Fruity scents can be hard to pull off. Well known high street brands of body wash and cosmetics have cornered the market in this genre of scent to the point where making a perfume that doesn’t smell like a £1.50 bottle of shower gel isn’t the easiest of projects to undertake. Read on to see if Aaron Terence Hughes manages to win us over with his fruity bouquet.
Sandalwood, musk, cherry, chocolate, jasmine, neroli, coconut, peach.
When you spray Athena on to skin, a whole multitude of difference facets seem to tumble out of the bottle. This often seems to be the case with fragrances on the more fruity side of the gourmand spectrum. Rather than a slow development, fragrances like this arrive with a clamour and a shout and then, later, settle and unfold. This is very much true with Athena.
The first inhale of the scent is something very dry and woody, a moment later it’s a photorealistic interpretation of those chocolate-covered, boozy cherries that everyone’s dad ate at Christmas. Here the chocolate is bitter and the cherry sticky and sweet. This is a really beautiful facet of the scent and it almost made us sad that it was so fleeting. Aaron Terence Hughes does chocolate in fragrance really well as we saw in the delightful Chocolate, Rose and Oud – a perfume so good it would have been nice to hear that refrain again in Athena – but it’s not to be and the chocolate cherry vibe rushes by leaving just their ghost remaining. Next comes the fruity bouquet all mashed up together. It’s only after several minutes that this riotous, jubilant fracas calms and the fragrance really hits its stride.
The heart of Athena has some interesting facets at play and Aaron Terence Hughes has comfortably managed to elevate the fruity gourmand fragrance beyond just a shower gel scent. There’s a very dry, husky tone to the fragrance which makes it feel almost gritty textured or fibrous. Then there is the fruity aspect to the scent which is starts off a bit juicer but becomes drier too as the scent wears so images of dried apricots, dates, figs all spring to mind as you inhale. It isn’t easy to decide exactly which fruit it is being smelled, more the fragrance becomes a mass of sticky, desiccated fruits all jumbled up together in a very pleasing way.
At times, the heart of Athena has hints of something like those artisan grown-up sodas that are appearing nowadays, hints of fruity cola. The sort of drink that makes you feel both fancy and nostalgically childlike at the same time. It’s sticky and sweet with a faint hint of spice lingering in the background like a secret ingredient.
There’s also a part of Athena which really gives it guts and stamina. This isn’t a frou frou fruit that will disappear in half an hour, not at all. Spray this and you are good for the day and this is really apparent when you’ve had the fragrance on for half an hour or more and it really isn’t even thinking about reducing in volume in the slightest.
The base of Athena lingers and lingers which is wonderful as it is the most delightful part of the scent. Any scratchy pithy edges are rounded off and the fragrance becomes smoother, more relaxed, yet retaining that fruity and woody hum. The grittiness becomes more powdery and softer. A note, reminiscent of pear, lives high up in the scent, and under that is a beautiful, cheerful fruity mash up, bolstered by dry, blonde woods, ribbons of a woody cocoa tie the two together.
Athena is an interesting fruity scent because it doesn’t call on any of the tropes we are used to in fragrance. Despite the fact that it has coconut in, it doesn’t really come across as that stereotypical form of ‘exotic’, but it is still warm and inviting. It doesn’t have the sourness of berries that we associate with cooler fruit scents either, nor is it particularly juicy. It seems to exist in a space all of its own, making it worth seeking out to test on just that basis.
With Athena, it feels almost as if Aaron Terence Hughes is starting out down a creative path that we hope he continues to follow. Fruity scents that aren’t cliched or fall into any of the usual boxes are relatively rare, and it feels like there is more down this meander that he could valuably explore.
The other stuff
The longevity of Athena is very good – it easily lasts all day from an early morning application. The sillage of the scent is big, going to further than handshake distance, particularly if you are a heavy sprayer, and it trails beautifully.
It’s also really hard to put Athena in a box in terms of gender, and it does feel like it could very much be worn by anyone who wanted to. There’s a little of the masculine in here, a little of the feminine, and a little of something else too, making it very versatile.
Athena feels like a fragrance which would wear very well to a an evening event like a gig or a club. It has a heavy density which edges it towards nighttime wear and also the longevity to ensure that it stays put even if you get a bit hot and sweaty. We felt that it wore best when the evenings were a little warmer, but just stick on the heating if you fancy it in the cooler months!
We felt that if you like this fragrance, you may also like Aroon Sawat by Strangers.
Aaron Terence Hughes is a British brand which uses no animal products in its fragrances, even going as far as to be fully certified by the Vegan Society. Aaron himself is passionate about animal welfare and states on the website that he will not sell his fragrances in countries which demand animal testing.
We’ve previously reviewed Chocolate, Rose and Oud by this brand.
Athena is a new fragrance from Aaron Terence Hughes. It is available on the brand’s web boutique where it is priced at £70 for a 30ml bottle of EdP (at 20% concentration).
We were given a free bottle of Athena by the brand in exchange for an honest review.