The Unicorn Spell (2006)
    by LesNez




    Average Rating: 3.5

    Based on 93 ratings
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    The Unicorn Spell information

    A green-floral fragrance that starts cool, and warms as the fragrance progresses.

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    Showing 1 to 6 of 26 reviews.

    efemmeral's avatar



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    Violets in perfume clearly come via the world of just a few large flavour and fragrance companies. This is a long history, as ionones, the chemicals that indicate violet to our noses, and their offspring chemicals were early along in fragrance chemistry. To give an idea of their ubiquity over perfume history just two of these offspring are damascones and iso E super, waning and waxing stars respectively.

    Ionones are also safely edible in certain concentrations and have thus been much used in such products as candies and lipsticks. How novel these scents and flavours must have appeared at the turn of the 20th century I shall never fully appreciate, but the retro-olfactive pleasure of violet in a Haigh's, Swizzles, Leone or Flavigny Violet candy or a vintage high end lipstick is unfashionable enough to have regained some surprise for a new generation. The world of the perfumed consumable moves slightly slower than the edible consumable, so this shared flavour and fragrance history, the fact that these products are devised by the same companies has meant that the received sensibility of "violet" in perfumes has often been a sweet or candied one and the accords used in perfumes can be informed by these associations. Sometimes the associations from edible confectionery or cosmetic applications loom much larger in scents than the shrinking flowers themselves.

    Mind you, I'm not averse to a candied or cosmetic violet! I love those candies I named above, and take great pleasure in Ralf Schweiger’s Lipstick Rose for Frederic Malle or Olivia Giacobetti’s Drôle de Rose which both riff on cosmetic violet and rose masking fragrances. But what I love about what Isabelle Doyen has done with the Unicorn Spell is that her composition departs from the historic flavourandfragrance corporate idea of a perfume violet and returns to the flower itself. It also goes beyond the frequent functional use of ionones to add a sense of softness, fullness, or plushness or using their longevity to provide a bridge between perfume ingredients of differing volatility. Instead she brings the violet to the centre of the composition, but in a fresh way.

    The composition creates something quite true to the violet flower not by presenting a natural-seeming violet accord in isolation, that might be a one note symphony. Instead she does it by placing her violet in an original context. In the Unicorn Spell violets blooms as they do in nature, in the coldest part of winter. Here the damp chilliness is imparted by rootlike and woody undertones (faint whispers of vetiver/patchouli and cedar), the greenness of the violet leaves is present, and her violet accord is remarkable and true as you will recognise, if like me you gather bunches on chill mornings with numb damp fingers for the pleasure of that scent.

    I suspect that a large part of the composition is ionones producing that naturalistic violet (which to me reads like a syrupy liqueur of idealised flowers, powder and soap) and methyl ionones bringing weightier cedary aromas. These are presented in combination with the cucumbery, grassiness of violet leaf (green and "wet" smelling, if you like!). Together these elements resolve for me to produce a beautiful vision of dark purple blooms just visible amongst green heart-shaped leaves in wet soil on a foggy morning. Serge Lutens with Bois de Violette does a scent with some similar elements, but with no sharp, cold, wet or green notes, just ionones and methyl ionones violets and cedar - a different, warmer picture and pure pleasure for me :-) Interestingly, hours on, Unicorn dries down to something quite like the Lutens, violet and warm woods: as though the flowers were picked from the cold green bed and taken indoors to a cosy room to be savoured.

    08 May, 2013

    Diamondflame's avatar

    Singapore Singapore

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    The opening is minty cool and freshly vegetal, as you follow the scent trail of crushed leaves, broken stems and trampled grass. Dawn has broken, the air somewhat chilly still. It is another 15 minutes or so before you come to a forest clearing strewn with the royal hues of violets - bittersweet and green. Of the unicorn there is no sign.

    Strictly for fans of violet or green florals. And I happen to be one.

    19 March, 2013

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    On paper: bitter green notes and violet for an overall effect that is not very far from Gray Flannel or Fahrenheit (but not as good as).

    On skin: mainly violet reminding of those violet candies wrapped in purple tinfoil. Very efemeral, kind of cloying. If you're into straight ahead violet fragrances, go ahead. Not for me, sorry.

    Isabelle Doyen is surely a very talented perfumeur but this time she simply didn't hit the target

    23 June, 2011 (Last Edited: 05 August, 2011)

    BayKAT's avatar

    United States United States

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    This is an upfront violet that reminds me of similar takes from niche houses Sonoma Scent Studio (Wood violet), DSH perfumes (violet di Murano), and more recently Ava Luxe's Black Violet.

    The spin here is green, and I like that; it keeps it fresh and energetic. This is an interesting scent to me; I'll wear it again a few times to see if my opinion changes, but my frist take is positive.

    I put this on before going to the gym to lift weights, and then ran a few shopping errands before taking a shower. Four hours later i still smelled like earthy violet and not stinky Kari, so props for that.

    Quality is as good as anything else, longevity is as expected from a niche natural line, and wearability is up there. A must for lovers of African violet!

    23 May, 2010

    orrisboy's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    If have you ever sat around topping green beans into one of those battered enamel colanders, this is the scent for you. This it what The Unicorn Spell smells like on application. Very odd little thing. Silver tinted and tenacious, it flows over the skin like moonlight and icing sugar. The earthy green vegetal surge fades into stardust. I can just smell the violet shimmering away under the snow, waiting for spring. I admire this, see its cleverness, but i cannot wear it. It just makes part of me shudder, like a hated vegetable from childhood, it looms very large. Thumbs up for execution, neutral for wearability.......

    14 April, 2010

    Foustie's avatar

    Scotland Scotland

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    Yes, Bunsen Burners. It seems that in this frosty night-time forest of unicorns and crushed violets we have to use a bunsen burner to light our way. Bunsen Burners are fuelled by Methylated Spirits and it is meths that I smell in the opening of this marvellous fragrance, not green beans, although I do appreciate that view.

    So we open with a flare of methylated spirits which evaporates quickly but which somehow sets the scene for this starnge little piece of alchemical magic.

    The name of this fragrance and it's description are suggestive of fairy tale and fantasy and I do think that this will be off putting for some people. On the other hand I find that Isabelle Doyens intentions in this excercise; the mysterious unicorn , the frosty forest, are somehow undeniably and very cleverly conveyed in this fragrance.

    Having said all of that what we have in the end is a beautiful cool violet aromatic, earthy and strange. I would not have chosen a violet to wear before trying this one but I do enjoy this a great deal.

    Note; For anyone who doesn't know what a Bunsen Burner is it is a piece of equipment that produces a naked flame by burning methylated spirits. It was given to us as children in science classes to enable us to experiment with explosive material and stuff that turned to poisonous gas when heated.

    13 April, 2010

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