Pretty Simple and Simply Pretty – Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y Perfume Review

Lily of the Valley

“The smell of the English countryside in spring time”

L.I.L.Y is the latest fragrance from British fashion designer Stella McCartney. It very much marks a break from tradition for McCartney, whose other fragrances have all be a variation on a theme, namely that of her eponymous debut fragrance ‘Stella’. I love Stella, as far as designer fragrances go it is pretty well done and my sister wears it religiously so I have a strong connection to it, but I am very glad that McCartney is branching out into new fragrant territory with L.I.L.Y.

Where Stella was an ode to rose, L.I.L.Y is, as the name suggests, an ode to the lily of the valley. Lily of the valley is a flower which yields no scented oil yet so evocatively represents the smell of the English countryside in spring time. It’s both beautiful to look at, and to smell, and it represents all that is innocent and virtuous about the world. Lily of the valley is simply one of the world’s most precious of joys.

L.I.L.Y is described as an “evocative scent made up of Stella’s most treasured moments” [1]. Its name stems from her father’s nickname for her mother; ‘Linda I Love You’, and the Lily of the Valley used in the fragrance is reminiscent of her wedding bouquet. For L.I.L.Y, McCartney has aimed to create a perfume that is personal to her, rather than Stella McCartney ‘the brand’. In this world of hyper-focus-grouped perfumes, I can’t help but find the personal touch applied to L.I.L.Y utterly refreshing.


The Notes

Top: Black Truffle and Black Pepper
Heart: Lily of the Valley, Pink Pepper and White Musk
Base: Oak Moss and Patchouli [2]

How Does it Smell?

You don’t really get many lily of the valley, or ‘Muguet’, fragrances anymore. I guess nobody bothers because Diorissimo, even thought it is now a pale version of its former glory, is the only lily of the valley fragrance that anyone needs. Whatever the reason, it’s refreshing to see a mainstream house opt to highlight an under-used flower, and whilst L.I.L.Y is not going to be a classic in the genre, it is very nicely done.

L.I.L.Y opens bright and sharp with a distinct flash of pepper (yes the ‘dreaded pink pepper’, when will the madness end?!) that is rather surprisingly short-lived, but it adds a nice sparkle whilst it does last. The lily of the valley presents itself very early on and it starts out incredibly green, like spring air, and becomes more floral with time.

As the lily of the valley unfurls on the skin, it takes on a rather beguiling saline feel that is somewhat reminiscent of the weird metallic-and-milky-mess of Etat Libre d’Orange’s Sécrétions Magnifiques. But rather than standing in the way of the floral notes, as it does in SM, this saline quality sits just behind the creamy florals and adds a tinge of dirt, like an accidental flash of the thigh, to what is on the most part, a rather squeaky clean composition.

The creamy white florals are underpinned by a rather bog-standard white musk and a subdued does of patchouli. It doesn’t develop all that much, but it does become lighter, airier and more diffusive with time. Once you have smelled L.I.L.Y in Its entirety, it could be very easy to write it off as just a generic, musky-white floral, and I wouldn’t blame you, but closer inspection reveals that it is so much more.

L.I.L.Y is not a true interpretation of the lily of the valley, it’s not a glorious or life-changing soliflore, and it’s not supposed to be, instead it is a rather lovely white floral bouquet and it would be fair to say that it is an essay in ‘pretty simplicity’. Sure, it’s no great shakes and it’s not going to change the face of modern perfumery, but it doesn’t have to.

To put it simply, L.I.L.Y is pretty simple and simply pretty. What more could you want?

The BottleL.I.L.Y Flacon

“The bottle is reminiscent of the English cut crystal vases and the ornate frames at her (McCartney’s) grandmother’s house.” [3]

As much as I like L.I.L.Y as a fragrance I have to admit that I think the bottle is utterly hideous.

Is it me or does it look like a pineapple? It reminds me of those Stella McCartney bikinis with the pineapple in the crotch. Sorry Stella (and your grandmother) but it’s not a good look.

The metal look frame is also quite cheap & flimsy and takes away from what should be a quality feel.


L.I.L.Y is available in 30ml, 50ml and 75ml Eau de Parfum. Prices range from £44-£76.


This review is based on a sample of L.I.L.Y sourced myself.

[1], [2] & [3]

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