I want to start with the story that was told to me by a friend who came to the US a couple of years before we did. In the first year of living here, when not only one’s vocabulary and pronunciation but also lack of familiarity with mundane things make communications with locals difficult for both parties, one evening while buying something at a grocery store, my friends asked the cashier:
– Do you sell XXXXXXX?
– Do you sell XXXXXXX?
– Sorry, I don’t understand…
– I need these things to light up a cigarette.
– Ah, you mean < XXXXXXX>… You need to go to the Customer Service.
As you have probably guessed, my friend was trying to buy matches. He swears that the way that clerk pronounced it was, to his ear, exactly the same way he asked. Since then that “Ah, you mean “matches” became an internal joke we use every time we find ourselves in a similar situation.
If you were wondering why I shared this story with you – I was trying to explain the title. When it came to me (the play on words “lilac” and “luck” that, to my ear, sounded similar enough to use them like that), I was positive somebody else has already used it. It wouldn’t have prevented me from doing it as well (after all, it’s just a blog, I wasn’t concerned with a copyright), but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a real cliché. “Feeling lilacy” returned me “whopping” 3 (three) hits. “Feeling lilac-y” produced 7, and out of the 10 combined only one person was actually referring to flowers. That brought the realization that for the native English speakers these two words don’t really have a similar auditory pattern. But since my mind had been already set on that title (it really described how I felt!), I decided to modify it even further – so that even the almighty Google gave up.
Work life has been hectic and tiresomely busy for a long time now with work days quietly encroaching on evenings and weekends, so one day we just declared a day off and ran away to the close-by wine country. Just the act of ditching work to visit our favorite wineries made me feel good. Combined with warm but not hot sunny day, much better than feared traffic and good wine the feeling was promoted to ”great.” And unexpectedly coming across a bush with a very modest by the standards of those areas where this plant blossoms more willingly but still fragrant and beautiful lilac flowers elevated the status of my experience to “perfect.” I felt wonderful. I felt lucky. I felt… li-lucky.
And that’s when I got the idea to do a Lilacs Week. As I was mentally choosing perfumes to wear, I was sure that those would be perfumes I previously covered in two posts of the In the Search for the Perfect Lilac series – Episode 1 and Episode 2. And partially I was right: I wore three of the perfumes that I mentioned in those posts. But to my surprise I had two more perfumes to add to the list.
Whenever lilac perfumes come into conversation, inevitably somebody mentions Jean Patou Vacances. If it’s not to lilac what Diorissimo is to lily-of-the valley exactly, it’s close to that. But Patou is one of those brands that exist somewhere in the parallel universe: I know it exists but I don’t think I saw anything but Joy or 1000 in real life. And since it’s not the most popular brand these days, I’ve never thought of seeking out any of the perfumes. But then a perfumista friend sent me a vintage mini (not sure of the age) of Vacancies. It must have been beautiful while it was younger. If to put aside the “vintage” vibe that I do not like in any perfumes, it is still beautiful. It’s more than just lilac, even though that flower supposedly plays an important role in the perfume: hyacinth, galbanum and mimosa keep it a good company. But since I’ve never knew it in its heydays, I won’t scavenge eBay for vintage treasure or even attempt to find a more modern take on that perfume. But I wish I tried it 30+ years ago.
Last weekend there was a haiku contest at the NST blog. Coincidentally, one of the commenters, Aurora, wrote a haiku about Vacances, and she allowed me to share it with my readers:
Mauve and white shower
Lilacs, sweet heralds of spring
Their scent in the breeze
Last year I got curious about Lilas de Minuit (Midnight Lilac) from DSH Perfumes – inspired by Coty’s Chypre perfume from the Flowers for Men series. I don’t remember why it attracted my attention (most likely, it was spring, and I was in a similar mood for lilacs), but I requested this sample with my order.
When I tried two lilac perfumes from DSH for the second of the posts linked to above, I thought that those were lovely but didn’t seem like a finished product. Lilas de Minuit is the opposite: the composition is so complex that I can’t really say that I can smell lilacs in it, which isn’t really surprising with everything that went into it. Notes from the brand’s site: civet, East Indian patchouli, green oakmoss, incense notes, labdanum, musk, styrax, Bulgarian rose absolute, cinnamon bark, clove bud, Damask rose absolute, grandiflorum jasmine, summer lilac, ylang ylang, bergamot, black pepper and cassis bud.
If you like chypres, give Lilas de Minuit a try, and my recommendation would be to do it when your skin is warm: this perfume blooms with the body heat. I think it should be perfect for a warm late spring or early summer night after a hot day.
Other perfumes that I wore that week – Phaedon Rue des Lilas and Puredistance Opardu I described in my previous posts, so I won’t repeat myself since I haven’t changed my opinion about them. But one more perfume I want to mention separately even though I wrote about it before: French Lilac by Pacifica. Whoever is looking for a lilac soliflore should look no further: since lilac is not reproducible naturally (at least not in a stable form), there is no good reason for such perfume to be as expensive as some of them are; and French Lilac is unbelievably cheap while being very beautiful. And from my experience French Lilac is better from a roller ball bottle than from a spray. And it’s surprisingly tenacious, so that small bottle should satisfy periodic lilac cravings for months if not years.
P.S. I’ve lived in the U.S. for many-many-many years. People who know me or work with me got used to my accent, and I often forget how difficult it is for an “untrained ear.” But just last week during my trip back into winter I was reminded about it while on the morning ride to the conference trying to tell my co-worker who I met just a day before that I was dying to get XXXXX before we start.
– To get what?
– Sorry, what?
– A coffee drink that you had yesterday
– Ah, latte….
Images: my own