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Much as I love the bold, all-consuming power of rose or jasmine and how their smell can take over whole gardens or streets, I’m pretty enraptured by shyer violets right now. For one thing, you have to lean in real close to appreciate their unique scent–almost sickly sweet and a bit powdery or buttoned up but somehow so fresh and alluring. My crush on violets has been going on for a while now-from Kusmi’s violet-infused Ceylon tea to mid-nineteenth century Italian candy maker Leone’s traditional violet candies “for spring lovers” and found at the bottom of many great grandmothers’ purses. (Read more, too, below about Serge Lutens’  lovely and mysterious Bois de Violette from a Scents & Sensibilitea post earlier this year. )

Violets strike me as very well suited to the end of winter and early spring with their dark purple royal color and cool, somewhat, aloof beauty. I recently came across this saying “whisper to get people’s attention” (in an excellent article about pairing tea and chocolate from SerendipiTea’s Linda Villano.) The thought that natural perfumes require us to get closer to the wearer and really listen also appeals to me greatly. I was lucky to find some violets in our local farmer’s market Sunday so snapped up a few and planted them in our garden (I’m hoping they’ll proliferate so I can make lots of candied violets for cakes this spring or toss them into salads.). Even after wearing Chanel’s new violet note scent Misia for several weeks and feeling like “I knew violet,” I still had to crouch in to smell them when I was planting them! Note here that violet essential oil is pretty much impossible to extract (hence the phrase “shrinking violet”) and most violet smells we know are chemically produced or from violet leaf. Get to know the real violet through some of these favorites:

Chanel’s Misia: Like many other perfume lovers, I’ve been admiring  Olivier Polge from afar and was intrigued by his first perfume for Chanel, inspired by Misia Sert–nineteenth century muse to Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Sergei Diaghilev and Edouard Vuillard as well as close friend to Coco Chanel. I don’t often wear Chanel but do stop in the 57th Street store in New York on occasion to try to get to know the classics better. I was graced with a generous sample of this new showstopper and have been truly taken by Misia–a blend of rose, violet and iris–and exquisitely written about by Steve Johnson at CaFleureBon. I particularly love this quote: “Olivier Polge has found their secret, inner voice, akin to the murmured tones of a priest or a confidante.” http://www.chanel.com/en_US/fragrance-beauty/Fragrance-LES-EXCLUSIFS-DE-CHANEL-139176

Aftelier Perfumes Violet Spray: I’ve been doing a lot of old-fashioned cooking lately and having lots of fun with Victorian-inspired cakes. So naturally, I’m pretty keen on baking with violet and was delighted to discover that essential oil and scent master Mandy Aftelier offers this violet spray. Stay tuned–I’m hoping to make a Victoria sponge cake with rose and violet for a small spring gathering this weekend to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I might also try to score a little mimosa cake from Lady M in the Plaza Hotel in case it all goes horribly wrong. But oh, what fun. http://www.aftelier.com/product-p/chef-spray-violet.htm

Herbal Alchemy Violet Leaf Tincture: Word on the street is that violet leaf is packed with nutrients and all kinds of magic to cure ailments. (I can’t swear to the health benefits but have been adding lots of violet leaf tincture to my water every day and feel like it somehow balances out all the chocolate, cheese and baked goods I eat.) I may have snagged the last of the stuff from Julianne Zaleta’s marvelous perfume and natural remedies shop. But be sure to look for it next year and do browse Herbal Alchemy’s lovely collection of flower waters and hydrosols for inspired spring cocktails. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/herbalalchemy?page=1

Raaka Chocolate with Candied Rose Hips: No, it’s not violet, but I can’t say goodbye without a nod to this most charming selection from Raaka with candied rose hips. Consider signing up for their monthly subscription program for surprising delicacies like this. http://www.raakachocolate.com/blogs/news/17110521-februarys-first-nibs