You can thank Italian fashion designer Miuccia Prada for kickstarting a lily-of-the-valley trend in modern perfumery. Industry insiders study every move Miuccia makes, from pattern design to silhouette shape to fragrance style. She’s that influential. So when she chose lily-of-the-valley to be the starring ingredient in her debut MiuMiu fragrance, the perfume and fashion industries immediately took notice.
So, what does lily-of-the-valley smell like? It has a fresh floral and green aroma with a slightly sweet character. Perfumers love working with it because it blends seamlessly with other floral notes like jasmine, rose and lily. It has a soft and delicate scent that can even have a hint of lemon in it.
Lily-of-the-Valley, known as convallaria majalis, is a woodland flowering plant that features bell-shaped white blooms with an intoxicating sweet floral aroma. It is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe. It’s also known as May Bells, Our Lady’s Tears and Mary’s Tears. But the most common name in Europe for Lily-of-the-Valley is muguet, the French term for the flower.
Long associated with spring, renewal and luck, small bouquets of lily-of-the-valley are presented to family and friends on May 1st each year on La Fete du Muguet. It’s meant as a token of love and good fortune. The tradition began in 1561 when King Charles IX of France received a sprig of the sweet-smelling plant as a gift. He was told it would bring him good luck and prosperity in the coming year. He so loved the sentiment that he offered lily-of-the-valley to every lady in his court. It became a beloved tradition in France and continues in modern-day times. On May 1st, you will find florists in the streets and on the bridges selling bouquets of the flower.
The flower is hugely popular in bridal bouquets these days. Even Kate Middleton had sprigs of lily-of-the-valley for her wedding to Prince William.