One of the many reasons that I love spring is because of lilac and the blooming of other “purple flowers” like iris, heliotrope, wisteria and hyacinth. Lilacs are exceptional. These shrubs bloom with abundancy with an aroma that can fill an entire neighborhood. Their fragrance is almost more jasmine than jasmine. It’s honeyed and indolic
I once had a neighbor with a back yard with a few old growth lilacs in both purple and white. And a sin I did commit, I coveted my neighbor’s back lawn, a hideaway of pastel purple and white petals. I’d open all my windows just to try to be a part of that. One day we were engaging in some small talk and she dropped something on me that I wasn’t ready for. She said she hated the lilac trees and their “awful smell”. Out of all the things in the world to complain about! My grandmother always said lilacs scared away ghosts and negative spirits. I knew there was something up with this neighbor.
It’s my belief that the best aromatics are surrounded by the most lore. If we go by my beliefs, then lilac is one of the best. This is a flower shrouded in mythology (Fragrantica has a nice overview). They represent beauty and rebirth in many cultures, a welcoming of spring. and new life¹. Another thing my grandmother said, if you drink the lilacs, you’d be joyous. I’ve always wondered what she was mixing it with…
This is my comprehensive guide of perfumes that I’ve tried that predominately showcase lilac. Most of this guide of 24 perfumes features straightforward lilac soliflores. However, I included some that I think display (a lot of) lilac in a clever way. From fresh to green to powdery, this guide should have your lilac needs covered!
Under $100* Perfumes:
BPAL Les Fleurs du Mal perfume oil – Apparently Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has a few lilac-centric perfumes; however, this is the only one that I’ve tried. It’s like little rose and lilac guest soaps. Retails for about $18 at BPAL. Full review here.
Demeter Lilac Cologne – This one reminds me of the Pacifica one but with an arguably shorter “lifespan”. However, it’s still a good lilac soliflore that smells like an idealized version of lilacs in bloom. Retails for $20 at Demeter.
Pacifica French Lilac EDP – This is one of those simple lilac soliflores that I love. It reminds me of lilac and its cheap. The downside is that it doesn’t last on the skin very long but that doesn’t bother me. I also like to layer it over its corresponding layering products like lotion and bar soap. Retails for $22 at Pacifica. Review here.
Yves Rocher Un Matin au Jardin Purple Lilac EDT – It’s a good lilac soliflore that wears more like a body spray. I don’t mind spraying it with abandon because that makes me feel really indulgent. Retails for $28 at Yves Rocher.
Elizabeth W Lilac EDP – This is a sharper, greener lilac soliflore paired with tartness of a citrus-hued neroli. Retails for $35 at Elizabeth W.
Sage Machado Amethyst Perfume – Amethyst is one of those powdery “purple florals” that I love. It’s like a sweet yet powdery blend of lavender, violet and lilacs. It manages to simultaneously remind me of tea party biscuits and vintage cosmetics. Retails $45 at Beautyhabit.
Parfums de Nicolai Petit Ange Cologne – No joke, this is meant to be for babies and kids. But, guess what? You can wear it too. It’s a light, sheer angelic lilac with darling clementines. It’s great for summer. Retails for $45 at Beautyhabit.
Highland Lilac of Rochester EDP – This is one of those old school, thick and luscious lilac soliflores that smells realistic without smelling wispy. This is my favorite beefed up lilac soliflore. Retails for $50 at Highland.
DSH Perfumes White Lilac EDP – White Lilac is a pretty ethereal lilac with sour apples and musk paired with lilac. I’ve always thought of it like a ghost lilac. Retails for $70 at DSH Perfumes. Review here.
Ralph Lauren Lauren EDT – This is such a good green, crisp floral that reminds me of how many excellent designer perfumes there out there that I accidentally ignore. There’s a lot in this, including a rather gorgeous, indolic yet woody lilac. Retails for $80 at Nordstrom.
INeKE After My Own Heart EDP – This is like a fruity lilac that leans a little more “soapy fresh”. It’s one of those more complex lilacs that is still very much a lilac…but not at all boring. Retails for $95 at B-Glowing.
Over $100 Perfumes:
Guerlain Idylle EDP – This is one of those that may be a slight stretch to be included in a soliflore guide… Idylle is fresh yet creamy floral with powdery lilac. It has really grown on me throughout the years. Retails for $104 at Saks. Full review here.
Bruno Fazzalori Seyrig EDP – Seyrig is one of those aldehydic, soapy versions of lilac that feels vintage. It’s a classic floral with a punk twist. Retails for $110 at Bruno Fazzalori. Full review here.
AERIN Lauder Lilac Path EDP – This is a pretty good lilac soliflore. It’s rather sheer and frankly, reminds me of the Pacifica one. But, it’s still good even though I complain about the price. Retails for $110 at Nordstrom.
i Profumi di Firenze Lilla Serenella EDP – I think this is an excellent lilac soliflore. It’s light and airy like a spring breeze but it has enough body to it to actually last on the skin. Retails for $110 at Beautyhabit. Full review here.
YOSH White Flowers EDP – But, it’s called “White Flowers”, right? It’s more like fresh spring flowers with crushed greens and earth. It’s like lilac and lily of the valley. And like I’ve already said, sometimes lilac is more jasmine than jasmine. Retails for $110 at B-Glowing. Full review here.
DSH Perfumes La Belle Saison Parfum – This botanical lilac soliflore smells delightfully vintage with a bright citrus opening, indolic florals and a skanky dry-down. It’s amazing. Retails for $130 at DSH Perfumes.
Comme des Garçons EDP – The weirdest lilac ever and I love it! It’s an industrial lilac with so many delightful synth accords like leather and glue. If you think of lilacs as “old fashioned”, you need to try this. It’s FUTURISTIC OUTERSPACE LILAC! Retails for $140 at Beautyhabit.
The Different Company Sublime Balkiss EDP – This isn’t as straightforward as many in this guide, but it belongs here. It’s like a dry, green floral with forest berries and flowers. I love it. It’s like a cold spring day and lilacs. Retails for $165 at Beautyhabit.
Frederic Malle En Passant EDP – This is my favorite complex lilac. It’s sort of weird (like yeast and cucumbers in a floral) but still a really pretty, green and sheer lilac. Retails for $175 at Editions des Parfums.
Amouage Lilac Love EDP – It’s a powdery gourmand floral that tricks you into thinking it’s a lilac because of the jasmine and the purple bottle. It’s really enjoyable but pretty pricey (like close to $400). I don’t think it’s in the US yet.
JAR Jarling – And while we’re on the topic of pricey…Jarling is a rich lilac and almond that is strangely, almost edible. And it’s JAR so it’s probably crazy expensive. And you can only get it at JAR boutiques.
When it comes to lilac soliflores, I’m starting to think I have a curse. Every single lilac perfume that I love gets discontinued – Roja Dove Lilac Extrait, Phaedon Lilas du Rue, Jo Malone London White Lilac & Rhubarb, Soivohle Lilacs & Narcissus and Diptyque Jardin Clos. And why is Caron Nocturnes so hard to find now? The worst part is that I don’t have full-bottles of most of these. Now when there’s a lilac that I love, I buy it. I try to learn from my mistakes.
My personal favorites in this guide: Highland Lilac of Rochester, i Profumi di Firenze Lillas Serenella, The Different Company Sublime Balkiss, Sage Amethyst, Malle En Passant and Comme de Garcons. I also love the cheap thrills of Pacifica French Lilac and Yves Rocher Lilas Mauve.
If I had to choose five from this guide to help someone experience the different angles of a lilac soliflore, I’d recommend the following:
INeKe After My Own Heart – A breezy greener lilac with fruits.
Malle En Passant – Sheer, aquatic white lilac. Like a lilac by the sea.
Highland Lilac of Rochester – Because it’s an old school lilac soliflore that smells really lilac-y
Chloe, Love Chloe – Powdery lilac floral that’s modern.
Comme de Garcons – Because it’s the “weird” one.
When I do these guides, I always miss something. If you have a lilac-centric perfume to add, please mention those in the comments. And if you tried any lilac perfumes, which are your favorites? I feel like I’m always on the search for lilac perfumes.
*Prices are as of early 2016 in US dollars for a small full-size bottle.
¹And apparently it’s associated with death because Victorians didn’t want us to enjoy anything. More here.