Spring has arrived, bringing with it Muguet Fleuri in an olfactory symbol of rebirth and freshness that seems like Nature at its best. Delicate lilies of the valley sway in the wind like floral bells, releasing crystal-clear chimes of floral sweetness. Its dewy liquidity parallels April showers that wash the dirt and grime away, leaving a clean, fresh greenness imbued with alpine white in the soft sunlight. Yet, the vista of green and white is also thoroughly infused with imperial purple, as wild violets dance the Rites of Spring alongside the muguet. It’s the enchanted fairy world of Muguet Fleuri, the latest fragrance from the ancient house of Oriza L. Legrand.
Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza”) is a house for which I have enormous affection and admiration. You can read all about its ancient history (and see the adorable sweetness of the Paris boutique) in a post I did last year on the subject, but to summarize in a nutshell, Oriza goes back to 1720 and the time of Louis XV. It made perfumes for the Tsar of Russia, and numerous European royal families, as well as winning prestigious prizes in World Fairs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The perfume house died in the 1930s, but it has been brought back to life by its current owners, Franck Belaiche and Hugo Lambert. I’ve met them both, and they are true gentlemen — in every sense of that word.
For them, Oriza L. Legrand is a labour of love. They want to return the brand to its old glory, while staying true to its heritage and history by offering its original fragrances, only with lightly tweaks to appeal to modern tastes. They work extremely hard, running all aspects of the business almost like an artisanal venture, right down to bottling the perfumes themselves (just as Andy Tauer does for his house). Everything they have is thrown into Oriza, and dedicated to making the house a success in the modern era. As a side note, some sites have said that Elisabeth de Feydeau is the nose responsible for the new Oriza scents, but that is incorrect. Madame de Feydeau assisted in the initial research for the original, historical formulas, but it is Hugo Lambert who has created the re-invented Oriza fragrances and he deserves the full credit.
Muguet Fleuri is their latest release, but I have the impression that the original Muguet Fleuri debuted in 1925. This is obviously a tweaked interpretation suited for modern times. Muguet Fleuri is an eau de parfum centered around lily of the valley which the French call “muguet.” (That is how I am used to calling it, too, so I shall stick with the French name.)
Muguet is a big deal in France in spring time. The first of May is called May Day (La Fête du Muguet, La Fête du Travail) or Labor Day, and is a public holiday to celebrate workers’ rights. But it is also the day on which people give bunches of muguet to their loved ones. When I was growing up in France, especially on the occasions when I lived in Paris, every street corner had a little stand selling bunches of the flowers, often run by a little, wizened, old lady who had come from the country. It is a rite of Spring, and Oriza has marked that with an olfactory version that concentrates the feeling of muguet in a very classical fragrance.
Oriza describes Muguet Fleuri and its notes as follows:
Top Notes: Green Leaves, Wild Grass, Wild Muguet.
Heart Notes: Galbanum, Angelica, Violet Leaves & Muguet des Bois.
Base Notes: Lily of the Valley Bell Fresh, Oakmoss & Lys des Prés … Comme Il Faut.
In applying Muguet Fleuri, I was struck first by impressions and sensations, rather than actual notes. It was a powerful cloud that was peppery, very spicy, fresh, dewy, lightly grassy, a touch herbal, and infinitely green. At a lower dosage, Muguet Fleuri was lightly soapy and clean as well, but the overwhelming impression is of spicy greenness. Dewy flowers and green leaves, concentrated in the epitome of Spring. Water lies everywhere, but it is as much a floral nectar as it is April showers.
For all that muguet is associated in my mind with Paris, Muguet Fleuri takes me back to England. It is like the smell of a spring morning in the British countryside after the spring rains have wiped everything clean. The wetness is fresh, sweetened, and incredibly crisp, but it’s also not as dainty as it sounds. The peppered spiciness is really remarkable, thanks to the violet leaves that feel positively crunchy and stiff, and they transform the delicate, fragile, little white bells into something with a solid backbone.
The violet flowers themselves arrive shortly thereafter, and they’re beautiful. This is a violet note unlike anything that I’ve encountered in other scents. The degree of cool, radiant clarity is remarkable, and the incredibly concentrated nature of the purple flowers makes them stand head and shoulders above the faded, limp, flaccid violet in Serge Lutens‘ (reformulated) Bois de Violette, Tom Ford‘s Black Violet, and his Violet Blonde. It reminds me of the bunches of pansies (a close relation to violets) that my mother used to buy when we lived in London — only shot up with steroids. On my skin, Muguet Fleuri’s opening phase is almost as much about the violets — in both flower and crunchy leaf form — as it is about the lily of the valley, sometimes more so at the beginning.
As the minutes pass, Muguet Fleuri loses some of its peppered intensity and turns more floral. The muguet grows sweeter, and the violet’s floralacy becomes stronger than the crunchy, slightly prickly aroma of its leaves. There is a sense of greenness all around, but the momentary burst of grassiness in Muguet Fleuri’s debut has faded away. The visuals are all alpine white with imperial purple in a sea of green, and, yet, what it translates to emotionally for me is sunlight. Clear, bright sunlight.
Sometimes, it feels soft; often, it radiates a crystal-sharp whiteness, but primarily it feels comforting and like rebirth. Washing away the grime of Winter, darkness, reality, heartbreak, stress, or mundane trivialities in a flood of cool wetness that is somehow as soothing as being immersed in a liquid cocoon. I can talk to you about the notes, but, for me, Muguet Fleuri’s gorgeous opening bouquet is much more about a feeling, a mood, and symbolism.
And part of that symbolism is about the passage of Time and Nature away from the autumnal forest so well represented by Oriza‘s Chypre Mousse. For me, Muguet Fleuri is Chypre Mousse’s olfactory counterpart, and they have a lot in common. They are both extremely evocative fragrances that take you to the heart of an enchanted forest, and create the sense of being in Nature after the rains, surrounded by an ethereal greenness. In Chypre Mousse, it was autumnal with darkened mosses, wet leaves, humus, mushrooms, and a rivulet of leathery resins.
With Muguet Fleuri, Oriza takes you to that same forest in Spring. The liquid sweetness of May’s white muguet bells banishes away the remnants of Fall. Instead of dead leaves rendered dark, they are green, bright, and crunchy. Instead of mushrooms growing out of the wet earth or on fallen tree limbs, there are violets peeping out from under the youthful, bright foliage. The bridge between the two seasons and the two fragrances is that same plush, vibrant oakmoss, but, here, it’s significantly more subdued, fresh, and almost sweetened.
The more specific differences between the two scents grow stronger as time passes. 10 minutes in, Muguet Fleuri loses even more of its pepper and spice, and takes on the faintest undertone of something clean instead. At a higher dosage, it’s not really soapy, per se, though it does feel quite fresh. Rather, it’s more like a green sharpness. Galbanum stirs at the edges, though it’s thankfully not the so-green-it’s-black galbanum that is such a part of Robert Piguet‘s Bandit.
Still, there is a definite sharpness to Muguet Fleuri that Chypre Mousse lacked on my skin. In some ways, it almost feels textural: the coolness borders on iciness at times, like a metallic blade, as if the dewy liquidity has been turned to steel through one of the notes. There is an edge to Muguet Fleuri at a higher dosage, but it was much less apparent when I applied less of the perfume. At the lower dosage, there is still a lot of liquidness to Muguet Fleuri’s opening, but it is joined by freshness that has a soapy cleanness, as if a really expensive French or Victorian floral soap were dancing about the edges.
In both cases, regardless of quantity, Muguet Fleuri’s greenness feels extremely crisp. The perfume may be a more purely and predominantly floral counterpart to Chypre Mousse, but it shares its predecessor’s tendency towards a certain mintiness. Yet, on my skin, Muguet Fleuri never feels herbal in the way that Chypre Mousse sometimes may. There is merely a sense of rain-drenched Nature, rather than a walk through a herb garden dominated by mint and its relatives.
Another similarity between the two fragrances is their forcefulness, at least initially in the case of Muguet Fleuri. Chypre Mousse is the strongest and most powerful fragrance in the Oriza line, by a landslide, in terms of its massive sillage and its longevity. Muguet Fleuri really surprised me by having initially excellent sillage as well, though it later became softer. The perfume also shares Chypre Mousse’s excellent longevity. Three small sprays of Muguet Fleuri from my atomizer gave me an opening cloud of about 5 inches, though it dropped down to 4 after 30 minutes, then to 3 after another hour had passed. It is an extremely airy bouquet, but Muguet Fleuri is incredibly potent, especially up close. I suspect that the fragrance is like the rest of the Oriza eau de parfums in having 18% concentration. Muguet Fleuri only became a skin scent on me 5.25 hours into its development, but it lasted over 13.75 hours. I was quite taken aback, since floral soliflores rarely have a chance on my skin, particularly if they’re fresh and green in nature.
As a soliflore, the core essence of Muguet Fleuri never dramatically shifts, morphs, and twists. It is always some sort of blend of lily of the valley, trailed by violets and multi-faceted greenness, with sharpness, and fluctuating levels of both cool, dewy liquidity and floral powder. That core essence remains largely unchanged for hours.
All that happens is that different elements wax and wane in terms of their prominence. The initial spiciness fades away, but the crunchy, very peppery violet leaves do a sort of ghostly dance, retreating, seemingly almost vanishing, before suddenly reappearing again in the background. The galbanum departs after 30 minutes, and the initial flicker of soapiness solidifies into something much more prominent at the 40-minute mark. Around the same time, the first vestige of floral power arrives, though it feels more like a sort of sandiness than actual powder. It grows stronger over time, as does the expensive lily of the valley soapiness.
At the end of the third hour, Muguet Fleuri hovers half an inch above the skin in a potent blend of slightly sharp, lightly powdered muguet with only lingering traces of dewy, nectared sweetness. The crunchy, peppered leaves occasionally pop up in the distance, but the violet flower itself has largely faded away. The light veil of floral powder adds an old-fashioned touch, but it’s not powerful enough to turn Muguet Fleuri into something hardcore vintage and dated in feel. Rather, on my skin, it’s initially just a suggestion of something retro amidst the floral greenness.
Muguet Fleuri continues to soften with the passing hours. It lies right on the skin about 4.25 hours into its development, and turns into a skin scent an hour later. It also feels drier and more powdered, as the beautiful wave of floral liquidity recedes to the sidelines. By the start of the 6th hour, little droplets of dewiness lurk just behind the top notes, but they are increasingly tiny dots. Muguet Fleuri feels less green, though an occasional, subtle, minty freshness still pops up once in a while.
What surprised me was the subtle, abstract woodiness that appears around this time. The muguet feels flecked with a woody undertone that almost verges on cedar. Something about the overall scent reminds me of something Serge Lutens would do in one of his floral-woody combinations, only without the sweet syrupness that marked Bois de Violette, and with a more old-fashioned, clean, powdered touch. Muguet Fleuri’s drydown on my skin really feels like a bouquet of lily of the valley, cedar, violet leaves, and violets, even though the latter is now a mere impression more than a distinctive, powerful, individual note. The whole thing is dusted with floral powder that feels sandier than ever, and a light touch of very expensive floral soap.
Muguet Fleuri remains that way largely until its very end. In its final moments, it is a mere blur of something vaguely lily-of-the-valley-ish. As noted earlier, it lasted over 13.75 hours on my perfume consuming skin, closer to 14 actually, with 3 atomizer sprays amounting to 2 tiny sprays from an actual bottle. My skin usually has trouble holding onto floral soliflores, especially if they’re very green or white, so those numbers should tell you something. (One Serge Lutens floral, A La Nuit, lasted less than an hour on me!) I suspect Muguet Fleuri would last even longer on a person with normal skin.
For all that I love the most intense, dark, masculine, heavy orientals, I also love the polar extreme with very pure, crystal-clear, dewy florals. Serge Lutens‘ De Profundis is one example, but so is Oriza’s ethereal Chypre Mousse. It’s not actually a floral, but it has the same spirit and atmospherics as De Profundis: Nature reduced to its purest essence. Muguet Fleuri, too, conveys that mood feel for much of its opening hours. The difference is that Muguet Fleuri is the embodiment of Spring and rebirth — a sunlit, dewy greenness to counter De Profundis’ purple twilight, or Chypre Mousse’s autumnal forest. This time around, Oriza’s enchanted landscape isn’t littered with mushrooms, the focus is not on the damp floor with its dead leaves, and the feeling isn’t of greenness flecked by darkness.
Now, instead, the sun has come out, and the fairies have woken up from their winter’s sleep. The crisp, icy air is now softened by a Spring glow; new, bright green shoots are pushing out of the wet earth; white muguet is everywhere, its little bells shaking off the morning dew; and violets nestle at the base of a large cedar tree, its purple delicacy nestled in a sea of fuzzy, peppered, spicy greenness. But, honestly, the absolute best part is that crystal-clear, liquid sweetness of the opening hours, that essence of lily of the valley concentrated down to a thick nectar. It’s truly beautiful. I felt invigorated, fresh, and a little bit free of heavy weight, as if I’d emerged purified from water.
The subsequent middle and final stages are very pretty, but they didn’t move me quite so lyrically and powerfully as Muguet Fleuri’s opening hours. The main reason why is that I’m not particularly enthused by soapy cleanness of any kind — even if it is as subtle as it is here — nor by floral powder. But I’m very finicky about those things — much more than others. Still, I would absolutely wear Muguet Fleuri. In a heartbeat, in fact. I would wear it for the places it transports me to in the first few hours, and for the soothing, almost Zen-like serenity it gave me at one point. I think it would be a lovely fragrance to wear in the summer heat, but I would wear it for the enchanted forest, first and foremost.
Muguet Fleuri is too new for any online reviews, so I’m afraid you’re stuck with my impressions for now. All I can tell you is that, to me, it is the Spring-time sister to Chypre Mousse. The latter is very much a “love it/hate it” scent, so I hope that reference can guide you. As to Muguet Fleuri’s gender appeal, I think it skews feminine in nature. I say that primarily because I don’t know any men who wear lily of the valley soliflores, and I don’t know if the peppered, crunchy violet leaves will provide enough of a counterpart to Muguet Fleuri’s main note or to its soapy/powder undertones. On the other hand, I’ve read of some men who buy Guerlain’s annual Muguet scent, so who knows. Speaking of the latter, I haven’t tried any of their lily-of-the-valley soliflores, but I can’t imagine that Guerlain would ever put out something so potent, intense, and different as a Chypre Mousse-like fragrance. I simply can’t imagine it. Moreover, Oriza L. Legrand’s fragrances have a definite signature — and it’s nothing like a Guerlain.
Muguet Fleuri is now available on Oriza’s website, and costs €90 for a 100 ml bottle, which is less than the €120 for most of its other siblings. The fragrance is too new to be carried by other Oriza retailers, like First in Fragrance, at this point, but I’m sure that will change soon. As a side note, the Oriza line is now sold in New York at a boutique called Juju Amuse (see the details section below), but their e-shop only carries clothing, not fragrances. However, Luckyscent in LA will start carrying the Oriza L. Legrand line starting next week, including the lovely soaps. In the meantime, if you want to test Muguet Fleuri, Oriza’s original and very affordable 6-fragrance Sampler Set has now been expanded to 7, to include the new Muguet Fleuri.
All in all, Muguet Fleuri feels like Spring’s floral symphony in a fairy forest, and I highly encourage anyone who loves both lilies of the valley and violets to give it a try.
Disclosure: Sample courtesy of Oriza L. Legrand. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.