Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy has brought together 16 perfumers and 11 bloggers to celebrate summer fragrances inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a tale of entangled, wacky love thanks to mischievous fairies and elves. I like to think of Amanda as one of these fairies, spreading various natural potions across the land just to see how we humans react and engage with these delights.
And what delights they are! I received “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” inspirations from Amanda herself, as well as from Ayala Sender. I’ll begin with Amanda’s creation named “Bottom’s Dream” since it personifies the playful gauziness of a fairy’s wings. Bottom’s Dream refers to Shakespeare’s character, Nick Bottom, who unbeknownst to him, ends up with an ass’s head instead of his own. Titania, queen of the fairies falls in love with him in spite of his donkey face because she has been anointed with a love potion. Amanda too has created a love potion of sorts, because you know what? I am in love with it!
When I first read that a “handmade peach accord” was in the mix, I hoped that meant osmanthus would be a prominent note, and it is. I absolutely adore the fleshy peachiness of osmanthus which is why “Bottom’s Dream” is a success for me. It possesses the peachy sweetness of summer drinks and fresh blossoms at a garden party. Beautiful florals reside in the blend, most notably a fruity rose and a honeyed jasmine that swirl above, below and through the diaphanous osmanthus petals. A very subtle wash of marigold provides an earthy haze and musky pepperiness that keeps “Bottom’s Dream” from floating away too quickly. It stays on the skin for several hours giving this osmanthus lover plenty to dream about.
Ayala’s fragrance for this event is entirely different from Amanda’s. While it bears the insouciant name, “Smiling Country,” it feels far more serious than a daydream. This perfume delves deeper into the soil where seeds germinate after they soak up a nighttime’s rain. Ayala did not send me the notes for her creation, so what I lay before you is pure speculation. I must confess that after I wore it for the first time, I thought a vintage patchouli must be in “Smiling Country” as the drydown emanates its essence. Boronia also made an impression on me, and I had to let Ayala know my guesses. I was right on the boronia, but wrong on the patchouli.
Copyright 2008 Howard David Johnson
So what was that deep, balsamic, almost minty/pine-like essence that I smelled? This combination of dried grass and moist soil? After spending more time with “Smiling Country” I sense a tangy wood such as oud alongside the tannic fruitiness of boronia. Juniper is another possibility as it would be responsible for heightening the woodiness as well as adding an evergreen mintiness. Chamomile, hay and vetiver are my grass note hunches and I think something like mimosa might also be present as a higher pitched floral note dances above the richer woods.
I’m still searching my past olfactory memories for some other note that could possibly explain the patchouli likeness that I still experience when wearing “Smiling Country.” I have a notion that spikenard is lingering in Ayala’s perfume since it is noted to smell musky, animalic, earthy and sweet. (Maybe she’ll let me know if my out-on-a-limb guess is correct). Regardless, “Smiling Country” is for a different kind of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” One that is rooted in the earth, but is also mysterious and beautiful.
Update: Ayala has posted her reveal of Smiling Country’s notes. Visit her Smelly Blog to find out what they are!
Please visit Amanda’s blog over the next 10 days as she posts links to the other participating blogs.
Titania by Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Howard David Johnson