Annick Goutal La Violette ~ fragrance review

viola odorataAnnick Goutal La Violette

While Robin has been trying and reviewing Nuit Etoilée, the newest fragrance release from Annick Goutal, I've been revisiting Goutal's La Violette this week. La Violette was developed by perfumer Isabelle Doyen and was originally released in 2001. It has come and gone from the Goutal catalogue over the past few years, but it was recently re-released as part of the company's quartet of soliflore fragrances, alongside Le Mimosa, Le Muguet and Rose Splendide

La Violette really does concentrate on the idea of the violet flower; even more, it suggests the crystallized sweetness of candied violets. Its opening is a pure violet note with an aldehydic clarity. The violet soon develops a sugary veil that lasts through the fragrance's development, although there's also a light green note and just a breath of spice in the heart to balance out the confectionery effect. La Violette never feels chilly or sharp; overall, it's a friendly, almost flirty violet, although its drydown turns more subtle and lower-pitched. La Violette has moderate sillage and average wear for an Eau de Toilette; if you're planning on wearing it throughout a long day, you'll probably wish to "refresh" it at some point. In a nice touch, its bottle is ornamented with a bit of sheer, violet-colored ribbon.

Violet is one of my favorite floral notes to wear, and I enjoy having a few different violet-inspired scents in my collection. They range from woody violets (Balenciaga Paris and Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette) and noticeably "green" violets (CB I Hate Perfume Room with a View) to powdery, vintagey violets (Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose) and pale, wistful violets (the classic Guerlain Après L'Ondée). La Violette is none of the above. It's just a sweet and airy violet solifore; however, I really shouldn't qualify that statement with "just," because it's so well done. I like soliflores and I think it's important to try one (or more) if you're curious about a certain floral note, so if anyone asks me to recommend "a violet fragrance," I'll suggest that she start with Annick Goutal La Violette.

Annick Goutal La Violette is available as 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($120). For purchasing information, see the listing for Annick Goutal under Perfume Houses.

Note: image is Viola Odorata by Jacob Sturm (1796), via Wikimedia Commons.

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29 Comments

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  1. Jill says:

    Thanks for the review, Jessica! AG is one of my favorite houses, but I have never tried La Violette. It sounds lovely and I’m going to have to get me a sample!

    • Jessica says:

      Jill, it really is pretty! Hope you’ll be able to get your hands on a sample.

  2. mals86 says:

    La Violette is lovely. For some time, I waffled between wanting this one or Penhaligon’s Violetta (and then getting sidetracked by Soivohle Violets & Rainwater), and was finally swayed by the green notes I love in Violetta. But the Goutal is so easy to love.

    • Jessica says:

      Confession: I bought Penhaligon’s Violetta mainly for the bottle (in its previous design)… but I don’t really enjoy wearing it! That sour green note is a bit…challenging for me.

  3. Abyss says:

    Thank you for reviewing this, Jessica! I’ve been curious about La Violette for a while but I wasn’t sure what its status was since could never find it at the local AG counters.

    I don’t usually care for soliflores except for Diorissimo (if one can even call it a soliflore) but I like violet fragrances. Bois de Violette is my favourite but I wouldn’t mind something more summery. Have you smelled Penhaligon’s Violetta? If so, how do you think it compares to AG LV?

    • Jessica says:

      Hello! I think AG La Violette is very easy to wear in warmer weather — it does have that candied aspect, but it’s not vanillic or powdery. I wanted to love Penhaligon’s Violetta so badly, because of the beautiful bottle, but I just couldn’t. Something in there goes all sour and wrong on me… like a fennel note, but nasty. I don’t know why. It’s also less “feminine” than Goutal’s Violette or Guerlain Meterorites, incidentally.

      • Abyss says:

        Thank you! I didn’t fall in love with Violetta either so if La Violette is more feminine and candied then it sounds like it would be more to my taste.

  4. ladymurasaki says:

    Thanks for the review, Jessica. Although I’m somewhat familiar with AG fragrances, I haven’t tried this one and it sounds wonderful. I’m going to stop by the AG store tomorrow for a sample.

    • Jessica says:

      I hope you’ll enjoy it, LadyM! Do try Rose Absolue and Rose Splendide as well, if you haven’t already.

  5. Anne from Makeupwoot says:

    Hmmm… This sounds like something I need to pick up a sample of! :-)

    • Jessica says:

      Anne, I’m really glad it’s not so difficult to find right now, so that I can actually recommend it!! :)

  6. Merlin says:

    I was wondering how this compares to L’occitaine’s Delices de Fleur. I assume DdF is simpler (and of course it has rose too). I liked that one, but didn’t end up buying it before it was discontinued. My violet enthusiasm did, however result in another rose-violet SS’s Lieu de Rieves and, somewhat by chance, Stephen Jones.

    • Jessica says:

      Merlin, I love that L’Occitane Delice des Fleurs for its rose-violet-vanilla comfort, but I have a feeling I won’t be wearing it once the weather really warms up: it will feel a bit too powdery-sweet for the summer. However, I can imagine wearing La Violette through June and July, because it’s clearer and lighter. I love SSS Lieu de Reves — I think SSS has a nice way with violet notes — but I don’t wear that one in hot weather, either. Hope this helps!

  7. 50_Roses says:

    Thanks for reviewing this, Jessica! I love violet frags myself, and feel that it is unfair that they are sometimes dismissed as “old-fashioned”. Of course, as a fan of all things vintage, retro, classic, or antique, I don’t see what is wrong with old-fashioned anyway. :)

    I was just thinking over all the violets in my perfume wardrobe, and I think they can be considered as tonal ranges. Meteorites is a sopranino, La Violette is a soprano, Violettes de Toulouse and Viole de Violette are altos, and Bois de Violette and Wood Violet are tenors ( I’m pretty sure there are no bass violets).

    • Jessica says:

      I love, love this “tonal” grouping of violet scents. Perfect! I forgot how pretty Meteorites is… and “old-fashioned” is usually a compliment, coming from me!

    • Alyssa says:

      Nominating the original Feminite du Bois as a possible bass violette–or at least, whatever that thing between bass and tenor is…

  8. annemarie says:

    Hi Jessica, I have a really dumb question: I have never encountered candied violets? What are they, really? A confectionary you can eat? I have a hard time picturing them. Are they an American thing? I’m in Australia.

    My mother’s signature was Yardley’s April Violets, which is a very wet and green violet (also with notes of jasmine, lily of the valley and geranium, apparently). Until I started reading perfume blogs I had no idea that violet fragrances could have a confectionary sweetness to them. The Goutal sounds nice, but probably not for me.

    If anyone is interested: April Violets (a great classic of this genre) but seems to come and go from the market quite regularly. When I noticed it in a pharmacy about a year ago I bought it immediately, because I knew it had been off the market for a few years and I was glad to see it back, for my mother’s sake. But now I can’t see it on the Yardley website, so it must be off again. So if you are interested in trying it, grab it if you can. A few years ago it was fetching very high prices on eBay.

    • annemarie says:

      Correcting myself: April Violets seems to be listed in the UK Yardley site, but I’m not sure about the US site. Need to check some more to see if they are hiding it somewhere. I admit to being a but paranoid about this, but AV was so special to my late mother.

      • Jessica says:

        Yardley… hm… we have a few Yardley soaps available in drugstores in the US, but I can’t picture a fuller bath/body line. Maybe it’s not available here? They’d have to compete with Crabtree & Evelyn, Caswell Massey, et al.!

        • annemarie says:

          I think Yardley was much bigger here than in the US, given that for so many decades Australians followed British ways rather than US. My mother must have bought her first April Violets in the early 1950s, when Yardley was quite a prestige brand. If you get a moment, google Yardley Bond Street and you will see some of the very classy vintage ads from the 1950s. Yardley sunk down market in later decades. And as you say, there is heaps of competition now in the ‘cottage garden’ part of the market.

        • I have seen the full Yardley line at least once in the US – at Merz apothecary in Chicago, which is a European-style drugstore and carries many European drugstore lines. I’d guess there might be other such places in larger cities that carry Yardley, but don’t know of any for sure.

    • Jessica says:

      Annemarie, I have a feeling that candied violets originated in southern France, although I first learned about them during a trip to Italy. They’re available in the US, too, in specialty food shops — although they’re harder to find. They’re actual violet flowers, dipped in a mix of sugar and egg white and set out to dry and crystallize. They’re often used as a garnish for pastries and other desserts. Here, let me find that link I saw once… (it takes a while to get going):
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-LJd52G1A0&feature=related
      And there are recipes on the internet, too:
      http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Candied-Violets

      • mag20 says:

        They’re available in Australia too, although here we call them crystallized violets – used in cake decoration.

      • annemarie says:

        Lordy! What a lot of work! Fun to try once, maybe. I have a heaps of violets in the garden, but they are scentless. Many thanks.

  9. JolieFleurs says:

    Love all violet fragrances, but my fave is probably the L’Artisan.

    Does anyone remember Devon Violets?

    • Jillie says:

      Yes! Oh boy do I remember Devon Violets! In the 60s, relatives holidaying in the West Country would always bring a bottle back for my mother, little knowing that she hated it! My sister and I would play with the little bomb-shaped bottle for a few days, and dab the purple liquid on our arms and necks. The reek was everywhere (it was truly a sillage monster) and we would make ourselves feel sick by the end of the day. The bottle would then mysteriously disappear overnight, only to be replaced a year later when summer holidays came again and our aunts went on their pilgramage to Brixham!.

    • My mom used to have a bottle of Devon Violets in a little bottle shaped like a cottage! I don’t think she EVER wore it – I don’t recall her ever wearing perfume when I was little. But I loved looking at that bottle. I think she might have obtained it on her summer in England in the late 70s – she was a schoolteacher before she married/had me and she spent one summer in the 70s hitchhiking across England. It’s so weird to think of my (now very staid) mother doing such a thing.

      The bottle she had looked like this. Sad I can recall nothing of what the perfume smelled like now, though perhaps if I smelled it now it would come back to me.

      http://www.rubylane.com/item/617906-1026/Vintage-Lownds-Devon-England-Tudor

  10. Alyssa says:

    Jess, do you think the new release smells any different than the old one? Just curious. I have a little 15 ml square bottle of the older version. Almost gave it away, but am so glad I didn’t know. I’ve grown into it’s delicate prettiness.

    Lovely review!

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