Tag Archives: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

My top 5 perfume houses

Well, Birgit beat me to it. 😦 Even so, I’ll go with the one I had planned several weeks ago and never published (now wonder people beat me to different things). 😉

So, as there are posts like these all the time (your favorite perfumes, notes, brands, perfumes from a brand, etc.), I wanted to share my preferences on the subject.

I have a hard time naming favorite perfumes as that changes all the time. Plus, there are so many good perfumes out there, I hate having to choose among them. I have enough love for all of them. 😉DSC00761

That is why I decided to tell you about my favorite perfume houses because even though I don’t like everything they do, I like/love most of their perfumes and look benevolently on others even when I don’t like them. They are also better represented in my collection. 🙂

In no particular order:

Serge Lutens – I’m guessing most perfumistas have Serge Lutens on their list of perfume houses they enjoy. I don’t think a special explanation is needed but to explain my reasoning – they are like a wonderfully intelligent conversation you might lead at the most unexpected places but one you really need to be alert for, otherwise you will lose your strain of thought.

Guerlain – again, some of the ingeniously great perfumes came from this house and they still come up with some great perfumes.

Ramon Monegal – now, I only recently discovered this gem of a perfume house and the more I smell their perfumes, the more I fall in love. Which isn’t surprising considering Mr. Monegal’s love for books which in my mind only means he knows what he’s doing when it comes to perfume as well. And the inkwell! I was sold at that. 😉

Histoires des Parfums – I always think they don’t get enough love and raving reviews because honestly, those perfumes are great, and very wearable. And not expensive either (considering what else is out there and how much it costs).

The last but not the least, the house that started my perfume journey – L’Artisan Parfumeur. They are also the house I would recommend every perfume newbie to start with as they make you fall in love with some amazingly down-to-earth notes.


I noticed in this list that my European heritage is rather obvious. 🙂

And of course I have special additions. 😉

Special mention goes to Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (being both an American perfume house and indie as well) whose perfumes I keep enjoying since the first time I smelled them. I’m amazed at the work Dawn does, both in its expanse and quality and look forward to smelling many more perfumes her artisan hands make.

And Frederic Malle which would have made the list if I were to mention 6 perfume houses. They’ve been steadily climbing my list of favorite houses for some time now…

P.S. Special thanks to Asali for the absolutely wonderful photos I could use for this post and my blog header.

The Scent of Music: Winter Wonderland

It’s that time of year when we all want to write about our Christmas scents. A big thank you to Undina and Natalie for bringing us all together for another fragrant blogging event.

Today we are pairing Christmas music and perfumes and I just have to say it’s the best idea as I love Christmas music and well, you all know I love perfume.

My choice of music was Dean Martin‘s Winter Wonderland – the idea of winter wonderland paired with his voice makes for a perfect song to indulge in during this time (at least for me it does).

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,Winter_WonderlandWe’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland. ..

…Later on, we’ll conspire,

As we dream by the fire

To face unafraid,

The plans that we’ve made,
Walking in a winter wonderland. …

When it snows, ain’t it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland.”


I skipped parts of the song and just focused on those I will feature in perfumes. That said, I’m still looking for a perfume embodiment of snow I have in my mind.

Each time I consider a winter wonderland, I think of white woods and walking through them in the snow. I guess all the skiing did its thing. 😉

So, my perfect perfumes embodying the smell of a walk in the winter woods would be Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles, making you feel you’re still close to the cabin and its fire while also smelling the pines around you, and Winter Woods by Sonoma Scent Studio which is such an incredible depiction in perfume of exactly what the name says.

Then there are perfumes that might not smell like snow exactly, but they smell white and cold and sparkly, and come very close.

I find it funny that I would list Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique among them but I do. It smells white to me and light and when I smell it, I feel the same as I would when I breathe in the snowy air.

Then there is Le Labo’s Gaiac 10 , with its incense and cedar and it makes me think white and clean, and therefore snowy. It’s strange that when a perfume has an incense note that smells white, I am fine with it (otherwise it’s a no-no for me on incense).

My third choice for the tranquility of the white world (winterland) is Montale’s  White Oud. It’s as serene and peaceful as a white, snowy landscape where you are alone to find peace.

And as we go back to warm ourselves by the fire, I always go back to Piment et Chocolat, a perfume to warm you up that you wouldn’t mind drinking by the fire either, and Festive, the one you might want to wear if you need warming up of another kind by the Christmas tree. 😉

Please visit my fellow participating bloggers for their choices on what songs smell Christmas-y to them:

I’ll leave you now with Winter Wonderland. 🙂

And my favorite for this year and one of my all time favorite Christmas songs of all time:

Contemplating Christmas perfumes

Not to say that I’m contemplating what perfumes I’m going to wear around Christmas but I feel this very strong need to wear some of those evoking Christmas time – now. 🙂

It’s dark, cold and frosty outside and I can’t help but want warm, spicy, Christmasy fragrant perfumes wafting around me.

And of course, when I realized that is what I wanted, I also realized I don’t have that many ideas on the topic.
Here are those that came to mind (you will probably notice they are all by a single perfumer):

Piment et Chocolat – spicy and warm, lightly chocolatey

Festive – evoking fir trees and fun in the warmth of a fire

Nourouz – smelling of juicy pomegranate and holiday warmth

Gingembre – I could use the smell of baking cookies

I could also include Sienna, smelling very cinnamony, and Cimabue smelling clove-y.

Ok, so these are the ideas I had but I would like to enlarge my choices if possible, so please, ideas and suggestions are very much welcome.
You can tell from my choices what I would generally like in my Christmas perfumes but I would love to hear what are your associations when it comes to perfumes that evoke Christmas for you.

Filching a birthday present

As all of you who read Birgit’s blog Olfactoria’s Travels know, she did mini reviews yesterday of DSH perfumes in honour of Dawn’s birthday today.
I think it is a lovely idea so I thought I’d give my thoughts on the latest trio I tried of Dawn’s creations.
And a very happy birthday Dawn! 🙂

Top notes: Cassis Bud, Hazelnut, Silver Fir

Middle notes: Carnation, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Jasmine, Tuberose Absolute
Base notes: Brown Oakmoss, Olibanum (Frankincense), Oude (Agarwood)

I’d swear there was some patchouli in this as it starts sweet, lightly earthy-rooty so it instantly reminded me of patchouli. Also, I just realized, that the earthy-rooty thing might not sound appealing in terms of perfume but to me, it always smells great. I was already starting to get worried I might be imagining things as I smelled carnation (and I tested Vitriol d’Oiellet morning before) but carnation is in there. And I can smell the wonderful oakmoss base. And to imagine I used to think I didn’t like oakmoss (that’s until you smell the real deal).
Basically, to me it smells darkishly woody and lightly floral, and then it gets more rosy-woody until woodsy notes are all I can smell and it makes me feel calm and relaxed and while I’m not watching, the woods give way to florals and I’m floating on a cloud.
Oude Arabique
Top notes: Mastic

Middle notes: Oude (Agarwood), Tamil Nadu Sandalwood

Base notes: Australian Sandalwood, Buddahwood, Himalayan Cedar, Tolu Balsam

Of this trio, Oude is my favourite but it doesn’t smell really oudish to me. It starts sweetly, floral-sandalwoody and then I get this wonderfull creaminess that is very reminiscent of Love Coco but there is no coconut or ylang-ylang in this. The best I could come up with was that mastic and sandalwood were playing tricks on me because later I could smell sandalwood more clearly.
As I follow my nose and notes are there to point the way most of the time, I ended up with something floral in the base (again). 🙂 Not that I mind.
L’Eau d’Iris
Top notes: Bergamot, Florentine Iris Flower, Violet

Middle notes: Neroli, Orris Root
Base notes: Benzoin, Musk, Sandalwood

I really thought this wasn’t my kind of perfume until the initial iris bitterness was mellowed  by violet. And if I read that somewhere else, I wouldn’t have been interested as I’m not really a violet fan, but lately it seems to be getting under my skin.
The initial iris smells very strict and uncompromising to me until it gets mellowed by the violet and then later musc (reminding me a bit of MdO Musc where the pair works wonderfully). I really tried smelling the bergamot but it’s more of a backdrop to the iris’s center stage.
Does that happen to anyone else? I mean, I can’t smell a note but I know it’s there because of the way the most obvious note smells like.
So, iris loses its strength slowly and while making way for violet, in the end it makes it into sandalwoody muskiness. Extremely lovely. Especially when considering where it started from.

Notes and pics by: http://www.dshperfumes.com/

Spring is here!

Although not in my step. I have a terrible cold for days now so I’m not able to smell anything and if something is strong enough to register, it hurts my nose and throat. 

But the weather is warm (incredibly so for this time of year) and the sun has been shining all week and should keep doing so in days to come even though it shouldn’t be this warm.
So, it’s the perfect time to dive into spring scents and I’m dying to do so, but at the moment, it is only a heartfelt wish that will have to wait.

In a vain attempt to smell spring, I sprayed Dawn’s Dutch Blue Hyacinth this morning only to smell the barest whiff of something first 5 minutes and nothing from then on. I couldn’t  decipher what it was that I was smelling before even that disappeared (as only the first strongest whiff managed to pass through my runny nose).

Oh, I am so very much looking forward to the moment I can enjoy spring through my nose!

Pic by: http://www.proprofs.com/

Woody chocolate anyone?

I should write this before it’s gone so if anyone has a liking, it can be snatched for a reduced price.
I’m talking about DSH Bois du Chocolate, a sample of which arrived with my last order and has been going around with me for weeks as it just didn’t beckon to me.

Today I decided to forget about the beckoning part and just try it. It’s wonderful! Simple yet brilliant. I don’t where this is coming from, I didn’t write this down when smelling it but now I look back to what it smelled like, I find it great.
Well, I thought it was great then as well. 🙂

Top notes: Sandalwood

Middle notes: Dark Chocolate, Vanilla
Base notes: Musk, Patchouli

Straight away I got dark chocolate and it wasn’t sweet. It was as dark chocolate is supposed to smell like. I wanted to describe that smell but the best I got is deep, dark chocolate. 🙂 And I need to work on better distinguishing variants of patchouli and vetiver, I thought I smelled vetiver and it turned out, patchouli was in the notes. But you certainly cannot miss the sandalwood. I did miss the musk and vanilla though. Vanilla isn’t surprising, as it probably underscores chocolate and is there to make it work its magic. Musk completely by-passed me, but then again, it was made clear to me yesterday, I can’t smell some musks very well (like Musc Nomade by AG, I could barely sniff it on my arm).

Anyway, I enjoyed smelling this, it’s exactly what it says, but it smells so much better than you can guess by reading the notes (or the name). Seductive but not sweet (I’m wondering now if I find the smell of dark chocolate seductive, it seems to pop out each time I smell a perfume with it).

And if I recover from my recent perfume stunts in time, while there is a bottle of this farewell item left, I believe I’ll have one. And check if men find it seductive as well. 😉

Notes and pic by: http://www.dshperfumes.com/

The Outlaws, part 3

It’s time I brought my outlaw experience to its end. Not that there is an actual end to this particular experience – I feel like I could test them over and over again and never be sure if my opinion was correct.

DSH: Mata Hari

Top notes: Bergamot, Coriander Seed, Fruit Note no.1 (botanical accord), Green Mandarin, Neroli, Orange Flower Absolute – France, Tarragon (Estragon)
Middle notes: Cassie Absolute, Champaca Absolute, Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamon Leaf, Clove Bud, Lilac Cocktail (botanical accord), Moroccan Rose Absolute, Orris Concrete, Sambac Jasmine, Tuberose Absolute, Vintage Orchid (botanical accord)
Base notes: Australian Sandalwood, Benzoin, Brown Oakmoss, Buddahwood, Cade, Cassis Bud, Ciste Absolute, East Indian Patchouli, Green Oakmoss, Indonesian Vetiver, Leather (botanical accord), musk eau natural accord, Tonka Bean, Vanilla Absolute

The best advice I can give you when it comes to DSH scents, just ignore the notes and follow your nose. There is always such a wealth of notes, there’s no way you are going to discern them all (or half of them, or a third…). 🙂
As you saw through my previous reviews, I had some problems writing coherent reviews that would give you the right impression. Mata Hari is one of those that gave me serious trouble. It is a fruity chypre. Ok. I have an idea what a chypre smells like but it seems my idea might not be true in all cases. This is definitely a fruity perfume (I seem to be a fertile ground these days for fruity, all the fruit practically blossoms on me, if fruit can do that).

Anyway, this starts on me with an amazing peach booze accord that quickly gets encased in chocolate. Like you had this chocolate filled with peach liquor that smells so very fruity when you bite through it so you can barely register the chocolate, the peach liquor is all that makes you swoon. It really lasts for me so by the time other things start to happen, my concentration is gone (drunk on liquor and chocolate).
Yes, I get some piquancy at one point (cinammon?), some leathery aspect peaking out from somewhere and a dark, marshy base that can’t get through but is there underneath the fruit giving this depth, opulence and a bit of darkness. Which is strange given the opening but obviously very appropriate given the name.
Anyway, this made me re-think my opinion on chypres, they are not the strange, unwearable creatures I thought I knew, but mysterious, deep, sultry enchantresses when put into right hands.
Even though I know I can’t wear this at all times, I find it really incredible.

Joanne Basset: Amazing

Notes: Oakmoss, Cassie, Cinnamon, Vintage Jasmine, Lemon Verbena, Rose Otto, Muhuhu, Ginger, Yuzu, Rhododendron, Benzoin, Violet Leaf, and 19 others

And if I don’t seem to be able to wear Mata Hari at all times, I definitely know when I can wear Amazing. Any time I need some happiness and sunshine in my life. This one is all that. It might not have the depths of some other Outlaws  but it sure has serious sunny effect.
It’s at the same time green, citrusy (quite so as it smells like you’re peeling the rind from a lemon), piquant and just alive. Eventually the citrusness subsides and some piquancy (not the lemon rind kind) is there – my guess is cinammon and this is where it gets strange.
By now, I realized that all the strangeness I’m feeling is probably due to the fact that I wasn’t familiar with real oakmoss until now and now that I am, I’m lacking words for describing it. But at least I’m learning. 🙂
The thing is – outlaw strangeness is good.

Dupetit: Cannabis

Notes: Basil oil (holy), Bay oil (West Indian), Bergamot leaf oil, Birch tar oil, Citronella oil, Clove oil, Geranium oil, Ginger oil, Grapefruit peel oil, Jasmine Sambac absolute, Lemon peel oils, Lemon verbena absolute, Lime peel oil (expressed) Mace oil, Nutmeg oil, Orange blossom absolute, Orange leaf oil, Orange peel oil (bitter) orange peel oil (sweet), Peppermint oil, Rose absolute, Rose oil, Rue oil, Taget (marigold) absolute, Thyme oil (thymol CT) Tolu balsam extract.

Well, how do you talk about a perfume that is named Cannabis? 🙂 I’ll do it quickly.
It’s a sparkly, Sprite-feeling cannabis perfume. Sparkly as in a sparkly soda made of lemon stuff (just check the notes on this one).
Eventually this subsides and  a nice feeling cannabis remains surrounded by floral, lightly resiny friends.

P.S. I really tested all of these many times and applied great amounts and had NO side effects what so ever.

Pics by: https://www.dshperfumes.com/index.asp, http://www.joannebassett.com/edt.htm and http://www.bioscent.info/cannabis_perfume.html

Visiting ancient Egypt III

And with this, I’ll conclude this mini series. The last scent I’ll talk about is Megaleion.

Top notes: Cardamom co2 Absolute, Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Fragrant Wine (accord), Lemongrass
Middle notes: Australian Sandalwood, Balm of Gilead (accord), Spikenard, Turkish Rose Otto
Base notes: Copaiba Balsam, Costus, Myrrh Gum, Olibanum (Frankincense), Peru Balsam, Pine Resin, Sweet Flag

This one was the one that moved me the least. Not to say I don’t like it, I do, but it feels more restrained in its olfactory approach. It smells like something Egyptian priests might have worn, and it feels more masculine than the rest. It could be I’m associating it with priests due to the frankincense in the opening. And when mixed with cardamom, I just get the priest in Egypt association springing up in my mind. 🙂

Anyway, the opening is incensey-green, mixed with cinnamon and cardamom but cinnamon in significantly smaller presence than in Keni. It’s warm, resinic and the fragrant wine accord is again in my mind connected with the cardamon and the warm wine you drink in winter. And that’s about the most sweetness you can expect from it, if you associate fragrant wine with sweetness. This is much drier than the other two, like smoky wood, burnt in a temple perhaps.

I’m aware Dawn wrote that this is “Perhaps the world’s first “designer fragrance”… – but I can’t help think of temples and priests when smelling it. But not Christian variant of incense burned in a church (which is a smell to make me nauseous instantly), more the spicy, dry version that I come to associate with dry climates, sun and temples – Egypt is a good picture. 🙂

Visiting ancient Egypt II

It seems I really don’t know much about ancient history since if someone asked me what spices Egyptians used, I’d have no idea.  I would probably guess at some, but I don’t think cinnamon would be on that list.
And then, here comes Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and her Secrets of Egypt and through my nose, I learn some of the things my school books never managed to teach me.

Today  I’ll talk about Keni – the cinnamon fest. 🙂

Top notes: Bitter Almond, Cardamom co2 Absolute, Cassia, Cinnamon Bark
Middle notes: Australian Sandalwood, Benzoin, Fragrant Wine (accord)
Base notes: Atlas Cedarwood, Myrrh Gum, Pine Resin

Ok, as you can see from the notes, it’s not all a cinnamon fest but the opening is, and it lasts for a while so I can call it that.  It’s the most real cinnamon I ever smelled. As with all spices (which I recognize by their particular nose pinching effect, you know, similar to black pepper), this cinnamon is at the same time nose pinching, juicy and bark-like. If you ever tried a cinnamon chewing gum, it smells like that. Wonderful (as I adore cinnamon gums).

As cinnamon starts to subside, there is a light gummy quality to it and then cardamom appears. If you take a look at the notes of the different Secrets of Egypt scents, you will notice many notes being the same in many of them. And then, in the end, they all smell spicy but different.

After cardamon, I start getting some whiffs of sandalwood and after that, it gets tricky. Sandalwood for me gets more dry and resiny and in the end morphs into sweet cedar and then just cedar? I’m not really sure except it’s dry and comforting (but then again, all spicy scents are comforting to me,  and I wonder, does that mean something?).

Pic by: http://www.ground-cinnamon.com/
Notes by: http://www.dshperfumes.com/

Visiting ancient Egypt I

I’ve been interested in the Secrets of Egypt collection of scents from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz since it came out and then I finally ordered 3 samples of scents that were made for the exhibition in Denver Art Museum.

I don’t know how many of you know, I am a huge fan of Dawn’s work and unfortunately for me, I seriously like pretty much anything I smell that she created. 🙂

So, it came as a surprise realization yesterday (I’ve been having those lately) that the reason I kept postponing writing about several perfumes I tried recently is because I don’t feel I can give them a review they deserve. I mean, whatever comes into my mind as something I want to say about them doesn’t feel as good as they smell to me.
But I decided that’s a stupid reason for not writing about them, so here it goes.

The one I will talk about today is Antiu – I won’t go into details about the name, you can read more about it on Dawn’s site.

Top notes: Bitter Almond, Cardamom co2 Absolute, Fragrant Wine (accord), Galbanum, Lemongrass
Middle notes: Australian Sandalwood, Gallica Rose Otto, Honey Beeswax
Base notes: Copaiba Balsam, Mastic, Myrrh Gum, Peru Balsam, Pine Resin, Sweet Flag

For me, this starts as a spicy burst (that reminded me strongly of cinnamon which is featured prominently in the other 2 samples) that smelled at the same time green like peas and almondy. And that’s before I read the notes (I just love it when I can smell something on my own). 🙂
It has  a slightly citrusy tang and in the beginning smells to me like cinnamony grass. You know, spicily green. And absolutely wonderful (those are two smells I adore in anything). I still can’t believe there is no cinnamon in this but then again, we put here in our warm wine cinammon and clove so it’s no wonder that the fragrant wine accord will remind me of it. One variant of such wine is glög (that’s what the Swedish do) and it’s a bit more spicy and has a thicker consistency (I’m not sure from what) but cardamom is put into it.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t like cardamom but I can’t help but associate it with warmth and fragrant wine so when it makes a bolder appearance in Antiu, I really enjoy it.

Even though I mentioned winter customs, for me, this smells like a perfect scent for spring. It has some kind of sunny, breezy, grassy freshness and then gets a sweet aspect around the cardamom but in a light, resiny way.  Well, if you take a look at the base notes, you can come to that conclusion as well. 🙂

Soon, I will talk about the other samples and one that is absolute cinnamon heaven for which a friend told me she doesn’t consider that as something one might wear as perfume. Oh well, more for me.

If you take a look at Dawn’s site, I’m warning you straight away, don’t check the Mummy bottles because they are just way too wonderful not to be wanted for oneself. Which is a terrible torture as one costs 275 $.

Btw, it seems I decided to write about these perfumes at the same time as Krista over at Scent of the Day, so you can head over there and see what she wrote about Antiu.

Pic by: http://www.stanford.edu/

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