The smell of violet

We all use perfumes but do we know about them or do we just follow trends ending up buying the most commercial essence in the market? At The Water Brand, we want to awaken interest in the perfume world and all its secrets. Would you like to become a real expert in perfumes? Continue reading and join our community! After some time, we continue our blog mentioning raw materials that are used in perfumes.

Let’s open this loving month learning about the origin, smell, and uses of the Violet.

 

History of violet

Scientific name: Viola Odorata

This eye-catching colorful plant is in fact a low-growing perennial that has been deeply rooted in history. It is native from Europe, south of the Alps and west into France, but has increasingly expanded to northern areas because of widespread cultivation.

Its origins date back to Greek mythology, mother of Western philosophy.  According to this tradition, violets were created by Zeus. The Greek word for violet is 'io'. Io is a character in Greek mythology who was Zeus lover. In order to keep secret their loving affair and not get discovered by Hera, Zeus turned Io into a cow and then created the sweet-scented flowers that we now know as violets so as to provide her with some special food.

After having been at the core of loving affairs at Olympus, under the nickname of ‘Corporal violet’ it became the emblem of Napoleon imperial empire. Astonishingly, this plant was part of a secret code that helped to determine someone’s loyalty to the emperor.  Strangers where asked whether they liked violets. If the reply to the query was Yes (Oui) or No (Non), it revealed one who did not know the plot. If the answer was –’Eh bien’–, the loyalty of the person to the case was affirmed.

In the 19th century, cultivating violets became an enormous trade in Northern and Southern France and Middlesex, England. It was in this country that they were especially popular during the Victorian era.

Other common species of violet which are also scented or faintly scented include Viola alba, Viola hirta, Viola reichenbachiana, Viola palustris, for instance, which are characterized for their similarity.

Harvest calendar

Not belonging to wildlife plants, Viola Odorata must be planted from May to September. It blossoms from March to April.

As they are considered to be easily cultivated plants, if we want to grow our Viola Odorata we should just bear in mind that it requires moist soil in partial shade. Cuttings should be taken off from May to June so as to foster blossoming.

Violets in perfumery 

Process: Distillation/Solvent

Origin: Natural

Family: floral

Since this highly aromatic, solvent-extracted leaf absolute first appeared in the collection of natural perfumers, more and more people have wanted to include it on their perfume creations. In fact, it is regarded as a rare and irreplaceable element in perfumery. Viola odorata is used for its leaves rather than its flowers. Surprisingly, violet leaves lend a cut grass and cucumber note to fragrances, quite different from the sweet and powdery scent of violet flowers. 

Leaf absolute is one of the costliest and most labor intensive natural fragrance materials to produce – approximately 2300 kilos of hand-picked leaves yield only 1 kilo of the absolute.

How could we define absolutes? Absolutes are highly concentrated, aromatic oils. The process of transforming raw materials into absolutes which are important materials in the creation of perfumes might be performed by distillation or solvent extraction as it was mentioned in our blog post about roses (link). The method selected depends on the flower features, for instance, some flowers are too delicate for steam distillation, like Jasmine, Mimosa and White and Pink Lotus. The extraction process involves lower temperatures than distillation, so the aromatic compounds in absolutes can smell exceptionally fresh.

Use of violets in The Water Brand perfumes 

Being a crucial element used in traditional fragances such as Coty L’Origan (1905), Guerlain L’Heure Bleue (1912) and Nina Ricci (1948), Viola Odorata has been defined as 'powdery, a little sweet and decidedly sad. Musically, a violet note would be a minor chord.'

In the innovate approach to perfume so as to create alcohol free fragrances, the smell of violet offers a new potential use as it has not been yet included in many commercialized scents.

Considering that with these flowers we can add powdery and sweet notes touch to a perfume, would you like us to introduce a new scent with these particularities? Sweet and powdery?  

Leave a comment if you have liked this post. If you would like to know more about our products and the philosophy behind our company, don't hesitate to visit our website and our perfume shop. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news from The Water Brand directly to your inbox.

 

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