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.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is one of my favorite perfumers, and I have been sampling her natural fragrances Onycha and Seve de Pin for several weeks now. According to Dawn’s website, Onycha is said to be a holy aromatic from antiquity used in the sacred incense of Solomon’s Temple with oceanic origins. Sounds like a lot to live up to right? But Onycha holds up to this inspiration in an intriguing and compelling manner.
Onycha feels deep and mysterious, and is ambery with a marine quality rather than being vanillic or overly sweet. The opening is dark and inky giving way to roasted seashells that seem to have been smoked with benzoin and labdanum. The effect is animalic, leathery, powdery and yes, oceanic. Onycha is also replete with beautiful woods which slowly emerge out of its seafaring heart. Himalayan Cedar, Siam Wood, and Mysore Sandalwood are listed in the notes but I’m unable to pick them out individually which benefits the experience as a whole. I am a true lover of sandalwood and cedar to be sure, but because these woods are woven so seamlessly into Onycha’s structure, they support and enhance rather than risk diverting attention away from the seashell-amber focus.
Clearly Onycha is not a tropical beach fragrance, but possibly a fragrance for a different kind of beach, one where the forest looms over the shore as it does in the Pacific Northwest. Seve de Pin (Pine Sap) certainly is a perfume for such a majestic locale. Dawn created Seve de Pin with a childhood memory in mind. She was only four years old at summer camp and felt the trees speaking to her at night. On her blog, Dawn wrote about being aware of the distinctive smell of the forest air and the mystery held within the ancient trees and was able to realize this salient memory in perfume form when a very rare oil came into her life.
This oil, an infusion of 50 year old resin crystals in pure pinion essential oil, is not only present in Seve de Pin but is its centerpiece. When you first apply Seve de Pin, you know immediately that you are smelling a forest scent unlike any other. This one is fresh and rich, but also soft and comforting. You can sense how inspired Dawn was by this gorgeous oil, and she made it her own by transforming it into an enchanting forest-amber perfume.
There are so many notes to list, but I will name just a few to give you an idea of how complex and beautiful this perfume is: pine needle absolute, poplar bud absolute, ambergris, fossilized amber resin, frankincense, honey, labdanum, Virginia Cedar, and Bulgarian Rose absolute. But like Onycha, with its standout seashell note, the antique pine resin is bolstered by the harmonious blend of these gorgeous essences as they don’t compete or draw consideration away from the forest aspect. In Seve de Pin, they add the foundation and softness for the bed of pine needles Dawn has created, so you can listen to the trees and watch for shooting stars in the night sky.
Onycha comes in many sizes and prices. 10 ml EDP is $65
Seve de Pin comes in many sizes and prices. 10 ml EDT is $52
Disclosure: DSH Perfumes sent me samples for consideration. Like always, the opinions expressed in this review are mine and I am not financially compensated for my reviews.
Image of samples are mine. Image of Oregon Coast from TripAdvisor.com