Mac Naked Honey & Africanimal (2009): The Blonde & The Brunette {Perfume Reviews}


Naked Honey Notes: freesia, honey, orange blossom, green cumin, woods.

Africanimal Notes: freesia, honey, warm floral accord, pink peppercorn, bergamot, woods.

MAC just recently in June introduced a limited-edition of two honey-based fragrances called Naked Honey, the lighter one of the two and Africanimal, the deeper one. The brand does not describe them with a conventional concentration name such as eau de parfum or eau de toilette but prefers to use the terminology: "Fragrance Blend" and "Variation Parfumée". From the ad copy,

"Following the example of their fabled Queen, Cleopatra, Egyptians bathed in honey and milk. Queen Anne of England used it to silken her hair; from the Ancient Greeks to the Roman Empire, honey has never lost its regal, ever-amber lustre. We love the luxury of its sensual essence...but we also know that it's a highly efficient and wholesome humectant and healer. Introducing our limited edition Naked Honey collection - three aspects of golden warmth and sun-made sweetness for the body, layered with two decidedly different honeycomb-derived fragrances - celebrating the secret lives of Queen Bees."

I casually smelled some of the MAC fragrances before but never really went any further than that. When I took my initial inhale of Naked Honey however, it was like experiencing a sudden burst of summer florals scenting the shade of a tree. What I did not expect was that honey here would be so intimately associated with linden blossoms, one of the sweetest smells, metaphorically speaking, and most capable of evoking instant summer to my nose. The warm tonalities of honey mingling with the fresher yet just as honeyed accents of linden made me immediately pay attention....

Next, I tried Africanimal and here again was surprised by the relative complexity of the composition which is in its turn much more ambery and balmy than Naked Honey and very much reminiscent of a discontinued fragrance by Versace called Gianni Versace, which is one of the unsung archetypes of perfumery. I wrote a little piece on a smell-alike of it before. I have always thought that Gianni Versace was original and instantly recognizable. Apparently, I am not the only one to think so and perfumers appreciate it too.

Although I avoid layering scents in general, I would say that these two call the idea to mind due to their similar bases and simply because I noticed that worn together, they smell even more interesting. I would however recommend the method of layering whereby you wear spritzes from both perfumes not on top of each other, but spaced out. The scents then mingle in the air living their separate lives nevertheless on your skin.

How It Smells

Naked Honey is a floral perfume with delicate flowery accents and an oriental finish. Besides the linden, one can pick up on violets, iris, freesia, honeysuckle, orange blossom, jasmine petals in green tea, with further nuances of hay from the linden blossoms. The perfume is both sweet and fresh with a pleasant feeling of naturalness.The honey note is quite present with its gentle musky edge. The longer drydown lets through a doughy iris mixed with some almondy heliotropine reminiscent of Hypnotic Poison. 

Naked Honey feels like a happy scent encapsulating the olfactory wonders of a day spent doing the siesta in a garden. Balance yourself in the hammock, feel the breeze and the rustling of the leaves and tree blossoms. What more could you ask for?

Just like honeys are classified according to their colors which usually indicate a level of taste and smell intensity, this honey perfume would be the rendition of a light to medium blond honey. MAC being a cosmetics brand first and foremost, it is hard to escape the color reference. The brand offers two shades of bronzers in the Naked Honey collection and this one would be reflecting the golden dust of Honey Light. And without going too seriously into a hair-shade matching game, a once popular outlook on perfume wearing, I would say that if I were to play that tempting game here the answer would be that Naked Honey is for blondes.

Africanimal is more of a woodsy and floral chypre perfume. It opens on a resinous, woodsy and deep impression with even a boozy tonality of sweet wine - a reference to Ethiopian honey wine? - before developing a honey accord which rests on a more cheese-like indolic note (see explanation in Queen by Queen Latifah), a little à la Black Orchid, but more generally recalling the sultry accents of amber, oud and myrrh of Gianni Versace. The composition pushes the honey accord to make it feel like a creamy honey, a bit buttery.

Where Naked Honey offers some effect of transparency and sheerness, Africanimal is more like a darkly lit cave. It is about the hot breath of summer rather than the breeze. And if Naked Honey is a long drink of jasmine green tea sweetened with honey and edible flowers, Africanimal is a dessert wine with a morsel of incense left to steep in it for added depth. The boozy, grape-y dessert wine resurfaces making you think of Frapin 1270. There are very pretty floral notes emerging as well later on with very light, airy chypré accents contrasting with the heavier resinous notes which make you think also in the end of Egyptian Kyphi with its macerated spicy wine note. Indeed, it is about Africa after all. The wood notes bloom much later in the development in a contrasted and layered fashion.

Africanimal would be  the match for the other bronzer, Golden Nectar. It feels brown and dark with maybe some reddish highlights. It is, to play the retro matching hair-color game once more, for brunettes. 

Both scents leave an interesting trail, more sophisticated than the branding might lead you to think and turn out to be satisfactorily complex. What can also be appreciated is that they do not take the path of foody honey perfumes despite their gustatory references as the floral notes make them feel more ethereal and the woodsy ones, elegant.

Each 20 ml is priced at $25. The bottles are cute, with one frosted side decorated with a honeycomb motif. They were born to be carried around in a bag.

Photo credit: Photobucket: JennySeattle


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2 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. I tried both of these about a week ago. The Naked Honey scent was a bit more floral than I am comfortable with although I liked it. The Africananimal was spicy and rich. I liked it's toned down sweetness. You are right about the surprising complexity. Both were pleasingly intelligent. I didn't buy either one but am still considering Africananimal. Did purchase the body balm which is FANTASTIC! It has a pure honey scent.


    • Well, yes, I have to admit that Africanimal might be even more complex than initially felt. I might rephrase and say "surprisingly complex" rather than "satisfactorily complex" because I kept on picking up on added layers overtime. They are limited-editions but would totally deserve staying in the permanent line.

      The Naked Honey scent is a linden blossom treat really.

      I want to try the body wash now. Seems to have added floral facets. Will give the body balm a go too!

      Chant Wagner

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