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Fonteyn – Floral and woody and charismatic

Ballet shoes used by Margot Fonteyn - Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Ontario 

The past week has been busy – in a good way. We have had a cherished friend from London staying with us. We met when we were in our twenties, when she was a ballet dancer, and I was in publishing.It didn't take long for us to become close friends. Eventually, She settled in London, and once husbands, kids and life happened, getting together hasn't happened as often as we’d like over the years. Still, whenever and wherever we get together, it’s as though no time has passed at all.

At one point during her visit, she asked about and wondered if some sniffing was on offer. Glasses of cava in hand, we went into my office. Looking around the room, she spied a bottle of Fonteyn.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“It’s a fragrance named after Margot Fonteyn, inspired by her solo in a 1970 recording of Frederick Ashton’s Nocturne ballet," I said.

Looking at the bottle, she said, “I see it’s made by IIUVO. Never heard of them.”

“IIUVO is a young London-based fragrance brand started by Leo Gibbon and Tomi Ahmed in 2015. Leo is a musician and Tomi, worked for Comme des Garcons creative.” I said.

“London-based?” she said, exasperated. “I can’t keep up with everything going on in the fragrance world.”

“Well, that’s where I come in.” I said.

“Go on then,” she said.

“Well, I began, IIUVO comes from the Latin verb iuvo, meaning to help or assist and to gratify or delight.”

“Hmmm. What’s the connection with Fonteyn?” she asked.

“It’s here on their website,” I said, as I read aloud from the IIUVO website. “In Frederick Ashton’s Nocturne ballet, the legendary prima ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, seems to dance a beautiful solo, until the camera pans left and reveals a shadowy figure behind, for whom Fonteyn’s performance is a desperate entreaty.

When the shadowy figure finally advances into the light, Fonteyn falls to her knees in tears before him, undone. Inspired by the impulses explored by these two artists, Fonteyn is a scent of tender delicacy, laced with depravity.”

“OK. Now I’ve got to try this perfume,” she said and held out her upturned wrist to me.

And so we spritzed.

Fonteyn opens with a bright, elegant note of grapefruit alongside camphorous, herbal rosemary. Wormwood heightens the herbal greenness of the rosemary while sweet, resinous-tinged cardamom perfects the opening. The interplay among the top notes creates a charismatic and alluring start to the fragrance. The scent progresses to a heart of rose, blackcurrant buds, freesia and violet. The rose is lush and sensuous, the freesia is sweet and fruity and the violet is powdery and sophisticated. The blackcurrant buds are fruity and woody with a slightly animalic aspect, that’s the perfect foil for the flowers.  The base has so many beautiful dimensions of woodiness that comes from papyrus, moss, vetiver and Virginia cedar deepened with sweet, dark, earthy patchouli. A note of vanilla, soft and sweet balances the woods in a way that makes them more compelling then they would be on their own.

The drydown is elegant, rich and gorgeous and smells great on men and women.

“Oh, I do like this one,” she cooed.

“You knew Margot Fonteyn. What made her such a great classical ballerina? I asked.

“Well, to begin with, she had excellent technique and grace, but for me, it was her beauty and her charisma that set her apart. That gorgeous black hair. Look, I found a video of Nocturne on You Tube.”

“Let’s have a look at it.” I said.

Charismatic and beautiful – that’s Fonteyn.

Fonteyn is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Image from Wikimedia Commons, by Daderot, July 4, 2013