Ineke's Fantasy Garden: After My Own Heart and Evening Edged In Gold
I am definitely late to the (garden) party, because until recently I had never smelled any of the Ineke fragrances. Critical raves abound for this San Francisco-based artisan perfume house, and I have been curious. I recently received a sample set of all seven of the fragrances, and now I know what all the fuss was about; I was simply stunned by how good they are, and how original. Ineke Ruhland is the nose behind these charming creations, and her classical training really shows. These perfumes can stand with the best the world has to offer while offering a different perspective on traditional compositions. Each one is very distinctive but all are imbued with a certain brightness, a joie de vivre that makes them stand out from the crowd.
As a lifelong lover of floral perfumes, I was drawn to her first creation immediately. I knew from reading about it that After My Own Heart was based on lilac, but that did not prepare me for being so completely bowled over by it. Lilac is one of my favorite flowers, but it is very tricky in perfumes, and most attempts at lilac soliflores seem to end up smelly musty and flat after only a short time on the skin. Ineke has discovered the secret of how to do lilac right; pair it with zesty bergamot, raspberry and leafy green notes so that it stays fresh and vibrant. Sandalwood, heliotrope and musk in the base give it lasting power but they have been used with a light touch so they never overwhelm the star of the show.
According to the description on the Web site, it evokes the scent of lilacs “floating on the early evening breeze,” but to me it's more of a morning feeling, rain-kissed lilacs after a spring shower when all the world seems new, and it reminds me of my childhood in New England when I would go out to the big hedge of lilac bushes behind our barn after it had been raining and drink the scented raindrops from the drenched purple plumes bending under the weight of water. After My Own Heart is a wonderful memory fragrance in that regard, but it's also just plain good perfume that wears well and stays true, an impressive thing for a lilac scent. I used to get a very nice lilac and bergamot perfume oil from for my sister from a company that no longer makes the product, so I am glad that she now has an alternative, since lilacs are her very favorite flowers.
The freshness of After My Own Heart may be an ideal daytime scent, but when the night shadows fall, Ineke has the perfect perfume for that too in Evening Edged In Gold, her fifth fragrance (they are all named alphabetically). Again I was amazed as soon as I smelled it, because it's really like nothing else. It's a floral Oriental with fruity accents, and the opening of osmanthus and plum is delicious. The overall effect is of exotic night-blooming flowers, including the haunting Angel’s Trumpet, and it has that slight hint of decadence that I love in this style of perfume. An unexpected delight is the note called 'Midnight Candy' which is actually the cultivar name of a pretty little nocturnal flower whose tongue-twisting botanical name is Zaluzianskya capensis, commonly called night phlox. Its powerful aroma is hard to describe but if you have ever smelled night-scented stock or sweet garden phlox you can get an idea. It is intensely sweet without being sugary, a piercing headiness peculiar to those flowers that send forth their enticement to attract the moths and other creatures that only come out at night. I have grown it in my own garden and so I can say with confidence that its essence has been perfectly captured in the perfume.
But this is not just a flower fest; there are spices, leather and woods in it to keep it interesting, although as with After My Own Heart, they are used with a sparing hand. It is indeed most definitely an evening fragrance, so lush and ripe is it, and its longevity and sillage are both impressive and tenacious, and yet it's not heavy, but soft and inviting. I have worn it to bed and found that both I and the sheets had retained its aroma in the morning. Evening Edged In Gold is as well named a fragrance as I can think of, since smelling it brings me to a secret garden lit only by moonlight and gently glowing paper lanterns, with wild things calling out and rustling in the dark just beyond its boundaries and the soft air carrying all the voluptuous, swirling scents of the night blossoms. Romance is in the mix too, as murmurs of laughter and intimate whispers add to the atmosphere of intrigue in this garden of earthly delights. I plan to wear this for the next special occasion I attend, and I may even make one up just so I can wear this fragrance!
Now for the really good news: Ineke perfumes are very affordable, at $88 for 75 ml (2.5 oz.) of Eau de Parfum. In today's perfume dollars, it's an incredible bargain for the quality you are getting. I know I will want full bottles of at least these two, and probably more of them once I have the chance to live with them for a while, so it's a good thing they won't break the bank. The line is in a limited number of boutiques in the U.S.A. and Europe but you can buy them directly from the Web site too. A deluxe set of generous 1.5 ml samples of all seven fragrances is available for $25.
Image credit: Outdoor scent with paper lanterns from roomenvy.com
Disclosure: My sample set was sent to me gratis by the Ineke Company for testing.