Everyone has their own unique olfactory memory triggers, for good and for bad, and I think many of us have learned how to use them in order to gauge our progress in life. “How did I feel the last time I smelled this? Is my life better or worse now, or just different?” Sometimes these triggers can provoke just a general haze of emotion that can make us happy, wistful, irritated, and run the entire gamut of what human beings are capable of experiencing. For me, one of the strongest and most meaningful olfactory scent memories was triggered by Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice.
I was raised by my mother and my grandparents in my grandparents’ home, and my grandmother, Alice, had for many years the most spectacular flower garden. You’ve never seen lilies of so many exotic varieties, or iris and peonies that practically make you stagger backwards from absorbing their sheer beauty. My grandmother devoted so much time, energy and love to her garden. She had always hoped I would follow in her footsteps as a Green Thumb Supreme, so as a young girl, I was taught how to raise my own lilies and take the best of the best to compete in flower shows alongside my grandmother. We always won blue ribbons, each in our own respective groups, for years running. We were unbeatable. The truth is, I never loved raising lilies quite the way she did, and as I grew into a young woman, I lost interest in gardening, and in going to flower shows with my grandmother. Life became more complicated, and somehow, I grew into adulthood, got married and here I am today, sitting peacefully with some homemade peppermint iced tea and the scent of Lily & Spice deliciously filling the air around my immediate space. Even though I never developed Alice’s green thumb, that never took away from my wonderment of the spectacular finished product, the lilies that once were nothing but homely, dirt-covered bulbs in the ground.
Lily & Spice is a gentle soul, it represents many things to me. The lily aspect is true to the flower in some ways, but better (if you have smelled actual lilies, you know they often smell rather odd, but good), it is not humid and indolic, it is more like a cool mist just when you need it most on a sweltering day. It is accented appropriately by clove, saffron and pepper, and rests on the most satisfyingly lovely bed of white musk and soft incense. My favorite thing about this perfume is how the lily note dominates throughout all stages of wear, and you wouldn’t think it would be able to sing louder than the base-notes, but it does. To enjoy Lily & Spice is to give oneself over to sweet memories of the past, and not worry so much about the troubles of today. This perfume holds the power to remind me that life goes on no matter what we do, and that we would be wise to find our happiness with as much diligence as we would give any other task.
My grandmother passed away two years ago, and the year prior to her passing was unfortunately colored by the rapid progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. At the end of her life, there was no trace of her old self left, but I like to think that she had previously remembered those happy days of gardening with me, and trying to teach me the meaning of responsibility and tending to living things. Every time we would win blue ribbons, we’d just look at each other knowingly, and burst into giggles. We had done it again.
I have been given word from Penhaligon’s that Lily & Spice will be discontinued soon, to my profound sadness. Very rarely have I felt so much emotional attachment to a perfume, so I will be stocking up on it (and I might recommend that you do the same if you love Lily & Spice, or even if you’re new to it and want to give it a try). It’s a great perfume for floral-phobes like myself who shy away from perfumes based on heady floral blooms. Lily & Spice will never overwhelm, it will only enhance. Its light to moderate sillage and great longevity serve to further personalize the experience of wearing it; it’s your secret, your memory, your happiness. Embrace it as long as you can possess it.
About our guest blogger: Carrie Meredith’s blog - Eyeliner On A Cat - delves into the joys and challenges of retaining perfume as her sole mistress. She doesn’t review perfumes so much as she lets them speak through her, and she enjoys the company of the witty ones the most! If you’ve enjoyed her post as much as we have, take a peek at her blog!
We’d love to hear about your scented memories, share them with us below!