Summersent is the unique creation of a new niche Chicago-based fragrance brand established in 2007 called Marjorie Midgarden Fragrances. It reportedly incorporates for the first time the suave and secret scent of a bloom - name undisclosed - captured thanks to Living Flower technology. Founder Marjorie Kitzrow a marketing executive veteran with 30 years of experience in the business who experienced the elusive scent was however not loath to tell GCI Magazine that,
"I thought it would be so interesting that it was so familiar," she said. "It gets in your head and you just say 'Wow!' I had heard about it and I wanted to seek it out. It is a very old plant."
It was thanks to happenstance that Kitzrow heard again with more insistence this time in 2003 about "a mysterious fragrant bloom" thanks to a friend who had it in her garden. She decided to head for the Chicago Botanic Garden to smell a particularly fine specimen of it whose scent is only described as being "robust". Subjugated, it gave her the idea of creating a perfume based on its aroma......
The developing process is described in GCI:
"A short time after she smelled the flower in Chicago, she went to a garden center in New Jersey and bought three plants that she sent home with her perfumer, setting in motion a summer-long treasure hunt for the exact variety of the plant that yielded the memorable scent. The perfumer tended the plants and, when they bloomed, extracted the fragrance. The first variety of the plant she delivered to the perfumer was not the one that remained so strong in her memory. More plants, more blooms followed and the 'winning' sample was in her hands by the end of July."
The first thing one notices is the packaging, which clearly aims to create synergia with the perfume in a more forceful way than is usual. The bottle for the parfum is precious, oozing with an updated Victorian charm which is a throwback to an era that dreamt about faeries.
In a sense it is a propos that such a scent would see the day of light now with the return of magical realism in popular culture. If you like stories such as Harry Potter's adventures which concentrate on the idea of a special and unique character who has a destiny to follow and a uniqueness about him that becomes more and more obvious as time unfolds, then you will find something of the spirit of that quest in Summersent.
The flacon thus tells a story as much as the perfume itself. Unscrewing the top of the bottle of Summersent feels like turning a key into a locked door and stepping into a magical world where faeries dwell together with strange lovely creatures one once heard of in - was it in the tales of Madame d'Aulnoy? - and whose bodies are as transparent and musical as crystal. The flacon in all likelihood stepped out of a screen on which The Chronicles of Narnia or the Golden Compass are showing or maybe the characters in those stories invited you to join in. These worlds start feeling porous.
The effect of magical realism continues as one gets a first whiff out of the bottle when then the intensity of the notes conjures up the word "intoxicating" and the charm continues to operate fluidly from visual perception to olfactory perception.
Summersent feels at once familiar and different. The general personality of the perfume is a white jasmine floral composition in which a pungent indolic Italian jasmine with honeyed accents dominates at first. It reminds us most closely of Ozbek by Rifat Ozbek with this general idea of a heady lush white floral sweetened by honey and Tonka and with a dash of mystery. Like Summersent, it incorporated for the first time an unusual note, blue hyacinth. Summersent is more subtle and ultimately distinctive with a more ethereal quality about it that feels special.
The Pure Parfum
Upon first sniff on the skin one experiences, with the extract, a heady jasmine blooming and offering that gasoline-like indolic nuance that feels a bit leathery. It also has a wine-y undertone quality and overripe fruity slightly decaying nuance making you think also of warm stewed fruits or compote in honeyed water. It smells a little like sweetish khaki fruit too. This jasmine with asperities counterbalanced by ripe summery notes soon gives way to a much softer composition which becomes more and more suave with time. There are floral facets that smell like the top note of a green lily of the valley, a creamy and a bit cheese-like gardenia, hyacinth....
The perfume is, remarkably, very light in feel given the richness of the composition. It is slightly aqueous or dewy as often is the case with living flower technology-derived compositions. There is a soft indefinable undertone. The part that feels less familiar is precisely this very soft, delicate scent that reminds one of a quote by 19th century French poet Théophile Gautier who wrote,
"And near her one breathes around her beauty
Something soft, like the aroma of tea"
"Et près d'elle on respire, autour de sa beauté
Quelque chose de doux comme l'odeur du thé"
As the scent progresses the subtle enveloping aura of the composition feels like it must be the very signature of Summersent.
The ad copy uses the term "haunting" and we would agree with this characterization as the perfume tends to manifest its presence to you suddenly in a very subtle fashion even when you had forgotten about it. It has a persistent yet indefinable presence. The dry-down for the parfum is a bit earthy and balsamic yet remains luminous.
The Eau de Parfum
The eau de parfum does not reveal that beguiling aura-like aspect as much but it is sunnier. While the pure extract feels more seamlessly blended, velvety in texture, the eau de parfum is more faceted and joyous with franker animalistic indolic nuances.
In the beginning the jasmine in it lashes out more at you making you think by association of Piguet Bandit. The jasmine is showcased in an interesting, slightly more brutal fashion than in the parfum and flirts with the notion of a "bad smell". The nuances are felt more: the green undertones, the witty, piquant dash of mandarin, and this very interesting aroma that suggests the red skins of fresh lychees: it is both fruity and a bit woody, soft and fresh, slightly aqueous. The dry-down reveals the scent of Tonka.
It is a happy, slightly dirtier fragrance, like a medley of luminous children's memories with giggles and laughters still ringing in the garden and the echoes of the discovery of strange smells like stale muddy water in a pond filled with tadpoles, small cuddly animals' furs, and traces of acetone.
The parfum is more mysterious, introvert, harmonious, evanescent, more femme. It charms. The eau de parfum is more extrovert and has that touch of children's innocence and solar optimism that is endearing.
Summersent is distributed by Von Maur, a Midwestern department store chain and can be purchased there online or at these other locations.
Notes are: Italian jasmine, Moroccan orange blossom, Cassis flower, Genet, Mandarin, green petals, white musks, honey nectar.