My husband and I are recently back from The Big Island of Hawaii and while I feel like that island could easily be a second home for me, the Pacific Northwest is where my heart and soul are most at ease. In Hawaii, I indulged my olfactory needs with the Gardenia Roll-On from Enfleurage in New York City. As the name of this boutique suggests, this fragrance is made of gardenia enfleurage flowers, and it is exquisite. But upon returning to the cooler weather, something a bit more PNW appropriate beckoned, and I knew just the fragrances to reach for.
As this might be my last installment of The Clarimonde Project, I would like to thank Lucy of IndiePerfumes for inviting me to partake in this extraordinarily inspired adventure. I’m hoping many of you have listened to Clarimonde via Librivox and perused the other participant’s blogs for reviews and beautiful prose inspired by this haunting romance.
There’s one aspect of this story that I have not touched upon yet, and that is the ending when Clarimonde is revealed to be a vampire. Romuald, the priest who fell madly in love with Clarimonde, did not disentangle himself from his lover once he discovered that he had been drugged nightly by her so she could drink his life giving blood. Rather, he seemed to relish that he kept her alive, so much so that his words could be mistaken for the prayer given before taking Holy Communion, “Drink, and may my love infiltrate itself throughout thy body together with my blood.”
When one celebrates Holy Communion, the host (bread) and the wine are symbolic of Christ’s body and blood. In Roman Catholicism specifically, the host and the bread are believed to become the body and blood of Jesus, which is echoed in the aforementioned words of Romuald regarding Clarimonde. Romuald not only partook in this ritual as a priest, but administered it to his parishioners as well. And at night, he gave of his own blood to save the life of Clarimonde. At one point in the story, Romuald even describes Clarimonde’s “beautiful hands” as “purer and more diaphanous than the host,” a direct reference to the Holy Communion.
This story is rife with death, rebirth, blood, flowers, decay, youth and passion. What an abundance of inspiration for a perfumer, right? Indeed it has been. I have three *perfumes at my table right now. One by Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums, another by Dawn Spencer Hurwtiz of DSH Perfumes, and finally one by Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals. I have experienced them all separately, but as I have them together now, I am convinced there must have been a Clarimonde collective consciousness wafting through their creative spaces while they concocted their brews as they are rather similar.
They are all intensely floral perfumes that exude the weighty feel of aubergine velvet, burgundy brocades and red damask. Dawn’s perfume, Paradise Lost, is quite ambery and well-aged like a rich port. Monica’s creation, Sangre, is just as deep and dark as Paradise Lost, but it’s a little sweeter like over-ripe blackberries dripping in one’s hand. All three hint at a haylike note, but it’s Ayala’s Clarimonde Dream Pillow that emanates the most earthiness. It’s not a freshly tilled soil though, rather a soil on the edge of decay that is infused with rose, violet and carnation.
Each of these perfumes teeter on the edge between lushness and decomposition, which is right where Romuald existed. And all of The Clarimonde Project creations, including Mandy Aftel’s Oud Luban and Immortal Mine, by Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl are touched by the beauty and depth of this utterly captivating story. I am honored to have been a part of this event that so exquisitely married perfume and literature.
*Paradise Lost (DSH Perfumes) and Sangre (Skye Botanicals) are mixed-media perfumes as they contain small amounts of synthetics. Ayala’s Dream Pillow perfume is 100% natural.
Image of The Vampire by Sir Philip Burne-Jones at artmagick
Image of Victorian Vampire by FairyLover17 at etsy
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.
Oh how I adore lily of the valley! Everything about this little gem of a flower warms my heart from its precariously slim stem that secures its white blossoming bells, to its heavenly scent that beckons you to get low to the ground in order to sniff its fragrance. And while there’s nothing like experiencing a flower’s scent in one’s own garden, I have been on the hunt for a muguet perfume that fills me with a similar warmth.
Knowing this, I figured it would take a substantial amount of time and effort to create an all natural muguet perfume, so I was reluctant to “commission” one for a May Day blogging event. When I finally mustered up the nerve to ask Dawn Spencer Hurwitz if she would be interested in participating in such an event, I was elated when she said yes. Then, a few months later I was floored when she informed me that she was creating not one but two muguet fragrances as well as original artwork inspired by her process.
Dawn’s inspiration for Muguet de Mai and Muguet Cologne was the impressionistic vision of lilies of the valley blooming in a dewy garden, bathing in May’s sunlight and being refreshed by rich damp soil. Let me say that I am a huge DSH Perfumes fan. I have so many loves from this line and knew that Dawn would create something really wonderful for May Day. But I was truly astonished at how brilliantly she composed her muguets as they are closer to the real thing than any other muguet perfume I have experienced.
There are moments when I can actually smell these essences as individual notes, but they’re fleeting, as it should be. The experience of Muguet de Mai is not about singular characteristics, but that of a seamless and harmonious blend of complex botanical accords and notes that is redolent of a garden chock full of lillies of the valley. Muguet Cologne achieves this same effect, but with an even stronger nod to the earth’s rich soil and to the woods that might surround this garden.
Muguet Cologne shares many notes with Muguet de Mai like galbanum, and violet leaf, but there are distinct differences between them. Muguet Cologne is less floral and more earthy. A couple of the floral accords are replaced by coriander, vetiver, patchouli and oakmoss which provide men the opportunity to enjoy a muguet fragrance. Having said that, this is not overtly masculine and women will certainly savor its woody-ambery character.
I am really smitten with Muguet Cologne‘s vetiver beginning. It’s got a green and nutty bite that I so enjoy from vetiver. It offers a vibrant opening which leads right into its core of muguet’s blossoming bells. Its heart doesn’t have the same floral intensity of Muguet de Mai, though. It’s more of a muguet suggestion, like woodland air wafting the scent of the flowers.
While I am crazy for Muguet Cologne‘s topnotes, it’s the drydown that really has me under its spell. The patchouli and oakmoss are blended to perfection and compliment each other so well. Both are known to be strong and at times overbearing, but this diad melds the smoky green-musk of oakmoss and the rich sweet/spicy balsamic quality of patchouli into an alluring blend that compliments the floral muguet backdrop.
If it’s not completely apparent by now, yes, I am totally in love with both of these fragrances and give them my highest recommendation. The thing is though, they are extremely limited edition, (Muguet Cologne is now permanent) so be quick on your feet if you want some. The pricing and availability information is available now on the DSH Perfumes website.
I want to personally thank Dawn for her willingness to create these perfumes for this blogging event. I am humbled and completely blown away by what she has created. I also want to thank all of the participating bloggers (listed below) and hope you all will take the time to read their May Day Muguet thoughts.
Because of its name, and the fact that this perfume was created for the holidays, I expected something familiar, like a yuletide blend of incense, spruce, and spice. Three Kings is definitely no such thing, but so much more. And what a pleasure it is when preconceived notions are dispelled, especially when something more interesting awaits.
Three Kings, the third from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s all natural Gaia Collection, is certainly interesting and took me by surprise upon first sniff. Its opening is rather bitter, like the sharp smelling sap of a young pine tree bereft of any aged softness. A bitterness from citrus is present as well, as if an orange or bergamot were picked too soon before its sugars had time to fully develop. The first time I wore Three Kings, the opening felt strange and a slightly disorienting. But now that I know what lies beyond its first few minutes, the edgy topnotes feel like a rite of passage into what becomes a gorgeous vetiver perfume.
Vetiver might not have been one of the original offerings of the three kings, but it should have been given the magic Dawn has created with this humble root. The vetiver progression begins just shortly after the bitterness fades, when resinous balsams of cedarwood, sandalwood, frankincense and myrrh reveal themselves, subtly for now and more substantially in the drydown.
The heart continues to develop as vetiver asserts itself with a piquant greenness that is a little nutty and a whole lot earthy. This is my favorite aspect of vetiver, its rich and fecund essence which calls to mind damp forests and dry leaves clinging to their branches. Vetiver also has hints of powderiness which Three Kings explores as it moves further into its heart. The powdery, leathery richness of labdanum converges seamlessly with the vegetal soil of vetiver, making the 180 degree turn away from sharpness complete.
In the drydown, vetiver rests in the unfolding expanse of woods and resins, fully softening any remaining edges. In the end, what began as a startling perfume, has now become one of the most gentle and lovely vetiver perfumes I have ever experienced. I was not expecting vetiver to be the central offering of Three Kings, but it is, and I am grateful.
Three Kings is available at DSH Perfumes. $55 for 0.25 oz EDP spray or $140 for 1 oz.
Posted by ~Trish
Disclosure: A sample of Three Kings was sent to me for consideration by DSH Perfumes. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Image: Three Kings by Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951) at CGFA
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes flew under my naturals-loving radar until a few months ago. One of her purely botanical gems that I discovered is Chinoise. Dawn refers to this perfume as “a quiet and contemplative moment amongst groves of whispering camphor trees; a grounding aroma.” I have yet to experience such a moment in a camphor tree grove, but I concur with her opinion that Chinoise is a grounding aroma.
Its notes are white camphor, sandalwood, himalayan cedar, and agarwood. All of them blend seamlessly making Chinoise greater than the sum of its parts. This is not an overtly camphor fragrance, or a strong sandalwood fragrance, and most definitely not agarwood-esque either. Cedar is possibly the most noticeable note, but it’s dusky, not sharp. Very subtle. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to identify any individual note as they meld and mingle with soothing parity.
Somehow, the combination of these notes create the scent that is emitted when you set a hot iron on crisp, freshly washed cotton linens. It’s not a dryer sheet smell, or the “clean” smell that has become so ubiquitous, but rather, the comforting aroma that’s suffused into the air by warming natural fibers.
Because the notes are so diffuse, they create a mood moreso than a floral, woody or smoky perfume experience. Indeed this fragrance would be appropriate for work, or around those who might be sensitive to strong perfumes. But Chinoise encompasses more than that. I’ll harken back to Dawn’s words and agree with her once more that Chinoise is very contemplative, and even though I don’t have a camphor tree grove in my vicinity, I’d like to sit admist one, with Chinoise on my wrists and a book of Chinese Buddhist teachings in my hands.
Chinoise is available at DSH Perfumes.
Posted by ~Trish
Disclosure: I received a sample of Chinoise EdP as an extra with a DSH Perfumes order. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Buddhist Painting from art.com
If you’ve read my blog lately, you know how delighted I am to have discovered DSH Perfumes line of all natural fragrances. Each of her botanical perfumes has its own personality while maintaining the sophistication we have come to expect from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Her newest 100% botanical scent, Bancha, is no exception. Inspired by the common green Japanese tea, Bancha has the comfort and grace of a steamy steeping cup.
Bancha, a green tea, is made from mature leaves picked in the summer or autumn, as opposed to Matcha and Sencha varieties whose tender leaves are harvested in the spring. These distinctions are new to me, and according to my friend Wikipedia, Bancha’s late picking gives it a “stronger organic straw smell”. DSH’s Bancha also has a strong, organic smell that is more green than straw-like, although I would not place this fragrance in the same category of other green tea perfumes. Bancha brings forth the refreshing coziness of green tea, but it is not seeking to emulate it. Rather than having a distinct “green tea note,” Bancha is an earthy tea meditation.
Bancha is a blend of citrus and mint at its opening, quite unlike what you might anticipate. The citrus is a tad bitter, as any fruity sweetness is negated by a fecund mint essence. Even though we’re talking topnotes here, Bancha is immediately grounding, like scooping up limes or lemons that have fallen into dark, fertile soil. Moving into the heart of Bancha is a subtle transition, but the herbal basil, gently floral rose and jasmine sambac, and green pine needles make the experience even richer and a little softer. Sandalwood and cedarwood round out the base, giving an aura of woods, like heat rising off a sauna’s walls.
I have adored Bancha since I first tested it this past fall and drank in this comforting perfume. Perfume bloggers are known for indulging in purple prose every now and then, and I am no exception, but this is no hyperbole when I say not only is Bancha revitalizing, but healing as well. Angela at NowSmellThis just wrote a lovely piece on how a fragrance can become a part of you, settle into your essence naturally. This is how I feel about Bancha. Since I only write reviews about products I enjoy on Scent Hive, I would love to have a bottle of most anything I write about. With Bancha it’s beyond wanting a bottle. It has become one of those scents that I can’t imagine not having in my collection. It fulfills a need on certain days when I want to be taken care of with its grounded and rejuvenating redolence.
Bancha is available at the DSH Perfumes website.
Posted by –Trish
February Haiku by provincijalka at Etsy.com
Disclosure: A sample of Bancha was provided for this review by DSH Perfumes. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
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