When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen For many, the scent of lavender still has a nostalgic quality it is ‘the fragrance of half-forgotten things’.3 It tends to suggest a naive, innocent quality, bringing back recollections of balmy summer days spent outdoors as a child, the comforting aroma of freshly laundered sheets, or the lingering trace of lavender water on a woman’s sleeve, even though her features may have long since faded with time:
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Lavender is often considered an old-fashioned perfume, associated with grandmothers and great aunts indeed, a heart-shaped lavender sachet made from pink net and tied with a velvet ribbon was once a traditional gift from a maiden aunt to her young nieces. But the ‘old maid’ image is not entirely fair -after all, it was once worn extensively by prostitutes to advertise their trade and attract customers! Yet through its rich associations lavender continues to have a strong traditional appeal, and it remains in huge demand by the perfumery industry today.
According to Priest, good lavender oil is one of the most enjoyable raw materials that a perfumer has to work with. At once powerful and delicate . it is seldom used alone but serves in many blends imparting a delightfully fresh and sweet note. It blends excellently with the citrus oils, especially bergamot, to produce colognes of all types .4
Yardley, one of the oldest perfume companies in the world, was founded on products based principally on lavender! They produced their first lavender soap during the reign of Charles I, and afer the First World War they became the world’s largest manufacturer of lavender products. Since 1936 Norfolk Lavender Ltd, England’s largest and oldest lavender farm, has supplied Yardley with lavender oil for the manufacture of lavender water, lavender soap and other products, including their classic scent ‘Lavender’ (first produced in 1913). Other examples of quality perfumes which contain old English lavender are ‘Blue Grass’, ‘Paco Rabanna’ and ‘Silvestre’, as well as many fougere-type fragrances.