I love reading. Or at least I used to. I don’t know if it is something about the circumstances of 2020 and the first part of 2021, or maybe just the time of life I am in, but I have found it extremely difficult to read over the course of the pandemic. Prior to this, I was never without a book and always had at least one in progress, if not more. I could while away entire Sunday afternoons doing nothing but reading and sipping coffee, with a blanket on my lap and a cat curled up beside me. I found myself struggling to find time for reading starting a couple years ago, but I still managed to get some reading in and finish some books.
Fast forward to 2020, when I likely had more time than ever to devote to reading but managed to finish only one book. For a time, it seemed the only reading I was capable of was the technical reading I do in my day job, and doomscrolling assorted online news sources for the latest depressing updates. I never expected it would be a perfume, of all things, that led me back to books, but that is truly what happened. I was browsing for solid perfumes on Etsy and came across Epilogue Fragrance, a perfumery dedicated to solid fragrances and inspired by a love of literature and fandom.
I was charmed by the shop’s adorable packaging and presentation–perfumer and proprietor Day Z. has an eye for design as well as a nose for perfume. If you’re a fan of Cottage Core or the Dark Academia aesthetic, the shop is worth a visit even if you’re not a book nerd. As a (former? wannabe?) book nerd, though, it warmed my heart to see perfumes inspired by some old favorites: The Hobbit, the Narnia chronicles, Alice in Wonderland, Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables. Some fandom-related themes like Howl’s Moving Castle were were represented as well. I decided to shop the perfumes based on notes, rather than inspirations, and I came across a perfume called Irene, part of the line inspired by author Megan Whalen Turner’s “Queen’s Thief” series. Though the shop was still fairly new, this fragrance already had a couple of positive reviews from buyers and its notes looked like a good fit for warm spring and summer days. After buying the perfume, I got curious about the books, too and bought a used paperback of the first in the series, The Thief. The character who inspired Irene makes her initial appearance towards the end of The Thief and I’m now deep in the second book in the series, The Queen of Attolia, in which she’s a central character. I’m so excited to be immersed in a book series again, and I’m also enjoying the perfume which helped me get there. It has been fun to smell a perfume interpretation of the character–almost like fanfiction, in the form of a perfume!–and Irene offers remarkable quality at a very affordable price.
Epilogue Fragrance Irene Solid Perfume
Size: 0.25 oz.
Packaging: Slide top tin with a paper label on top and a clear sticker label on the bottom. The tin was packaged with adorable literature-themed stickers and a butterscotch candy, all in a mesh bag. The tin is reusable/recyclable and the bag is reusable.
Base: Natural soy wax, vitamin E oil, shea butter and grapeseed oil.
Vegan-friendly: Yes. All fragrances in the shop are made with soy wax and are 100% vegan.
Color and texture: an off-white solid of moderately firm texture that melts easily under a fingertip and is absorbed quickly without leaving an oily residue.
Natural perfume or mixed media: Mixed media. Both essential oils and fragrance oils are included in the list of ingredients.
Fragrance description and notes: from the product listing on Etsy:
“Anyone who has read the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner knows that it’s a story that will consume your heart and never ever leave. At first, we may have seen Irene, the beautiful, ruthless queen of Attolia as a villain, but we quickly discover that she is anything but. Irene defies convention, ruling alone and refusing a husband, and however harsh her decisions, each is calculated for the good of her country. Even if you haven’t read the series, I believe you’ll love this fragrance.
This Irene Perfume has a spicy, floral tone with a hint of citrus. Sweet orange, lily, jasmine, and Egyptian musk reflect Irene in all her elegance, beauty, and strength.
Make yourself a queen and be blessed in your endeavors.”
Longevity: Excellent, at 10+ hours or more. This is one of the longer-lasting solids I’ve tried and buyers’ reviews on Etsy suggest the brand’s other fragrances also offer excellent performance.
Sillage: Very strong upon application. Settles to intimate (noticeable a few inches above skin) after an hour or so, and it stays there–I could still smell it several inches above my wrist at least ten hours later.
The experience: If you’ve read my Gift Guide, you’ll know that I don’t recommend giving fragrances as gifts, except in limited circumstances. I’m going to disregard most of my guidelines for Epilogue Fragrance except the main one: make sure the person for whom you’re buying a gift uses fragrances/fragranced products. If you’re certain of that piece, Epilogue Fragrance perfumes would be perfect for the book lovers in your life! It would be delightful to present a Lewis Carroll fan with We’re All Mad Here, for example. I can picture that scent tucked into a cute little gift basket with the accompanying book, some cookies and a box of tea…
Irene‘s four notes are exactly what I get with this fragrance: sunny orange; a hefty dose of lily; a little jasmine; a lingering dry-down of Egyptian musk. (For those not familiar, Egyptian musk falls on the lighter side of the musks range–clean but not soapy, with a slightly sweet aspect and hints of flowers. As a reminder, this perfume is vegan-friendly, which means this is a synthetic musk and not animal-derived.) Irene is a simple but elegant floral musk blend, with lily and Egyptian musk as the dominant aromas. It’s crisp and clean but has warm undertones, deepening after a few hours as the musk emerges. Two or three swipes will outlast a typical workday and the scent’s projection is noticeable for its life on my skin. That’s an exceptional performance for a solid, on par with a high-performing liquid EDP.
Irene will be great for the office when I return (likely to be soon) and has been nice for the movie dates and casual dinners out that I am so happy to be able to enjoy once again. Its crisp, sunny vibe works well for warm summer days and evenings but this is a scent that would be suitable for daytime wear year-round. The little tin and bag slip easily into a purse, pocket or laptop bag for portability, but honestly, the longevity is so good that I don’t see needing to reapply this one often. I anticipate the little tin will last a long time, making its very affordable $12.99 price tag (as of this publication date) an even better bargain.
All images by me.