Tag Archives: niche perfumers

Deep into Flowers: My favourite DSH floral perfumes.

Photo of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz  from The Perfume Magazine

I was recently lucky enough to receive a little bundle of samples from the genius perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. I liked every single fragrance.  However, some of them took hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go.   Despite the Non-Spring weather here in  chilly Wales I’m going through a big floral phase at the moment.

There were so many beautiful floral notes in these fragrances that  it felt like a little olfactory tour of an exclusive florist.

DSH Perfumes Fleurs du Soleil

Fleurs du Soleil takes tuberose to the tropics and introduces it to new company. This is the kind of tuberose I am always seeking. I last found it in By Kilian Good Girl Gone Bad, and how I swooned!.  It’s borderline vegetal, but at the same time, it feels like plunging your nose deep within the  heady petals of this unique flower that always makes its presence felt.  Around the tuberose is sweet honeysuckle, and a touch of citrussy fruit to stop everything going too flowery. It’s beautifully balanced and  I keep getting little wafts as I move. Wonderful!

photo from bhg.com

DSH Perfumes April

April smells exactly like playing in the garden  as a child. The most prevalent note to me, is sweet pea. I remember the scent so well from my childhood. The olfactory memory is extraordinary and I remember garden scents from over forty years ago. Don’t ask me what I had for breakfast earlier today though.

April has just about every note you would expect from a Spring scent . It evokes green grass, spring flowers and tiny bunches of violets (which have no scent in real life, sadly). Also in here is sweet clover, which I used to actually eat when I was about five.  If you pluck a juicy petal out of the flower, at the base you will find nectar and it tastes as good as it sounds.  I also used to eat fuchsias and daisies,  although this was not encouraged.  I suppose I was rather odd, looking back.

What I like about April is that so many flowers are here, but somehow it smells clean and fresh, rather than sweet and overpowering, like some florals can smell. This is everything you can smell in a spring garden, buds, grass, moss and all.

DSH Perfumes Bluedaisy

I think of this as a daisy and blue sky all in one, such is its lightness and airiness. This comes from the grapefruit, which opens the fragrance, and the delicate flowers that follow the citrus notes. This would fit into the fruity floral category ( it has grapefruit, yuzu, passion fruit, oranges), but I still think of this as primarily a floral. The fruits here seem to frame the flowers and make them  sing louder, almost like  a conductor waving a baton.

I noticed the passion fruit, but then I thought- isn’t that perfect with sweet pea? I noticed the almondy, waxy petals of frangipani and the clean, almost herbal background of fresh, very green grass. This is a happy,  Zippety Doo Dah feel good scent that really makes you appreciate how beautiful nature is.

Stockists

All my samples were kindly supplied by Dawn herself, for which, warmest thanks. There were no conditions or obligations attached. The good news is that Dawn ships all over the world (with a few exceptions) so UK fans can order and enjoy these nature friendly scents.  Here’s the website link.

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Our Modern Lives by 4160 Tuesdays: And…Breeeaaaaaathe

 

stressful-jobs (1)
Image from www.smartmeetings.com

Off the top of your head, how many pin numbers do you need to remember? How many passwords and usernames? How many social media accounts do you have? How many text messages do you need to respond to? How many emails remain unanswered?

omlThe digital age has done us all huge favours, such as Netflix and Facebook.  But there’s a downside isn’t there? The digital age is both a privilege and a curse.

The cost of living has rocketed, house prices have gone insane, roads are congested, everything is conducted via a screen and more seems to be expected of us these days.  Our modern lives are tough.  No wonder relaxing has become a life skill that many have forgotten.

Which brings me nicely to the new range of fragrances from Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays.  Yes, that introduction was a bit of a transition, but if you nodded even once,  then you’ll know where she was coming from with this collection: “Our Modern Lives.”

Alongside creating perfumes (usually on Tuesdays, hence the name), Sarah is also a yoga teacher.   She knows how to stop the white noise.

oml samples

Our Modern Lives is intended as a soothing balm to your soul. There’s a scent for when you need to look away from the damn screen (after you’ve read my blog, of course) and scents that uplift, energise and revitalize, without you having to go to a spa or anything.  I would call them Mood Scents.

Here are my impressions of them, and at the end I’ll tell where you can get hold of them. They’re not expensive either.  By the way, you can mix them all up if you like and make your own blend.

The synthetics

OML a

Butch and woody are two words that I would use to describe this, but they would also make good names for a duo of male strippers. The woods are dark and rich with lots of amber.  It might be Butch and Woody (hi guys!) but it is, like all scent in my opinion, unisex, as are all of these fragrances

OML β

Tricky to type, but gorgeous to sniff.  This starts off with a crystalline vodka scent and smells as pure as an icicle.  It reminded me a little of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia, so if you like that, you might like this too.

oml my samples

The Naturals

Creating scent out of solely natural ingredients post IFRA bans and regulations  is a bit like riding a unicycle whilst crossing the road, knitting and saying your five times table.  But that’s not your problem to worry about.  When you feel like screens are sucking your eyeballs out of your face, switch them off and sniff these.

Red-Harvest- Gratitude

This is beautiful. There are red berries and raspberries and roses. Rather than being like candy, it reminded me of my childhood and of cherries.  It may give you different emotions and memories, but I am sure it will evoke happy thoughts.

orange sunset bbc
BBC

Orange-Sunset-peace

Of course, there’s going to be orange in this, and there is, but there are also neroli (steam distilled orange blossom), peaches and a hint of beautiful geranium. This may be my favourite.

photo by RHS.org
photo by RHS.org

Yellow-Sunrise-Hope

This gave me a boost of feel good citrus, like freshly squeezed orange juice,  but  also something else that I couldn’t initially put my finger on. Then it hit me: what goes with fresh orange juice?  Fresh coffee! Genius. I can smell the narcissus in this one too, giving you a little posy of flowers to go with your juice and coffee.

orieldavies
Oriel Davies Gallery

Green- Leaf-New

As you may know, green is my favourite genre so I was bound to love this one, and I do. It’s so green it’s even got spinach in it, not that I could smell it, unless you count the sort of lush damp vegetal scent that hovered in the background. This has lime and mint and green mandarin essential oil.  Do you know what? After ten minutes, I could smell spinach. This is beautiful and foresty. The Popeye muscles are up to you.

Aquamarine-Waves/Wi-Fi-Clarity

mermaid redYou may recall my recent gushing reviews about Aquamarine Waves. It’s working nick name was Sea Goddess prior to its launch.

This is a marine scent with no cucumber  and melon accord- that would be too easy and lots of people have aloready done that.  Not here, no Sir.  Sarah used seaweed to get this right.   She did  filter it out afterwards, you’ll be pleased to know.

Blue Screen/Blue Horizon- Perspective

Equally good on skin or in the air around you, this is designed to aid meditation.  We spend too long on screens, and it’s not always our fault in a digital dependent society.  Many people use screens for their work and that goes round the clock now.  This beautiful scent helps you to look up and see the blue of the sky instead of the screen. Frankincense, lavender, vetiver, mint and eucalyptus all help to transport you somewhere else for a bit.

Indigo-Into the Night

Moon Set by Nancy Brace
Moon Set by Nancy Brace

This is the strongest and richest in the collection. Indigo has definite 4160 Tuesdays fingerprints over it. This is the smell of that 3 a.m. Cognac when you can’t sleep- yes, there’s cognac in it but please don’t drink it, no matter how good the party was. There’s something dark and slightly rubbery about this one. It reminds me of cannabis and vinyl records.  No bad thing. There’s also osmanthus absolute, cedarwood, rum and leathery labdanum.

It’s a mood in a bottle: after all, 3 a.m. is often called the darkest hour of the soul.

Stockists

This is a crowd funding project and it’s still possible to bag your swag by following this link. Personally, I reckon they should come in phials like a pencil case so you have a colour for every mood. It would be hard to stop at one. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have mood swings, mood slides and a mood roundabout in your head.  My samples were kindly sent to me by Team Tuesdays and Sarah, for which, many thanks.  Opinions are all my own.

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DSH Musc al Madina: This Musk Deserves Classic Status

dsh_1oz_silver_2014

A parcel from Boulder Colorado always lights me up like Christmas (Remember Christmas? It was SO last year!) It usually means that the very talented perfumer, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has sent me some samples to see what I think. Dawn is an independent niche perfumer who works with natural materials to produce a diverse and high quality range of artisan perfumes.  Each one is created by Dawn herself in her lab.  She answers to only herself and her loyal customers, new and old. I like that in a perfumer.

dsh-face

For the past few days I have been wearing the fabulous DSH Musc al Madina.  This is a musk with a supporting cast that really showcases its talents and brings out its very best.  As you know, the musk genre is a vast spectrum that starts with clean and tidy laundry musks and  reaches the nether regions of dirty animalic musk such as Serge Lutens Koublai Khan, to name the most notorious example that springs to mind.

DSH_im3hr_hs-300x300Musc al Madina danced with gossamer veils for me, dropping each one like a tease.  Firstly, my impression was that this is a wonderful 70s style musk that goes with denim flares and flicky hair. It’s how my primary school teachers and my Mum would have smelled when I was 6 in 1976. (Don’t do the maths. I’m young, OK?) This is a fuzzy blanket/soapy musk that reminded me strongly of talcum powder. But then it changed. Then the vetiver  came out and this became a masculine woody musk, full of spices (My beloved myrhh) and peppery geranium.  All change for phase three when this settles into a Middle Eastern delight. The oud emerges but with soft smoky  edges tinged with Ambergris. This is seamlessly blended so the musk stays centre stage whilst the backdrop changes.  Longevity is excellent at around eight or nine hours.

Musc al Madina is intriguing and clever and I can think of few people that it wouldn’t suit. The powdery finish gave me the vintage style hit that I always seek,with a hopeful heart.  The spicy, soapy, woody finish left my nose firmly glued to my wrist.

Musc al Madina deserves classic status.

Stockists

You can buy DSH Musc al Medina from the DSH Perfumes website. My sample was kindly supplied by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, for which my warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

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RM Eau de Parfum by Ruth Mastenbroek

rm-signature

RM by Ruth Mastenbroek is the first scent by  perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek. Ruth has been in the perfume industry for several decades.  A previous President of the British Society of Perfumers, Ruth is the nose behind many well known scents you may not realise that she was responsible for: she has worked for Kenneth Turner, the House of Bath, Jigsaw and Jo Malone to name a few.

ruthsam3

RM  is a delightful floral chypre, that uses many fruits so skilfully that it showcases the natural characteristics of the fruit with none of the sugariness that has been all too pervasive in recent years ( aren’t you just so OVAH sickly fruity florals?) .

On first spray of RM my nose is greeted with a blast of zingy citrus notes: notably bergamot and surprisingly- pineapple. I say surprisingly because I have had disastrous experiences with pineapple notes in scent before now, but here it is rather beautiful with an understated summery feel. The patchouli and sandalwood start peeking through early around now-ish, just as the florals come out and blossom shamelessly all over the place. Here you will find rich roses and heady jasmine. There is also a hint of lily, but my nose was getting distracted by now because my old chum oak moss was making its presence felt.  Now we’re really talking chypres.

The basenotes of RM manage to blend together into one stunning multi layered accord. There’s the lightness of citrus, the feminine florals, and the prickly, mossy base- all in total harmony. It’s a peachy patchouli with a hint of blackcurrant, yet the fruit (despite being half a grocer’s worth) is never overbearing.  RM is a class act that conjures an English Country Garden and impossibly feminine tea dresses, yet the prickly chypre finish gives it a daring edge that was enormously appealing to me,  a die-hard chypre fan. This can be worn all year round.

This is a superb début that heralds the opening act of a high quality and innovative capsule collection. I recently reviewed Amorosa and will shortly be reviewing Oxford to complete my trilogy of Mastenbroek reviews. I was lucky enough to meet Ruth earlier this month ( see my previous post) and she told me that a fourth scent will shortly be joining the ranks. I for one will be first in line to try it. Gangway!

Stockists

You can buy Ruth Mastenbroek fragrances from  the Ruth Mastenbroek website or from Fenwicks or Rouiller White. My sample was from Ruth herself, for which, warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

Jimmy by Bruno Fazzolari.

Jimmy_1500

 

 

Fresh flowers and daylight. Violet, cassis and rose over a base of moss and ambergris.

Jimmy is one of three samples I was kindly sent by artist and perfumer Bruno Fazzolari, from his studio in San Francisco . Inspired by artist James Schuyler, Jimmy is all about the violets, but it doesn’t stop there.

To me Jimmy awakened many nostalgic memories of my childhood, where I remember being outside more than I was in, and endlessly picking flowers ( True. Ask my Mum who had an almost permanent yoghurt pot of wild flowers in the windowsill from me).

What Jimmy illustrates to me is that sometimes the list of notes in a scent bears no relation to your interpretation.

The notes, as listed on Fragrantica, are: Ylang, Ylang, Lemon, Rose, Geranium, Heliotrope, Sandalwood and Violet Leaf.

@Bruno Fazzolari
@Bruno Fazzolari

What I actually  get is a sunny day with the smell of mossy violets,  a bit of banana skin, presumably from the ylang ylang, and armfuls of bluebells. It is as if a long forgotten scent from the 1970s has emerged.

It is “fresh flowers and daylight” and it certainly fits the job description and goes the extra mile too.  This is the smell of a summer’s day through the eyes of a child.  It’s faint earthiness is the smell of muddy knees, a dress that needs a wash, and flowers and sun and that priceless era where you never have to look at a clock or check a bank balance.

Jimmy is uplifting and nostalgic and has taken me on an unexpectedly touching trip down memory lane.

Preview+Set_1500

Stockists

Jimmy is available from these stockists in the USA, or you can order a preview set from here.

 

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Aftelier Fig: Welcome to Narnia

aftelier.com
aftelier.com

 

Aftelier is the brainchild of Mandy Aftel, who creates perfumes from natural and botanical essences.  This is the first perfume I have reviewed from Aftelier, but I hope it won’t be my last.

Aftelier Fig does not open with Fig.  In fact, despite its name, this is not strictly a Fig perfume, although it has an important cameo.

narniafans.com
narniafans.com

Aftelier Fig opens with bold Pine (Fir) and brash Lemon, and initially reminded me of the smell of damp old stone.  This is by no means a complaint: its one of my favourite smells.  According to Fragrantica, Fig contains Castoreum (from our beaver friends) and Civet (often giving an intimate “skanky” smell).  Neither of these presented themselves to me, but what I did get was a blast of outdoors and a good dose of old, antique dark wood.

Fig itself  is one of those notes I grew to love gradually, thanks largely to the efforts of Jean Claude Ellena and his delectable Un Jardin en Mediterranee and also via Premier Figeur from L’Artisan Parfumeur (both reviewed on this blog).  However its juicy over ripeness is almost absent from Aftelier Fig, or so you think before this beds down into the long, lazy basenote phase.  With a whiff of Oud, a hint of Musk and a figgy juicyness that actually comes from Yuzu, not Fig, this has a deliciously woody, musty end phase that made me a big fan. It smells like the back of the wardrobe that leads to Narnia: all damp aged wood and fresh pine with the grown up juicy heart adding a hint of something delicious and tempting.

They should issue bottles of this with every book of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you get a hint of Mr and Mrs Beaver, even better.  Interesting. Very interesting…