June 26, 2015

DSH Fleurist, Le Jardin Vert, La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes, Giverny in Bloom, L'Opera des Rouges et des Roses

Claude Monet. Water Lilies. c. 1920.
Oil on canvas, triptych, each section 6'6" x 14" (200 x 425 cm).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund.
Photograph ©1997 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (DSH Perfumes) recently released several floral perfumes based on an ideal of French impressionist beauty crossed with shades of vintage perfume, for a collaboration with the Denver Museum of Art. There are also two other perfumes  that refer to the 19th century academic side of French taste at that time, one that referenced the classics and the past as much as our own does.

These all seem to have the same feel of vibrant delicacy, airiness and subtle notes that grow in harmonious complexity over time. They are primarily skin scents but hold with strength and vigor there, to survive even a hot shower.  They are all great beauties in the individualist style of DSH.

Le Jardin Vert is as the name promises, green and fresh dew and mist, with black earth and even a touch of the lilac/mixed floral freshness that lays over an entire garden at certain times of year, as a sheer vapor that permeates the air. A little woodiness, and simultaneously the open freshness is grounded with an overall arrangement of notes that magically support an overall sense of well being.

Probably it is ingrained in most humans to feel tranquil and content if surrounded by the scent of fresh live green plants, which notes are here arranged in an Audrey Hepburn style of forthright and innocent grace.

La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes requires three or four sprays to reveal itself as a musk that is tinged with shades of water and woods, hovered over by the distant sweetness of the floral breath of some of the shyer Spring flowers.

A soft-voiced aromatic presence, as I love musks it suits my taste exactly that this creates an invisible envelope of well being.

It joins in with that peaceful intimate garden shown in countless impressionist paintings, a place of tranquility. If you are open to it this olfactory experience may well  lay down a sense memory of peace and well being for you; I see it as building a inner emotional and mental resource.

Giverny in Bloom (EdT) continues the theme of La Danse only layered over with a dense cover of many florals, along with the sun on them bringing out their scents. This has a calm within its center but there is an excitement there from the multiple delicate florals joining together to cause the nose and memory to raise their hackles. Pleasurable ones, those pin-pricks of happiness recalled from all the many times you subconsciously incorporated all the flowers you have known within yourself.

Again as with La Danse and Le Jardin Vert, I discern a central watery element, a theme that dissolves all edges and causes a musk-like effect of grounded well-being to arise, the kind of musk associated with a skin scent, with a fresh cut floral bouquet standing in cool water.

There is the touch of realism within an abstract composition, rather like the impressionism of Monet painting of his Giverny water lilies.  Those gigantic water lily paintings that wrap around your vision, that dissolve the closer you get into color, and then sharpen into a recognized form a distance. These perfumes dive into that atmosphere.

Then there are two perfumes that come from the opposite end of the 19th Century French ornamental spectrum.

Faux curtain at the Paris Opera Garnier via Vagabond Design
L'Opera des Rouges et des Roses is the subtle inner essence of red on red, red silk velvet, long stem red roses.

In the vein of the Garnier Opera House in Paris, in the mood of the 19th Century romantics, in the mood of Fleuriste rather than the impressionist garden perfumes, it translates the over the top ornamentation of that other, opposite end of French taste into its core element of flowing luxuriant vitality, with the central note of a red rose surrounded by supporting floral shades.

Again, as with the others above, the perfume's message comes mixed with and floating over fresh water and air. Bright, smooth, a lightness that is not slight but rich with detail.  A way to enjoy the animating principal of 19th Century maximum decorative impulse without the excess, which could be overpowering.

Fleurist (EdP) makes a soliflore first impression, then revealing itself to be far more than a solifore. Based on a sheer carnation, with a many faceted and lighthearted approach to this dense and heavy flower. Pepper acts as a shadow that highlights a bright clove.

There is nothing heavy here, all the aspects of a carnation gather in transparent layers that together display a flexible, slim kind of dancer's strength.  A summer carnation for any season.

The vintage tone comes through as an invisible, perhaps aldehydic uplift, with a mineral almost coppery earthiness. It's a beauty with a refined, delicate air, almost otherworldly, shades of varying aromatic impressions that create a craving for more. One of those perfumes that lives within its own world. I would love to live the life, at least for awhile, that is implied. It is elegant in a way that seems from another time. The partial list of supporting notes listed are neroli, jasmine grandiflorum, rose, and ambergris.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has been and continues to be a painter, and these perfumes visit the classics of art of another time, that we know well and revere, as we now do the vintage formulations of classic perfumes.  There is that distinctive tang of the vintage about them, but they are still essentially modern both in their reference to the past and how they take what they want from it for those aspects that enhance a contemporary and even timeless aromatic experience.

DSH is a true indieperfumer, and so goes wherever inspiration carries her.  She is prolific and has created a style of her own that is immediately known once you have experienced it.  Her site offers sample sets of the wide range of collections she has built over decades.  One of my favorite perfumers, I always look forward to new perfumes.

Disclosure: Samples sent to me by the perfumer.
Please follow the links above for much more information.
Monet's Waterlilies above are the three in MOMA, as captioned in the first image.
If you have not been there recently it's always worth visiting again for the experience of these alone.
Vagabond Design has a great piece and more photos of the Paris Garnier Opera House.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.


June 15, 2015

Jardins D’Armide by Oriza L Legrand


Is it a coincidence that a certain perfume comes to you to fulfill a wish? I came to Jardins D'Armide by Oriza L Legrand through a combination of recommendations, circumstance, and premonition, so it must have been fated.

Recently and out of the blue I suddenly wanted a powdery fragrance. A category I did not know at all, but somehow I began to crave a deep powdery-ness. The perfect aromatic companion for a long hot humid summer in the city.

The lady-like refinement and old-fashioned feel of the classic powder-heavy perfumes had before always seemed to me not modern, not my style, not appropriate for my life, but having learned to respect my intuitive impulses in regard to perfume, I asked my online fragrance friends for recommendations.

One of them, Jardins d’Armide, I happened to have already as part of a sample set I ordered months ago from Oriza L Legrand; it was one that I had not yet tried. 


 I found it and fell in love immediately, it was exactly the right time for it and it and emanated exactly what I craved, a dry softness with depth, an abstract and gentle but present softness that lifted the heavy atmosphere. It suited me, and felt like something I could wear often, with its subtle shades of lightly spiced florals, a refreshing powder with depth, a musk with a cloudy softly dusky undertone. 

That soft depth grounds and holds itself to the skin and somehow refreshes itself continuously so that you can notice it on yourself as a soothing and beautifying aura that lasts all day.

Notes from the site are listed as:
Notes de tête : Rose Ancienne, Fleur d'Oranger et Poudre d'Iris
Notes de coeur: Iris de Florence, Violette Sauvage, Glycine et Oeillets d'Inde

Notes de fond: Miel, Amande, Fève Tonka et Musc

In English:
Top: Old Rose, Orange Blossom and Iris Powder
Heart notes: Florentine iris, Violet Wild, Glycine and Carnation India.
Base notes: Honey, Almond, Tonka and Musk.

Pastels of old rose, orange blossom and irises are shaded into dimension with the lightest touch of clove within carnation. That and a pale violet sweetness holds true throughout the life of wear on skin.

The full open softens down gently with time, turning the dial a little more toward the honey almond, again soft and plush shades of tonka and a cloud of musk that intensifies and holds the floral details, along with the cooling sweetness of iris and violet.

Further, I knew I would be taking a rare trip to Paris, and planned a day of visiting various perfume shrines, so I was lucky to get to the Oriza L. Legrand boutique itself.

After a lot of walking on that hot day, it was a lovely experience to enter the boutique. I left refreshed and with a full size flacon and some samples of things new to me (Heliotrope Blanc, another floral powder, and a new one on a theme of jasmine which is yet untitled, among others).

Jardins D’Armide was first released in 1909, this version is based on the records received with the sale of the Maison, established in 1720, to the new owners who have revived several of the original fragrances.

Nijinsky and Pavlova - 1909 via Wikipedia
I was further excited to find a little background research showed that the year 1909 when the Ballet Russe performed the second premiere of Le Pavilion de Armide at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris on 19 May 1909, danced by Nijinsky and Pavolva, which made a great impression on Parisians. 

Especially so as the feminine persona of Armide is based on a longstanding French theme in opera and literature (and I was excited to find reference to the novella Omphale by Theophile Gautier, author of Clarimonde, the muse of my ongoing perfume and writing project cited as a basis for this Ballet Russe dance) .

I believe that this ballet and likely Gautier’s story together to be the inspiration for the perfume, as both the Ballet Russe and the writer’s aesthetic were so influential in the cultural scene of Paris in 1909. Gautier's story is steeped in soft pastel shades and floral motifs that come to life within haunted tapestry.

The perfumes women wore often reflected the current cultural inspirations of the time, as they still do. 

As it happens the writer Theophile Gautier, was a great balletomane, deeply involved as a writer and partner of a great ballerina of the day, as well as a famous journalist, aesthete, sensualist and the originator of the phrase “art for art’s sake”. 

The legendary character of Armide, like Clarimonde, was a strong female figure of action, their enchanted lovers torn between the forces of love and duty to others.

Armide appears in many French operas and ballets over the centuries. She is a figure in an old epic poem, a Saracen sorceress who instead of killing a Crusader enemy falls in love with him at first sight. She brings him to a garden of enchantment to take him away from the forces of mutually assured destruction, to put love first. 

I find this parallels the Clarimonde theme, so I feel this perfume somehow reached out to me by more than coincidence. More the fragranced air of an affinity that I was meant to know.

It’s also a lovely perfume to fall asleep in, soothing and calming. I can rest my arm beside my face and breathe deeply and be transported on a number of levels of enjoyment. Soft beauty, rich associations with literature and music, history, Paris at the turn of the last century, and the sheer quality of the ingredients and composition add to the headiness of a close encounter with this perfume on skin.

As to the perfume’s theme, the legend of the Garden of Armide, we know the West learned much from the Middle East while waging the Crusades, especially about perfumes, spices, and luxury.

The perfumed beauty of the air in an enchanted garden, a strong spell cast by a Saracen (Muslim) sorceress over a Crusader (Western) knight, to hold the force of attraction and love in control over the forces of revenge and war -- this is a deeper theme than I expected to find behind the soft powder and spiced flowers, musk deepened with tonka bean and honey almond, as it creates an atmosphere of ease.

For all that it was first released in 1909, it does not seem old-fashioned or even lady-like after all.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure: I purchased the samples and perfume directly from the perfumer.
Images above from the Oriza L Legrand site and Wikipedia.

May 26, 2015

Ephemera by Unsound: Drone, Noise, Bass

From the Ephemera by Unsound site
Geza Shoen has made three perfumes for a project called Ephemera by Unsound, relating to three pieces of music, with perfumes and music made in such a way as to sensitively reflect each other in a syn-aesthetic way. 

I found the three, Drone, Noise and Bass presented together in a box (at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn) that opened to a lyrical- minimalist presentation. There are references to scent molecules and/or constellations both on the flacons and underneath them, as each is set as a glass rectangle within cutouts in a dark square box. This makes for a beautifully boxed set of perfume that carries layered symbolic meanings within every detail, if you want to find them.  They also come as separate full-size flacons.

photo of my boxed set
by Lucy Raubertas
They are all elegantly beautiful, but my favorite is Drone, described on the site as "...aldehydes and air notes, developing to fir and juniper, with a base of patchouli, ambergris, and vetiver."

 Probably because of the warming season, I am most drawn to this airy brightness, sharpened by edge notes of evergreens, softened by subtle versions of the base, especially the dry vetiver.  

I am glad evergreen notes are being reclaimed for fine perfume.

Drone is the most unisex of the three, and holds the brightness of the evergreen notes closely to the soothing, relaxing and balanced influence of ambergris and patchouli, to hover near the center of the dial, warming up with skin heat.

Noise reflects the strong scent and sound impression made by incense used during religious ceremonies on Catholic church holidays, along with the scents and sounds of bush fire, insect drones and moisture (rain storm scent, I assume) and pays homage to their influential sense-memory powers. Mold, gunpowder, solder, rust, all those specific scents that affect you when you first encounter them as full of the energy of processes that are mysterious but clearly making something change, something happen.

Selected notes listed are aldehydes, ozone, black pepper, saffron, and labdanum, which creates a sum total first impression of a freshly lit match held to a cigarette, later lifting off with a spark of electrical brightness. The depth of the base notes are raised aloft with the strong fresh brightness of sparkling aldehyde, crossed with ozone and the tang that sharpens your the nose from fresh-ground black pepper.

Photo of full size Drone from Twisted Lily
Bass, as appropriate to the name, is the darkest and deepest of the three, and most likely to be perceived as a masculine fragrance, initially. 

This one relates to a burn/smoke of soft grey dust, crossed with animalic musc tones. 

The burn is pleasantly clean in its electrical fire aspect.  The inspiration was a vacuum cleaner that gave off a burning dust smell as it first came on.   

The most predominant notes are listed as woodsmoke and rum, developing into leather, mastic, and tea, and finishing with castoreum and moss. This one opens big but dries down quickly on me, to a soft multi-dimensional musc.

All of these fragrances have a good hold but not an intrusive throw, which is a more modern way to wear fragrance.  The wearer would give an impression of an atmosphere of a life lived making things that involved using sharpened metal tools, and the energy of the elements of water and fire.  That makes perfect sense in an organically electrical combination of this type of modern music with modern perfume, as they sensitively interact with and reference each other.

I intend to experiment with using more than one at a time.  Their cohesive inner style makes them compatible. 

I liked them so much I impulse-purchased the box set at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn.  

Further credits and info from the Twisted Lily site:
Ephemera presents olfactory compositions based on musical resonances and reverberations. The nose behind the project is Berlin-based Geza Schoen, known for the groundbreaking Escentric Molecules series as well as various avant-garde/conceptual scents.
In the first phase of the project, three musicians – Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, and Steve Goodman (aka Kode9) – created raw sonic material which Schoen then reinterpreted to create three different scents: Noise, Drone and Bass. These scents and sounds are now used in an installation environment, and also encapsulated as unique perfumes.
The project is curated and produced by Malgorzata Plysa and Mat Schulz of Unsound.
See the link to the perfume page of the Ephemera by Unsound project for a lot more information and especially to hear and download the music.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Images from the Ephemera by Unsound site, Twisted Lily and me.
Quote above from Twisted Lily.


May 15, 2015

Sweet Anthem: Enchanted Fragrances, Heroines and Villains


Enchanted Fragrances, four new eau de Parfums from Sweet Anthem of the Pacific Northwest, are modern and stylish takes on classic Fairy Tale personages, as aromatic depictions of the essence of four famous characters.  All of the characters are influential on children who know them from reading or films. Two villains and two heroine personalities are filtered though  a youthful American sensibility, one perhaps brought up with lavishly illustrated picture books and vintage Disney movies.

These edps all have a modern freshness, creating an atmosphere of elegant simplicity.  They last about 4 - 5 hours, have a 20% concentration and also come in solid perfume form as a stick that is easy to travel with for touch up as you like.  They are fun to layer and play with,  and come in a well priced 10 ml size so playing with them is not so frightening.  They don't throw a big trail, but are definitely there for your to enjoy on yourself and whoever comes within three feet of you.

They all share a signature Sweet Anthem tone of clean musk skin, with a slight caramel tinge, that belongs to someone of active energy and youthful optimism.

In other words, I am picturing Pacific Northwest young people with highly developed online personas who nonetheless bike around the woods rain or shine, in vintage clothing and elaborate body adornment, who are well-read yet outdoorsy, and who comb the secondhand shops, wildcraft their own herbal tea and entertain each other with their own music and songs, much like the Elizabethan youth of yore.

These would also be people who appreciate subtle references to pop classics from all directions and cultures and use them in their own self-presentation.

The two Villains:

Black Queen, the beauty obsessed, opens with a quick bite of apple, then flows into the fresh floral sweetness of the Linden tree blossom and then goes on to be overgrown by trees covered with Oakmoss while hypnotized by a relaxing dose of Tonka Bean.

The soothing end holds flashes of the fresh open, a little of the apple's crispness while the signature musk skin tone pervades all with its distinctive personality. A darkly green-tinged haze flows over the orchard.

Red Queen starts with a flash of brightness too, a slightly sideways facet of White Pepper, with Cardamon joined to Fig and Rose coming up right around the corner.  Those virtually tactile aromas infused with Rose carry over to Honey and Leather. Rose is the central spine of the fragrance, and settles down over the signature clean muskiness.

Two Heroines:

Briar Rose opens with a green tomato leaf, then builds up fast to a honeyed rose otto that permeates the entire composition, softened with white amber.  I am not familiar with white amber per se but from this experience I assume it means the grounding element which is not the typical deep and meltingly fluid dark amber but more a lightly smokey creamy golden waxy amber effect.

Snow White aka the fairest of them all, opens with the green astringency of Petit Grain and moves on to a lovely apricot tinged Osmanthus floral time, white musk and a  dry sunny hay-like vetiver.

All four provide moments of pleasure which deepen if you are conscious of the detailed fairy tale references, as they are reflected with such care.

This style of perfume is casual to the core, and would be easy for a modern young person to love, while transporting everyone else to recall their own time of smooth physical ease and open optimism, because they don't read as too 'young' to be enjoyed by everyone else.

See the above links for more information and to order.

A song to listen to perfume by:

At Forest Edge by Vetiver

Lyrics (by Andy Cabic):

          At forest edge I swore I saw
A lovely young girl from afar
(Did she smile?)
Yes, she seemed to smile right at me


So I stepped in
(Was it dark?)
Yes, the light was leaving
Wind came moving off the leaves
Where did she go?


Long branches wet
To hide promises
No one would keep
Wanting to catch a glimpse


I ran deep into the woods
Moving across
I look back to find
I was lost


Up ahead I hear her footstep
But I don't see her anywhere
It's not like me to run off
And leave the rest behind

Go my way home
And just leave this girl
And these woods alone
(Is she real?)
Real as I'll never know
The setting sun she soon won't show a thing


I've got to find a path
Through the trees
I've got to find my own way
Tonight, I've got to find the right way

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved

Disney Images borrowed from  Pinterest sites.
Music video of Forest's Edge by Vetiver from YouTube
Samples provided by the perfumer.


May 12, 2015

Supernatural Spring


Link to see my Spring piece on Clarimonde: 

Supernatural Spring

"Clarimonde’s spirit can travel as a scent on the breeze. She travels along on the breath of a spring blooming flower, especially those intoxicating ones like Hyacinth, Lilac and Violet..."

All links herein and therein contain many-layered messages.

April Aromatics Rosenlust, Tempted Muse. Rosine: Rose d’Ete. Oriza L LeGrand: Jardins D’Armide, Deja Le Printemps. Parfums Lalun: Phenomene Vert II. Acqua di Callitris. DSH Jacinth de Sapphir and others in the Brilliant Collection.


There are Pinterest boards devoted to Clarimonde, Happiness, and Kick of the Day to see more images, if you are so inclined.
There are also evolving impressions on Tumblr at Indieperfumes and Clarimonde.


Clarimonde’s long and perfect memory for all the Spring seasons she has known contributed to the build up of her essence. It gives her skin a luminous quality, like mother of pearl, a nacre shell, abalone, pearls, iridescence. Her cousins the peacocks understand this best.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.