One Thousand Scents

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

But Not Mine: After My Own Heart by Ineke

As I mentioned when I was discussing my last trip to New York, I bought a set of seven Ineke samples because "the packaging is so ludicrously beautiful and thought-through that I couldn't resist." And it is.

Here's the sample box I got:

A little slide-out drawer has the seven tiny slide boxes nestled in a black foam liner, along with a an attractive leaflet describing the scents and listing their notes. The little boxes, as you can see, have their names printed on the top, and Ineke is naming them in alphabetical order: After My Own Heart, Balmy Days and Sundays, Chemical Bonding, Derring-Do, Evening Edged in Gold, Field Notes From Paris, and Gilded Lily. On the right side of each boxlet is a little sliver of artwork: on the left is a description of the scent. And there's more!

When you slide out the liner, you see that the sides of the box are decorated in some apropos pattern: clusters of doodled lilacs for the lilac-based After My Own Heart, dotted pinstripes for the masculine Derring-Do. And the vial is wrapped in a tiny square of beautiful textury paper in a coordinating colour: grassy green for Balmy Days and Sundays, copper for Field Notes From Paris. Some graphic designer, or perhaps Ineke Ruhland herself, put a lot of work into devising the look for this line.

The packaging is gorgeously conceived and executed and I'm sure Ineke is charming and well-educated in perfumery, so I feel like kind of a churl when I say that I just don't think After My Own Heart is very good.

The official notes:

Top: Bergamot, Raspberry, Crisp Green Foliage.
Middle: Lilac.
Base: Sandalwood, Heliotrope, Musk.

The raspberry-and-greenery top note just doesn't fit with the lilac that follows. I tried convincing myself that it could work if I thought of it as, say, sitting in a summery garden among the lilac bushes eating raspberry granita, but I couldn't lie that thoroughly to myself. The raspberry is, of course, synthetic — virtually all berry notes in perfumery are — but this one feels particularly so, like melted gummi bears. I have never been a great fan of lilac soliflores: I don't think lilac translates especially well to composed perfumes, because it never smells like the real thing, bright and creamy at the same time. (It can be done: Demeter's Lilac is for a little while a nicely convincing lilac soliflore.) The lilac in After My Own Heart is recognizable, but it's not authentic: you could never mistake it for a gust of the real flower. When composing a perfume as simple as this one is, I think, you have to take one of two tacks: either the scent must be perfectly realistic, or it must be completely abstract. If you're going for realism, as Ineke is here (and, I would guess, the entire line, based on the descriptive text), that sense of reality is paramount, because there's nothing to hide the seams: but After My Own Heart is all pieces that don't come together.


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