June 3, 2014

DSH White Lilac, Peony, Vers la Violette

Audrey Hepburn expressing the Spring
These are three perfumes are like the spells cast in old legends or fairy stories.  They live in the lands of delicacy, refinement, elegance, and eternal Spring.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is one of my favorite perfumers, and whose mind I wish I could inhabit for awhile. Some of her perfume names and concepts seem simple compared to all the elaborate titles out there these days, but in combination with the specific aromas they reveal a open heart and long companionship with the forces of beauty, poetry, history, happiness and all the complex beauty they represent. Often they are all about certain moments or days in the life of an ephemeral occurrence, like the first day of the open lilac, or the last day of the peony in the sun, or the violets of the afternoon hours, a painting or a story.

Anytime I try something of hers based on a floral theme,  I know there is bound to be an experience of transcendent pleasure in elegance, sparkling freshness and often a champagne-like intoxication. High spirits shine through the perfumes, and a rare form of smartness, known as elegance,  in that old-fashioned meaning of the term as once used in the fashion world.  They release an aromatic energy that is organized and brightening.  The momentum of creativity is mounting as several new perfumes have been released in the past few months.

These belong to the ultra feminine soft and alluring group of her many moods in perfume.  Trying them calls to mind an ideal feminine type, most closely personified for me by Audrey Hepburn, that rare celebrity icon who reveals more inviting facets the more attention you pay.  The more you pay attention to these perfumes the more engaging they are, the more there is to find.

For a total immersion experience into the essence of Spring beauty any time of year, or to participate in it all when you are indoors or otherwise going about your business,  aim to get hold of a full size of White Lilac and spray it with abandon. It will not overwhelm you or anyone else with enormous sillage, but it will rise up around you to create a soft edged aura of heartbreaking mild and balmy sweetness, the essence of that ephemeral flower.  The lilac has such a particular scent, and this does indeed capture it. Freshly rained on petals in abundance cascading down to a point of intoxicating interior warmth as delicate as a breath,  that you find you must keep inhaling to get more of.  There is nothing else like a lilac and it's almost dizzying, even narcotic,  when you focus on that specific experience. I can't even imagine what it's doing to the bees it was designed to attract.

In White Lilac, the full experience holds close to the skin, then further out a few inches to a foot around you it becomes a lightness that brightens and uplifts in a more abstract way.  I don't know what the notes are on any of these three perfumes but obviously each holds an accord representing the named theme floral with other notes slanting the mood.  I feel this is an accord of various white florals, even jasmine, cut with an aquatic or even a light musk held together over a dry wood.  There is no deep base, it starts in the center and reaches up out from there.

Peony is warm and sunny with a slightly sharpened peppery edge, stem-y greens and light dry woods with an aquatic ozone liquid air.  There are frills of different floral elements reaching out to entwine themselves within those other notes and so seem pulled up by the liquid and airy elements.  Even a fine light powder as you will find in the color pink, representing the whiteness lightening a violet red, making the scent a little more opaque rather than completely transparent, as the other two fragrances are.   The result is wonderfully flowery and freshly watered, and again most realistically engaging up close to the skin, fanning out from there to create an atmosphere of bright freshness.  Resting your face on a perfumed arm will plunge your nose into the cup of a pink peony on a day of perfect weather. The aquatic notes seem held and bonded with the floral notes very closely, to act as subtle dewy moisture in a fresh flower on the bush.

Alisa Tingley, Purple Violet in Bud 2011
Vers la Violette is an exquisite experience for those who prefer the violet as it grows out of the ground, surrounded by other greens and leaf litter in a mulch-y soft earth.  It is alive; there is none of the icy ultra-sweetness typically associated with violets, but more the edge of an intimate deep floral so bonded to the leaves and earth from with it recently emerged as to be close in olfactory terms to the deepest version of violet as a color. The hint of soft sweetness comes up from behind you.

It provides a steady pulse of continuing fragrance, being one of those perfumes greatly intensified by body heat.  Everything is a subtle veil, yet there is a deep wood and a bright green crushed together into a fine powdery velvet sheen grounded in the essence of the darkest violet. This is one is a must for those who love violet as a growing flower with all its attendant symbolism.  It was inspired by a pointillist painting  from the late 19th Century, Hippolyte Petitjean’s “Village”, 1893.

Please follow the  links above to go directly to each perfume on the DSH site and for more precise information as to notes and background inspiration.  Samples are available for about $5 and the perfumes come in different increments of size and price,  Vers la Violette is $65 for 10 ml and the White Lilac and Peony are $33 for 10ml.

I've been hanging on to the freshness of this year's Spring with these perfumes, and since it's been a long one this year here anyway, I plan to keep going.

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