Suzinn Weiss is a fellow Portlander, and I am so excited to have finally experienced her perfumes and body oils that are inspired by the rich and fragrant gardens of the Pacific Northwest. Suzinn is a fine artist and garden designer whose work led her to natural perfumery. She uses tinctures of leaves and petals from her own garden as well as fine essences from around the world. Additionally, Suzinn does not use any synthetics and her entire line is cruelty-free. I have enjoyed playing with all of her fragrances over the past month, and highly recommend looking into her sample packs if you have an interest in exploring all natural perfumes. My one challenge was to try to pick a favorite, which I simply cannot do! But I have managed to narrow it down to two of her fragrances that are particularly compelling.
Please stop by The Perfume Magazine to read my review of DSH Perfumes Vanille Botanique. Dawn has really outdone herself in creating the perfect fall vanilla fragrance.
This Valentine’s Day, Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes has created the perfect gift, a beautiful set of solid fragrances. Chocolate is the unifying note of this solid perfume series and is presented in adorable truffle boxes as a duo or quartet, as well as a complete sample set of all six. Roxana works only with pure botanical essences including the chocolate aroma for her new series. The solid perfumes are made with Scharffen Berger 99% cacao, cocoa butter, organic cocoa powder and theobroma cacao extract from South America. Beeswax, and jojoba seed oil comprise the base of the solids, making them creamy and luxurious to apply.
Noir is dark and bitter with a richness only high quality chocolate can impart. But as the darkness of the chocolate opening faded, the darkness of moist earth began. Patchouli became the prominent note in Noir’s heart, and remained so until the drydown. This patchouli doesn’t have the fecund mintiness that I have grown to prefer, but it nevertheless is a superb patchouli that gets your hands dirty in rich, warm soil.
Cerise is a cherry truffle scent. I am not a cherry/chocolate person when it comes to my preferred candy choices and I probably would have passed it by if it weren’t for this review. Turns out, Cerise is one of my favorites of the six. Its cherry was like a sweet port rather than a cloying syrup and was very well-balanced against the intensity of Scharffen Berger’s 99% cacao. The cherries morphed into blackberries on my skin, recalling the dog days of summer. Yet, as those last summer days are a reminder that time is fleeting, Cerise was fleeting too. It didn’t last nearly as long as Noir, but because I adore Cerise I would not hesitate to buy the compact and I do hope that Roxana makes this into a body butter.
La Forêt is probably the least chocolatey of the six, but nevertheless, my favorite of the bunch. It’s a “dense conifer forest” as Roxana describes, and indeed the aroma of pine, spruce, and fir welled up when applied.La Forêt is reminiscent of Mandy Aftel’s Fig which has an equally sophisticated and dense piney scent. But whereas Fig is jammy and teeming with jasmine’s floral intensity, La Forêt’s greenness is augmented by unsweetened chocolate. Winter holidays come to mind whenever I smell such a lovely pine scent, but keep in mind, this scent is used in aromatherapy to refresh and revitalize any time of year.
L’Orangerie took me by surprise. I thought it would smell just like those chocolate covered orange sticks that are scrumptuous, but I wasn’t sure I would want to wear that scent on my skin. Well, I was right and wrong. They do smell like those candies, and I love smelling like a box of them! The orange is radiant, and more like a ripe juicy tangerine with its sweetness. The chocolate in L’Orangerie seems sweeter because of this, never overwhelming the bright citrus.
Bois de Chocolat is the solid I have worn the most, and after wearing it again last night, I might have to rethink claiming La Forêt as my favorite. “Smokey woods and chocolate” is the scent description from Roxana, and it is indeed smoky. My impression of the woods in Bois de Chocolat is that of Agarwood (oud). It’s got the tangy, freshly chopped wood quality that I associate with Agarwood. Bois de Chocolat is a gentler version of Oudh Lacquer, another smoky/chocolate/agarwood scent that Liz Zorn created last year. Oudh Lacquer is a gorgeous perfume, but might be too intense for some tastes. Bois de Chocolat is the Yin to Oudh Lacquer’s Yang. So give Bois de Chocolate a go if you’re looking for a more subdued yet equally enticing experience.
L‘epice is a spicy mix of cloves, cinnamon and bitter orange rind. Are you familiar with Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea? I drink that brew frequently, and L’epice is reminiscent of its spicy goodness. Roxana doesn’t list the specific notes for her chocolate fragrances, but states that L’epice is: “Spice, hint of vanilla and chocolate”. The vanilla and chocolate escaped me, and I would love to smell more of those notes in L’epice. Regardless, it’s a lovely mulled spice perfume that hastens comfort and a touch of sensuality.
Now for the giveaway info! Go to Roxana’s Etsy site to check out the 5gm jar and pick the one from the Chocolate Series you would like to win. Leave a comment telling me which one you want and you will be entered. You are eligible for extra entries, one each, by following Roxana on Twitter and/or her Blog. You can get can also get extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. (Check the right sidebar for the Scent Hive links). Please let me know in your comments what you did so you can get the entries you deserve!
Update: Because of the amazing response I need to pick the winner sooner than I thought! You can enter until Friday January 29th at 9pm PST. Comments closed, I’ll announce the winner soon!
And just for fun, two extra entries if you Tweet about this giveaway. Use this short link (http://bit.ly/5SIuAx) within your tweet. You can let me know by posting the Twitter link in your comment.
Disclosure: Samples from Roxana Illuminated Perfume were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Illustration by Greg Spalenka at Spalenka.com
Have you ever stepped into a store and felt like the owner created it just for you? Maybe it was a home decor boutique where every detail spoke to your aesthetic sensibility? Or maybe a vintage shop that was chock-full of cardigans sparked your yearning because all the ones you adored fit perfectly? From a crass point of view, getting this type of consumer response is a marketer’s dream, but even as a jaded shopper, this experience can rouse feelings of giddiness and excitement in me.
I had such an encounter not too long ago when I rediscovered the DSH website. Don’t ask me how it slipped by me that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has so many natural perfumes in her line-up, but she does and it did. She has made them more visible with the Natural Perfumers Guild symbol, so searching for them is quite easy. She plans to make finding them even more effortless with a “naturals” link on her site that will take us directly to all of her botanical offerings within a week or two. So I mentioned feeling giddy and excited…this is no exaggeration. Go to her website and check out this prolific perfumer’s vast array of 100% (and nearly 100%) botanical perfumes. I felt like I unearthed a treasure chest of undiscovered natural fragrances and had to catch my breath. Where had I been?
Thankfully Dawn saved me from my ignorance. She emailed me, and offered to send samples that she will be featuring at the Vert exhibit in Venice, Ca. on Saturday October 24th. The Vert event is an extension of the Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibitions that Persephenie Schnyder has been hosting at her beloved scent haunt, Blunda Aromatics. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz will be at Vert from noon-6pm, and if you live in the area, I would not miss this extraordinary occasion.
As I mentioned, I have had the pleasure of sampling a few of the DSH perfumes that will be highlighted at Vert. One of these is truly special, as it is the first in her new Gaia Perfume Botanical Collection. Épices d’Hiver (Winter Spices) is so good, I feel confident in saying you lovers of cozy, spicy fragrances should put this on your holiday wishlist. It’s that likable. Although davana, stargazer lily accord and jasmine are listed in the notes, Épices d’Hiver has only a mere floral whisper. Davana is in the topnotes, along with pink pepper and nutmeg, and is a flower that I have not smelled. It is described as having a “fruity (apricot) odour of hay and licorice“, and also being “slightly woody with a hint of vanilla and a subtle camphorous note“. Intriguing no doubt! The hay, licorice and woody notes (not so much vanilla at the top) meld with the festive and familiar nutmeg and vitality of pink pepper.
The scent remains spicy and warm into the heart, but becomes slightly powdery and comfortingly but subtly sweet as benzoin wraps its loving arms around the whole affair. Woods, earthy patchouli and a botanical ambergris accord settle this fragrant experience into its base, but the spices are always present, like that warm cup of tea in your hands assuring you that as long as you’re taking in a deep breath of an aromatic essence, life’s is gonna be OK.
Rose Vert, another fragrance to be featured at the Vert event, has an unexpected dreamlike effect. It’s green and mildly citrusy at the outset, but the blend of four different rose absolutes and one rose otto create a swirling rosy haze that is mesmerizing. Fresh cut stems and crushed leaves are strewn throughout the heart and drydown of Rose Vert, so it never becomes a transparent floral. It’s substantial and grounded, even in its dreamy redolence. It would layer beautifully with another favorite freshly-cut rose fragrance of mine, Bonny Doone Farm’s Rose Creme Parfum.
Yuzu will also be at the event, and will be perfect for Los Angeleans to spritz. It’s loaded with all kinds of citrus; blood orange, fresh lemon, white grapefruit and yuzu in the top notes, followed by green mandarin, lime peel, pink grapefruit, and more yuzu in the middle. The base involves woods, Atlas cedarwood and Australian sandalwood to be specific. Yuzu is a citrus scent through and through though, as neroli and petitgrain finish things off with the (mildly) woody drydown. The citrus essences are very well blended, not one boasts loader than the other. It’s refreshing and the cedar/sandalwood duo gives the fragrance some woodiness of course but does not overpower it where you think “Aha! that’s cedar or that’s sandalwood!” Again, excellent blending technique by Ms. Hurwitz. Yuzu is reminiscent of another beautiful woody citrus perfume, Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrian. How wonderful to have found a similar fragrance, just as winsome and appealing, but 100% botanical. Thank you Dawn Spencer Hurwitz!
Posted by ~Trish