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.
I’ve rounded up some discounts from my favorite all natural lines, and a few that I am really excited to try out for the first time.
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.
The world of natural perfumery has become richer and even more intriguing now that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s prolific creativity has expanded to her natural offerings. In fact, she has so much to choose from, that a page on her website has been dedicated to those perfumes that are at least 85% natural, many of which are 100% natural. Mata Hari, one of DSH Perfume’s 100% natural perfumes, was released this past fall for the Outlaw Project, a beautifully productive response to the appropriately maligned IFRA restrictions.
Mata Hari is quite the outlaw as she contains (hold on!) oakmoss and a slew of other natural essences that the IFRA has deemed too big and bad for us consumers. If you frequent the perfume blogs you know the resounding response has been “Bring It On!” And Dawn did just that.
With the flesh and blood inspiration of Mata Hari, Dawn has created a full-bodied and sexy fragrance. Mata Hari was an exotic dancer who allegedly became a spy for Germany in the early 19th century. When Greta Garbo portrayed her in the 1931 film, Mata Hari’s fate as a prototype for the femme fatale was sealed.
Mata Hari, the perfume, explores the fleshy warmth of the seductive dancer more so than the edginess of a femme fatale due to the peach and apricot accord that runs throughout its evolution. Mata Hari does begin with an initial burst of bergamot and lemon, but the soft and sweet peachiness surfaces within seconds alluding to the zaftig sway of female curves.
Other fruity notes like cassis and blood orange augment this sensuality, but on my skin, the apricot, peach and slightly woody aspects of osmanthus absolute predominate. Mata Hari also possesses the spiciness of clove, black pepper and cinnamon which conjure olfactory images of vintage perfumes (no spice racks here). It’s also teeming with florals like mimosa, ylang ylang, champaca, rose, jasmine and tuberose which have such a seamless blend that they move fluidly alongside the spicy notes, amplifying the vintage quality of Mata Hari.
Like many classic perfumes, Mata Hari fully exploits the rich and earthy natures of patchouli, vetiver, and oakmoss as well as the sweetness of vanilla, benzoin and tonka bean. But it’s the woodiness of the drydown that brings all of these aspects; fruity, floral, earthy and sweet into a cohesive whole. Peru balsam, Australian sandalwood and Texas cedarwood help bridge the sensuality of the peach infused osmanthus absolute and the luxurious feel of a well-aged vintage perfume brimming with rich florals and exotic spices. The sandalwood is especially effective as it provides a buttery smooth backdrop that gives all of these essences a medium to settle into and flourish.
Mata Hari is available at DSH Perfumes and is a limited edition. It is $80 for a 5ml flask or $225 for a 0.5 oz vintage bottle.
Posted by ~Trish
Disclosure: A sample 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.
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
Today is the last day of winter, and as we pass from one season to the next we find ourselves in a moment of reflection. Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums has gathered a handful of bloggers to reflect on the remarkable scents that gave us comfort this past winter. Here is my selection of perfumes that provided warmth in the cold months and will continue to nest a sanctuary for me anytime of year.
Bancha is the first fragrance that came to mind when I received Ayala’s invitation. I wore it throughout the winter, and it felt nurturing and hopeful. Dawn Spencer Hurwtiz has named this fragrance after a type of green tea, but it is so much more than a “tea” perfume. It’s lemony and minty to be sure, but is entrenched in rich dark soil that provides sustenance to roots and bulbs, a reminder of emerging life. Bancha is equally as gorgeous and appropriate on a man, my husband specifically, which makes my affection for Bancha even stronger.
Royal Couple by Gabriel’s Aunt, is an overtly floral fragrance that is wearable and cozy. It starts with an intoxicating dose of jasmine, develops into a subtly spicy floral in the heart, and dries down to a gorgeous vanilla base. Royal Couple’s blend of jasmine and rose is impeccable and fortunately comes in a candle to help light the way when it’s chilly, be it from the weather or internal storminess.
A perfume can be a salve not so much because of its notes, but because of the association you have with its aroma. When I wore Ayala’s Hanami for the first time last spring, it was a near magical day at the Japanese Gardens with my young boys. The sun was bursting with much longed for radiant heat and the cherry blossoms were glowing with an otherworldly pinkness. Hanami was on my skin, and its floral notes of magnolia and mimosa made the day even sweeter. Despite its petal softness, Hanami is very grounded with woods, tonka, vetiver and subtle vanilla. So for me, Hanami is a complex fragrance that recalls a tender memory.
Buying a perfume after you’ve gone through turmoil is another way to experience well-being, at least in my scent obsessed world. I did just that after my recent unexpected surgery, as I deserved and needed a new scent to appease my situation, right? One read of March’s review of Strange Invisible Perfume’s limited edition Dimanche was all it took for me to decide what perfume I would indulge in. Thankfully, I concur with her glowing review. In fact, I’m having a hard time using any other perfume these days as I am in full-blown Dimanche infatuation. I agree with March that Dimanche is sharp in the beginning due to iris that isn’t tempered with something soft to round its edges. Instead, bittersweet cocoa and powdery rose heighten its intensity throughout the top and especially in the heart of the fragrance. Dimanche doesn’t settle until the drydown when hay and honey emerge, making for one interesting affair. It gets even more fascinating when the soapy quality of iris surfaces. This might sound like a motley crew of notes, but it works. It’s compelling, rich, and to use an overused word, a little bit fierce.
Chêne by Roxana Villa is a perfume I wished I’d had this past winter. Although it is a chocolate based fragrance, it suggests a similar ambience to DSH’s Bancha. Chêne is dark and rich with oud, woods and resins yet has a piquant vitality that keeps it from becoming too heavy. The base of this solid perfume is composed of cocoa butter, beeswax, and jojoba seed oil which is dreamy to apply, and perfect for the rainy days of spring around the corner.
These perfumes, and the Royal Couple candle, are all natural and contain no synthetics, petrochemicals, or phthalates. Many of them also use organic ingredients.
Please visit the other blogs who are participating in this comforting event:
Posted by ~Trish
“Bird in the Magnolia Nest” by Hadley Hutton available at etsy.
“This article’s title is an homage to Michelyn Camen‘s original article of this same name on Sniffapalooza Magazine in 2008, in which interviewed several perfumers to comment on what botanical elements make their perfumes comforting.
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