My maternal grandfather made my grandmother a cedar chest when they were fifteen years old. He had the interior quilted and lined at a funeral parlor which I find both fascinating and macabre. (Where else would you have that sort of thing done I wonder?) Both of my grandparents are dead now, all of them are actually, or should I say they have “passed on”? My eight year old son asked me recently what “passed away” means. After I told him he said that it seems like a more peaceful way to say “dead”. I guess euphemisms aren’t as insubstantial as I had allowed myself to believe.
The faint smell of cedar lingers when you open the chest, and I can only imagine how potent it was eighty years ago. Lifting the lid used to reveal the dusty rose colored layers of remaining fabric that blended seamlessly with the wood’s pinkish tones. The satiny quilted lining became increasingly tattered and has since been removed as my mom had the chest refurbished many years ago. The restoration has created a new chest in appearance, but it still holds many memories, both cherished and painful.
When I first sprayed Siberian Snow on my skin, I immediately thought of my grandmother’s handmade treasury. Not that the perfume smells exactly like the chest, more like what I want my fragrance memory to be of the chest; cedar, wintergreen and jasmine. The D.S. & Durga website has frankincense listed rather than cedar, but you could have fooled me. Cedar it is in my mind.
Wintergreen opens the fragrance and remains an undercurrent throughout the Siberian Snow experience. The mintiness has a multi-layered effect that was unexpected and intriguing. Initially the wintergreen was enlivening, and then evolved into a familiar, comfortable feeling. My dad loved to have WintOGreen LifeSavers at the ready when my sister and I were growing up, which probably explains my nostalgia for the wintergreen scent. But it also added a quirkiness to the otherwise traditional woody floral composition of jasmine and cedar. (I mean, frankincense). The wintergreen used in Siberian Snow has an attenuated bitterness that tames jasmine’s floral lushness and gives the woody aspect depth and interest so it’s not thin and reedy.
It seems almost meaningless to call a perfume a “woody floral” these days. There are so many out there that they all begin to smell alike. I can assure you that when I say Siberian Snow is an “interesting woody floral” I’m not using that as a euphemism for “it’s just a little better than average”. D.S. and Durga, the creators of their eponymous line, have truly created an interesting woody floral perfume. Not every fragrance is 100% all-natural, but Siberian Snow is, along with Rosa Americana and Cowgirl Grass. And for men, Cowboy Grass, Barbados and Marblehead Reds.
I’m claiming Siberian Snow as my new favorite all-natural cedar fragrance, and D.S. and Durga can rib me a bit if it turns out that there really is no cedar in there after all. It doesn’t matter. My grandmother’s chest has been restored, my son has taught me to embrace euphemisms, and I publish perfume reviews even if I don’t get the notes right.
Siberian Snow is available at DS & Durga
Posted by ~Trish
Photograph by ~Trish
Wintergreen Illustration from Botanical.com