Ineke's Dashing Duo: Derring-Do and Field Notes From Paris
I recently reviewed two Ineke perfumes which I found to be the most “feminine” of the line. I find two others to have more of a masculine or unisex vibe to them, Derring-Do and Field Notes From Paris. They are not similar in style at all, but they both have what I now think of as the Ineke signature; vibrant, clear and full of personality.
Derring-Do is a modern citrus blend, and what comes to mind at first sniff is that it is done in a very popular style similar to CK One or its many acolytes, a fresh, slightly sweet rainy citrus with florals, light woods and musk. The difference is that while the (usually) pleasant opening that sells so many of those department store clone scents often goes wrong after a few minutes, turning into scratchy metallic tones or just fading away completely, this one actually wears well on skin and stays true to the original impression. It is quite linear and does not change much over time, at least on me, but that's just fine because it is very likeable. It is firmly in what we have come to think of as the unisex category because of the ubiquity of these light but soft citrus fragrances. It has a light-hearted, breezy jauntiness that’s a perfect fit with its name.
I have never been a big fan of this genre, probably because there are so very many mediocre examples of it out there. Some of them are very nice and others are instantly forgettable, and a lot of them are close kin to the dreaded category of sport fragrance which seems to be marketing shorthand for piling on the aquatic/ozone notes, highly pitched “fresh” notes and synthetic woody-ambers to headache levels. Thankfully, Derring-Do never gets anywhere near this territory; it has a watery feel but no harsh marine notes, just a generally cool, wet quality. Testing this in winter is not ideal, since it begs for a hot and humid summer swelter to bring out its real virtues. The first time I wore it I was not sure what I thought, but on the second try it clicked; I think I had been bracing myself for it to make a wrong turn on the first try, but it never did. If you like the idea of this style of scent but fear the mall, then fear no more, for this is a delightfully fresh take on the style, made to be splashed on with abandon, and it beats anything else in the mainstream offerings of this kind of fragrance for my money, whether it’s worn by a dashing hero or a fair lady. Notes include citrus blend, rain notes, cyclamen, magnolia, fougère accents, Gaiac, cedar and musk.
Field Notes from Paris is more my style and I was captivated immediately by its originality and the rush of memories it brought back, which I was not expecting. Not memories of Paris, as I have never been there; but of an unforgettable episode in my life when I was teenager that left an impression on me that lingers still. When I was a very innocent sixteen year old girl from a small town, my family had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to Europe for a deeply discounted fare on a charter flight, and so my mother, my aunt, my younger sister and I all flew to Amsterdam, where we promptly fell in love with that wonderful city, and the whole country too. We tramped all around on foot, explored everything via streetcars and buses, and then took off to see some other countries by train, including Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, before coming back to Amsterdam for a few days. (On one of the trains there was a very attractive dark-haired older man in a trench coat, and we decided that he must be a spy; we flirted and whispered and giggled, and I think he must have been just as amused as we were ridiculous.)
One of the stops we made in The Netherlands was Rotterdam, where we arrived after a magical boat cruise on the Rhine from Koblenz. (Of course, there was an adorable and muscular young deck hand to keep my sister and I entertained when we weren't looking at all the ruined castles on the hillsides.) I did not really like Rotterdam at first; rebuilt almost entirely from the ground up after being devastated by war, it was modern and cold and a bit scary, unlike the picturesque charm of Amsterdam's historic central city. There did not seem to be much to do for tourists like us, without a lot of money and lost in the metropolis. Fortunately we landed at a decent hotel, a small quiet place with a nearby canal where people would come to feed the ducks. There we met a most unexpected person; he may or may not have been an expatriate American, I never did get his story straight, but he called himself Mississippi, looked like Frank Zappa and smelled of cannabis. Before we knew it, my sister and I were invited out for a night on the town with this raffish character. My poor mother gave her permission after much persuasion, I can't imagine why, but somehow we always felt safe on that trip; sadly most of Europe seemed a lot nicer than any large American city I have ever been in, before or since.
Off we went to paint the town red, and our new pal brought a friend, a German man named George who looked to be in his thirties, who spoke not a single word of English and seemed very shy, though also disarmingly sweet. What a pair they were, Mississippi in ragged jeans with long hair and a Wild West mustache and George in a gray business suit, with short hair and formal manners; how they ever got together is anyone's guess. Anyway, the first thing we did was hit a private speakeasy club – yes, there was actually a little sliding panel in the door that opened and you had to give the password! (Our Bohemian friend knew it, of course.) I think there was illegal gambling going on, but we were “only” drinking – it was legal for minors over there, sort of, and no one asked for our I.D. cards. Then we went to a very large, very loud disco, modern in the worst sense, all sharp edges and strobe lights and hard chairs and ugly cubes that passed for edgy architecture. Everyone seemed to be smoking. We managed to get a table and tried to talk, but it was well nigh impossible. Meanwhile, Mississippi was enthralled with my little sister, who was all of fifteen, and George and I were making eyes at each other even though we could not communicate verbally. (I don't think we ever did give my mother all the details of that evening.)
Finally it got very late and we are all pretty tipsy, so we called it a night. George and I sat in the back of the car on the way home, and that's when it happened; sweet, shy buttoned-up George turned to me in the dark and kissed me, a knowing kiss, delicious and smoky, the kind that usually leads to more kissing and beyond, but something in it managed to convey that he knew I was much too young and also that he wished it were not so. (For the record, so did I.) To this day I can close my eyes and remember just how it felt.
Field Notes From Paris is the distillation of that whole European experience to me; the pungent smoke of Gauloise cigarettes, the smell of George's cologne, the strong coffee of the famous Dutch breakfasts mingled with the wafting aromas from the innumerable patisseries, the patchouli aura of the American hippies hanging out in the public squares, the polished wood and wax of hotel dining rooms and art museums, the handsome stranger on the train, and the exhilaration of adventure, even of danger, on a dark summer night in Rotterdam when a young girl had just a taste of forbidden fruit. The listed notes include coriander seed, orange blossom, bergamot, tobacco leaf and flower, patchouli, cedar, Tonka bean, leather, beeswax and vanilla. Its structure is traditionally masculine on the surface, but after it warms up on skin it gives off all sorts of interesting signals, with the sweeter notes coming up and surprising the nose; the beeswax really makes it sing and provides a bridge between the sharp cedar and coriander, the pungent patchouli and the softer notes of tobacco flower, Tonka and vanilla. I can recommend this fragrance very highly to anyone; who knows what memories it will evoke for you?
Ineke perfumes are surprisingly 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. 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. (If you buy a full bottle via the Web site after buying the sample set, they will give you a discount of $25 off the bottle purchase!)
Image credit: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates Of The Caribbean© films from empireonline.com, original source unknown. Rotterdam at night from sysid2003.nl.
Disclosure: My sample set was sent to me gratis by the Ineke Company for testing.