, it has crossed over into Women's and has remained a shared favorite scent.

Yardley English Lavender is probably most well-known as soaps, but the cologne that's available today is still of fine quality. From what I understand, Yardley was established in 1770. English Lavender was their first fragrance and the original English Lavender. But the first fougere is credited to Fougère Royale by Houbigant (1882), which might explain why Basenotes lists Yardley English Lavender as having been created in 1873, much closer in date to the Houbigant creation (and still earlier). Fougere was the new technological breakthrough of its time, the imaginary scent of fern not found in nature.

There are many lavender perfumes in the world, but Yardley English Lavender is probably the most famous of all. I had known of its existence all my life, but it's only recently that I've had the chance to actually try it on. This is a lavender soliflore for the most part (meaning it's a blend focused on lavender, not smelling like much of the other notes in it), but I've discovered that it has a very comforting, subtly sweet tonka base, perfect for this vanilla lover. Even if you didn't like Guerlain Jicky, and you can't get your hands on a coveted bottle of Twilight (trust me, Twilight and English Lavender smell pretty similar), I think you would find in Yardley English Lavender a delightful lavender fragrance with a trace of complexity. Overall, it's a light (and fleeting, especially in cologne concentration) and fresh scent, great for any gender and practically all ages, for the office or for spritzing before bedtime to relax, but it can be an inviting floral for other more intimate occasions, too, thanks to the warm and delicious (although sheer, like a tulle veil) tonka dry down (edited to add: the tonka-sweet powdery base lasts well on me). It's subtle, delicate, superbly genteel.

Perfume Intelligence - the Encyclopaedia of Perfume lists the following notes:
Yardley English Lavender (1770, Re-launched in 1913)
Top Notes: lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, bergamot
Heart Notes: spike lavender, clary sage, geranium, cedar
Base notes: moss, tonka bean and musk