The business of being an independent perfumer is not easy. Finding a way to get the word out while simultaneously finding places to sell it; each carrying its own degree of difficulty. Into all that the perfumer must find the space to create. Each of the ones I admire have found their path which works for them. The path Ineke Ruhland has chosen is one of small well-chosen steps. The drawback is when there are years between releases it becomes easy to forget about them. The real risk is when you do return being met with indifference. Ms. Ruhland has returned after a nearly five-year absence with her latest for her eponymous brand; Ineke Idyllwild.
Idyllwild is inspired by a park area within the southern California Mount San Jacinto area. I don’t think I’ve been to Idyllwild but I have been to the surrounding National Parks of Joshua Tree and San Bernadino Forest. These parks are the demarcation between the desert east of them and the coastal environment to the west. This natural border is constructed of tall sentinel pines reaching to the sky. Idyllwild is a fragrance celebrating these conifers.
Ms. Ruhland has made the choice to combine the pine with a fougere accord before allowing tendrils of smoke to rise throughout. It makes Idyllwild a shifting frame of reference which never seems to change gears clumsily as each phase provides something of interest before transitioning to the next.
Idyllwild begins with the fougere requirement of lavender and citrus. Ms. Ruhland uses grapefruit as the citrus along with the lavender. She then adds a delicate application she calls “rhubarb tea”; it brings an herbal tint to the grapefruit. This then brings the lavender to its herbal side. At this point a raw green cardamom becomes the entry point for the pine. This is one of the best uses of this more primitive version of cardamom because the citrus nuances of its more refined versions are still present with an almost sticky verdancy. That stickiness stands in for the pine sap as a distillation of pine needles takes over. Crisp sharp terpenes in all their glory sing out. As the top accord fades into the pine forest there is a balanced moment that was pure bliss for me as it all found a precise synergy. Now Ms. Ruhland lights her campfire. In less accomplished hands we would be clobbered by cade oil which would obliterate everything. Ms. Ruhland is not that kind of perfumer so she works for a more delicate effect. By using cypriol and oud she forms a transparent oud accord through which she threads sagebrush. This is not a cloud of smoke it is spirals rising to the stars above in fragrant swirling columns in betwixt the pine not over the top of it. The final transition is to a mixture of musks both the expansive white kind to represent the outdoors balanced with the skin-type versions to capture the person watching the fire burn.
Idyllwild has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I had been missing Ms. Ruhland’s style of perfumery I resorted to writing about one of her earlier creations in my Under the Radar column. I was waiting patiently to be able to write something with “new perfume review” in the header. Idyllwild has satisfied that desire in bravura fashion. I’m not sure if I’ve been missing her or having something new but Idyllwild is so pleasing to me on many levels. If people had forgotten about Ms. Ruhland Idyllwild is a potent “forget me not”.
Disclosure: this review was based upon a sample provided by Ineke Parfumeur.