DSH Perfumes: Épices d’Hiver, Rose Vert and Yuzu

DSH perfumesHave 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?


VertThankfully 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!


DSH perfumes are available at the DSH website, and Vert boutique. You will find Épices d’Hiver under the Limited Editions Section of the website.

Posted by ~Trish

Vert image from InStyle Magazine DSH Parfums des Beaux Arts image from psychopdedia.com
Disclosure: Samples from DSH Perfumes were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Scents & Serendipity; Ayala & Persephenie Part II

BACK TO BLUNDA AboutB_Natural_Perfumes

If you live in Los Angeles or are planning a trip anytime soon, you must call and make an appointment to visit Blunda Aromatics or just stop by on a Saturday. The studio is magical, as is the creator Persephenie Schnyder. She offers private lessons in natural botanical perfumery, bath and body care, aromatherapy, candle making and more. Blunda also specializes in a wide range of natural botancial perfumes, essential oil pharmacopeia, exotic herbs, roots, and resins from around the world, educational showcasesand lessons, and last but not least, collectible treasures.

Just a brief wend through the space during Ayala Sender’s Hanami’s showcase, and one small area caught my attention — a group of narrow shelves featuring five vastly different types of Frankincense from Ethiopia, India and Somalia, along with Myrrh, Costus Root, Agarwood, Labdanum, and a small nugget of Ambergris.

Because I am new to this, I had to Wiki and Google many of these substances. And it was a strange and whimsical gift to look them up, I have to confess. Now I know Agarwood (also known in the West as “oud” or “oude”) is a highly aromatic resin that is produced from several types of Aguilera trees — large evergreens — once they become infected with a type of mold or fungis. The trees immune response creates a rich dark resin in its heartwood which in turn impedes the spread of the fungus, and the result is a very prized and rare fragrance.

And I’ve learned the hilarious traditional harvesting process of Labdanum, an essential component of chypre perfumes. Labdanum is a sticky dark resin originating from two types of rockrose shrubs. Perfumeshrine has an excellent entry on this healing miracle substancehere. Although the modern method is far less imaginative, the old school harvest of Labdanum involves running herds of he-goats through groves of rockrose shrubs so that the beautiful, rich fragrant resin collects on the goat’s beards and is then combed out and saved. That’s right! According to some legends, ancient pharaohs would cut the goat beards and wear them because of the resin’s rich odor.

And lastly, there on that shelf was a small nugget of rare Ambergris. With its sweet, earthy, animal and marine odor, Ambergris is created by waxy, solid grey whale spit-up that turns black and crusty after years of floating on top of the ocean. Amidst all the gentle chaos of the Hanami showcase, Persephenie took the time to explain the origins of Ambergris to me and to invite me to smell it — and anything else in her studio of wonders. This world of rarities and exotic substances sounds sublime, doesn’t it? You can be sure I’ll visit again.

~Please visit the Blunda website to discover Persephenie’s offerings.

~Also see Part I of this article here.

~Written by guest contributer, duVergne Robert Gaines: a neophyte to the odor order, is a professional feminist and occasional poet. She lives in Los Angeles near the La Brea tar pits with her partner David Riley Shackelford and their two cat children, Trotsky and MadX.

Posted by ~Trish

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Scents & Serendipity; Ayala & Persephenie Part I

blunda
 FLOWER PARTY

BlundaAromatics in Los Angeles is an exquisite olefactorium/ artisan enclave/ scent school/ alchemical collaboration run by Persephenie Schnyder. Blunda’s website describes its store hours as Saturday: 11-5, Monday – Friday: By Appointment or Chance. It truly was a magnificent accord of chance, serendipity, a dash of divine intervention, and a dear college friend that dispatched me to Blunda a couple of Saturdays ago to experience natural perfumery in the flesh and to hear Ayala Sender describe her Ezra Pound haiku-inspired scent Hanami.

As I slipped out of the blazing SoCal sun and into Blunda(a Swedish word meaning “to close one’s eyes”), I was greeted warmly by Persephenie herself and an ethereal enclave packed with natural perfume devotees.  The walls were replete with sculptures, art, and shelves — shelves teeming with delicate glass vials of essential oils and jars of all sizes containing exotic substances; Ayala refers to this as a perfume organ.

The desserts Ayala and Persephenie prepared for our motley crew were other word-ly. Neatly stacked rows of sakura mochi (Japanese rice pastries filled with Azuki bean paste and wrapped in pickled cherry leaves) greeted us along withAyala’sperfumed teas, fresh and tiny tea sandwiches with cucumber, watercress, minted radishes, carrots, ginger and cream cheese, and wickedly delicious marble-sized handmade perfumed White Potion and Guilt chocolate truffles. As I tried to control my primal instinct to hoard and/or devour, I wondered how have I missed this genius; this cool lounge-like sliver of smell-hounds in LA? This brilliant speak-easy of taste, intelligentsia, and performance scent-art?  Thank chance and the prodding of Trish for this revelation!

GENUFLECTIONS BY A NEW NOSE

Ayala’s presentation was a wonderful introduction to natural and organic fragrance for the botanically naïve. After describing her personal inspiration for Hanami and reciting the rich Ezra Pound lyrics that inspired the perfume and Heather Ettlinger’s  poetic perfume project:

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ayala began by passing around scent strips dipped in her base notes of Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Cassie, Siamwood, Vanilla CO2, Copaiba Balsam and Bakul Attar. (For photos, check out her own SmellyBlog post here). As we passed and considered each note through the group, it felt surprisingly beautiful, holy and communal. There with Persephenie’s perfume organ as a back drop, we exchanged musical nose notes in quiet revelry.

Breaking Hanami down note by note seemed especially appropriate given the deconstructive nature of the tradition up-ending haiku written by Pound. With its unpredictable metrics (the musical notes/cadence of a poem), the poem shifts between hard clip urban consonants and noun images, and the gorgeous seductive nature of soft dark s’es and sh’s, p‘s and b‘s. Ayala’s base ensemble captures this brilliantly.

Cassie, as she explained, is a type of mimosa used in tanning leather and appropriately, it speaks with a musty earthen, even industrial and honeyed depth. Vetiver, a simple grass root with an incredibly rich and complicated wet woods and marshland scent, bowled me over. Vanilla CO2, she used because it is shearer than Vanilla and has a half milky half watery sense. Ayala identified these choices as a desire to pull a deep metallic, dark and dusty –even gloomy — smell.  The final woodsy, metallurgical accord is spectacular.

Then Ayala moved to the heart notes allowing us to appreciate the individual notes of Pink Lotus, Magnolia, Tuberose, Violet Leaf, and Oleander, before providing the scent strip fan of the Sakura Accord in its entirety. Again this process, especially for a novice like me, was extraordinary. There is something truly mystical and transformative to sit (or stand) in a jam-packed room and reverently pass these deep, dark woodsy and floral scents among one another. And finally, for Hanami’s top notes, she purposefully steered away from citrus and turned instead towards earthy-wooden florals — Cabreuva, Frangipani, Mimosa and Rosewood.

There is a hard softness in the core underpinnings of this perfume that beautifully echoes the elegiac quality of the poem itself.  This heavy metal base creates the perfect enduring and quixotic caesura (pause) in one’s mind, a kind of olfactoric undertow. The floral tip opens up a deep and resonant space for that urban anonymity, the alienation and intimacy of modern living, to transpire in all its crushed complexity.  It is a lot like that final image Ezra Pound leaves us with – Ayala’s final fragrance looms like the enduring apparition of our lives, of our faces, anonymous, mysterious, individual, as petals on that wet, black bough. Ayala’s composition is not just a perfume, Hanami (and Ettlinger’s entire poetry project) should be installed in MOCA or MOMA, as an art experience. It is a stunning and sublime fragrance.

Much to our collective joy, Ayala brought several of her other signature perfumes with her as well as small samples of her entire collection.  I was immediately taken with Bon Zai, another Japanese-derived scent. It is minimalist, woodsy, and the Juniper is fabulous. Juniper! Juniper! Fete D’Hiver I found bewitching as well, although totally different from Bon Zai. It is described as “Spicy roses with incense and amber dries down to a powdery snow on fluffy fur” on the website, and this really says it all.  Now to start saving up so that I may purchase all THREE.


Please come back to Scent Hive on Tuesday for Part II of Scents & Serendipity, Ayala & Persephenie

Hanami is available at Blunda Aromatics.

Written by guest contributer ~duVergne Robert Gaines: a neophyte to the odor order, is a professional feminist and occasional poet.  She lives in Los Angeles near the La Brea tar pits with her partner David Riley Shackelford and their two cat children, Trotsky and MadX.

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Ayala Moriel Parfums: Hanami

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The sun rarely shines in April as brightly in the Northwest as it did the day Hanami arrived. It was also the day I planned to take my boys to the Japanese Gardens, so the sample’s arrival felt inspired. After gingerly opening the padded envelope, Hanami immediately went on my wrists and neck. And then stepping outside, I could feel my bones finally being warmed by the sun’s rays on my skin. I grabbed my boys from school, and off we went to stroll the gardens. The cherry blossoms were radiant in the sunlight, twinkling against the impossibly clear sky. Rows of pink gauzey blooms were dreamlike, and it was all I could do to keep from smelling my wrists.

 

 

Hanami, the Ayala Moriel Parfums fragrance, twinkles like a light and floats like gauze upon the opening. It’s sparkly with mildly peppery topnotes, and weightless like gossamer with its minimalist rendering of mimosa and frangipani. The fragrance also possesses unexpected buttery and dewy qualities, and the woods are immediately palpable which carry you right to Hanami’s heart which is a beautifully blended woody floral. Hanami then shifts back and forth in the drydown, evolving with your motion, the breeze, and warmth of your skin; from the sweetness of vanilla, back to woods and florals. Sometimes the woods are more pronounced, then honeyed mimosa peeks in again, powdery citrusy magnolia breezes by…  
 
Hanami was created by Ayala Sender after she was invited by Heather Ettlinger to be a part of the Perfume in a Poem project. Ms. Ettlinger is the founder of the blog Memory and Desire, who over a year ago asked several perfumers to create a fragrance inspired by the following two-lined poem:

In a Station of the Metro
 
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
                                        

Ezra Pound

Ayala discusses her experience and inspiration for creating Hanami here.  I recommend stopping by the link as she is a poetic writer in addition to being a fabulously talented perfumer.

 

Clearly Ezra Pound’s poem is not evocative of sunny, pastoral days like I had in the park. Dark, overcast days on an anonymous city street is the tone the poem elicits. But not to be mistaken for another part of the country, rainy days came quickly, and Hanami’s temperament fit them as well. The woods took on more of a damp, moody quality in the wet weather. And the vetiver, while more subdued in the warmth, opened its grassy earthiness more readily. Subsequent wearings also heightened my awareness to a subtle hint of sandalwood within the drydown, and interestingly bakul attar is in the base notes. I came across a fascinating piece about bakul trees on Floracopeia, which I highly recommend reading. Bakul attar is made from the essential oil of the bakul flower and sandalwood oil. And while I am not familiar with the scent of the bakul flower, the sandalwood provides a warm woody base for the florals of Hanami.

 

As mentioned above though, the base provides a foundation for morphing to occur, and it transpired again in the cooler, rainy weather when the earthier, mustier notes became more apparent. I love this aspect of Hanami, and find it incredibly appealing that it seems to be a fragrance for all seasons. Spring and Fall at least. I’ll have to see how it wears in extreme heat and cold temperatures. But I have been wearing Hanami all week and I give it high praise indeed.

 

Hanami means “to enjoy the cherry blossom season” in Japanese. It can also mean “flower party.” Well, for those of you in the Los Angeles area, there’s a flower party going on at Blunda Aromatics on Saturday April 18th and Ayala Sender will be there to exhibit her gorgeous Hanami. So if you are in the area, stop over there for tea and chocolates that Ayala crafts herself, and meet this incredibly talented perfumer who is dedicated to the use of 100% all natural ingredients in her perfumes. See the Blunda Aromatics link for full details.

 

Hanami is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums.


Posted by ~Trish

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