Memo Paris Ilha Do Mel perfume ad © Memo Paris
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again. — Caliban, The Tempest, Act III, Sc. II
Angra dos Reis, Brazil, image via Pxfuel
Imagine somewhere nearly untouched by human imprint for thousands of years, where the breezes whisper off the edge of the waves’ curl, shaking the trees gently awake. The sun beams kindly, the waters glassy and green blue as mermaid eyes. A mile away, her sails into the wind, a white, weathered boat puffs silently towards shore. Ilha Do Mel, the “honey island,” as locals call it, lies off the starboard bow. Breathe. The air is warm and sweet as honey, so heavy with ripe blossoms you can almost feel it settle like a mantle of flowers on your shoulders.
Alienor Massenet and Clara Molloy of Memo Paris (from our Creative Directors in Perfumery series)
Symrise perfumer and Memo Paris house nose Alienor Massenet, in concert with creative director Clara Molloy, chart a course to lush Ilha Do Mel, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The second fragrance in Memo Paris Graines Vagabondes collection, Ilha Do Mel is dizzyingly pretty, the perfect perfume with which to escape to paradise for a few hours.
The first spray is a juicy, sparkly whoosh of mandarin, juniper, which provide a vibrant counterbalance to the heady hyacinth, jasmine and orange blossom that dominate the perfume. Buxom gardenia lounges gracefully in the background, waiting for a less crowded stage, as the mandarin becomes more pronounced and juicier, its scent turning almost to blackberry. The juniper grows noticeably greener, leaning into its bitter greenness so that the seed registers briefly as under ripe gooseberry. These fruity, acerbic-tangy notes neatly frame the heady florals that soon follow with just the right amount of contrast to keep Ilha Do Mel from tipping into girlishness.
Vista of Ilha do Mel, image via Wikimedia Commons
Jasmine and gardenia, with their creamy spice, arrive almost together. A purple grape note appears for a just a second or two, and then evolves, quite wonderfully, into broom. But all this fragrant activity is simply rolling out the carpet for hyacinth. With her characteristic narcotic fuchsia loveliness, she takes her throne at the composition’s heart. If you have ever smelled a handful of her disheveled petals all at once, you will recognize that hypnotically rich, saturated perfume, so unlike any other. Eventually, soapy orange blossom pushes through quietly and Ilha Do Mel ceases its trajectory towards hyacinth soliflore. I become aware of the tart, prickly green of juniper again. The mandarin, which had all but disappeared, now stands out in relief against the honeyed sweetness of the hyacinth and white florals. I don’t pick up iris concrete or vanilla, but towards the dry-down, sudsy musk becomes prominent, and a slender ribbon of dry vanilla weaves in as the fruit and greenery reappear for an encore.
Flowers on water, image via Pxfuel
Mme Massenet has gathered some of the headiest, loveliest flowers around, scattered them with juniper seeds, and cast them adrift. If you crave a trip to paradise, but have no boat with which to sail there, Memo Paris Ilha Do Mel offers you passage.
Notes: Oil of mandarin, hyacinth accord, oil of juniper, broom flower absolute, gardenia accord, iris concrete, jasmine absolute, orange blossom absolute, vetiver, musk, oil of vanilla.
Disclaimer: Bottle of Memo Paris Ilha Do Mel graciously provided by Europerfumes, U.S. distributors for Memo Paris. My opinions, as always, are my own.
Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
Bottle of Memo Paris Ilha Do Mel with digital effects Michelyn
Thanks to the generosity of Europerfumes we have 75 ml tester bottle ($300) of Memo Paris Ilha Do Mel for one registered reader in the U.S. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying what you like about Memo Paris Ilha Do Mel based on Lauryn’s review and whether you have a favourite Memo Paris fragrance. Is there an island you’ve visited that you would like turned into a perfume? Draw closes 7.21.2021
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