Summer movies tick me off at times. Sometimes it’s because they’re disgustingly popular and I really don’t like much that’s popular at all, and get very annoyed when forced to notice it enough to be able to make conversation about it. This year it’s almost the opposite problem– the Great Gatsby means that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, one of my greatest passions since I was a young teen, are very much in the public eye. While Gatsby is my least favorite Fitzgerald novel and I really should be grateful that anything based on literature is getting attention, their adoption as a fad is even more irritating. So please forgive me if, while everyone else is celebrating the Roaring 20’s, I hide out in the melancholy 30’s until the fuss is forgotten.
Sweet Anthem, a delightful microperfumery in Seattle that may well represent the best value in niche fragrance today, very cordially provides little character sketches for each of its scents on its website. For Edith, the story goes, “Hopeful for a banner year after a season of so much loss. Dewy orchids, a doleful bitter orange, and pithy lilacs are soothed by faintly glimmering candlelight.”
My imagination has taken this story and run with it. Edith was a celebrated performer and society darling who lost her footing in the crash and survives by giving piano lessons to the offspring of European nobility. Her bob has grown into a wavy chignon because there isn’t money enough for niceties like hairdressing. She is of a certain age, which means she’s really too old to have hope but not old enough to have forgotten it.
She spends most of her time in a dark room with dark wood and candles. When she’s not teaching she sorts through sheet music and hums melodies that remind her of a certain summer just before the crash, in the South of France with a classical guitarist who promised to write an etude for her but left with a rich widow when he saw which way the wind was blowing. She wonders if he even remembers her name.
She is kind but distant to the pupils. Until one day one of the older children, a golden boy who soon will be lost in the war but right now has the run of the manor, overhears that it’s her birthday and has the gardener cut her a bouquet of flowers. She focuses then, and the smile she gives him is dazzling, truly lighting up the whole room, and he wonders who she was.
The notes of Edith are listed as the following:
Top: Bitter orange, rosewood leaf
Heart: Lilac, Orchid
Base: Beeswax, rosewood
The components are very accurate, but like some of my favorite music, it is astonishing how they were combined to create something beautiful, well-rounded and complex. Throughout all stages of this fragrance the tension between bitter and sweet makes you want to get to know Edith’s secrets. Although the notes are listed as a standard pyramid, I sense them all fluttering just beneath the surface at all times, like Edith’s memories and fantasies.
Edith is available from Sweet Anthem in prices ranging from $8.50 for a solid perfume twist to $28 for 10 ml eau de parfum. This review is for the perfume oil form. My only small criticism is that the fragrance lasts forever. I could still smell traces of it more than 24 hours later after taking a shower, which is extraordinary but caused difficulty when I wanted to wear something else. Fragrance does last a very long time on me, though, so your mileage may vary.
The day I smelled Edith I also received about ten high end designer and niche fragrance samples in the mail, but this was the one who haunted me. It is worth remembering that sometimes the most interesting woman is not the one in the most expensive dress.
I received a free sample of Edith with a purchase of a bespoke fragrance from Sweet Anthem (and will be reviewing the bespoke fragrance process and results as soon as I fully have my sense of smell back!). This did not affect this review in any way and I have no material connection to Sweet Anthem.