December 26, 2010

DSH Winter Collection

19th Century Vermont Snowflake by Wilson Bentley
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has been creating a perfume each winter to mark the season for years.  Recently I was lucky enough to win a draw for her sample collection of 11 of her favorites.  This is a perfumer who is very attuned to enjoying the snows and winter, probably from living and working in Colorado.

 This day after Xmas I am wearing Winter White,  clean soft delicate and powdery, like the snow falling outside.  It has white sandalwood, white rose, white musk, white chocolate and raspberry.  It's like wearing  a white angora scarf around your neck.

Tree of Life/Wm. Morris
On the opposite end of the winter spectrum, Twelfth Night, representing deep woods, with notes of juniper, spices, laurel leaf, patchouli, oakmoss, frankincense and Arabian myrrh.  It is bright, sharp, stimulating, the essence of wood itself, softened and decorated by the ornamental aspects of patchouli and myrrh. 

Silver Fir is a unisex scent, made with conifer essences, meant to be as sparkling and crisp as the scent of evergreens in the cold winter air, of silver fir, Siberian fir, Atlas cedarwood, balsam fir, treemoss, olibanum, green tea, spearmint, bergamot, cassis bud, pink grapefruit and plum.

Festive is a spicy green scent, in a good strength to wear to work or for everyday use.   It has an appealing fir needle and spruce tone moderated by light incense and sandalwood. It goes very well with wool and leather winter wear.


Hanuukah Cannelle is based on a traditional dish of apples, cinnamon, nuts and honey.  This is a very pretty gourmand style fragrance with a baked honeyed apple tone held within a warm citrus tea,  like the clarified and intensified scent of a fresh warm Middle Eastern dessert decorated with flowers.  Aldehyde accord, bergamot, bitter almond, galbanum, orangeflower, apple, cinnamon bark, jasmine, lily of the valley, Atlas cedarwood, Australian sandalwood, butter, East Indian Patchouli, honey incense and labdanum. 

Nournouz is a Persian New Year perfume for holiday parties, of black pomegranate, paprika, tamarind, Bulgarian rose otto, orris, osmanthus, oppopanax, red wine, tobacco and vanilla.  As you would expect from this list of notes, it is exotic, sophisticated, and smart in the fashion sense of the word.  This is an abstract perfume, not like any one thing in particular, more a combination of the notes from many aromatic directions that resolve into an air of festive elegance and a little distance, the better to invite the imagination. Like wearing a little black dress, this is mysterious without being too serious.

candle flames are hypnotic
Cathedral works with the clean smoke of incense burning in a cool space.  It holds the calm and meditative air of associations to ceremonial ancient sacramental and ritual uses of perfume, with resin and sandalwood, mastic, oppopanax and bergamot.  I have strong childhood associations with this aspect of incense but this is a light and transparent treatment of the style.  I get that direct reminder but it is not overwhelming to me as these powerful incense notes can sometimes be.

Ma Folie de Noel has unusual notes of licorice, anise seed, star anise, green mandarin, green peppercorn, cognac, caramel, freesia, bonded together with peach, centifolia rose, oppopanax and tonka bean.  Together they impart the sense of childhood memories of special holiday desserts, burning candles and floral decorations scenting the house. The piquant effects are grounded in the deep dark unifying tonka.

Marzipan is strongly almond, a gourmand set of notes with bitter almond, honey, vanilla, cocoa beans, French vanilla, white chocolate and Moroccan rose and spice.  This has a very eighteenth century Marie Antoinette luxe prettiness to it, a pale almond pastry cream toned with the vanilla, rose and spice notes. 

December is almost over now, but its fragrance associations are the strongest and brightest of the cold months, and its holiday atmosphere can carry us through the dark cold days coming on the strength of its afterglow.  This perfume uses ginger and aromatic wood with tolu balsam and vanilla, sweet orange, clove bud, nutmeg, cinnamon leaf, pine cone accord, incense and bergamot.  It has a enlivening, aromatic, glowing and very natural tone.  I can see this sprayed on a brush for the hair, so a subtle cloud may surround you with the comfort of the traditional cheerful scents of the winter holidays.

See the DSH site for more information and sampler packages.  The full size and mini size are also available.  It's great that more perfumers are offering their perfumes in increments of size so that we access trying a wider range of perfumes and even using the smaller sizes as more portable alternatives.

18th century dress above from The Costumer's Manefesto;
Detail of hand holding a pomegranate above, by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Prosperine

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