Perfume Directory

Sumare (1925)
by Crown Perfumery


Sumare information

Year of Launch1925
Average Rating
(based on 14 votes)

People and companies

HouseCrown Perfumery
PerfumerWilliam Thomson
Parent CompanyClive Christian
Parent Company at launchLever Brothers

About Sumare

Sumare is a masculine fragrance by Crown Perfumery. The scent was launched in 1925 and the fragrance was created by perfumer William Thomson

Sumare fragrance notes

Reviews of Sumare

It's easy to speak in hyperbole about lost perfume houses and discontinued fragrances, because it's like unearthing artifacts and having the pleasure of enjoying something the world may never see again, imparting a feeling of being special to those who possess such treasures; but the fact is doing so can distort the value or importance of what is lost, leading to disappointment for those following in the wake of such exaltation, and that does more harm than good to the memory of the perfume. In this case, Crown Perfumery is the house in question, and it's former line of humble yet elegant compositions are what has been lost. Most know the story of the American William Thomson, his overly-tight corsets, endorsement by Queen Victoria, the creation of smelling salts that lead to Thomson making perfume, and the mass-market decline of the business after Lever Brothers acquired it upon his death. The brief revival of the full perfume line in 1993 was a godsend to perfumistas and colognoisseurs, but cruelly snatched away when millionaire Clive Christian bought the house just to gut its catalogs and use its legacy as a platform for a vanity brand of "haute-luxe" perfumes under his own name. Sumare (1925) was one of the last perfumes composed by William Thomson in his lifetime, and consists of a chypre accord made bone-dry and masculine at a time when such a thing had not yet become fashionable.

Sumare opens with dry citrus and kitchen herb melange, nothing at all like the lactonic peach and floral tones of chypres like Mitsouko (1919), almost presaging mid-century men's chypres like Moustache by Rochas (1949) or late-century efforts like Gianfranco Ferré for Man (1986) by leaps and bounds. The tartness is very brief compared to its more-modern counterparts because Sumare is dominated by armoise in the beginning, like a less-rich and less-fatty Paul Sebastian Fine Cologne (1979) without all the vanilla. Soon, a barbershop spiced lavender and geranium take up the heart where rose and jasmine would usually exist in other chypres of the period, putting an oddly fougère-like accord at Sumare's heart. However, there is no tonka or other fern-like impressions here as the base goes with stark dried leather, rich oakmoss, and Mystore sandalwood to bring it home that this is a 1st generation chypre. The effect of this "barbershop chypre" hybrid is one that imparts a rounded sort of body but without the soapy clean or sweet aspects of a fougère, going instead with woody aromatics and mossy tones. The leather here is not of the powdery or animalic kind, but rather more of a bootstrap variety, so the whole thing still wears rather dapper. Performance on Sumare will vary, but my sample seems to go quickly into base notes for a day's worth of close but noticeable sillage. The question to be asked however is how much one could enjoy something that smells like a missing link between Houbigant Fougère Royale (1882) and Arden for Men Sandalwood (1957)?

I don't think Sumare was ever meant to be a stunner as it seemed against Crown's reserved British aesthetic, something mirrored in many Penhaligon's, Geo F Trumper's, and Yardley's of London scents of the period. Sumare is a nice window through time into the nascent and still-developing styles of masculine perfumery, as most upper-class dandies of the day still wore whatever was coming out from Guerlain, Caron, or Houbigant if they weren't indulging in the local UK barbershop culture. If Sumare was any indication, Crown was a rather novel if still-conservative option for men, not unlike Caswell-Massey in the United States, just with royal endorsement. Crown has been extinct for decades thanks to Clive Christian, so anything not reproduced by Anglia Perfumes (this one is not) is a certified unicorn by now, fit only for museum display or resale investment, so seeking a bottle may require a lasso and fedora, if not a six-figure salary. Still, being able to smell quality naturals like bergamot, oakmoss, and real sandalwood in a holy trifecta of vintage olfactive bliss does have its perks, although little else about Sumare honestly excites me. I think part of it is how "plain" Sumare reads to the nose, undoubtedly the 1920's equivalent of "safe" by merging accords men were accustomed to at the time with a then-novel chypre base, while the rest of it is that this style has just been done better. Thumbs up for the history lesson, and worth a sniff for the curious.
25th June, 2019
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
This is one the most accomplishedly creative-traditional openings I have come across for a long time. Starting with a lemon/orange/ grapefruit triad of natural citrus delight mixed with bergamot and impressions of a kitchen table covered with fresh garden herbs, the drydown adds a classic lavender and, later, a great bright floral tone; I am getting mainly carnation and geranium.

The later stages are most traditional - a medium-heavy fresh leather with white pepper and in the base the apotheosis- a grand natural oak moss that is simply sensational.

Wow! A traditional chypre that has so may unexpected subtle twist such as to make it never boring. The quality of the ingredients is unsurpassed, the blending sublime without losing an iota of structure, and the performance exceptional: good sillage, great orojection and an excellent longevity of nine hours.

A sensational landmark and benchmark chypre- 4.75/5
17th February, 2015
Slow wind spice. Gentleman in my pocket. Luncheon at the Club. Related to Lord Aramis? I knew the boy, I knew the boy. Your grandchild, sir? Quite possibly, quite possibly. Stroll down the Strand. Meet the P.M. Then off to Buck House. Quality. Reticence. Distinction. All that sort of thing. (de Charlus).
20th May, 2006
To my nose, Sumare is unique. Some citrus on top, rapidly melding into a mossy leather. This could be Aramis' grandfather. Powerful and very masculine, and most definitely not for the kids. Next to Marquis, my favorite Crown.
28th September, 2005

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