Columns The Power of Beauty: Lily in Fragrances

The Power of Beauty: Lily in Fragrances

01/27/10 08:58:12 (9 comments)

by: Elena Knezhevich

Gorgeous lilies have been known and cultivated since olden times—thousands of years before Christ—on the island of Crete, in Egypt, in China, in the Middle and Far East. There are over 100 species of lilies, each colored with different nuances.

Some of them are extra fragrant, for example the Easter Lily, originating from Japan and the Far East and intensively cultivated on the islands of Bermuda, and the Madonna Lily, one of the oldest species of lilies, common in the Balkans and probably brought there from the Middle East. Some hybrid species are also very fragrant, like the so-called Stargazer lily, a widely-known oriental hybrid. 

When we read about the lily's symbolism, we face a kaleidoscope of different meanings, some of which seem to contradict each other, such as sexuality and chastity.

It will become less confusing if we study the symbol through history. People in different times worshiped 
lilies as an attribute of Beauty; however, the meaning of Beauty has been constantly changing.

Beauty attracted and frightened the ancients as an attribute of Power that could be produced by, and addressed to, the most powerful goddesses (before gods took their place).  Consider Britomartis, of the matriarchal Minoan pantheon (the Minoan civilization arose on the island of Crete almost 3,000 years before Christ). They called her "Sweet Virgin" to please her and to avoid saying the real name of this powerful Huntress and Mistress. Lilies were devoted to her. 

Ancient Greeks, with their patriarchal view of the world, worshiped lilies as the symbol of Purity, as well as Fertility and Sexuality. No more fear in the presence of Beauty, but sacred pleasure: they used lilies in marriage ceremonies.

In Ancient Rome, there was a way for an expectant mother to guess the gender of the child: to choose one of the suggested 
flowers—rose or lily.  Lily was the symbol of a baby boy. According to a Roman legend, the goddess Venus, jealous of the beauty of the flower, gifted it with an "ugly" pistil, a symbol of lustful desire. 

With the spread of Christianity, moral values had changed, but the lily didn't lose her power, symbolizing the most treasured Beauty, as before. Her sexual aspects gave way to purity and chastity. The pure white Madonna Lily is the flower of the Virgin Mary. There is a lily in the hand of the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation.

As we all know, Beauty is a great Power! The powerful sign of the lily embodied authority 
coming from God, and appeared in the heraldic symbols of royal houses in Europe—the fleur-de-lis. It was often associated with the French Monarchy, but they were not the only owners of the sign. It appeared in variations almost everywhere in the world. The beauty of the flower and its strong connection with power in human history explain its popularity. (Please read more about the symbolism of the lily on this blog).

It is interesting how all characteristics of the flower are reflected in its smell: smooth and powerful; feminine, but very dominant. From sacred places, the scent of Beauty comes into personal fragrances, subdued by the modern processes of democratization and individualization.

We can now smell of lilies like a goddess! Every time you buy lilies, remember: you are holding in your hand one of the most powerful symbols! 
Lily often appears in perfumes as a part of composition, but for now I have chosen some wonderful close-ups. 

Gold by Donna Karan 

What a clever selection of ingredients intended to symbolize gold! Lily and amber are the two dominant notes in the composition. Both of them have been considered among the most precious: the ideal and material worlds meet in the perfume, producing alchemical gold. 

The fragrance is powerful and charismatic. This is why we instantly
recognize its exceptional place among other new releases, whatever our personal taste is.

The fresh. innocent lily turns to you very intimately, inviting into her very heart that pulsates with green juices. The fresh flower is surrounded by golden amber, like a member of the royalty in his full regalia. 


Forever Lily by GoodTrueBeautiful

This new fragrance is about China and its smart sensuality, bright
colors and meaningful objects everywhere. This ultra-feminine composition stands out through its perfect balance of ingredients and quality we almost forgot.

Stargazer lily beautifully burns in the 
center. Thin, precise layers of fruits, spices, sweet flowers, oriental resins, being almost translucent, together create an impression of the fragile flower, restless in changing nuances and hot, like a flame. 

Lily by Lili Bermuda 

This is an intoxicating scent of the famous Easter lily, cultivated on the islands of Bermuda and responsible for the birth of the Bermuda Perfumery in the late 1920's. To this day, Bermuda Perfumery remains a family-owned business. Lily was their first scent, and they still have it in their line of fragrances. It was re-launched in 2006. 
It's an intensive lily scent with an oily green hint of lily-of-the-valley and refreshing fruit juices. Like all lily fragrances, it seems to come from other, better times.  It is ultimately feminine and very noticeable.

Lys by Jardin Retrouve 

Lys is a treasure from the Jardin Retrouve line. Its founder Yuri 
Gutsatz created all the perfumes passionately following the traditions of French artisan perfumery. Lys is a warm, honey-sweet floral fragrance on a base of oak moss.

Naturally radiant, this very French fragrance gracefully embraces you like an ultra-fashionable and desirable thing
from ... let us say, Dior, and I do mean a ball gown. The fragrance unobtrusively suggests that you should put on a pair of gloves and a hat and feel like a Lady. 


Un Lys by Serge Lutens 

If you are seeking the most tender lily in perfumes, Un Lys might be your choice. This fragrance absorbed all her tender calmness; there is a breathtaking grace in her every move. Lily blooms on the warm
vanillic base, smooth and peaceful, without any intent to be fatal. 

All the lily fragrances I mentioned here are extremely intense, which is an essential part of the lily's character. Be careful with the dosage.

                                                        So many beautiful lilies:


Images: Diana by ego technique


Author: Jeca (jeca)
Fragrantica Member













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Who created the beauty of the lily in the field even before time was recorded? The one true "Lily of the field." My redeamer! My favorite lily perfume is Cartier's baiser vole.


Thank you for this article. Lilies are one of my favorites, their scent is so heavenly. Stargazer is my favorite lily. I needed a lily perfume, and now I have somewhere to start.


An excellent and educative article! I learnt a lot about liles, esp. about their symbolism. I'd just like to mention that white lilies are common at funerals - this is what I associate with these flowers. They seem very mystical in combination with white candles. My personal favourite among fragrances is Eau de Lys by Princesse Marina De Bourbon, a very luminous, fresh and airy lily scent.


Jeca it's clear you have a soft spot in your heart for Lilies. I"m someone who must stop and sniff every Stargazer Lily I see, so a big thank you for this well written article.


Thank you for your article Jeca.

It is really a joy to read through this and take a close look at those beautiful paintings, especially the one on Louis XIV.



Thank you for this wonderful article,Jeca!
Lilies are one of my favourite flowers too!
My favourite perfume featuring Lily is my recent discovery-Collection Extraordinaire Lys Carmin by Van Cleef&Arpels.


Thanks girls ;o) It's pleasure to write about things you love. I remember the wonderful smell of Easter lily, it grew near the church (very small and ancient, in flowers to the roof).


Dear Elena!!! What a wonderful informative article!!! I have learnt a lot having read it. Lily is one of my favourite flower . My favourite lily is Penhaligon's "Lily and spice".


Great article Jeca, as usual!=)
I adore lily, it's one of my favourite flowers and one of my favourite notes in perfumes.
But I have to add another interesting fragrance with lily: Lily Essence by O Boticário, made with the enfleurage tecnique. A gorgeous soft spicy lily scent.


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