Thursday, October 8, 2009

DelRae Mythique: a true Florentine smell

I'm sure that one of the main reasons I love iris is because I love Florence. The two are forever linked because the highest quality iris, or orris butter, comes from the Florence region, and has for centuries. I studied art history and Italian there for a semester as an undergrad in the early 90s, so obviously the movie that informed my romantic expectations was Merchant and Ivory's A Room with a View, of course! I rewatched the movie recently, and I swear I can vividly smell Florence again in those street scenes. Remember what the florid lady novelist Eleanor Lavish (the sublime Judy Dench) says? She stops in her tracks on a side street, commanding, "A true Florentine smell. Inhale, my dear."

So when I smelled Mythique, I thought: this is a true Florentine smell. And I inhaled deeply and diaphramatically, as Dame Judy commands. I always do whatever Dame Judy tells me. Here's what I smelled. The candied violet aspect of iris when paired with mandarin is there in the top notes, but this is a modern, creamy, and musky perfume, not powdery or tooth-aching as most violet/iris fragrances are. The candied quality is quickly balanced by that cold stone feel of iris, which is what really gives it the feel of Florence.

So okay, maybe the streets of Florence don't smell like violets, iris, or mandarin (sadly), but the perfume fits with the visual and architectural aesthetics I associate with that city. What I always remember about Florence was the intimidatingly business-like, elegant citizens; the forbiddingly stony building exteriors (massive-looking blocks of rusticated pietra forte and beautiful, grey pietra serena); and most importantly, the experience of going inside those buildings and finding wonderously confectionary interiors and candy-colored fresco paintings that are the sweet, indulgent heart of all that seeming coldness. The color combination of light green and pink is often used in that sweet side of Florence, and the epitome of that aesthetic is the pastel-colored marble of Giotto's campanile (belltower), which is truly the most beautiful, most fantastic piece of architecture I've ever seen. Who builds a big, functional slab of religious architecture in pastel pinks and greens, for goodness sake? It's extravagantly nutty in such a restrained city, which is why I love it.

The perfume Mythique is an expression of all these aesthetic experiences. It would definitely appeal to Florence's restrained city-dwellers. It is like grey stone hiding gleaming, luxurious cafe interiors. It is like a green, pink, and white marble belltower ringing out to the faithful. But I'll leave off speaking metaphorically and tell you that the peony and jasmine turn the fragrance into a warm floral blend after a half-hour or so. The base notes of patchouli and sandalwood are so subtle I can barely detect them as a warm, raspy hum in the background, keeping everything from getting at all dessert-like. The velvety ambrette muskiness I can definately smell.

It's much less girly than the Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, less dramatic and muskier than the new Van Cleef & Arpels Bois d'Iris, and it has a more juicy quality than The Different Company's Bois d'Iris. It's nothing like the chilling coldness of Serge Lutens' Iris Silver Mist. Mythique's notes include mandarin, bergamot, ivy, peony, Sambac jasmine, iris, sandalwood, Indonesian patchouli and herbal musk (ambrette). The perfumer is Yann Vasnier.


Mals86 said...

Mythique has been on my to-test list for a few months, and now I see that I must somehow scrounge up a sample... maybe I'll go ahead and spring for the DelRae sample set. (But then, what to do with the bilious Emotionelle sample???)

I have not visited Florence - it too is on the To Be Done list! - but am intrigued by your description.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

Yeah I know, such a pain not living in NYC or Paris, dammit. I didn't get a sample of it until I trekked to Houston and the lovely Theresa at Kuhl-Linscomb hooked me up. I've spent so much damn money on samples that I don't love, it's getting ridic. But I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

Perfumeshrine said...

This is one of my favourite screenshots of that film (so tender and so sunny) and I absolutely love the novel, the film, the cast, the visuals, the architecture, the city and your way of describing all these!! The only thing I am unaware of yet is Mythique and boy, have you created a lemming!
Bad Aimee, bad... ;-)