Move over Damask Rose, jasmine sambac and magnolia, there is a new floral note on the horizon that is promising to add a new femininity to modern perfumery. It’s honeysuckle, a climbing vine that produces delicate flute-like blooms in pink, orange, white and yellow.
The twining vines in the genus Lonicera of the family Caprifoliacae, are native to North America and Eurasia. Remarkably, there are 180 different species of this flowering plant that derives its name from the edible sweet nectar produced in the colourful trumpet-like blooms. Hummingbirds are particularly fond of the nectar from the orange honeysuckle species.
So what does honeysuckle smell like? It has a heady scent, a little like jasmine tinged with vanilla. You can smell the blooms particularly well at dusk when the flowers are most fragrant. Extracting the delicate aroma from such delicate blooms is difficult so many perfumers will use ‘headspace’ technology to recreate it in a lab. Honeysuckle blends particularly well with lily-of-the-valley which blooms in North American in late May and early June. The aromas meld together to create a white floral bouquet accord that is ideal for perfume.
Arguably the very best use of honeysuckle in perfumery is 1927’s Arpege Lanvin Popur Femme created by perfumers Paul Vacher and Andre Fraysse. This stylish floral aldehyde, named after the daughter of the perfumer, became a sensation in France. Remarkably, the original 1927 formula corresponded to its musical term – arpege means arpeggio in French. The perfumer’s daughter was passionate about music and studied piano and musical compositions. You’ll notice this scent featured honeysuckle paired with lily of the valley along with honeysuckle, rose and ylang-ylang. It was a grand floral that captured the imagination of French society.
Oscar de la Renta is hoping to recreate this feat in a spring launch that makes honeysuckle the star attraction. It’s a summer-themed floral that is sure to introduce this beautiful floral note to a new generation of perfume fans.