Light and Shadows: Ineke Idyllwild

I’m a city person. I grew up in downtown of a big city, and I still would prefer to live in one of those. Moving to the Northern California suburbia wasn’t a conscious choice: work-related circumstances brought us here. But since we moved, San Francisco Bay Area became our home, and I love it.

There are many great things about this area but one of them that I want to mention in this post is that there are several great parks 30-90 minutes’ drive from where I live.

Idylwild, new perfume from the San Francisco-based brand INEKE, to my nose does not smell of any of the forests I’ve been to around here (and I’ve been to many different ones) but it perfectly evokes the image of California forest on a sunny day: as you follow the trail, you move from brightly sunlit areas through the mélange of light and shadows to dark patches and back to the bright openings.



Notes: rhubarb tea, grapefruit, lavender, Big Sur sagebrush, cypress, fir needle, cardamom, woods, oud and musk.

The moment I sprayed on Idyllwild, an unexpected association popped into my head: Christmas in July. Even if you’re familiar with the term, the association probably needs explaining.

This is one of those concepts, about which you are not aware until you either experience it yourself or come across it in some media. I grew up knowing about Christmas in the country that didn’t celebrate the “regular” one, let alone any other kind. After moving to the U.S., I embraced that holiday but until recently I haven’t heard about Christmas in July.

My knowledge about it came from the episode Murder Under the Mistletoe of the Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Not everybody who celebrates Christmas lives in areas that have winter, snow and everything else that accompanies Christmas celebration in Northern Hemisphere – for example, where I live it never snows – so for our winter-for-winter-holidays fix we usually drive to mountains but otherwise feel content with a single Christmas celebration. But it made some sense that living on the opposite side of the globe and having winter weather but offset 6 months related to Christmas, somebody would come up with the second celebration.

Back to my association. Idyllwild smells like Christmas in July but in the area where I live – meaning, a hot July Christmas. Why? All those evergreens and cardamom in the notes vividly conjure Christmas but unlike other Chistmas-y perfumes, for example, Fille en Aiguilles, Idyllwild starts so bright and light and cheerful that white and cold winter is the last thing that comes to mind. Grapefruit is as juicy as it can be and while it is citrus, I associate it more with summer than with Christmas (unlike oranges and mandarins). As it dries down, it transitions from the sunny territory into the shadowy wood full of fir needles – though you can still “see” glimpses of “light.” I can’t smell agarwood – real or not – but it is a plus for me. Idyllwild is not the most tenacious perfume I wear but it’s not the least either.


Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild


Woody Aromatic perfumes aren’t “my thing”: until now I had just a travel bottle and a small decant in this genre. But somehow Idyllwild captured me from the first time I put it on. So soon after that a bottle has joined my collection.

Speaking of the bottle, this was my only disappointment about this perfume. Starting from the letter “E,” Ineke decorated each of the bottles so beautifully that I was looking forward to the arrival of my new bottle hoping for a nice forest-themed artwork. The bottle is still the same they used before but this time it’s back to “blank” bottle. Coupled with a slightly changed box – a generic box and a dust jacket with the perfume name on it instead of a “designated” printed box, it seems like the brand cheapened the packaging a little. But as long as they do not compromise on their scents quality, I won’t complain much.


Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild


I was almost ready to publish this post yesterday but I couldn’t finish working with pictures in time. Last thing before going to bed I checked my inbox and was surprised by a coincidence: Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) published his review of the same perfume. He liked it as well. You might want to check it out if you’re curious what the perfumer told him about this perfume in a private conversation.


Images: my own


20 thoughts on “Light and Shadows: Ineke Idyllwild

  1. Beautiful photos of California forest! Thanks to them now I get the idea how a forest or a park there looks like. It seems that your trees are much bigger & therefore older.
    I never heard of Christmas in July so I learned about something new thanks to your post.
    I would actually wear Idyllwild in autumn/winter – because it feels so Warming that maybe it could make me feel less cold in December?
    I agree that the bottle looks very simple but I quite like it anyway. Prefer minimalistic bottle than over-the-top one.

    Enjoy your new perfume my dear!


    • With “over-the-toppness” I would decide on case by case basis :) but Ineke’s “fancier” bottles are just a little more adorned – and that was what I like about them.

      I plan to try wearing Idyllwild around the real Christmas or New Year to see how it feels.

      I call those “parks” because around where I live most “forests” are accessible only if those are official “parks” open for visits. It doesn’t mean that they are parks in the city meaning of that word but usually it means that it’s not just a wild area covered by trees but somebody takes care of trees and trails.


  2. I loved your concept of ‘Christmas in July’, and could readily imagine how this novel crossover perfume might smell. Those photos of trees make me feel positively dizzy from that angle, but they are magnificent specimens, no question. I have never found an Ineke scent that has blown me away, but then I have barely dabbled in the line. It isn’t one I am naturally drawn to, for no good reason really. I am glad you are happy with your purchase, bland bottle notwithstanding!


    • Every time I walk in the park and see those trees I keep being amazed how huge they are and for how long they’ve survived for me to see them and then will probably stay here decades after I’m gone.
      I like the brand though there is just a couple of perfumes that I actually love and wear – Hothouse Flower and Field Notes from Paris.


  3. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you tried Idyllwild yet. I received a sample in the mail without even knowing Ineke had a new fragrance coming out. I’ve enjoyed it, but was not “wowed” enough by it to buy a full size bottle before Ineke raised the prices on full size bottles.


    • Hi Juli! Good to see you.
      I bought my bottle right before the price hike. I do not mind new prices: they haven’t changed prices in a long while, it was time. But still, since I knew I would want to wear it beyond the sample, I pounced.
      If you ever need to find a good home for your unwanted sample, I know people ;)


  4. Lovely post. I was fascinated by the Christmas in July association and read a little more about the concept on Wikipedia. I only knew of the perfume PR events of the same name I’ve seen posted by FB friends in July, I love Christmas so it’s all good to me.
    I didn’t get on with the few perfumes I tried from Ineke – a while ago now – but Idyllwild has piqued my interest. Fantastic photos. I would love to see the giant redwoods one day.


    • Those trees are not going anywhere (well, hopefully – after the recent wild fires one can’t be 100% sure), so whenever you come, we’ll visit some of them :)

      I have two more Ineke’s perfumes that I like and wear (Hothouse Flower and Field Notes From Paris). The rest of the line I admire for the aesthetics but do not wear.


  5. Loved reading this post, Undina, even though I have not tried this particular fragrance. A very evocative association. By the way, I believe in “Christmas in January” after all the hype dies down and there are lots of bargains to be had. R


    • Thank you, Richard.
      I don’t think in the U.S. there are any good deals for beauty or perfume purchases after Christmas or New Year: we almost never have any discounts for these items in the regular department stores, and online discounters probably have better offerings in December. But for a lot of other things I’d agree – January is great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a pity, Undina. The South African economy is not doing well, so there’s lots of discounting going on all the time. Good for consumers who have cash, not so good for the brands. R


        • I’ve been through a couple of downturns in the U.S., but it seems that beauty and perfume industry selected that model and sticks to it. Department stores might have Gift with Purchase or some sets that are better deals than the same items alone; sometimes they have some double- or triple-points days where you’re getting points/cash back on all the purchases or general coupons like $50 of $200, etc., which sometimes might include those items as well, but I don’t ever remember seeing a straight-forward sale/%-off in those departments. Oh, well… :)

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed your post and you’ve made me curious to try this one. In the past this line has not worked very well on my skin but I’m always up for a “forest” associated scent, so must sample! I love your tree photos. I hope none of these were harmed in the fires near where you live.

    Liked by 1 person

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