Now Sampling: DSH Perfumes

 

I’ve been wanting to try Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s gorgeous line of artisanal perfumes for a long time. The only problem was, where to start? She has so many to choose from, it’s overwhelming! Luckily, she releases holiday fragrances every year for the festive season. These holiday-themed scents sounded like a good way to start exploring the brand so, for December, I decided to pick out two of her holiday scents from previous years.

Châtaignes du Bois: This is the smell of roasted chestnuts, sugared and slightly burnt, too. It took me back to college, when my freshman year roommates and I would take the train into New York City on the weekends. Just outside of Grand Central, we could smell the roasted chestnuts from the various carts trying to attract tourists. Finally, one day, we gave in and bought some. They tasted good, but the taste couldn’t live up to that smell, which was even better. This is the scent of Châtaignes du Bois, which is purely yummy and nostaglic for me. Unfortunately, it’s extremely short-lived on my skin, but that’s to be expected from naturals.

Lumière: This is a coffee-centric fragrance, which immediately makes me happy. One of my favorites is Bond’s New Haarlem, which is a coffee scent, but also very sweet with a strong maple syrup note. I expected Lumière to also be sweet, but it’s dark and spicy. It’s like cinnamon-laced coffee and booze with a dollop of whipped cream on top. It’s decadent, yet balanced. I also get better longevity with this one at 5 hours. I’m still searching for my holy grail coffee scent, but Lumière is a contender for a larger bottle purchase.

I also have two small samples of Au Lait (creamy milk) and Tonic (as Dawn describes, it’s like “ginger ale for the soul.”). I think I chose a good entry point into DSH Perfumes. I’m excited to discover more from here and find my favorite DSH creation.

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I ordered my samples directly from the DSH website. I highly recommend browsing around her site — you can lose hours just clicking on all the fragrance descriptions!

Photo taken by me.

What I Wore This Week

Here is my round-up of what I wore this week!

  • Monday: Woody Mood by Olfactive Studio
  • Tuesday: Lumiere by DSH Perfumes
  • Wednesday: Bas de Soie by Serge Lutens
  • Thursday: Chanel No. 5 EDP
  • Friday & Saturday: Mon Numero 10 by L’Artisan Parfumeur

What are you all wearing in the run up to Christmas?

Comparative Perfumery

I posted this photo and a little summary on my instagram, but I wanted to do a more in-depth post here on the blog.

I recently ordered a sample of Casablanca from St. Clair Scents, which is an indie artisanal brand based in Vermont. Diane St. Clair is the perfumer. Casablanca is the newest release for 2018 and it’s definitely a winter-appropriate scent. You can tell just by looking at the juice in the bottle, this scent is a rich and intensive experience.

Soon after first applying and testing Casablanca, I was reminded of Baptême du Feu from Serge Lutens, which I recently wrote about. Both scents have a striking animalic undercurrent. They have a dark vibe, a sort of dark fairy tale. I decided to wear one on each arm and do a little comparison test.

The result is that they are definitely not dupes of each other, but I feel they are in the same family. Baptême du Feu leans more foodie. There is a gingerbread note and the familiar Lutens dried fruit note. It’s not quite gourmand, but it’s a well-rounded composition and feels very festive for this time of year. Casablana is not foodie at all. It opens with some lovely citrus notes that bring a real radiance to the composition. This bright radiance balances out the deep animalic notes, which include civet and hyrax. Casablanca is really an animalic scent for me. There are white floral notes in the heart, including jasmine and tuberose. But the animalic notes are most present on my skin.

The animalic note in Baptême du Feu is castoreum, and it has a dark oily undercurrent for me. The hyrax and civet in Casablanca are also dark and have a black oiliness to them, like oily animal fur. It’s sensual, but it goes even further than that. It’s like an unnamed beast lurking outside the castle grounds. This is the dark fairytale aspect. It’s the theme of a beast that cannot be named but is undeniably present.

My favorite book from 2018, The Essex Serpent, deals with similar themes: the fear of a medieval beast re-appearing to wreak havoc in the present day. Both Baptême du Feu and Casablanca recall these medieval kind of superstitions. Both scents feel appropriate right now, as we come to the winter solstice and the darkest day of the year. But, ultimately, these scents and The Essex Serpent aren’t about fear, but about wonder and awe related to the unknown out in nature.

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I got my sample of Baptême du Feu from Luckyscent (and I have now completely drained it!)

I ordered my sample of Casablanca directly from St. Clair Scents.

The Essex Serpent was published in the US in 2017 but I did not read it until this year. I highly recommend it!

What I Wore This Week

Here’s this week’s round-up of What I Wore!

  • Monday: La Religieuse by Serge Lutens
  • Tuesday: Wood Sage and Sea Salt by Jo Malone
  • Wednesday: Misia EDT Les Exclusifs de Chanel
  • Thursday: Serpentine by Roberto Cavalli
  • Friday: Honeysuckle and Davana by Jo Malone
  • Saturday: Dear Polly by Vilhelm Parfumerie

What did you guys wear this week?

Olibanum by Profumum

Notes: orange blossom, sandalwood, incense, and myrrh.

I’ve tested several scents from Profumum over the years (and even written about some here and here). I have liked each and every scent I’ve tested. There doesn’t seem to be a dud in the bunch! Olibanum is yet another winner. The only problem is that Profumum Roma is a niche brand from, you guessed it, Rome. It’s not the easiest to find here in the US. It’s fairly pricey as well. The brand now offers an 18 ml travel size for $83 which Luckyscent carries. The 100 ml size is better value for money, but that travel size might be how I acquire my first Profumum scent, and Olibanum is a potential contender.

As you can guess from the name, Olibanum is a resinous, incense-focused fragrance. Indeed, it opens with a very true-to-life incense note. It’s like walking into a yoga studio and recognizing that they’re burning the good incense. It’s not smoky or acrid. It’s not plasticky or synthetic. It’s just true incense. This is a dry, yet well-rounded composition. The other notes come through sparingly, but they do their job in supporting incense as the star of the show.

Looking at the notes, I expected to smell orange blossom first. I expected a clean white floral scent. However, this orange blossom is actually very citrus-driven and more like true petitgrain from the leaves rather than the orange blossom itself. It’s a zesty yet dry orange citrus note that blends with the incense to give a bit of life, a bit of vivacity to the composition. It’s not floral at all though. I find that this citrus note comes through more on the skin rather than testing on paper. And it comes through as you wear it, rather than as a top note.

Sandalwood is also listed, and this is not your typical creamy sandalwood. This is not Santal Blush. Again, it’s as dry as can be. My nose reads it more as cedar than sandalwood. But then, I love cedar so much, my brain could wish it into any composition! Regardless, this piece of the composition serves as a dry woody anchor for the resinous incense to play off of. Just today, I tried layering Olibanum with Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt, and it is delicious! The woody notes are intensified and the grapefruit note in WS&SS plays well with the bitter orange blossom of Olibanum.

Of course, you don’t need to layer Olibanum. It’s a stunning fragrance on its own. However, it’s very somber and contemplative. This is incense, after all, the scent of sitting in quiet meditation or prayer. I do get church vibes, but I grew up Catholic. I will always get Catholic mass vibes from incense. If you don’t want to project Catholic mass vibes, layering Olibanum with a more floral or fruity composition is probably a good idea. On its own, Olibanum is a stark but beautiful fragrance. It makes an impression with few notes. It’s meant for reflection, and it’s gorgeous at this time of year. It’s definitely worth testing, as are so many scents from this line.

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Profumum is available from Luckyscent in the US, which is where I ordered my sample of Olibanum.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica.

The photo is of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I took it on a rainy morning when I was in New York in September.

What I Wore This Week

I’ve been trying to track my scents of the day recently to take stock of what I’m actually wearing. I’m trying to cycle through my collection a bit more. I say “trying” because I inevitably forgot this past Monday, so you only see four scents here!

  • Tuesday: Woody Mood by Olfactive Studio
  • Wednesday: Honeysuckle & Davana by Jo Malone London
  • Thursday: Terre d’Iris by Miller Harris
  • Friday: Mon Numéro 10 by L’Artisan Parfumeur

This doesn’t include any samples that I tested because those samples will be featured in upcoming posts of their own! What did you wear this past week?

(And, today I am wearing Burberry Brit for a bit of classic coziness.)

Au Delà by Bruno Fazzolari

Notes: coriander, neroli, jasmine, orange blossom, amber, resins, and oakmoss.

The original version of Au Delà was released in 2013. It is now Au Delà Narcisse, which is a different composition, and one that I have not yet tried. I’m currently working my way through Bruno Fazzolari creations, including his most recent one, Vetiverissimo. I debated whether to even write about the original Au Delà at this point, since it’s no longer available from Bruno Fazzolari in this formulation. I decided to write about it anyway because, if we’re not writing about discontinued or reformulated compositions, that leaves very little perfume left to talk about! I got my sample of Au Delà in the original formulations from The Perfumed Court, where it is still available.

As soon as I apply this to the skin, it’s like a rush of notes just blooming in front of me. I definitely get a tangy coriander in the opening. This coriander is green and sharp. It bites at your nose and your attempts to sniff it. I also get a heady neroli. It takes several minutes for this composition really settle into my skin.

The jasmine and orange blossom in particular feel a bit soapy. Not soapy as in clean, but rather, a literal bar of soap. I can sense those tiny decorative soaps that my Grandma still keeps in the soap dish in her powder room to this day. Au Delà conjures up all sort of memories like this. It has a distinctive old fashioned chypre smell, which many people might call “old lady” or “grandma.” For me, Au Delà is “grandma” in a good way, bringing up memories and associations that I have with my own Grandma.

It’s also warm, sensual, and animalic. The amber in particular stands out for me as Au Delà deepens and heads toward the dry down. This amber is incredibly warm and enveloping. I wish it were a blanket that I could just sink into. The oakmoss adds to that feeling, since it really has a texture here. It reminds me of a sponge — and not a beauty blender sponge, but a sea sponge! There is a touch of saltiness here which is giving me that sea salt association. This oakmoss also has a damp earthiness, like it has recently rained. It’s not a cool or refreshing rain though. It’s like we’re in the heart of a forest, where it’s still warm (from that amber) and a little bit decadent from the jasmine petals still unfurling in the background. Au Delà is simultaneously heady and deep, luminous and dense.

It has taken me two weeks to finish this write-up and I’m still not sure that I’ve really done Au Delà justice. It’s the kind of fragrance that can’t be easily summed up. It’s a throwback to the glorious chypres that have now been discontinued or reformulated. And now Au Delà itself has been reconfigured as Au Delà Narcisse, which I am curious to try! And yet, it doesn’t feel old fashioned or dated. Bruno Fazzolari can’t help but be modern. I may order a larger sample of Au Delà from The Perfumed Court just to savor it for awhile. This is one of those special fragrances that isn’t just something to smell, but a full experience.

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I got my sample of Au Delà from The Perfumed Court. The photo of my sample was taken by me.

The info on notes is taken from Fragrantica.

Festive Fragrances

Happy December, everyone! We made it to the last month of the year.

Yesterday, I made a post on instagram about my three favorite perfumes to wear this time of year. I think of them as my festive fragrances. As you can see, the scents are:

  • Mon Numero 10 by L’Artisan Parfumeur
  • Plum Japonais by Tom Ford Private Blend
  • Fille en Aiguilles by Serge Lutens

I have previously written about these three here on the blog. They are all within the same genre, and they all bring some sparkle and brightness to a time of year where we don’t have much daylight.

What are your favorite scents to wear around this time of year?

Fève Délicieuse by Maison Christian Dior

Notes: lavender, mint, bergamot, cherry, freesia, jasmin, tonka, benzoin, caramel, cedar, dark chocolate, coconut, leather, sandalwood, and Madagascar vanilla.

Fève Délicieuse was originally released in 2015 as one of the Dior Privée fragrances. It is now part of the Maison Christian Dior line. I tested this current version a few months ago at Saks (when I bought Belle de Jour). I knew it was one of the older Dior Privée scents that had been grandfathered into the new exclusive Maison line. I was curious about the older/original release and so I ordered a small decant from Surrender to Chance. Fève Délicieuse is a tonka-centered composition, so it’s definitely a gourmand. I also get cedar and incense notes on my skin, which add dimension and make this not purely a gourmand for me. However, if you’re truly not a gourmand fan, you can likely skip this one altogether!

The notes here don’t develop for me in a traditional pyramid fashion. And yet, the development isn’t linear either. Fève Délicieuse is a bit of a wildcard on my skin. The most prominent note I get in the opening is a deep cedar wood from the base. I also get a cloud of milky coconut hanging over everything, like someone has just grated coconut over top of the rest of the composition. I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint bergamot if I hadn’t read the list of notes. but there’s a hint of zesty citrus. I don’t get any mint or lavender, so I don’t know what happened there. Fève Délicieuse then settles into my skin as a creamy, toasted vanilla, which is the type of scent profile that I associate most often with tonka bean.

As it develops, Fève Délicieuse reminds me of Jeux de Peau from Serge Lutens, in that it is a bit of a game. As I said, this composition is focused on tonka. François Démachy’s game here is to bring out as many facets of tonka as possible. I already got the creamy toasted vanilla facet quite early on in wear time. After a little over an hour, I also get a sweet praline mixed with cherry soda. It’s very odd, but this is the cherry note. This is not a fresh fruit kind of cherry. It has just a hint of the cherry cola vibe from L’Artisan’s Mon Numéro 10. I can still smell the cedar going strong here, and it makes for a surprisingly yummy blend of flavors. This is the festive side of tonka. This cherry praline would fit right in as one of the Starbucks holiday drinks.

It’s not until several hours into wear time that I get probably my favorite aspect of Fève Délicieuse: the resinous part. This isn’t something that I associate with tonka, but it really clicked with me here. Fève Délicieuse has great longevity and sillage. But, as it starts to quiet down, an incense vibe shines through. It’s a little bit sweet and there’s a little more of that toasted vanilla note. But there’s also that contemplative benzoin resinous current running through everything. It’s really lovely and I appreciate this more understated aspect, especially in such a powerful gourmand composition.

Sadly, I don’t get the dark chocolate note at all, but maybe it’s still waiting for the right time to come through on my skin. The very last bits of Fève Délicieuse are a surprisingly dry leather smell. I love the way this fragrance seems to develop into something more dry as it wears. Some fragrances start out woody and dry, and then develop into rich base notes. Fève Délicieuse is almost the opposite. I really like this composition and I think it’s surprisingly interesting and thought-provoking for a gourmand.

However, I wouldn’t touch this in hot weather. It would be way too much and overbearing. For that reason, I’m sticking with my decant for now. Maybe I’ll do another decant in time for next Fall/Winter. But, just considering the price point and how often I’d wear this, I can’t justify purchasing a full bottle. It has fantastic longevity (9 hours easily) and smells of high quality materials (i.e. not reformulated to death with cheaper ingredients). Fève Délicieuse is well worth testing and purchasing. And it’s a must if tonka is one of your favorite notes.

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Fève Délicieuse is available directly from Dior and in store at Saks Fifth Avenue. I ordered my decant from Surrender to Chance.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica. It’s worth noting that the only note Dior officially lists is tonka.

The photo of my little decant was taken by me.

Woody Mood by Olfactive Studio

Notes: bergamot, ginger, clary sage, saffron, sequoia, black tea, incense, patchouli, leather, styrax, and cacao.

Woody Mood is my first experience with Olfactive Studio. I just couldn’t resist these notes for fall/winter and I ended up purchasing a full bottle! Olfactive Studio is a niche line that explores the connection between photography (visual) and our sense of smell (olfactory). I haven’t tried a wide range from Olfactive Studio, but I imagine that memory is usually the connecting factor between the photographic image and the fragrance composition. Each full bottle comes with a copy of the accompanying photograph so that you — now both the wearer and the viewer — can contemplate any personal connections that may or may not arise. As you might guess, the photograph for Woody Mood is of a forest:

The photograph is by Roger Steffens. I’m not much of a photography critic, so I will stick to discussing the scent here!

Woody Mood was created by the grand master himself, Bertrand Duchaufour. This feels like a pared down composition for him. Part of the reason Woody Mood feels minimalistic is because it’s very dry. There is no creamy vanilla or rich amber to warm up this composition. In the opening, I get ginger, black tea, and what I assume is the sequoia note. The sequoia smells very much like cedar to my nose. That means, this opening smells like woody, ginger tea without any milk or sugar. If you take your tea with lots of milk, or prefer your perfume rich and creamy, you likely won’t enjoy this scent.

I love a woody cedar note, so I enjoy the opening and mid-notes here. The composition remains on the dry tea and wood side of things on my skin. I get a little bit of incense, but nothing overly smoky. I get a dry, dusty patchouli in the base. The cacao note is also present in the dry down. It’s a yummy note, but it’s not decadent or a full gourmand chocolate. The base has depth but, again, it doesn’t feel rich or creamy.

I really enjoy Woody Mood and I find it to be a really interesting composition. I hadn’t realized how accustomed I had become to the pervasive vanilla/sandalwood base notes until wearing a composition that doesn’t contain any of these notes. Now, the drawback to all of this is that the longevity of Woody Mood is not great. The absent creamy base notes aren’t here to help the dry down last those couple extra hours on the skin. I get five hours of wear time from Woody Wood before it has truly faded. I’m happy to re-apply, but I know that poor longevity is a deal breaker for many in the perfume community.

I have to say, it’s nice to have a more minimal fragrance for Fall/Winter. I’m not always in the mood for an opulent Tom Ford Private Blend-esque experience. Woody Mood is crisp and dry, which feels eminently appropriate for November. I’m curious about other Olfactive Studio scents. I wonder if their other compositions have a similar issue with longevity or if this is a one-off. I’m not as into photography, so I don’t personally connect with that aspect of this line. Please let me know if you’ve tried anything else from this house and what your thoughts are!

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Woody Mood is available from Olfactive Studio and from Luckyscent. When I purchased my bottle, Luckyscent was offering 20% off on Olfactive Studio, so do check if that’s still going on.

Info on notes is from Fragrantica.

The Roger Steffens photograph is from Olfactive Studio. The photo of Woody Mood is taken by me.