In my last column I introduced you to Imaginary Authors and perfumer Josh Meyer, as well as the two fragrances I thought represented the most polar opposites of masculine and feminine within the line. Here are my impressions of the other five scents, showing a great range of diversity for the brand. Overall I am very impressed with this young company and the creative ideas of its owner, and I can't wait to see (and smell) what's next.
This is really the wrong time of year to do justice to The Soft Lawn, a fragrance of gentle yet chilly greenness that seems to lower the temperature of the room just by spritzing it on. Wearing it in winter defeats the purpose, it seems, for its effect is like a late summer evening after a hot day, when the air gets just shivery enough for a light sweater and the dew falls on the grass. There is just a touch of a cucumber-like note, as if you are out in the garden at night, pick one from the vine and snap it in half, its aroma blending with the night air and the fresh smell of the dewy lawn. Save this one for those midsummer days when most other fragrances might seem like too much and you are longing for some relief from the heat.
Falling Into the Sea is another scent that is instantly evocative of summer, but its expansive character makes it one of those perfumes that you reach for when you just can't stand the winter gloom a moment longer. In contrast to The Soft Lawn's cool restfulness, this one revels in full sunlight, ready for the beach and full of fun. It opens with bright, sweet fruit notes of citrus and lychee before revealing the main event of tropical flowers and an accord of “warm sand” that is as pleasurable as digging your toes into that soft, sugar-fine stuff as you lounge on your beach towel. There is a bit of a rubbery quality in here too, just a little, that reminds me of riding home from the lake in a hot car as a child, with my mother's daisy covered bathing cap and the smell of the Sugar Babies® we bought at the snack bar after a swim. It really is the “sunshine in a bottle” in the official description, and I want some to keep around as the perfect antidote to the winter blues. If Falling Into The Sea doesn't make you smile, check for a pulse.
Of all the Imaginary Authors perfumes, the one that is the most “unisex” to me is The Cobra & The Canary. It also has one of the most specific and imaginative stories in the series; the backdrop is the tale of a long lost vintage sports car (The Cobra in the name is a Shelby Cobra – yes, I want one too!) and the adventures that follow its discovery. The notes are listed as: Lemon, Orris, Tobacco Flowers, Leather, Hay Fields & Asphalt. It smells like all of these things in this well-balanced composition, and the “asphalt” makes for a slightly oily garage-like effect that is actually quite delightful. I really love the smell of hay, and the leather note really works well with it in this fragrance. The Cobra & The Canary begins with a rather austere feeling and gradually warms up and softens, but it never gets sweet. It reminds me of yet another kind of summer day; hay fields, a wooden barn with the afternoon sunlight slanting through the windows to illuminate the dust motes that swirl up when the creaky door swings open, and the mysteries found inside old barns everywhere.
I really don't know how to explain Violet Disguise, because it's so off-kilter and genre busting that if I smelled it blindfolded not knowing what it was, I would be hard pressed to guess which fragrance category to place it in. What I do know is that it's really wonderful. It's a fruity-floral, that most (and sometimes unfairly) maligned of fragrance styles, but Josh Meyer has turned this hackneyed idea on its head and given us the thinking person's version. Yes, there is violet in the perfume, and fruit, but it's not the shy, melancholy and sometimes faded springtime flower we all know, and it's not the usual watery and/or cloying fruits found in a thousand other perfumes either. The violet is candied yet not too sugary, and it has been paired with a rich plum note and dried fruits and set in an ambery, balsamic base to create a truly unique sensation. I would love to smell this one on a man, I think it would be sensational, and women should try it for a new spin on a feminine standard.
My favorite fragrance in the Imaginary Authors line is Memoirs of a Trespasser, and it's no mystery why it happens to be the bestseller of the brand. It's instantly easy to love; indeed, one would be forgiven for emitting an audible moan of pleasure when smelling it for the first time. (I am pretty sure I did.)The listed notes are all warm, enveloping and comforting: Madagascar Vanilla, Guaiacwood, Myrrh, Benzoin Resin, Ambrette Seeds and Oak Barrels, the latter a reference to its boozy vibe of aged cognac. It's sweet in the sense that a very good pipe tobacco is sweet, but even with the prominent vanilla it's not a gourmand, so fear not that it will be too heavy. The logo on the bottle shows a kaleidoscope, which is very fitting, since it is a rainbow array of some of the most universally pleasing aromas in the perfumer's palette, and I can't recommend it highly enough.