Hyacinth Perfumes and Spring Flower Notes

Spring is not spring for me unless it has hyacinths. I buy the forced bulbs and leave them around the apartment to wait for the moment when the flowers open up and fill the air with their perfume. The scent of hyacinth is not as delicate as that of many other spring blossoms; it’s rather heady and sweet, with an earthy note. It can be overwhelming, but the contrast is the reason why the fragrance of hyacinths appeals to me—and to other perfumers. Its complexity is an endless source of inspiration.

Hyacinth, like lily of the valley, lilac and gardenia, can’t be processed for essence, so perfumers have to create their own interpretation. Some emphasize the green, succulent facets of hyacinth, like Jean-Paul Guerlain in the legendary Chamade. Guerlain’s hyacinths are framed by the freshness of coriander and violet and the plushness of patchouli. The delicate sweetness of vanilla, an important note in all classics by the house, offsets the earthy darkness of hyacinth without obscuring it completely.  The effect of Chamade is airy, vibrant, and yet enveloping and warm.

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