Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ophelia Eau de Parfum by HEELEY

Here I go again with a new fragrance discovery: Ophelia Eau de Parfum (pricey at $180) by HEELEY. I'm having a blast trying new scents. After I fell in love with HEELEY Oranges & Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clements, I was determined to try another HEELEY fragrance. I read the descriptions of all of HEELEY's fragrances at LuckyScent, and it took me only a split second to select Ophelia.

A flowing gossamer gown, long streaming hair adorned with fresh blossoms, ribbons fluttering in the wind – that enchanted moment of young love before disillusionment comes creeping in. Fresh green flower stems and a delicate orange lead to a heart-breakingly lovely jasmine, like a summer morning so beautiful and clear that it bring tears to your eyes. Languidly sensuous ylang ylang and creamy tuberose intertwine with the jasmine to create a luminous bouquet that perfectly balances headiness and warmth. The three flower absolutes are cradled in a smooth and dreamy white musk that keeps them under control – the flowers stay radiant and fresh and never become shrill. Utterly feminine and bewitchingly romantic, this would be absolute perfection on a bride. However, it’s far too beautiful to save for only one day. Devastatingly pretty.

Sounds "frilly," doesn't it? If you love Italian orange, green flower stems, jasmine, ylang ylang, tuberose, moss, and/or white musk, how could you resist that description? I couldn't, and my Ophelia Eau de Parfum was ordered. For the last few weeks, I have worn it nearly every day.

It is floral and feminine. It's also fresh. I suspect the green stems and ylang ylang give it that freshness, and the orange adds the a fruity touch that balances the intoxicating white flowers.

I just don't understand Ophelia's name. Ophelia was Shakespeare's romantic and heartbroken heroine. Pining with love, she watched the development of what appeared to be Hamlet's madness and suffered his coldness and strange behavior as he rejected and humiliated her.

Hamlet: ...I did love you once.
Ophelia: Indeed, my, lord, you made me believe so.
Hamlet: You should not have believed me...I loved you not.
Ophelia: I was the more deceived.
Hamlet: Get thee to a nunnery...

Of course, she had rejected him through her loyalty to her father, who disapproved of the relationship. After Hamlet's murder of her beloved father, she fell into genuine "insanity" and eventually drowned, whether by accident or intention is unclear. Part of the tragedy of her character was Shakespeare's dismissiveness of her death. She faded like the flowers for which she was so well known and died offstage. Was that because she was a woman or because Shakespeare's interest was in Hamlet's complexity and the mysteries of life? 1

I try not to think about her demise when I wear this refreshing floral - so like her flowers, but so unlike her death.

There's more to Ophelia's story. Read Shakespeare and try to figure out how James Heeley selected the name for this gorgeous fragrance. Or just forget the perfume's namesake and try it! This is one divine fragrance.

You can purchase it at LuckyScent and Barneys. The HEELEY Web site provides a list of international sources. If you like green floral fragrances, you should look for it!

1An oversimplified account of the tragic relationship

Photos: Top photo courtesy of LuckyScent; Ophelia from an 1894 painting by John William Waterhouse


Unknown said...

that's the first thought i had when i saw the title- how would Ophelia smell? I kind of assumed it would have an aquatic element (since she drowned). a mixture of aquatic notes with fading flowers in the background would be reflective of her story. i sort of wonder if marketing department just picked the name for the sound rather than the background story.

Charlestongirl said...

Totally interesting take, Anna! That makes perfect sense. I think (but who knows?) that the flower angle was the source of "inspiration" for the name. Heeley is living in London, I believe, so maybe there's a connection to Shakespeare there?

Have you ever sampled this one? I think you'd like it.

Unknown said...

i never sampled this perfume due to my geographic location it is hard to find any niche perfumes. but i did enjoy your description and the background :) there are many other literary personas out there that deserve a perfume named after them too. i would be interested to smell their take on Hamlet himself :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hmmm, Anna, what notes would you compose for Hamlet?

Unknown said...

hmm... I think he would have a feminine smell for some reason, not a unisex scent but an actual female fragrance. maybe because he is so indecisive.

Charlestongirl said...

That's really interesting! I had been trying to think of a discordant mixture of notes to indicate feigned insanity.