Blog post by Gwen
Ballet shoes used by Margot Fonteyn - Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Ontario
Image from Wikimedia Commons, by Daderot, July 4, 2013
When it comes to buying fragrances, I like to think that I’m immune to marketing bumpf and cute bottles. But sometimes, the backstory and inspiration resonate with me, and I get hooked. This was the case with Fonteyn from IIUVO, the London-based fragrance brand that Leo Gibbon and Tomi Ahmed started in 2015.
In my 20s, I shared a flat with a dancer at the Royal Ballet. We became close friends, and through her, I learned how to appreciate and enjoy ballet and dance. I loved hearing about her adventures and learning about the people she performed with, so I had to try Fonteyn.
Named after Margot Fonteyn, the fragrance was inspired by her solo in a 1970 recording of Frederick Ashton’s Nocturne ballet. The marketing material for Fonteyn elaborates: “In Frederick Ashton’s Nocturne ballet, the legendary prima ballerina, Margot Fonteyn, seems to dance a beautiful solo, until the camera pans left and reveals a shadowy figure behind, for whom Fonteyn’s performance is a desperate entreaty.
When the shadowy figure finally advances into the light, Fonteyn falls to her knees in tears before him, undone. Inspired by the impulses explored by these two artists, Fonteyn is a scent of tender delicacy, laced with depravity.” You can find a video of Nocturne on YouTube.
Fonteyne opens with a bright, elegant grapefruit note alongside camphorous, herbal rosemary. Wormwood heightens the herbal greenness of the rosemary, while sweet, resinous-tinged cardamom perfects the opening. The interplay among the top notes creates a charismatic and alluring start to the fragrance. The scent opens up to reveal a heart of rose, blackcurrant buds, freesia and violet. The rose is lush and sensuous, the freesia is sweet and fruity, and the violet is powdery and romantic. The blackcurrant buds are fruity and woody with a slightly animalic aspect; that’s the perfect foil for the flowers. The base has so many beautiful dimensions of woodiness that come from papyrus, moss, vetiver, and Virginia cedar deepened with sweet, dark, earthy patchouli. A note of soft and sweet vanilla balances the woods in a way that makes them compelling.
The drydown is elegant, rich and gorgeous, but the progression from delicate to wantonness gives Fonteyn its unique beauty, that suits both women and men.
My friend knew Margot Fonteyn, so when I asked her what made her such a great classical ballerina, she said: “Well, to begin with, she had excellent technique and grace, but for me, it was her beauty and her charisma that set her apart. That gorgeous black hair.”
Charismatic and beautiful – that’s Fonteyn.
Check out Fonteyn in our Shop.