Scent Semantics #6: VERNAL

Today is the sixth episode of the collaboration of six bloggers: Portia (A Bottled Rose), Elena (The Plum Girl), Sheila (Alembicated Genie), Daisy (eau là là !), Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities) and Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass). Because of all the events happening in Ukraine, I missed the fifth episode – even though it was my word, and I have a story to tell! Maybe I’ll do it anyway later. And this month I’m a little late, but I decided to do it. Hopefully, by now you’ve read all other participating blogs (I haven’t yet – will do now) and still don’t mind to check out one more take on the topic.Scent Semantics Project Banner

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This month’s word is: VERNAL

This month’s word surprised me: after more than two decades in the US, I didn’t have it not only in my active vocabulary but even in the passive one. Considering its quite mundane (though poetic) meaning, I’m amazed I haven’t come across it until now. A small consolation: Google search returns 4.6B of results for “spring” and just 15.9M for “vernal.”

As I was thinking about what that word means to me (after checking its meaning), I started thinking of Spring and remembering how it was back when I was experiencing it. I realized that living in an almost unvarying climate, while I do not miss Winter or cold weather, I miss that longing for the end of Winter and happiness from watching the Spring awakening of nature from the frozen sleep.

In my childhood and adolescent years, winter clothes that most of us got to wear were ugly. Those for adults usually weren’t much better, but at least theoretically better choices existed. But for the ages until late teenage years, those clothes weren’t something one would look forward to wearing. So, at first glimpses of Spring sun, we were eager to start taking off at least hats and scarves or maybe even putting on something less bulky and shapeless. And since by that time our immune systems were suffering from the lack of sun (read vitamin D3) and almost complete absence of fruits and vegetables (we won’t count potato, onions and beets, will we?), oftentimes that combination was enough to bring us down with a cold or flu.

Getting outside after a week spent in bed was magical: you could see and feel how Spring had sprung while you weren’t watching. And then, with every next day, Spring was claiming more and more territory with warmer days, longer days, young foliage and of course blossoms and flowers.

And if the early Spring days (those pre-flu ones) mean tender snowdrops, shy mimosa and timid daffodils, real, “full-fledged” Spring came with lavish lilac bushes.

One other drawback of not having cold weather in our area is that lilac grows here very reluctantly. In decades of living here, I saw a couple of sparse bushes in gardens and bought three or four bouquets of lilacs – far more expensive and smaller than what I used to see in my childhood.

Last weekend, while still playing with the word of the month in my head, for the first time while living in the US, I saw a white lilac bouquet. That was my vernal moment! And I immediately thought of a very fitting perfume for it.

Ineke After My Own Heart

After My Own Heart by Ineke is the first perfume in their Alphabet line. Notes: bergamot, raspberry, green leaves, lilac, sandalwood, heliotrope and musk. When I tested it the first time… 11 years ago, I thought it was nice, but I didn’t love it: the lilac seems too simple and soapy. My first discovery set went off at some point, so I had just my memory of how that perfume smelled. But recently I got a fresh sample set (with the purchase of Field Notes From Paris for my father), so I was able to revisit After My Own Heart.

After My Own Heart is a beautiful lilac, still slightly soapy in the opening, but this time it didn’t bother me much. It is a lush, warm, slightly green and quite a realistic lilac. It smells stronger than my small white lilac bouquet in my bedroom. And seeing that bouquet while wearing After My Own Heart conjures that feeling of happiness from the Spring that has finally arrived to stay.

 

Image: my own

Brand Appreciation: INEKE

Many years ago, I planned to run a series of posts to feature brands that I wanted to spotlight – not because they’ve released the newest popular perfume or got some award but just because. It didn’t materialize, and I published just one post. Now I decided to come back to that idea*. And today’s choice is a local to me (San Francisco-based) niche brand named after its owner and perfumer: INEKE.

I’m not sure why this brand doesn’t get more love. I’m talking not as much of “hardcore perfumistas” with hundreds of uber-expensive uber-niche perfumes in their collection (not that I wouldn’t expect Ineke perfumes to be found there) but rather about perfume enthusiasts who clear out TJ Max perfume shelves or shop “bargain basement” of online discounters. In my opinion, INEKE has all the markers of a great brand for both “civilians” and people who report in the NST’s quarterly polls more than 15 bottles purchases.

INEKE’s perfumes are pleasant and pleasing; maybe not revolutionary or daring, but at the same time they are head above fruity-floral mass-market concoctions or cookie-cutter creations from the plethora of recent “niche” brands.

INEKE’s packaging is superb: bottles, boxes and samples are all of the good quality and tastefully decorated.

INEKE’s prices are almost perfumista-free – $125 for 75 ml, which is quite reasonable if you like a scent.

INEKE has a flexible sampling program: one can get a set of 7 samples for $30 (which includes a $15 coupon for the future full-size bottle purchase) or buy individual samples for $5.

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I wrote before about two of my favorite perfumes from this brand: four months after I wrote about Hothouse Flower, a bottle of it joined my collection. And five years later, I bought Idyllwild and published a story about it.

But somehow, I’ve never written about the first perfume from this brand that I’ve ever bought: Field Notes From Paris.

Ineke Field Notes From Paris

This perfume was launched in 2009. Notes include coriander seed, orange flower, bergamot, tobacco flower & leaf, patchouli, cedar, tonka bean, leather, beeswax and vanilla. Perfumer: Ineke Ruhland.

Though Field Notes From Paris is leaning a tad masculine, I enjoy its cologne-y freshness in the opening, but even more, I like the woody development. Reading “orange flower,” “tonka bean” and “vanilla,” one would expect more sweetness from this perfume. It does get sweeter 60 minutes into development, but for my nose, the sweetness comes from a tobacco leaf (not fully dried type) and not from those usual suspects. Field Notes From Paris has good longevity, especially on fabric: once I remember it surviving a washing machine on my blouse. But on my skin, it’s also quite good.

From the sample set that I bought first time (perfume names from A to G), I liked Fields Notes From Paris the most, and soon I found and bought a partial bottle from one of the FB groups. When my father, who usually wore Chanel, Jo Malone and Creed, asked me to recommend him something interesting and unusual, I figured out that he wouldn’t be going to stores to ask for and test perfumes, were I to suggest anything new. So, instead, I did what probably any of you would do: I made him a set of small decants from perfumes I thought he might be interested in and added a couple of Diptyque samples I happened to have. After Rusty approved my choices, I sent the package to my father.

Rusty and Samples for Father

Over time he went through all the decants that I prepared for him, and when I visited, he showed me two that he liked the most. One of them was Field Notes From Paris. So, for his birthday last week, I got him a bottle of this perfume. I hope he’ll enjoy wearing it.

 

Now I’m looking forward to their next letter – K.

 

Images: my own

* Disclaimer: it is not a sponsored post. Also, I’ve never received any promotional or free items from the brand (if not to count a hand-made sample I got at the event once, but it wasn’t as a blogger).