July 5, 2016
August 1934 Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is leading her pony, Buddy,at the Southampton Riding and Hunt Club for the annual horse show (digitalizedMC)
It is early morning, a faint sun just starting to wake the countryside. A young girl in jodhpurs strides across the damp fields heading to the stable. Stepping into the wooden barn, she is greeted by warm aromas of dried hay and oiled saddle leather. She reaches to stroke the muzzle of her horse, proffering apples from her pockets.
Claude Monet End of Summer Morning 1891
Equestrian is Laurie Erickson’s scent-memory of the horse barn of her childhood. An avid competitive rider until an accident forced her to relinquish the reins, she remembers fondly the evocative smells associated with stables she frequented as a child. “I loved the smell of the hay, alfalfa, and oats, so hay absolute makes me smile,” she says. “I thought it would be fun to pair the hay with some leather, apple, and woods to create a barn theme.” Equestrian is very much a hay fragrance, but it is structured to allow each of its dominant notes – hay, apple and leather – to unfold in distinct stages.
Hay absolute dominates Equestrian right out of the gate. This is not the fresh, overtly sweet hay of certain other perfumes such as CB I Hate Perfume’s Hay Absolute or Mastenbroek’s Eau de Polder, but of brown-gold bales that have baked in a warm sun. The hay note is complex, with facets of clover, chamomile tea and black licorice as it opens, followed by the subtle sweetness of coumarin.
N.C.Wyeth,Chadds Ford Landscape with White Barn
Next, a sweet-tart green apple joins the hay in the top notes. Over the next few minutes, the apple and hay compete for pride of place before the apple gradually mellows into a cidery finish as leather and woody notes begin to emerge. Leather surfaces about half an hour into Equestrian’s development but is tempered by cedar and wood soap so that it never dominates. In the dry down, the hay and apple notes retain their prominence as a second, more tannic leather emerges, softened by sandalwood.
Terri Garr Young Frankenstein 1974 Having a Roll in Zee Hay
While other perfumes have visited the stable, most have been less well-bred than Equestrian. The raw leather and hay of Serge Lutens’ Boxeuses are more likely to put in mind a roll in the hay than dressage, while the horsey green leather of Piguet’s Bandit is an unbroken stallion in the paddock kicking straw everywhere.
NATIONAL VELVET, Elizabeth Taylor, 1944
Equestrian is a winsome but refined composition, more evocative of a young Elizabeth Taylor grooming her beloved gelding in National Velvet than of any risqué behavior with the stable boy.“A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence, writes Australian poet Pam Brown. Scent has the power to do the same, to transport us to places we yearn to be. Equestrian unfolds as a benevolent adolescent memory: golden, comforting and just this side of wistful. Sillage is good, the apple and hay notes lasting for several hours.
Notes: apple accord, grassy notes, hay absolute, leather accord, jasmine sambac absolute, violet, labdanum absolute, Virginia cedar, natural oakmoss absolute, patchouli, New Caledonia sandalwood, benzoin.
Disclosure: I received my sample from Ms. Erickson; opinions my own
–Lauryn Beer, Contributor
Thanks to the generosity of Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio we have a 15 ml bottle of Equestrian for a registered reader in the US. To be eligible please leave a comment with what appeals to you about Equestrian based on Lauryn’s review, if you are a fan of hay notes, or if you have fond memories of riding horses and your favorite Sonoma Scent Studio Fragrance. Draw closes 7/8/2016
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