Scented Advent, December 16

Scented Advent, December 16

Today I cheated on the Advent calendar process. I needed a sample from an independent perfumer, to alternate with my Guerlain samples, but I also wanted to take part in Now Smell This’ Friday community project, which was to name your favorite work by, or inspired by, Jane Austen. So I grabbed the discovery set of Francesca Bianchi fragrances, which I hadn’t yet opened, and chose one that I thought might do. My favorite Jane Austen-inspired work is the movie “Sense and Sensibility”, which is why my blog is named, in part, Scents and Sensibilities (full name is Serenity Now: Scents and Sensibilities).

Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet in "Sense and Sensibility"
The heroines of “Sense and Sensibility”; image from Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The sample I chose was one I’ve never tried, called The Lover’s Tale. After all, Jane Austen’s books are all tales about lovers. But when I read more about it on Fragrantica — bingo! Here’s what Francesca Bianchi said about it herself:

This is a story of by-gone times about a secret encounter of lovers. It represents the contradictions between sense and sensibility, pruderie and passion. The lovers are full of desire but their education holds them back.

Francesca Bianchi

Launched in 2018, The Lover’s Tale has top notes of Honey, Mimosa, Aldehydes and Bergamot; middle notes of Orris, Peach, Heliotrope, Egyptian Jasmine and Bulgarian Rose; and base notes of Leather, Castoreum, Musk, Labdanum, Oakmoss, Vetiver and Sandalwood. It is considered a leather fragrance, as that note is a main player. Given its partnering with castoreum, musk, oakmoss, and vetiver, I venture to say that this is a more stereotypically masculine leather. However, the earlier notes are all very stereotypically feminine, with their profusion of florals. In a way, The Lover’s Tale is a combination of two characters from “Sense and Sensibility”: Colonel Brandon and Marianne Dashwood, who fall in love after various trials and tribulations.

I read somewhere that while it is understood that the title “Sense and Sensibility” refers to the two sisters, Elinor Dashwood who has common sense and intelligence, and the younger Marianne, who has a Romantic sensibility and passion, it can also be read as referring to Brandon and Marianne. He is the older, experienced man who commits himself to solving problems and addressing crises, including Marianne’s. He is practical — but he also has a wide streak of Romanticism himself, with his love of music and his infatuation with the emotional, musical Marianne.

Colonel Brandon and Marianne Dashwood, from "Sense and Sensibility"
Colonel Brandon and Marianne Dashwood; image from Columbia Pictures.

Colonel Brandon also spends much of the movie throwing himself into the saddle and riding off to save the day, so a leather fragrance is well suited to him. The honey in the opening notes can be a nice reference to what Emma Thompson, who wrote and starred in the movie, called the “extraordinary sweetness [of Brandon’s] nature.” The aldehydes and floral notes evoke Marianne’s love of beauty that can sometimes be a bit flighty; by the time The Lover’s Tale is in the final stage of drydown, the floral notes, the leather, and the warm animalic notes of the base have reconciled, and combine with labdanum and sandalwood in a beautiful marriage of scent.

Colonel Brandon and Marianne's wedding, "Sense and Sensibility"
Wedding of Colonel Brandon and Marianne Dashwood; image from Columbia Pictures

Do you have a favorite work by, or inspired by, Jane Austen? Any fragrance you might associate with it?