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Love the fragrance of violets but can't stretch to buying Acqua di Parma? Yardley's April Violets is a scent that certainly gives the more expensive brand a run for its money. Granted Yardley doesn't have that luxury kudos - in fact it's a brand you're more likely to associate with your grandmother (unless, of course, your grandmother is Joan Collins in which case she's undoubtedly more Acqua di Parma than Yardley!) - but this gorgeous fragrance is one you really should consider if you are looking for something with the scent of violets.
Yardley is not a brand I'd usually veer towards because I do find their 'classic' scents quite old fashioned and even for those scents I'm drawn to - like roses, for example - I find Yardley's fragrances one dimensional. Not so April Violets: for all it evokes the sweetness of Parma Violet sweets, this is a surprisingly sophisticated scent that has more to offer than that dominant sugar whiff of violets.
This fragrance falls without a doubt into the 'florals' category and it's quite interesting to compare Yardley's description of the notes of April Violets with my own experience of the scent especially with regard to the base notes. According to Yardley the top notes are fresh, green violet leaves, citrus and geranium, the middle notes are sweetly scented parma violets, iris, jasmine, ylang and tuberose and the base notes are vanilla and powdery accords.
Only someone anosmic would argue that violet is not the top note of this scent; there's no escaping it and quite clearly if you don't appreciate the fragrance of violets this is not the product for you. That initial burst of violets is spiked with a marked acidity - almost citrusy - which dissipates quickly; the violet, though, is quite lively for the first half hour of wear. Gradually this diminishes and the violet element becomes sweeter and rather powdery. Quite what the other florals add to this mix I'm unsure. Tuberose - one of the middle notes - is vaguely there but I definitely don't pick out the jasmine, a favourite scent of mine and therefore one I'm familiar with. As a base note I (kind of) get the vanilla which gives April Violets some much needed depth.
Many violet fragrances are soliflores - that is they aim to replicate the scent of a single flower, rather than being a deliberate blend of several notes with different weights. I really wanted a violet perfume that smelled unmistakeably of violets and I'd have quite happily gone for a soliflore; as it happens the other florals in April Violets are so subtle that this might almost be a soliflore were it not for the vanilla base note which I feel makes this a more mature scent. Soliflores however, at least for violet fragrances, tend to be quite pricy: Marks and Spencer currently sell Berdoues violet fragrance at £45 for 80ml and while it's a good fragrance and beautifully packaged, it can't compete with April Violets when it comes to value. Another violet soliflore, Penhaligon's Violetta sells at £58 for 50ml; again it's beautifully packaged but I still couldn't rank it more highly than April Violets.
The packaging does let this fragrance down. The bottle is that immediately recognisable no nonsense, slightly too heavy and chunky one that Yardley uses for all its scents and the gold effect lid is clumsy and cheap looking. The name of the fragrance is so subtle as to be almost invisible. The perfume - eau de toilette in this case - is dispensed by means of a vaporiser which started playing up within a few uses, much to my annoyance, and as a result the spray is not dispensed as finely as it should be.
I love this fragrance. I wanted something that had a dominant violet scent and April Violets does not disappoint. It lasts well and I can spray liberally with this in the morning and still smell that sweet - but not too sugary - violet scent after day at work; although this is an eau de toilette rather than an eau de parfum the longevity of the scent is impressive and reinforces what good value for money you get with a purchase of April Violets. Currently the fragrance is on offer through Yardley's own website with the 125ml package reduced from £14.49 to £9.66 and the 50ml down to £6.66 from £9.99. All the other products in the range are reduced too and these include a body spray and soaps.
I'm glad I abandoned my view of Yardley as an old fashioned and old lady-ish brand. I still wouldn't shout about the other fragrances the company sells but April Violets does stand out as something quite special. This scent was unavailable for some time after Yardley discontinued it; when the company re-launched April Violets the scent had been re-worked and I think it now has a slightly more youthful and modern appeal than the fragrance I remember from the 1970s though there are similarities. In the time that April Violets was unavailable I understand that bottles of it would sell for over £100 on Ebay which surely says something for its quality and appeal.