I approached writing this three times. Rather, I started three different days since late April with the intention to write about Summersent perfume.
Three different openings, one beginning with a rumination on indigenous smells and subliminal comfort, one with an account of my time at the Chicago Botanic Garden with the person behind the perfume, and once with my big reveal announcing that I believed I had identified the "secret midwest flower" that was the inspiration for the scent.
All of those having not materialized, I determined that Today Was The Day. I dabbed on some parfum. I spritzed on eau de parfum.
And then I thought hey, maybe it would help to put on some Fracas. You know, benchmark against another Great Big Flower that like Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction, will not be ignored.
And then I figured since the change in the weather meant I had more skin exposed, I'd put on some Carnal Flower. And a hit of Lys Mediterranee. Because, you know, I haz issues with these beasts. So I could do some thoughtful ruminations on just why it was that my early-in-evolution nose had a strange attraction to Summersent, but Just Said No to the trio on my right limb.
Holy stonkin' flowers, Batman. I am in a cloud of confusion. It's like I have the vapors. I am IN the vapors. Dear heavens, as I type this, it occurs to me my desk space may be tainted for a week. And I spritzed two floors away.
I'm going to have to start in the middle, rather than the beginning, or working backward from the end. Much like fighting my way out of this miasma.
Because, the first thing I have to admit, is that when I applied the Fracas to the crook of my elbow (dabbed from a mini, one of those cute little Piguet black-cube capped square numbers), I thought "Hey. Nice. Why am I not recoiling?" And I smiled at was striking me as a blond zaftig beauty who I had been led to believe overapplied too loud makeup and actually, while made up, was quite presentable.
Which was probably what led me to dare to spritz Carnal Flower on my wrist. Hey, Fracas used to make me run. Carnal Flower slayed me. Maybe this time I would just run. But hey, ho...what is this? Formerly dirty bits now just registering as a welcome (not dirty, just...rough) counterpoint to the stonk of the flower? C'mon, now. I mean, Carnal Flower, applied as a check and balance, was suddenly yelling "buy me! you need me! what in the world have you been doing with those reserved Malles???" Oy to the vey. Nobody told me there was a rabbit hole inside a rabbit hole.
Sanity. Reason. I'd apply Lys Mediterranee, which had previously registered as an artistic attempt to be different. By which I mean artfully rendered, but interesting to me only as an exercise. Except no, now that sharp opening is the near side of bracing, and I am thinking "hey, ginger" instead of "whoa, ginger," and instead of it being one of those paintings I look at in the exhibit and register how talented the artist is, it becomes one of those paintings I simply enjoy looking at and falling into the contours of one line against the other, happily aware in the background of a pleasing harmony of arrangement but no longer intellectually processing it, but just being there with it, sort of in it. Except this was a perfume, and I *was* in it.
Cr@p. What about the Summersent?
Now that I've written all this, can I actually review that which sent me down the spiral in the spiral??
I guess I'd better try.
Since I started this inside out, how about I continue that way. The publicity for Summersent leans heavily on the story of the creator walking in the garden and catching a whiff of a beautiful flower, a midwest flower which became the inspiration for the perfume. When I met with Marjorie last fall, she told me the real story, which is essentially that story: She was walking with a friend, smelled the flower, and it resonated deeply with her. She was able to identify it, and bring it to a parfumer, who explained to her that that flower could not be distilled directly into an essence. It would have to be re-created.
This was an opportunity for me to share with her the story of Edmond Roudnitska and lily of the valley and Diorissimo, and how it, too, is a flower that cannot be directly pressed/enfleuraged/distilled. We talked and talked, about the process of working with a perfumer to create a fragrance, how Marjorie put her extensive PR background in fashion and beauty into play in creating a product that was perfume, what inspired her as she told the perfumer what she wanted, etcetera etcetera.
But never once did she reveal what the flower was.
A few weeks ago, the annual blooming of a certain bush outside my window. And an A-ha! moment.
Do you know this flower?
Here, let me pull back a bit.
Viburnum carlesii, my gardener friends. Commonly known as Korean spicebush or Korean spice. Which would, in name, and in provenance, seem to put a bit of a twist on the midwestern angle.
Nonetheless, indeed, there it is. Right under my nose. I think my cultivar may not be the exact one that inspired the perfume. On the other hand, the perfume is, by necessity, an "imagination" of the note. And I doubt I'll get Marjorie to confirm one way or the other. So...for now, we're going to play Clue.
I accuse Viburnum carlesii of inspiring Marjorie Midgarden in the midwest garden.
Sorry, I need a moment. I am still aswirl in a huffy puffy cloud of mega flowers. An hour later, and I still do not have a headache, which would be a milestone with ANY of the three vamps on my right arm, let alone a gathering of them in one lineup.
That, plus the heady excitement of sleuthing my way to what I think is an unveiling...well....
::ready to proceed::
What do I think of Summersent?
I think it is one of those pretty perfumes. I overheardread a conversation yesterday in which somebody referred to Apres L'Ondee as a perfume that merits the overused, generally underdescriptive term "pretty." I agreed. I think of it as a category, one which may be a subset of "girly." Not sure. Will tease that out in a bit. Wait, yes, a subset...rather, a partially attached "subset." Because "pretty" I can do, if not often. "Girly"...well, girly tends to irk me in its worst versions, and simply amuse me without making me want some in its best versions.
So. Summersent is "pretty," meaning it goes in that category.
It is also clearly a thickish without being too cloying (on me) or too brackish whiteish flower perfume. It is, apparently, popular in Europe, where it makes a large share if its sales. (Interesting, I think. Midwest inspired. American made. Over the top packaging. Big flower. Hmmm.) Make no mistake; this perfume wears not as part of your skin, or a melding even. It is a layer applied.
But hey, so is most lipstick. And certain styles of shoe. And particular ways of arranging your hair. Or a cravat.
I think I should come back once more to Summersent, on its own, to suss it out for those who might be curious. Meanwhile, it's June. ("June June June...June is bustin' out all over...") And some profound change in season has happened.
Not just summer.
But the season of my Big Floral Appreciation.
images author's own
spritzes and dabs obtained via author's own collection