The British perfume house Atkinsons 1799 recently launched Love in Idleness, one of three new fragrances recreated from the company's archives for its Legendary Collection. Love in Idleness is "a neo-Victorian love philter for those who believe in the magic of fragrance," developed by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin. Its composition includes notes of raspberry and violet leaves; violet, orris and heliotrope; and tree moss and patchouli.
This fragrance's name was one of the factors that lured me into trying it. So poetic, right? It's another name for the wildflower viola tricolor. And it turns out to be a literary reference, too — in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, love-in-idleness serves as a love potion. As Oberon, king of the fairies, says in Act II, "The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid/Will make or man or woman madly dote/Upon the next live creature that it sees." Love at first sight!
So, was this fragrance love at first sniff for me? Actually, it wasn't — that raspberry top note troubled me for a few seconds, especially on a paper blotter, where it smelled like a bright pink gumdrop. I was afraid that we were in for an English version of Guerlain French Kiss. Fortunately, that berry note is fleeting. It melts away and we're free to enjoy the fragrance's candied-violet heart, which reminded me of old-fashioned violet scents like Borsari Violetta di Parma.
Love in Idleness is more than a violet soliflore, however: the heliotrope adds a lightly almondy note, and there's just a hint of greenness. Atkinsons promises a "seductive woody chypre" in the base. What we get is definitely a more streamlined, contemporary take on the chypre idea, which is fine with me; I actually can't wear full-bodied, old-school chypres. As Love-in-Idleness dries down, it turns powdery, thanks to the heliotrope and a very gentle musk. The violet note, remarkably, lasts throughout. I have no way of knowing how close this scent is to Atkinsons' 1922 original, but it does have a vintage sensibility.
As you might already know, I'm very fond of violet-centered fragrances. Love in Idleness might just be one of my new favorites in this category: it's more complex than Annick Goutal La Violette, and more retro than Balanciaga Paris, but not a bombshell like Lipstick Rose. I found it easy to wear and enjoy in the daytime, although it might feel a bit too fluffy for hot weather. It also has excellent longevity for an Eau de Toilette.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Love in Idleness, from its concept to the actual experience of wearing it, and I'd recommend it to other lovers of nostalgic floral perfumes, especially violet scents. Atkinsons describes it well as "a shimmering, powdery violet cloud of a fragrance" — dreamy!
Atkinsons 1799 Love in Idleness is available as 100 ml ($210) Eau de Toilette. For purchasing information, see the listing for Atkinsons under Perfume Houses.