I don’t often comment on the packaging of fragrances, being greedy to get into the bottle and sniff, but in this case I feel I must.
Josh Meyer at Imaginary Authors goes all-out to create a world around each of his fragrances, which you slip into from the moment you pick them up. My travel spray of Saint Julep arrived in a mysterious box, banded with a beautiful intricate design that reminded me of late Victorian ‘gothic’ book illustrations.
I read the notes and descriptions of Saint Julep, to immerse myself in the world of Milton Nevers. He is the imaginary author whose quotes are sprinkled into this packaging and across the company’s website – well worth a look, by the way, for its melding of perfume, art, and eccentric inventiveness. Imaginary Authors is a brand build on a concept, and they achieve it very well. Each fragrance in the range is intended to embody a novel, bring it to life and immerse you in the sights, scents and sounds of the story. Now, I could imagine what I think Moby Dick smells like (aquatic accord and ambergris, no?) but you might have a different opinion. Which is why these books and their authors are imaginary, and the fragrance that epitomises them and brings them to life is created by Josh Meyer in Oregon. He has a remarkable imagination.
Saint Julep is a song of the South, sung by a Steel Magnolia. From the name I assumed there would be mint involved, and feared a toothpaste experience. I should have known better. Mint is in the notes listed, but I got only the faintest fleeting whiff, though the top notes did make my mouth water. My first spritz surprised me – a unisex, green, leafy topnote that isn’t at all astringent or sharp. Rounded and slightly fizzy, it was mouthwatering and reminded me of rhubarb or gooseberry boiled sweets. It is fresh and slightly herbal, like crushing leaves between your fingers absent-mindedly.
It conjured images for me, though not ones of the Deep South or Mint Juleps. It took me to a table in the hot summer garden, shelling peas for a family lunch (a very European image for me, like Mémé’s garden). It smells of summer days outdoors: leaves, warm earth, and sociability.
There is a slightly boozy, good tempered note in the heart of the fragrance, but it isn’t sweet. It’s well-rounded, slightly herbal and handsome – completely unisex and very wearable and with a gentle sweetness that isn’t at any risk of cloying. The base keeps the herby, garden feel, adding woody aspects; with this gentle base the longevity isn’t enormous, but that’s not an issue for summer fragrances – you want to reapply them after lunch to freshen yourself up.
The combination of herbs and leaves, a little booze, a little sweetness and a little fizz is charming and delightful – even on a damp and rather dejected British summer day. If this is what mint juleps taste like, I want one!