December 29, 2014

The Brilliant Collection by DSH Perfumes

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is often inspired by the special exhibits at the Denver Art Museum, and has interpreted their show on Cartier with four perfumes relating to the qualities of gemstones and certain personalities identified with them.

All four perfumes (edp strength) share a certain vintage tone reminiscent of the European classic perfumes, and also I find the beauty of each perfume's  theme  - diamond, sapphire, ruby and gold rises up through a signature aquatic/metallic background that creates an atmosphere calling to the coolness of feel and metallic settings of highly polished and faceted gemstones.  The center fire and depth of the gems relate to the core natural elements and classic perfume notes such as rose, hyacinth, gardenia, and aldehydes, and that sense of concentrated power associated with sophistication, opulence, luxury identified with the adornments of celebrity.

Diamond and Ebony Jaguar Bracelet, courtship gift of jewelry to Wallis Simpson and designed for her
Deco Diamonds is associated with Wallis Simpson, and I get a clean contemporary edge supported by an art deco chypre background. These opposites are balanced and poised, resembling the public persona of a society woman who both successfully and unsuccessfully crashed the aristocracy (captured a King, but never became Queen) with the mood and notes symbolic of  irresistible romance and a fantastically privileged art deco stylized opulence, always strictly restrained by skillful design.  This is a perfume you might wear on Wall Street, or anywhere where the pure scent of money would be appreciated by those most discerning of its uses for subtle understated power.

Marie of Romania's Cartier Sapphire
Jacinthe de Sapphir is an example of one of my favorite DSH special effects, which is to throw the beautiful arc-light fire within high-pitched floral tones into greater relief and detail by wrapping them into a deeper base, to bring out an almost iridescent tone in their floral qualities. This one too rises through a pure limpid water/mirror-like atmosphere.  Violet leaf,  hyacinth and tuberose are in focus, over tolu and peru balsam, associating with the heady blueness of sapphires.  Referencing the largest Cartier sapphire of all (over 450 carats) as worn by Marie of Romania, one of the final, most glamorous and popular stars of the aristocracy.

Elizabeth Taylor's rubies, gift of Mike Todd at the swimming pool
Rubis Rose starts with a raspberry-tinged natural rose and then lifts up with a peppered tang, then falls overboard into a deep pool of aromatic resins like frankincense and myrrh, recalling the sensuality associated with the deep and precious redness of rubies.  Elizabeth Taylor could carry the spectacular jewelry she collected as gifts from her many wealthy husbands who knew she craved jewels that enhanced her legend and beauty. They were indeed a tribute and traditional validation of her legendary beauty. One of her most famous presents was a Cartier set of rubies and diamonds from Mike Todd, and the perfume references the seductive quality of roses and red, romance and luxury with precious perfume materials.  Rose permeates the entire experience and carries on well into staining the long lingering precious resinous base notes, legendary in their own right as the gifts of the Magi. I associate all this with the traditional hyper-feminine beauty of the mid 1950s, and the beginning of celebrity culture that hit all the luxurious, classic, overtly seductive, yet traditionally valued qualities of that Hollywood heyday. This perfume holds closer to the skin in the more modern style.  In those days people wanted to knock everyone dead with their unquestionable fabulousness, but we now enjoy a more subtle message and are still deeply moved by the same signs of classic beauty as such a famous star once was, with this composition.

Fumee d'Or opens with wood smoke and a warm metallic tinge, as the perfumer was thinking about an old goldsmith's workshop, where the precious metal was melted and shaped with the heat of a burning furnace, and the artisan wore a no doubt warmed-up thick leather apron.  This perfume is meant to both stand on its own and act as a setting for the others, as she invites us to directly apply the above gem inspired perfumes over this golden smoke, as a base to enjoy an enhanced effect. Birch tar and metallic aldehydes and civet create an imaginary atmospheric tone that does not literally represent gold itself but the experience of the jeweler who works with it and the precious gem stones that inspired the three perfumes described above.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz continually surprises and enchants with a subtle, dimensional approach, linking perfume with themes and experiences that are rooted in both primal and cultural memories of nature and the past, synthesized to a contemporary taste that respects the gentility of complex and subtle sensations in reaction to each other.

For me the prime objective is always does the adornment flatter the wearer?  These perfumes enhance the persona and bring out the elegance and an appealing well-informed intelligence.  They are a combination of sensuality and thoughtfulness.

Please see each of the linked perfume names to go directly to the perfumer's site for more details on and complete notes, and to order samples and varied sizes as available.

Disclosure:  I received these samples directly from the perfumer and have known her for quite some time. Please use the search bar with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for several more posts about her perfumes on this site.

The Brilliant Collection

Copyright December 2014, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved


Anonymous said...

Thank you so, so much for this utterly enchanting review of the Brilliant collection perfumes. I am at a loss for words to express my gratitude as beautifully.

Cynthia said...

"Falls overboard into a deep pool of aromatic resins" that description! I'm a huge DSH fan, and I'm in the midst of sampling these now. As always, her perfumes never disappoint.

Lucy Raubertas said...

DSH has such a wide range and a beautiful relationship to the past as well as being completely original and contemporary.