I’ve been eyeing the homepage of German jazz trumpeter and perfumer Annette Neuffer’s range of natural perfumes for a while. For the obvious musical link, which is always fun to discover, but also from the onset two perfumes especially caught my interest. One is a coffee themed fragrance and another a carnation[i], but since I’ve already been talking an awful lot about those two subjects, and since now that the days are getting longer and slowly the temperatures become more friendly, my fragrance choice seem to mirror that with longing for flowers in bloom. And so, from Annette’s beautiful range, today is going to be about her rendition of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII, a soft-spoken linden garland.
Sonnet 18 starting with the iambic pentameter ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’, is perhaps one of the most famous sonnets, capturing the reader by letting him feel as well his own mortality as the poets (the poet’s lovers?) immortality through poetry. I can’t help but loving the fact that this poem is the inspiration for a perfume, something which (even if it can last long) would probably not be able to live 400 years, it would not be able to be used and shared again and again like this sonnet. It is in its nature as fleeting as the memory which Shakespeare himself wishes to hold on to, to immortalize.
So what is Sonnet 18 the fragrance; even if linden is normally found in full bloom at midsummer, this perfume is indeed ‘more lovely and more temperate’. It starts out with bergamot and leaves, which makes the green –citric opening zingy before it slowly melts into the linden blossom heart. The linden is supported by an array of other fine blossoms, rose, jasmine, orange blossom and mimosa. There is no doubt that the linden is the leading lady, but likewise this isn’t a soliflore linden, and it isn’t like standing under a huge honeyed linden tree in golden intoxicating bloom.
It’s a sombre and pensive fragrance, like with each added note and layer it looks back over the shoulder into the past, rueing it a little. The heart is elegant and courteous, and at times I feel the sensuality of a few dirty indoles. There is floral sweetness fitting of the linden blossom, but a discreet unsticky one and it stays close to the skin as it blends into the honey and tonka bean of the base notes. As the flowers fade to a whisper, the dry down morphs into a wrap of mysterious warmth.
‘Sonnet 18’ is a beautiful floral for those who like their florals on the pensive side. I have no issue at all with longevity. As long as my skin stays warm the fragrance can last most of a day, albeit close to the skin. There is however something titillating in sniffing the perfume close-up, like being reminded of a secret or perhaps even with each sniff, taking in a word of the English master’s undying poetry.
And what better way to end?
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
[i] Even if those two are spectacularly good, if one likes a good warm black coffee and a dense, almost vintage carnation. I am sure I’ll get back to them another time, as they deserve that.
Notes; Top; Red Bitter Orange, Bergamot, Mandarin Leaves. Heart; Linden Blossom co2 extract, Rosa Alba, Sambac Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Genêt, Mimosa. Base; Honey Absolute, Bourbon Vetiver, Indian Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Vanilla Absolute, Styrax, Tonka Bean, Ambrette Musk
Disclaimer; The pictures are mine and I bought the samples from Annette Neuffer