By Michelyn Camen



Perhaps no other flower used in perfumery has been so maligned. Violets? Probably your first thought is of a ‘shrinking violet’; someone who ducks for cover, tongue twisted and shy. Violet flowers are often hidden between their leaves, but no one is quite certain when this phrase became part of our vernacular. According to most contemporary meanings of flowers, violets are symbols of modesty and chastity.


Let’s take a look at some facts about this enigmatic blossom whose natural essence is so difficult to distill that it is often substituted or reinforced with synthetics.
• Violets are actually robust survivors
• Violets are the aristocrats of plants.
• The Ancient Greeks considered the Violet a symbol of fertility and love, and was used in love potions…nothing innocent there


• Shrinking Violet, (the comic book character from DC Comics) holds her own with the big boys battling nasty villains.

Fresh: Verte Violette by L’Artisan Parfumeur


Moist and fresh green accords paired with delicately sweet violet, is the perfect violet for the springtime bride. There’s cool freshness unlike any violet scent we tested and it has wonderful sillage. Only available in L’Artisan Parfumeur stand alone shops or online at For the groom, we like Gucci Fragrance Pour Homme II Eau de Toilette with notes violet leaves and black tea.

Woody: Serge Lutens Bois de Violette and Cuir Amethyste by Armani Privé

For the perfect blend of dark woods and sweet violet, RUN, CAB, JET to Bergdorf Goodman, where you will find Bois de Violette by Christopher Sheldrake for Serge Lutens (an export fragrance previously unavailable in the USA and now a BG exclusive). Mesmerizing.

Play parfumeur at the Memoire Liquide Boutique at Henri Bendel and create a memorable scent for your new spouse from 160 base scents, each of which can be worn singly, or mixed in infinite combinations.


Armani Privé created Cuir Améthyste as a tribute to three raw materials — violet, birch, and patchouli. This is the perfect violet fragrance for the bride that loves earthy sensuous scents. The fragrance is contained in the signature Armani Privé bottle of Kotibe wood, decorated with a stopper inspired by the semi-precious stone— amethyst— long associated with creativity and psychic power; two elements that come in handy in any marriage… Cuir Améthyste is described as unisex but after trying the scent on a few men, we think it’s decisively feminine. Editor’s Note: we do not detect any ‘cuir’ (leather) accords.

Available at Saks Fifth Avenue and

For the groom, we recommend Ralph Lauren’s Romance Men Silver, a woody scent with notes of Violet, Mate, Nutmeg, Suede Musk Accord, Guaicwood, and Driftwood.

Sexy: Marie Antoinette Violette

Simply the best violet fragrance I have ever spritzed is Marie Antoinette Violette; perfect for a bride who doesn’t check her sensuality at the church or synagogue doors. Violet flowers and leaves are blended with myrrh, frankincense and amber. What sounds like a dichotomous blend is truly swoon worthy. If you think you don’t like violets, this will change your mind. It changed mine. The scent is one of the many rare and private reserve fragrances that can be found at The Perfume House in Portland, Oregon. Many hard to find fragrances can be found online at For more information on the ‘private reserve fragrances’, email [email protected] and mention Beauty News.

For the groom, we recommend Kiton ‘Black’ Eau de Toilette Spray with notes of violet and amber.

Floral/Powdery: Penhaligon’s Violetta and Santa Maria Novella Violet


Penhaligon’s Violetta is my mom’s favorite fragrance and she has been happily married to my dad for 52 years. It is a soliflores fragrance where the violet note is very prominent, supported by geranium, woods and musk. On most women we tested it has a floral/powdery drydown, and great sillage. It is a romantic scent, nostalgic and the most identifiably violet. Available at

Santa Maria Novella Violet is cologne for women, much lighter than Penhaligon’s, more subtle and less sweet. Yet just as nostalgic; it reminds me of the smell and taste of the addicting Choward’s Violet Mints.

Available at

For the groom, Creed’s Green Irish Tweed is a wonderful complement to both these scents, with its crisp and clean notes of bergamot and violet leaves.

Fruity/Floral: Tom Ford Black Violet and Robert Piguet Visa


Tom Ford’s darkling Black Violet is more pulpy and woody than sweet violet. Yet, the odd combination of citrus and violet makes this my favorite in the Tom Ford Private Blend line. Its not sugary, in fact it’s raw and bold, making this a perfect scent for both bride and groom … who take want to take a walk on the wild side of the aisle. Available at

Robert Piguet Visa


Although Marie Antoinette Violette was a lovely surprise, violet is not my favorite note. For those whose favorite notes and accords include rose, vetiver, benzoin, amber, and leather accords, this one’s for you. Visa was reformulated from the original, last year by the new owners of Piguet’s classic, vintage scents. The updated Visa is thoroughly luscious and I think more rounded than the original; opening with notes of white peach, pear, violet leaves, bergamot and yellow mandarin essences. Heart notes include rich ylang essence mingled with rose, immortelle and orange flower absolutes. Sandalwood, vetiver, moss, vanilla beans, benzoin and a gourmand leathery accord compose the drydown. The violet is barely there, but lends distinctiveness to the composition. I am not a bride to be, but if I was, this would be my choice – silky glamour in a bottle.

Keep your groom under lock and key until the ring is securely on your finger, because we have tested Piguet’s reissued Cravache on several men and find it ‘simply irresistible’.

Both Visa and Cravache are available at and at Henri Bendel.

Originally published June 2008



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