The parcel arrived a few days ago. A surprisingly large box, and buried in green plastic bubbles inside, the bottle of Antonio Puig’s fabled Agua Lavanda.
I knew it came in a plastic bottle, that this is a fragrance splashed on daily with abandon in Spanish bathrooms by both men and women. At £7.50 plus p&p this is not by any means an expensive purchase. But the size of it – the size of a wine bottle! And so, the moment of truth…could the scent possibly live up to expectations?
The answer is a resounding yes. Forget any ideas that cheap lavender scent will be thin, sharp and unpleasant (as, I’m sorry to say, too many English lavenders are). This is sweet and mellow from the first contact with your skin, and surprisingly deep. Its advocates are right when they say that the balance of the different elements is perfect: the dominant note is sweet lavender but the presence of rosemary, bergamot and geranium give it some zest too. There’s a slight zing of ginger too, at least that’s what the chemistry smells like to me.
Then, after ten minutes or so, the base notes of tonka (vanilla), cedarwood, moss and a tiny hint of musk begin to assert themselves. From then on it’s fresh and clean, but slightly dreamy too, redolent of the fields and hills of the Catalan region where it was first made.
From what I read, Agua Lavanda has been part of Spanish life for more than seventy years. For that to happen, the perfumier has to achieve a special alchemy, a magical element. If that’s there, the perfume will grow ever more powerfully down the years, in part due to the sense of history surrounding it. Imagine all the sensory memories it carries, for so many people.
So yes, too, to the notion that Agua Lavanda could be a real Lavande de Nuit. Not in every element of scent, but in the sense that it is a perfume made of the simple country fragrances of southern
I couldn’t resist an experiment though. I decanted some Agua Lavanda into an old Annick Goutal spray bottle and added just a few drops of Hypnôse by Lancôme which I thought might bring some bright white flowers into the mix, along with vetiver and more woody vanilla. Then – very, very carefully as it’s so overpowering – I squeezed a tiny drop of Serge Luten’s Un Bois Vanille onto my arm to get the vital smoky element I was looking for and then sprayed the mix into that. Five minutes later, I think I came very close to smelling the fictional Lavande de Nuit.