I love magnolias and every year I'm amazed by them, trying to capture as much as possible their ellusive odour. It is still unknown to me why sometime they smell, sometime not, why the same botanic magnolia smells in Romania and in Paris is very delicate.
There are 3 major types of magnolias that I know, with different olfactive profiles. I reffer to them as the white magnolia (M. denudata), the pink lily magnolia (M. liliflora) and the "big" magnolia (M. grandiflora) with a huge white flower.
Magnolia denudata, or Lilytree - Yulan (because of its chinese tradition) is the one that I love most. Its smell is a delicate blend of a petaly rose with cinnamon touches or simpler phenylethyl and cinnamic alcohol (+ their acetates) with a very diffusive sweet fragrance. Magnolia liliflora, with its pink lotus like petals has a smell that is sell cinnamic and more rosy-watery with a light green hyacinth touch, not very strong. Magnolia grandiflora is different and it has a rosy-lilly note with a fresh citrusy accent and a jasmonate like note (let's say hedione type). The oil from that one is very spicy.
The only true Magnolia note that I know is the discontinued Magnolia from Yves Rocher (based on a Anais-Anais pattern, I remember), very true to the white magnolia, a very easy (and not expensive) perfume.
There was a Magnolia by Chanel but it's not close to the real flower.
Magnolia as an extract is used in l'Instant (Guerlain) and Julie, the boutique perfume from Jean Patou. If I remember well, there is also a JAR perfume that uses this material.
But perfumes with magnolia extracts smell of that and not of the real flower.
Once, Sophia Grosjman did a perfume for Laura Bush, it contained some magnolia notes and of course the rose.
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Fragrance is the 8th Art - Octavian Coifan - Le Parfum est le 8ème Art