Funeral Home Perfume

You will recall my intention to order a selection of the scents from the Demeter Fragrance Library that I mentioned a little while back.

Well the first thing that I can report to you is that the Demeter people are mighty speedy. No sooner had I placed my order than there was a knock at the door and a perfumed package was in my hands. Well, I exaggerate slightly. But I did have the delivery exactly one week after I ordered it, which is a record time from the US.

I ordered twelve scents in cologne form, eleven of which arrived (I was only charged for those eleven). The package also included a gratis bottle of ‘Basil’ Room Spray.

These are what I received:

  • Ivy
  • Holy Smoke
  • Freesia
  • Heather
  • Fruitcake
  • Rain
  • Funeral Home
  • Snow
  • Firefly
  • Thunderstorm
  • Quince

I’ve had enough days to try them all now and for those who are interested, some potted reviews follow. All you others – I’m still looking for an online curse site. Off you go.

First thing to note as a generalization based on the sample I took, is that Demeter is much better at creating ‘impression’ style scents than evoking reality. Freesia, heather and quince, three highly individual and beautiful fragrances are not served well by their Demeter namesakes. In fact, not only are they unlike the real thing, they don’t even come close. Freesia, one of my favourite floral scents, has always proved notoriously difficult to capture, and although new technologies* may yet allow analogs to be developed there is nothing I’ve encountered so far that evokes anything but the ghostliest shadow of this delicate, pretty perfume. Consequently I didn’t really expect much of Demeter’s Freesia which is more like frangipani with some green apple top notes. In itself that’s not such a bad thing, but it ain’t freesia.

I thought they might make a rather better attempt at Quince. Sadly, not. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s just some kind of acetate-based pear analog. Which is a shame – quince is such a unique and wonderfully old-fashioned scent.†

I’m not sure how off the mark Heather is, having smelled real heather only once. My memory gives it a darker and more ‘daphne-like’ tone. This is far too South Sea Island, a little too much like jasmine. Or to be accurate, jasmine with a touch of frangipani and tiare. It might have been better to have called it Generic Exotic Pacific Flower.

Ivy is more pleasing. Real ivy doesn’t have any scent, so you have to assume that this is a metaphorical naming, and that the Demeter people are out to capture a concept rather than mimic nature. I don’t think I have the chops to describe this accurately, but it’s a sweetish green fragrance with an overtone of violets. I expected it to be earthier and woodier, but maybe they save that for their Poison Ivy

Nearly all the Demeter scents I tried (with a couple of exceptions), and these floral scents in particular, don’t really last well. That’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it suits me to have a scent just fade off into the day. It has to be said also, that most of those I tested are pretty much one-trick ponies. They start off with one or two pleasing notes and then fade gently over the course of a few hours. There’s not a lot of storyline going on here. Again, not necessarily a bad thing.

Well, this is proving to be a rather long post, so maybe I’ll continue the reviews down the track. But I know you all want to hear about Funeral Home, so just that before I finish.

This comes much closer to the Demeter website description. It’s a strong, almost cloying fragrance, in which chrysanthemum, jonquil, lily, wood, and waxiness feature heavily. It has overtones of carnation, furniture polish, flax and mould which really stomp heavily on any sweetness the white flowers might have. It does remind me awfully strongly of the Anglican church of my childhood – of old ladies and wooden pews and dusty carpets. It has to be said – it’s not really what you’d call a pleasant scent. Nevertheless, it’s quite fetching and eminently wearable in a severe gothic kinda way.

Very appropriate for a Reverend.


*I think that counts as my first bit of techno-perfume geekery.

†Mediterranean peoples once used quinces to scent linen – they just placed a few quinces in the linen cupboard, and the rich heady smell permeated everything. For me, the smell of quinces is the smell of my maternal grandmother’s house.