The Subject Will Be Roses and Violets and Overlooked: Summersent

Summer Garden for SummersentThis has been a particularly hard and unpleasant winter on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, and in fact in the US generally, so to make up for some of our collective chilblains and blocked driveways and backs thrown out by snow shoveling, I am offering my readers a bouquet of roses and violets plus a small selection of chocolate spiked perfumes, as a virtual Valentine. Who doesn’t need a little scent and color this February?  I think we all deserve a treat just for surviving till March.

Before I get on to all of that, I want to add to my Overlooked series by pointing out a scent that passed the majority of us by: Summersent*.  This was produced in 2007 by Marjorie Midgarden Fragrances, the company of Marjorie Kitzrow, and the fragrance is a pure French garden floral.

Say what?  Well, there is a convention that has perfumers trying to re-produce the scent of a June garden in bloom.  Similar perfumes include L’Artisan’s discontinued L’Haie Fleurie (roughly Hedgerow in Bloom) or Guerlain’s Jasminora, or Delrae’s Amoureuse  and Debut.  You begin to catch my drift.  The idea behind this sort of scent is to reproduce not just a floral smell, but a green tinted rural air, an atmosphere that includes living things: grass and roots, leaves and shoots rather than white flowers alone.

Garden fragrances introduce the smeller to a whole cast of vegetative characters, everyone from the clingy honeysuckle and huffy wisteria, to the abashed violet and gaudy rose. This kind of perfume swirls all these olfactory impressions together into a humid pastel haze. If you would like a visual comparative, I’m guessing that Monet is your man.  In fact I think a garden floral was made based on his plantings at Giverny, and Caron’s Fleurs de Rocaille was a floral aldehydic evocation of them. By any measure,  Summersent belongs to this floral atmospheric category.

Except that quite frankly Summersent does a better job of this than many recent French fragrances.  To start with Summersent is very skin friendly.  I don’t find that its garden is too full of overly smelly specimens like say, Manoumalia’s was.  Manoumalia was a very taste specific perfume, but Summersent is not.  It’s less indolic than either Jasminora or L’Haie, and not soapy like Lady Primrose’s Tryst.  If you find the reality of certain Classic French perfumes and their flowery BO less alluring than you thought you might, Summersent is a very good alternative.

Summersent_mainThe perfume is supposed to be mandarin and cassis, afterwards jasmine and orange blossom over musk. The mandarin and cassis notes are noticeable in the beginning of Summersent, then the perfume goes to ground on your skin.   That packed like Thumbelina’s bedding into a nutshell, is Summersents’ essence. The end is musk and honey, and the civetty animalic notes captured along its winding route are very gently released into the tame countryside of this perfume. Though the mandarin-cassis introduction does not last, Summersent can be detected on my skin softly, ten or twelve hours after application when it begins to mimic Peut Etre the Lancome LE of some years back.

If it has a fault, that might be a lack of originality. You may have smelled this sort of thing before, but seldom organized into so lissome a landscape. But here is the thing about Summersent: the fragrance is very versatile.  This is no small matter when you consider how idiosyncratic and sometimes difficult niche perfumes can be, then again it is pleasantly worked out, and softer than many mainstream releases are.  Summersent is much gentler than the current synthetic Lauders.

Summersent can be worn to a picnic and a party, will go to a baseball game, or a barbecue, to the office, to Church, and to bed with you, or merely dawdle on the back porch and read Hans Christian Anderson and seed catalogs.  How many perfumes are so comfortable?  Not many these days, and that’s why, although it won’t shake the world loose from the usual orbit, Summersent gets my endorsement.  This is a scent that goes on very well in comparison to many niche and high end perfumes. You can’t really wear Manoumalia to a Japanese restaurant, Summersent by contrast might just squeak in there.

Although it’s described as the personification of a particular flower, nowhere did I see which one.  The perfume smells like jasmine but not a specific kind.  This is a fairy tale  jasmine, properly holding a parasol over its levitating tendrils.

Summersent is a pathetic fallacy of a fragrance, anthropomorphized at the bottom of a  garden, like an addled fairy suddenly shaken out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but not Puck, and not Titania either.  Summersent is a ladylike fairy, who lives the length of a summer solstice, and reminds you of orange blossom, but not exactly, and lilacs but not precisely, and lilies but for the life of you, you can’t recall which kind.

* The packaging of this perfume is particularly satisfying to the feminine soul, gold filigree winking with pink and green crystals on the perfume and scented cream bottles.  This is a complete girlathon, no shortcuts, no apologies. I got my sample from Beautyhabit while ordering something else and think Summersent is-for once-fairly priced: 90 for 60 mls in a pretty bottle and the body cream is romantic too and 80.

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12 thoughts on “The Subject Will Be Roses and Violets and Overlooked: Summersent

  1. Lovely post, and the name ‘Summersent’ must be very enticing for you just at the moment. Us? Heatwave. Another day of 37C (98F) today, and that’s cooler than yesterday. We have all the summer we can take. Gladly would I send you some of our spare degrees of heat.

    Summersent is hard to obtain where I live, but it puts me in mind of the Laura Ashley scents many of us wore in the 80s. I still have my LA No1. Hermes’ Jour d’Hermes would be another alternative? Sadly, Jour stays sharp and sour on my skin for hours. Nicolai’s (now d/c) Le Temps d’une Fete is a nice one. So is Nicolai’s Number One, although that one smells like an urban idea of a garden, a roof top garden perhaps. It’s a bit too polite and restrained. Garden perfumes have to be relaxed, don’t they? They have to allow the mind to wander … Reading seed catalogues on the porch is a lovely image.

    • Yikes, 37 does not sound like much fun. What you are going through right now sounds like our sweltering August heats. I wish I had written about a large iced tea scent (with extra ice) for your sake.

      Summersent is less striking than that delicious old LA no1. That was a wonderful fruity floral, and the bottle was beautiful.

      What Summersent has in common with the NO1, is the ability to walk around with you everyday just about everywhere. Hard as I try, I find fewer and fewer new perfumes that are that adaptable.

  2. Summersent sounds lovely! I’m not one to buy things for the packaging, but that looks wonderfully girly. The only packaging/bottled fragrance that I own that tickles me is Agent Provocateur Diamond Dust in its hand grenade, sparkling glory.

    I’d add Centennial to your bouquet of June flowers list. It is very green to me (though peachy/fuzzy to Mals at Muse in Wooden Shoes, so YMMV). I’m wearing it today, on a dreary grey wintry day. BTW, when I read your title, and thought of roses and violets, I don’t think one can do better than Paris Premieres Roses :D Isn’t it funny how we run to flowers from another season to lift our spirits in the dead of winter? I know I often do. I hope you find uplifting fragrances. Be well.

    • Thank you for reminding me of Premieres Roses, it’s one of my Mother in Law’s favorites, she has a big birthday, and had forgotten all about it.

      Centennial is another one that I must try. In fact I think I’d better get around to writing about a number of US indie perfumers before some of these scents disappear. Mals was mentioning something about Centennial not being available, and this is an eek thought for me.

      Hope things brighten up soon in your neck of the woods, in the meantime we always have the florals :-)

  3. “Summersent is a ladylike fairy, who lives the length of a summer solstice, and reminds you of orange blossom, but not exactly, and lilacs but not precisely, and lilies but for the life of you, you can’t recall which kind.” – love it! :)

    I also got that sample from Beautyhabit and, I think, I tried it once but wasn’t compelled to do it again (I didn’t even enter it into the database!).

    I’m sorry that you’re having an awful winter. I hope it’ll get better soon. Stay warm!

    • At last I heard you started to get some rain! Thank goodness. I was beginning to get worried about the redwoods.

      Summersent is not the most original perfume so I can see why it would not really peak your interest, but it reminds me slightly of my favorite Coty Les Muses, which is also a jasmine/garden scent and I think might wear over the Summersent body cream rather well.

      As for here, at least it’s February with snowdrops in it sooner or later. Come to think of it have never come across a good snow drop perfume ;-)

  4. I am sorry for everything America is going through right now. All of it-the snowstorms, the rainstorm that hit New jersey last year-all of it. You guys deserve a break, and i hope it comes for you soon.

    I love Amoreuse- it feels like air saturated with honey and clover. And I too love the image of leafing through a seed catalogue. Your post is a summer’s day in words. Here, on the East Coast of Canada (any further east and i would be in the ocean) it’s freezing and dark. The air has an artic chill. The sky and water are all grey. We’re all dreaming of summer here-a brief affair for sure. A few hot days when you go to the beach and all you smell is sweetgrass, the scent of the stumpy little pine trees, and rock roses (just four loose petals per bloom, lots of thorns, but the honey-iest, raspberry-iest, salt-iest, scent you can image)
    Thank you for this cheerful morning read before I step out into the cold!
    Carole

    • Once I lived in Vermont which is like The Banana Belt compared to far Eastern Canada, so I sympathize with your short summers. We used to have: winter, mud season, summer, blink and you missed them falls, and winter again.

      Amoureuse of all the Delraes was perhaps my favorite too. It does have a most beautiful honeyed tone as though you were inside a very large flower full of nectar.

      That’s a lovely description of the smell of northern beaches, now I want to smell the rock roses!

  5. Oh, Amoureuse… what it smells like to me is a certain drive near the high school here (you can tell I have spent faaaaaar too much time dropping children off and picking them up), where there are black locust trees on either side of the road. When they bloom, it is so gorgeous. They’re ugly trees, trash trees, almost like weeds blown up to Alice in Wonderland proportions, but when they bloom… ahh.

    Centennial is far too autumnal for me to think of it as being a summery garden thing, but it is beautiful. I am reminded of the ethereal Vacances (SIGH, oh SIGH) when I think of blossom-laden air. Or Crown Bouquet, though that is definitely a spring garden, with tons of galbanum. Those Paris Printemps limited editions are lovely, aren’t they? I have Pont des Amours. So girly-wirly.

    “Fairy tale jasmine” sounds lovely to me. It’s often too stinky, and sometimes too insistently JASMINE, for my taste, though I like it in mixed bunches.

    • Know what you mean about locust trees, and your description of them being weeds that grow to Alice in Wonderland heights is dead on. They usually come crashing down on power lines after thunder storms too! But the smell when they’re in bloom is heaven.

      Summersent is jasmine with the sweaty parts left out, so I think it might be tolerable for you because I know stinky jasmine is just notyour thing at all. This is simple, very pretty, and very girly, and I am using up my sample fast. Sophisticated it ain’t but sometimes I just want comfortable and lovely.

      Centennial is still there? I have got to get over to Liz Zorn’s and order some samples. Really feel out of the loop on her work, ditto Shelley Waddington. I don’t suppose you got to smell Zelda?

  6. GAH. Had been checking Soivohle every week or so thinking I would catch a “hey last chance before we change everything” message. If there was one, I missed it. The website now says that they’re taking a break. I’ve sent a message asking about purchasing some Centennial.

    I have not tried any of SHelley’s things at all – and only a few Neil Morris. So tough to keep up with everyone. I did not smell Zelda – throw “oriental base” into a description and I hesitate, even though Emeraude and Chamade could both be described with those words and I love them. I got skeered of possible Opium experiences and didn’t order a sample of Zelda.

  7. Vanessa over at Bonkers loves Zelda and this makes me think. Basically if Vanessa likes a thing there is an 75% chance I will too-well, maybe the proportions are slightly off, but you know what I mean.

    I hope Liz Zorn is not getting out of the biz! Eek, I really wanted to try some of her things. This is what I get for procrastinating.

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