Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ipanema and A la figue by Satellite: fragrance reviews

Sometimes one comes across some special people who are kind, generous, lovely. And on some rare occassions it so happens that those special people are also "perfume people", aromaphiles. I have known a few of those and they have sent me wonderful, rare things to try out, of which I am going to continue reporting in the future for your delectation.
One especially lovely lady known for her tremendous generosity gifted me with an assorted bag of goodies that included two of the new Satellites, I had talked about before: Ipanema and A la figue. She is deeply thanked for the sniffa experience.
So without further ado, my impressions of the two.

Ipanema named after the infamous brazilian beach between Leblon and Arpoador in Rio de Janeiro is imbued in Curacao shades of an endless turqouise, clear like a jewel made of blue topaz. The colour alone is making this enchanting to look at and enticing to put on. The official notes list ylang ylang, orange, grapefruit, freesia, sandalwood, coconut, white flowers, tonka bean, vanilla, sea accord and patchouli.
Now coconut has never been a very favourite perfume note of mine, because of the association I get with those dreaded pine-cardboard things dangling from the mirrors of derelict taxis, swaying their way across the national routes on your way from a rural airport to the point of your vacation destination on a white rock island. For some uncanny reason, most of my similar itineraries have been branded by this same memory, taxi driver always kind and offering tips and quips about the vacation spot to be visited, often also chain-smoking. Yet the permeating coconut scent of the pine decoration diverting my attention. Luckily, this all happened during the summer, when windows are rolled way down, when the nature is simmering under the hot brazing sun and the herbs of the field sing their own Pan-flute tune. The greek paysage smells nothing like coconut, to be sure. This pertains to far more tropical destinations, such as the one invoked by the mention of Brazil and Ipanema, of course. So I can see why the inclusion.
The coconut is quite pronounced which will satisfy people with a craving for the exotic and coupled with copious amounts of ylang ylang it takes the whole into a place of abandon to the sensuality of physical pleasures. You have to make sure that your wax is perfect and your bikini is brazilian-worthy-tiny, or at least cultivate that fantasy in your mind like the best of Heffner wannabes want you to do.
Regardless, the fragrance alone can get you to a place that looks like a technicolour movie of the 50s starring Elvis but underneath the dark mantle of earthy patchouli, as the scent progresses on skin, reminds you that this is the country of the favelas.(for a quick definition click here) A place of a wide divide: between the rich and the poor, the superficial and the meaningful, the facade and the core. Ipanema the fragrance, although not aiming for such meaningful elucidations, is adequatelly bringing the two into the fore.

A la figue, another Satellite new scent, also uses coconut as a fragrance note, although it is not officially mentioned. The playfull name that etches itself on both the figue(french for fig) and the fugue (depart, as in travel or daydreaming I like to imagine)caught my attention and the association of figs is very greek-like to me, as it is often the case that large fig trees are scattered across the fields and yards of properties imbuing the air with their dusty, creamy aroma that promises langorous days of summer, figs consumed after a dip in the big blue sea, washed and peeled under the tree and consumed with wild hunger after the swim, the dark red sticky juice marring hands, lips, caftans over bikins and assorted paraphernalia necessary for a day spent in the great ourdoors. It is no coincidence that L'artisan's Premier Figuier is one of my summer staples, as it evokes all those endearing associations in my mind of which I often partook as a child and even as a grown-up.

Figs have an interesting story behind them. As fig of the genus ficus is translated as "sūkon/syco" in greek, it was the proud export of the land of Attica, the broader land around the city state of Athens. In light of the trade significance of figs, which were prized all around the ancient world for their nourishing and medicinal properties, it was forbidden to pluck them out without licence or to trade them. However, human nature being what it is throughtout the millenia, there were still people who broke the law and took figs, especially from the holy fig trees beside temples, which bore a copious crop. Pretty soon there were people who took it as their task to report those violators, the informers or "sycophantes", deriving from sūkon phainein, to show a fig (sūkon, fig + phainein, to show). Of course, noble as the reporting was at the start, it soon transpired that it might bear a wonderful chance to carry out personal vendettas between enemies: if one hated someone else and had a grudge against them, what easier way to instill harm than to report them as stealing the figs from the trees? And this is where the whole "dicanic" tradition of ancient greece is based on, but this is perhaps the subject of another post.
In Latin times, the word lost its initial meaning, gaining the mantle of "a servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people" according to Webster's. And thus it entered the english language. Ah, but the fig had its revenge here at last. And what an influential fruit it has been, being also mentioned in the Gospels (mentioned here in reference to Holy Monday) and the proverbial garb of the modest in Paradise.

The creaminess of the initial opening in A la Figue is redolent of the milky sap of actual fig fruit, the way they are a little unripe at first, sqeezed to produce a whitish milk juice that is a skin irritant (you have been warned!). Very soon, the greeness of notes that give an air of leaves and the bark enter, underscored all the while by the slightly vanillic coconut hint of the fruit peel and compliment the whole with their earthy aroma of wood and earth that reminds one of the might fig trees swaying in the wind. In this aspect it is quite close to Premier Figuier, perhaps a little more coconuty. It lasts on the skin sensually with an earthy quality that is classy and succulent and I can see it as great supplement to a summer wardrobe for people who love woody and creamy smells. A wonderful new addition!

Pic of coconut courtesy of, figs by DWSPL/T.Scott from

No comments:

Post a Comment

Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine