King Tut exhibit is in Denver, has been for a month or two, and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz did a series of perfumes, based on scents that would have been around in that time period for the modern Egyptian man and woman to paste on.
If you’re thinking these would be heavy on incense and other “burial-type” oils, you’d be right! I’ve been playing around with the Megaleion, Keni, Antiu, all heavy incense-type fragrances, dancing to that Steve Martin Egyptian song – was that him? – and they are really fun to wear to to think that perfumery has been around for so long, and we all still love our incenses. The beauty of the group that I would so wear heavily right now is the 1,000 Lilies AKA Susinon.
Donna reviewed these a while back at Perfume Smellin’ Things, which is what intrigued me to sample them to begin with.
Megaleion, despite being based on a scent from not just a few hundred years back is pretty great to wear now. It does have a green aspect to it, outside of the resins, that makes it feel a little more modern. By modern, I mean it could have been made in the last 80 years. Well, what do you expect? It’s got a little bit of a vintage Dior or Nina Ricci feel to it. Notes are olibanum, pine resin oil, cassia, cinnamon, balsam of gilead, cedarwood, lemongrass, spikenard, costus root, sweet flag and myrrh.
Keni is all delicious cinnamon and cardamom spiciness on the open. There’s more to it than that that enriches it in the drydown, mellowing it out, giving it some softer contrasts, but if you don’t like cinnamon, well, don’t them let mummify you in this. Notes are cassia, cinnamon, myrrh and pine resin oil.
Antiu is, as Donna notes, serious bitter almond and galbanum out of the pipe. It is nicely fierce! I like that in a perfume, there’s just no faffing about trying to decide what to be when it grows up. There’s some nice touches with lemongrass and honey that float around this as it dries down, turning a softer woody resinous green. It softens out that fierce open, which is okay, but I really kinda loved that open a lot. Notes are galbanum, bitter almond, cardamom, lemongrass, balsam of Gilead, sweet flag, honey, wine, pine resin, myrrh. Of the three incense-based ones, Antiu is the one I’d wear happily anywhere and often.
Susinon or 1000 Lilies is pure beautiful white greenish spiced floral. Lily, lotus, iris, sweet flag, cardamom, saffron, honey, cinnamon, wine, salt, myrrh. White, shimmering, it’s definitely white floral, but not ovewhelmingly sweet or cloying. There’s this soft purity about it that has me pretty enchanted. There’s something about it that reminds me just a little of Shalini, it’s like a little burst of sunshine.
Are there any other historical-based perfumes out there? I was trying to think about this and recall some, and maybe I’m just stuck on museum-type ones and there are others like this. Am I wrong? Based on just the list of notes, if you were a super-rich Egyptian with a waiting sarcophagus, which one would you be covered in?