Think violets are old-fashioned? Old hat? Been done? Here is a modern spin on the violet fragrance which retains the timeless elegance but twists the violet away from the trodden path of maidenly innocence and into something much more grown up.
Violet leaf, violet, amber, blonde woods, honeyed musks.
Beginning this review by telling you that I don’t like violet fragrances might seem like an odd place to start, but hear me out. Too many fragrance reviews come down to the reviewer’s personal tastes: “This fragrance is good because I like [insert ingredient].” Whether you like something or not doesn’t make a fragrance good or bad inherently, and there should always be space for the ego to step back and the perfume to be viewed with a critical, more impartial eye that takes into account the form, the structure, the innovation. Sometimes this is harder than others, and violet fragrances for me are a special sort of kryptonite which, despite my years of sniffing, I have never managed to really fall in love with.
That is, until Envide.
Envide by Karen Timson skips out of the bottle like those first few days of Spring; like someone has just opened a door to a different place. It sparkles and fizzes with a lively energy. There is that vaguely astringent greenery here from the violet leaves, but what it actually feels like is a window being opened in a slightly too stuffy house, and Envide is the glorious waft of fresh air that sweeps in.
On the blotter, the bitterness of the greenery plays out more, but on the warmth of skin it is kept at bay and Envide is clear, warm sunlight in the countryside by a stream. Refreshing, enlivening, joyous.
My brain is telling me that I should dislike this, but my nose wants more. What’s happening to me?
There is a rush of violets in Envide, but they aren’t the sticky, sickly sweet type violets. There are hints of powderiness in there alongside the greenery, as you might expect, but the violets here are soft and real smelling. The powderiness that they bring is chalky at times and a clear picture of a clump of violets nodding their heads in a spring breeze on a chalkstone outcrop springs to mind.
Alongside this naturalistic interpretation, there is also something sleek and modern about Envide. It’s as if an empowered woman working in the city has found a classical violet perfume at the back of her Grandma’s closet, but in teaming it with a slick hairdo and a tailored dress she has evolved it into something modern and relevant to how she lives today. Envide feels like a scent that would be perfectly at home on a picnic in the woods or a power lunch in the city.
And here is the part Envide is one of those scents which showcases that wonderful elegant simplicity which is so hard to achieve. The scent has loads of space within it to allow the ingredients to breathe and bloom. There is absolutely no clutter here whatsoever. Karen Timson has Marie Kondo-ed the heck out of the perfume’s landscape and left only things that bring joy behind, and just in the right quantities. We talk about balance here a lot and this is a good example of an artisan scent abundant with balance and poise.
The final phase of the wear has many of the things that most demand from a violet-centred fragrance. It’s a touch powdery, a hint of green, a little chalky. There’s a soapiness too which adds the feeling of clean shirts, line dried. The added woods and musks give the fragrance an addictive yet elegant side and it retains a lovely coolness too. The touches of sweetness bring out a spicy facet at times and whilst the composition is simple and spacious, it is all the more fascinating for that. It’s even possible to observe a paperiness in the final phases of the wear which is surely part of the addictiveness!
There is so much to enjoy about this fragrance and it’s likely to have a wide appeal. It has enough violet to attract the violet and iris lovers, but enough space and delicacy to win over those who, like me, are on the fence about violet taking centre stage. The fact that Karen has even managed to convert an old sceptic like me is quite the achievement in my book!
The other stuff
The longevity of Envide is good, six to eight hours or so following an application. The projection of the fragrance goes to around handshake distance or so, but it manages to do that in quite a polite way – not being cloying or likely to choke anyone out.
Envide would be a good wear for daytime in spring and summer particularly. Of course one should always wear whatever and whenever you like, but the coolness in here speaks to both the rising sap of spring but also would be a soothing balm come the warmer summer months (chance would be a fine thing).
The nose for this fragrance is Karen Timson.
Karen Timson Fine Fragrance is an artisanal fragrance house based in the UK. Karen’s scents have a beautiful way of capturing an “English country garden” aesthetic, but her inspiration is often derived from warmer, more Mediterranean climes.
All Karen’s fragrances are detailed, delicate and subtle. That’s not to say that they don’t have character or staying power, they do, but there is a watercolour-feel which characterises Karen’s style and when I smell them, I can’t help but picture beautiful gardens where everything is just in the right place. Somehow Karen manages to convey that in scent.
Envide is available from the Karen Timson Fine Fragrance web boutique where it is priced at a very reasonable £39 for 50ml EdP. The quality of composition in this fragrance is really spectacular for that price.
We were gifted a sample of the fragrance by the brand. Thank you to Karen for that.