It should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I am a sensitive soul. This means that sometimes my body over-reacts to the world around me: stimuli, chemicals, medications and food become sources of irritation and inflammation. At times like this, I need to dial it back: eat simple foods, make sure I sleep enough, tone down the synthetic perfumes, get lots of fresh air and exercise. This week has been one of those sensitive weeks. My cat and I have both been unwell, and with infectious bacteria lurking in the house, I turned to burning bug-banishing essential oils to scent the house and soothe us a little. We also evacuated from a bushfire last week, so my stress levels went through the roof. I’ve gone off my perfume it seems: at times like this synthetic fragrance can aggravate my eyes and skin, so IME’s natural perfumes seemed like an appealing and even healing choice to wear while I try to bring my stress levels down.
IME: Australian Botanical Perfumes
IME is an Australian perfume house. I’m thrilled when I discover Australian perfume houses as there are still so few of them, sadly. I want to help spread the word among the perfume community that these daring, creative souls exist and take risks to bring us new and original fragrant creations.
IME was created by Tonia Walker, who has a background in reflexology and kinesiology, in partnership with a master perfumer with more than 40 years experience in the perfume industry. IME fragrances all use 100% natural, botanical ingredients. The name IME comes from the Greek word ‘eimei’, which means ‘I am’. In keeping with this Greek theme, each of the nine IME fragrances is inspired by and named after a Greek Muse. Mood and colour also help create a unique identity for each fragrance.
Tonia very kindly sent me a Collections Pack including samples of all nine fragrances for review. The presentation of the pack is lovely, with generous 2ml spray samples and brochures about natural perfumery and the nine fragrances included too. As each fragrance is associated with a particular colour, the little coloured dots on each of the samples makes for a lively and pretty presentation in an otherwise neutral/natural-coloured packaging style.
While I’ve tried all of the IME range, I’ve decided to focus my review on six of the nine fragrances so that I can pay better attention to these scents and go a little deeper.
For reference, the nine fragrance names (and the muses that inspired them) are: Kalliope, Erato, Euterpe, Thaleia, Terpsichore, Melpomene, Ourania, Polyhymnia and Kleio. You can read more about the full range on the IME website if you want to explore the other fragrances.
Classified as an oriental, and inspired by Melpomene, The Muse of Tragedy, who is
“strong and courageous. Her song inspires you to find beauty in life wherever you may be. You will glow with energy and captivate those around you. Empower yourself and embrace your true beauty.”
Source: IME website
Melpomene called to me as I love oriental fragrances and its mood inspiration, “Empowered – Strong – Beautiful”, appealed to me today. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks and need to regain strength, so why not give myself a boost with the power of scent? Melpomene doesn’t smell like a traditional oriental to me. While I detect woods and incense, the bergamot used is surprisingly strong, which makes for a citrussy and zesty oriental.
The notes for Melpomene are listed as: bergamot, howood, pine, benzoin, labdanum balsam and gurjun balsam. Melpomene is refreshing and uplifting, but is anchored by the lovely natural woods and incense notes. It’s an energetic yet deep fragrance that will give you a boost if you’re feeling a bit flat.
This is a really lively and unusual fragrance. It’s mentholic, cool, citric and floral and is so very crisp. As a musician, how could I not be tempted to try Euterpe, inspired by the muse of Music and Lyric Poetry?
“[Euterpe] is confident and sassy. She will move you to discover and create the melodic soundtrack to your life on a daily basis…”
Source: IME website
When I first put Euterpe on I feel like I’m back at High School, hanging out with my friends on the school oval at recess (coincidentally, at a music high school!), surrounded by the enormous, fragrant gum trees. Euterpe includes notes of lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, neroli, amyris and sweet almond, but at first spray, the eucalyptus, as well as the very sharp lemon, dominate. Lovely floral hints of lavender and neroli lurk beneath the uplifting coolness of the eucalyptus, which has such a recognisably Australian smell.
The mood inspiration for this fragrance is “Cool – Calm – Confident”, but while Euterpe is cool and definitely confident, I feel it’s a little too energising to be considered a calm fragrance. If you want to feel energised and really clean on a hot and sweaty day, give this one a try.
Kleio is airy, sharp and camphoraceous at first spray and settles quickly to become deeply woody and rich, a touch spicy and a little bit sweet. It’s classed as a soft wood/oriental fragrance, which seems spot on. Kleio is inspired by the muse of History, who is
“…timeless and classic. She will inspire you to record life’s precious moments and reminisce over past events. With a sharp memory and clear perspective, life will shine with elegance and style.”
Source: IME website
Notes listed for this fragrance are: pink grapefruit, cardamon, clary sage, geranium, pine, guaiacwood, jasmine absolute, benzoin and vanilla absolute.
Kleio is an interesting and sophisticated fragrance. It is warm and balsamic, with notes of guaiacwood, benzoin and vanilla dominating the drydown phase. It is a darkly mysterious scent and would make a great unisex fragrance. Kleio is one of my favourites in the range.
Polyhymnia is a gorgeous green-floral fragrance featuring ylang ylang and galbanum. It has a vintage air to it, and reminds me a little of the recently reformulated version of Carven’s Ma Griffe, another soft green floral featuring ylang ylang.
“The muse of Sacred Song [and] is spiritual and thoughtful. Her inspiring hymns will provide you with the inner strength and clarity to believe in yourself and embrace truth…”
Source: IME website
The tropical, sweet and slightly camphoraceous note of ylang ylang offsets the bitter, fresh greenness of the galbanum and they compliment each other well. Styrax, tart rosehip and Peru balsam round out the composition. I find Polyhymnia both calming and pretty and it is one of my favourite scents in the IME collection.
Erato is all about naughtiness and being irresistible:
“The muse of Love is devilish and sexy. Her romantic prose will ignite you, inspiring you to love, be adored and find the moves to express the irresistibly naughty goddess within.”
Source: IME website
At first spray, Erato displays an energetic and bold combination of mandarin, aromatic cardamom and fresh geranium. After a little while the youthful, fresh character of this fragrance settles and warmer woody notes (cedar, sandalwood) emerge, as well as hints of tolu balsam and a deep and smoky labdanum. An hour or so into wearing Erato, a lusciously sweet and rounded ylang ylang takes centre stage: a wonderful and unexpected development!
This fragrance would suit lovers of oriental and woody fragrances, and those who like deeper scents that are freshened up with bold spice, citrus and exotic flowers. Erato is, I think, one of the most complex and interesting fragrances in the IME range (along with Kleio), and is another favourite of mine.
Thaleia is another uplifting and enlivening fragrance from IME, showcasing the beautiful, lemongrass-like note of litsea cubeba, one of my favourite essential oils to wear and also to cook with. Litsea cubeba isn’t used much in pefumery, so this is a good chance to give it a try.
Thaleia is the muse of Comedy and is
“…playful and fun. She will help you shine and dare you to laugh at life while encouraging those around you to do the same…”
Source: IME website
Categorised as a fresh citrus fragrance, Thaleia also features notes of lime, citronella, pine, geranium and patchouli. The lime and litsea cubeba definitely dominate at first, but as the fragrance settles the geranium and citronella emerge to create a multi-faceted, fresh fragrance experience.
I really enjoyed sampling IME’s botanical fragrances and found the range varied and interesting, from really fresh and energising scents (Thaleia and Euterpe), through to a classic-smelling green scent (Polyhymnia), and deeper, richer scents that showcase woods, spice and resins (Erato, Kleio and Melpomene). I felt really soothed by these 100% botanical, natural fragrances, and they were indeed relaxing during a stressful period, somewhat like the experience of aromatherapy and burning essential oils to calm oneself.
IME fragrances are, however, more complex an experience than simply burning an oil or two. Each fragrance is full of rich and vibrant-smelling natural ingredients, and they develop in really interesting ways over time, making for some fascinating and unpredictable fragrance journeys. I’m used to wearing predominantly synthetic perfumes, so these interesting development phases were fascinating and somewhat new to me. I rarely find perfumes that develop in such fascinating directions and am used to perfumes these days being more “fixed” in their smell, so I was both surprised and happy to experience this.
My warmest thanks go out to Tonia Walker for providing the IME sample set for review, and for patiently waiting for me to complete this write-up at a very hectic time.
You can find the IME collections pack on their website, and try out all nine fragrances for yourself. I highly recommend giving IME a go and supporting another fabulous Australian, independent perfume house.