May 1, 2011

May Day Muguet: DSH Perfumes, Masculine and Feminine

In celebration of the first of May, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has made two special limited edition muguet perfumes entirely with botanical accords, in both masculine and feminine versions.   This is quite a feat, since lily of the valley does not lend itself to being distilled into a perfume by its own essence, and has for a long time been identified with man-made chemical approximations that are hyper-realistic and strong.

Scent Hive's longing and request to DSH for a fully natural lily of the valley fragrance resulted in these two rounder, gentler, natural fragrance versions of a floral that has many sentimental associations.  DSH  pulled off a virtuoso performance blending botanical accords to achieve these two versions, both renditions true to the heart and soul of  lily of the valley.

This quintessentially Spring fragrance quietly evokes the sweetness, the shyness, the dark earth and the warm early Spring sun on a flower that hides itself among its own tall green leaves close to the ground.  I love seeing  it  escaped from old gardens, thick clumps of it near crumbling iron fences and edging up around the base of late Victorian brownstone steps in Brooklyn. There is a vitality and irrepressible strength there.  It is a scent and a flower that stylistically keeps in tight association with the 19th Century, with young French girls, with May celebrations of Spring, and with an undiluted femininity of the old school. 

Breaking through the feminine associations, DSH brought this sense of May floral joy into the male sphere by the use of transparency, weighted by deeper elements that tone down the high scent pitch to a spare elegance.

Wearing both, I have one on one arm and one on the other.  The overtly feminine Muguet de Mai begins with a true, identifiable lily of the valley, supported by a green atmosphere expanding out under warmth that recalls the sun on your face after a long winter without.  It is softly gentle and holds close to the skin with an ornamental deliciousness that keeps your wrist close to your nose, aiming to capture this subtle experience as fully as possible.  As it dries down, the rose, orris, honey beeswax and resins blended together come up from behind in a way that identifies closely with the skin's warmth.  This is a very precious substance, but it would be ultimately luxurious to bathe your arms in this perfume so that you are fully enclosed in its complex yet gentle beauty for a time.  Being provided with a generous sample I have done that on one arm this morning, and find the sweetness toned with a honey thickened resinous aroma that engages with body heat to cast an intimate relaxing halo of soft beauty around me.

The notes list for both of these perfumes is long and can be fully reviewed at the DSH Notebook site.

The masculine Muguet Cologne is a true reference to lily of the valley,  but it arises in  immediate proximity together with damp earthiness and fresh green, and a subtle citric edge.  It has a  bracing sheer energy, partly from the cologne dilution and partly from the accords skillfully built around a stylized, abstracted, contemporary version of this traditional symbol of Spring.  It would be gorgeous on a man, but also beautiful worn by a woman in an context that requires more active energy, such as at work or even for exercising. 

Please visit the other sites for further personal takes and thoughts on these two perfumes -- at
the natural perfume lover and instigator of this project: Scent Hive; the inimitable Ida at CaFleureBon; the deeply scholarly Perfume Shrine; the sophisticate Gaia at  The Non-Blonde; and to get insight on the  perfumer's creative process, the Notebooks of DSH.

There are only nine antique presentation flacons of Muguet de Mai perfume,  at $125;  a good size sample at $22.  All available at the DSH website (follow the links) and varying sizes of the Muguet Cologne from a sample vial for $5.25 to 10 ml $45 and 1 ounce at $98.


Scent Hive said...

I loved reading your impressions Lucy. What a wonderful way to start off the month of May! Thank you so much for joining in :-)

Flora said...

I have a feeling that these will be in much demand after the reviewers rave about them! What a tour de force for DSH to make an all-botanical Muguet work, in not just one but two perfumes!

Lucy said...

Trish, it was a pleasure to participate, wearing the samples was so enjoyable, especially today.

Lucy said...


DSH is impressively resourceful and creative and has energy to burn. So many ideas!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Lucy, for your truly lovely review of my Muguet project perfumes! :) I am so grateful to be a part of such a project and love that you were in support of this concept from the beginning! I look forward to the next opportunity to work again with you and Indieperfumes! Happy May Day, my dear. I am honored by you and your words~ oxo

chayaruchama said...

How very lovely, my dear one !
I loved Trish's and Dawn's project-
And knowing we shared scented pleasure among us !

Lucy said...


Was a pleasure wearing them on May day especially!

Lucy said...


A lovely project + precious stuff indeed, can't believe it is all botanical but it is.

lostpastremembered said...

Lily of the valley was always my mother's favorite flower... love it since it reminds me of her and her may birthday. SO... does it really smell like lily of the valley??? The phony stuff is so unpleasant....

Lucy said...

Lost Past, it is realistic indeed, but it has more to it than that also. I will bring what I have left with me next time we get together, you'll see for yourself.