American fragrance brand Imaginary Authors has been making a splash in the niche fragrance world ever since its founding by perfumer Josh Lobb in 2012. With its creative branding, affordable pricing, and bold and unique offerings, it’s clear to see why.
Sundrunk, a 2018 release from the house, is inspired by summer love at the beach, sun on tanned bodies, and orange soda. But how well does it succeed in conjuring up those images?
Imaginary Authors Sundrunk is a beautiful summer fragrance based around the notes of orange, rhubarb, neroli, and hibiscus. With a unique, quirky presentation, solid performance, and good value for money, Sundrunk is a summer citrus gem that all lovers of orange should put on their watch list.
Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at Imaginary Authors’ Sundrunk.
Notes: orange zest, rhubarb, neroli, honeysuckle, rose water, first kiss (fantasy note)
Like all Imaginary Authors fragrances, Sundrunk is inspired by an “imaginary” novel written by an imaginary author. The name of the fragrance is supposed to be the title of the novel – for example, Memoirs of a Trespasser, Yesterday’s Haze, Cape Heartache, and in this case, Sundrunk.
The Imaginary Authors website provides this “synopsis” of the novel, Sundrunk, written by the fictional writer Amy Obispo:
“When Clementine Cope set foot in snow deeper than her knees, she knew it was for the last time. Leaving the rural Montana home she’d been raised in, with no plans other than to follow the setting sun, she’d wake up every morning and head towards the warmth; dreaming of Dennis Wilson, push pops in the sand, and convertibles.
“Her journey covers thousands of miles and delivers her first-ever view of the ocean. By the time summer hits, Clem is consumed by an incomprehensible joy. She finally stops traveling when she settles into a ramshackle surf camp with newfound friends from the hills of Topanga, California. Now realizing for the first time her journey is only beginning.”
The packaging of the fragrance also offers this quote, supposedly from the novel:
“Woozy and warm from the sun, we shared an orange pop and watched the surfers’ last lines of the day.”
Obviously, this is a summer fragrance, made for surf, sand, sun, and good vibes.
The fragrance opens up with the dominant and essential accord of the whole thing: a fizzy orange, meant to evoke the smell of orange soda. Sundrunk is remarkably successful in reconstructing the scent of orange Fanta or Sunkist, and for that reason it instantly became one of my favorite summer fragrances.
I absolutely love “fizzy” or “bubbly” fragrances like Comme des Garcons’ Soda, Perfumology Grange, Kenzo Power, and Etat Libre d’Orange’s Remarkable People, so it was no surprise that Sundrunk got to me so easily.
And although I don’t drink soda anymore, when I was a kid, orange soda was probably my second favorite after Coca-Cola; I spent many a sweltering Alabama summer day wetting my whistle with ice-cold cans of Sunkist.
Sundrunk smells exactly like Sunkist, but mixed with flowers. It’s like an orange soda drunk on a Hawaiian beach overrun with wild orchids.
A pure orange note can often end up a bit sweet, but Sundrunk avoids that problem by restraining it with a crisp and sour rhubarb note.
After the opening barrage of citrus dies down a little bit (though never fades away), you’re met with a beautiful blend of florals: creamy neroli and honeysuckle, a little bit of hibiscus, and, the beating heart of the fragrance, a succulent, smoldering pink rose, which I think might be the most representative of the “first kiss” fantasy note.
If I’m being honest, citrus fragrances don’t usually do it for me. I’m the kind of person who likes rich, complex, smoky, spicy, sweet kind of fragrances. In the summertime, I usually prefer to wear green fragrances (such as Amouage’s Beach Hut Man) or summery florals with orange blossom or neroli.
However, Sundrunk is one of the few citrus fragrances that I truly love. For one, it’s got the fizziness factor, which is an automatic plus for me. But it’s the way that citrus blends with the cocktail of florals that makes this so enticing.
There is something very romantic and sensual about Sundrunk that makes it an irresistible summer staple, at least in my opinion. Rarely do I find summer citrus fragrances “sexy”, but Sundrunk is one of the few that pulls it off. I love it on myself, but I think it would smell even more delicious on a lady.
If I were to describe Sundrunk in a few words, they would be: fizzy, citrusy, sweet, floral, sultry, beachy, and fresh.
The presentation of Sundrunk, as is the case with all Imaginary Authors fragrances, is simple, quirky, and cool.
The fragrance comes in the standard Imaginary Authors box.
The brown cardboard box is book-shaped, with a kind of deckle edge on one side and a “binding” on the other. The box is decorated with the Imaginary Authors logo, which is printed in almost the same color as the box, and some decals with colorful tropical fish and surfing scenes.
The box opens in a book-like fashion, revealing a niche into which the bottle fits snugly.
Overall, I really love the box presentation of Sundrunk, though I do have one minor criticism. The cardboard of the box is unprotected, just like a real standard cardboard box, rather than a cardboard fragrance box.
While that’s all well and good, just be careful of getting it near moisture. I accidentally put my box onto a wet spot on my coffee table, and the box got wet and distorted slightly. A shame, since this was one of the few fragrance boxes I actually kept.
The bottle design is similarly simple but instantly recognizable and effective.
The standard rectangular glass bottle is decorated with a wraparound decal that covers ¾ of the bottle. On one side, you see a scene of a surfer with tropical fish swimming underneath and some cool sun funkery. This is the fictional cover of the novel Sundrunk.
On the “spine” of the book, the name of the fragrance is listed, while the back cover lists the fragrance notes and the name of the brand. The other side of the bottle is blank, taking the place of where the pages of this imaginary book might be and allowing you to look inside the bottle and see how much juice you’ve got left.
The cap is silver-colored light-weight metal, but it snaps into place nicely, and you can pick the bottle easily without dropping the bottle. Its impressed with the initials “IA”, standing for Imaginary Authors.
The sprayer is a pretty standard atomizer, but it squirts out quite a hefty spray with each pump.
Overall, the bottle and packaging are really great, at least in my opinion. It’s not anything luxurious, but it has an unmistakable identity and a cool concept to back it up. The brand is based in Portland, Oregon, and it feels totally, 100% like Portland, but in the best way possible.
The performance of Sundrunk is pretty much in line for what you’d expect from a fresh summer citrus fragrance – i.e., not that great.
The longevity is relatively short.
Six to seven sprays of Sundrunk on my skin give me about four to five hours of longevity, and more on fabric.
Listen, this is a citrus fragrance. I’ve written before about how volatile citrus oils can be, and how difficult it is to make a long lasting citrus fragrance. Sundrunk, lacking the heavy woods, musks, and ambers that usually act as fixatives in other perfumes, is no exception to that rule.
Of course, there are some synthetic aroma chemicals serving as fixatives here to give the fragrance some legs, but nevertheless, this is not anywhere near the strongest fragrance in my collection.
And that’s okay! I love the smell so much that it doesn’t matter to me.
This is the kind of scent you can spray with abandon and apply again and again throughout the day. And because the 1.7 oz (50ml) bottle is so compact, it’s easy to throw it in your bag and bring it with you. It’s got the perfect amount of lasting power for a visit to the beach.
Projection & Sillage
Just like the longevity, the projection and sillage of Sundrunk are nothing to write home about.
Six to seven sprays on my skin gives me about an hour of soft projection and arm’s length sillage and half an arm’s length of sillage.
Again, this fragrance is very far from beast mode, and again, I don’t mind it at all.
It’s simply not the nature of this kind of fragrance to be a powerhouse projection monster. I wouldn’t want to be any other way. This is a fragrance that uplifts you and energizes you in short bursts. I love to reapply just so I can get a beautiful burst of those juicy, effervescent top notes again.
And although you might not think that it’s all that detectable, this fragrance has actually gotten me quite a few compliments, even when I thought that it was totally gone from my skin. So yes, the performance is on the weak side compared to monsters like Beach Hut Man or Dior Homme Parfum, but it has exactly the kind of performance it needs to.
Value For Money
In my opinion, Sundrunk has pretty good value for money for a niche fragrance.
A 1.7 oz of Sundrunk retails for $95 – that’s $1.90/ml. A 14ml travel spray is also available for $38, or $2.71/ml.
Of course, every person must decide for themselves whether they deem a fragrance as having good value for money or not. It’s true that the performance of Sundrunk is not the best, and the packaging is not exactly high-end, but overall, it costs just about the same amount to buy Sundrunk as it does a new bottle of Dior Homme Cologne or Sauvage, and I get a lot more enjoyment out of Sundrunk than I do from those fragrances.
Sundrunk is a unique scent profile executed with quality and panache from an American artisan. Personally, I would rather support a small indie brand like Imaginary Authors than I would a vast corporate conglomerate like LVMH, so in my view, Sundrunk absolutely merits the price.
Who Would Like It
I had assumed that virtually all humans would enjoy Sundrunk, as there is really nothing challenging or unpleasant in the blend at all. However, scanning through reviews on Fragrantica, Parfumo, and Basenotes, Sundrunk actually has its share of haters.
The charge? The “synthetic” orange note, which quite a few reviews deemed “vile” and “atrocious”.
It’s supposed to smell like orange soda! Of course it’s not a true-to-life orange note! I personally cannot see how anyone hates this fragrance, but evidently many do.
In any case, I think that people who love fresh, summery citrus fragrances would find a lot to love in Sundrunk, just as long as they’re not expecting a photorealistic orange scent. This is one of the more unique takes on that genre that I’ve smelled, and I think it’s at the very least worth a try for citrus fans.
Additionally, I urge anyone who is in search of bubbly, fizzy fragrances that smell like soda to try Sundrunk. It really does smell like soda.
Finally, if you find most summer fragrances to be overly simplistic and boring (like I do, generally speaking), I would recommend Sundrunk to you as a more complex and “interesting” summer scent that is still quite mass appealing and not too far “out there”.
When To Wear It
When else but in the heat of the summer?
Sundrunk smells absolutely amazing in hot, scorching, tropical heat. Spray it on before you head out to the beach or on a summer hike and you’ll feel it radiating off of you in waves as you warm up.
The brand actually has a recommendation on when to wear Sundrunk which I’ll record here:
“The obvious choice is to plunge into this scent at the peak of summer, allowing the cool citrus to wash your worries away. Less obvious is to douse yourself in the darker months, letting your skin soak up the sun and radiate it outward when it matters most.”
I have to say, I have tried this out, and Sundrunk smells just as lovely in the cold weather as it does in the heat. However, for me, the best time to wear and apply Sundrunk is when your skin is warm, the sun is high, and the sky is clear.
I think it would be appropriate pretty much anywhere except for a formal occasion during the summer. Work, date night, casual hangouts – Sundrunk would be equally at home in any of those situations. And as the brand states, it’s 100% unisex, to my nose not leaning either or masculine despite the overdose of florals.
There are some similar scents to Sundrunk out there, though none in my experience has captured the same fizzy vibe.
The closest companion to Sundrunk would probably be Byredo’s Sundazed. They do indeed share that delicious orangey vibe; however, Sundazed is quite a bit sweeter than Sundrunk, and the neroli (joined by jasmine) is a lot stronger.
Still, Sundazed is a totally delicious fragrance which I’ve wanted to buy since the first time I sniffed it, despite already owning Sundrunk.
Satsuma by The Body Shop can also give you a similar experience to Sundrunk, albeit without the fizziness or the florals.
Finally, Mandarine Basilic and Orange Soleia, both from Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria line, give me shades of Sundrunk, but of course have their own nuances.
Mandarine Basilic, for example, gives you a more herbal experience, and Orange Soleia has a tonka bean base almost reminiscent of the now discontinued L’Homme Ideal Cologne. However, none have the same fizzy effect combined with sensual florals that Sundrunk has.
Pros & Cons
- Beautiful, uplifting, fizzy floral citrus fragrance.
- Pretty decent value for money.
- Quirky and fun packaging.
- Performance leaves something to be desired, though that is to be expected with a citrus fragrance.
- Though the packaging is great in terms of design, the actual materials used to execute that design aren’t the best.
- Some people seem to be turned off by the synthetic fizziness of the orange; might be a “love it or hate it” situation.
The Final Word
Overall, in my view, Imaginary Authors Sundrunk is a fantastic fragrance that is one of my all-time summer favorites.
I have worn it to death in the sweltering heat of the Taiwanese summer and it has never let me down. It also works great with layering – I’ve layered it with Profumum Roma’s Meringa (an amazing orange blossom scent) and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Gaultier 2 (a sadly discontinued amber-vanilla-orange blossom masterpiece) to great success.
I might even go so far as to put it in my top ten all-time favorites, period. You might not love it as much as I do, but I think that regardless, Sundrunk is a fragrance worthy of consideration for people searching for a unique (but not too unique) summer fragrance with a beautiful scent profile, decent performance (for a citrus fragrance), and cool packaging.
I award Imaginary Authors Sundrunk:
★★★★☆ 4 ½ stars out of 5