I’m noticing a lovely little beauty trend of the use of violets, at the moment.
First up is the rather sumptuous Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly range, scented with wild violets. I especially love the Finishing Touch Cream which can be used on wet and dry hair. It is a great all-rounder and leaves hair really soft with a slight texture. It is also a lovely, appealing lilac colour. A great budget choice for styling hair.
New for Spring is the Extra Pur Violette range from Compagnie de Provence. Think sugared violets, reminiscent of Provençal confectioners and apothecaries, combined with mandarin, angelica, violet leaf, iris and musk, across their body creams, shower gels, soaps and candles.
At the luxury end of the scale is Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde fragrance, which was launched a few months ago now. It has a beguiling powdery top note thanks to its Iris and Jasmine. And rather than being too sugary-sweet it has more of a green, refreshing scent.
The perfume trend follows on from the success of Balenciaga Paris when it was launched last September. This has a mossy, violet top note but is also floral and fresh. It also looks wonderfully old-fashioned in its chunky faceted bottle with statement stopper. Overall a really charming choice of fragrance that really stands out from the usual ‘designer’ perfumes.
Of course, violet was a staple of classic perfumes – like Yardley’s April Violets, which was first introduced in 1913. It was actually discontinued about five years ago, after it fell out of fashion, but was recently reintroduced by Yardley again. Parma violet, which has a sweet, delicate smell, is at its heart and it has a warm base note of vanilla mixed with yang, tuberose and iris.
Annick Goutal is known for her pretty, dressing-table-ready bottles and signature, one-note scents. Her La Violette is a wonderful green violet fragrance, in the same old-school vein as Penhaligan’s Violette. It has a candy-sweet top note – a bit like home-baked cakes – but is also really uplifting and light.
While Penhaligon’s Violetta is feminine and floral, a darker side to the violet fragrance is cult Midnight Violet by Ava Luxe. Dark and moody, grown-up and sensual – this is as far away from old ladies’ perfumes as you can get but is sadly now discontinued.
When it comes to classic violet scents, though. Does anyone remember Devon Violets? You would frequently see it in quaint gift shops usually while on holiday at seaside towns and it would often come boxed with a violet-embroidered handkerchief, as pictured here. Now stocked in the wonderful, vintage cosmetic emporium Rose & Co, in Yorkshire.
Smelling sweet enough to eat, it brings me on to another of my favourite violet treats – violet creams and parma violets!
There’s something Victorian, old-worldly and innocent about the return of violets. Long gone are the days when one note will do for soaps and fragrances but there’s clearly a modern-day yearning for simpler times…