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Thursday, October 01, 2009

DSH Perfumes: New Scents For 2009 and a Sneak Preview

By Donna

A few months ago I did a five-part series about this line, and a number of them have really lingered in my mind as being bottle-worthy, so I was eager to try some more. It is my pleasure to bring you a few additional impressions of DSH Perfumes, this time focusing on some new 2009 releases and a preview for 2010.

It’s hard to keep up with the amazing variety that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz creates in her perfumes; it seems that she is always coming up with something original. One of her series, Chroma, is based on translating the idea, the feeling even, of a specific color into a fragrance. The latest one is the lovely Cyan which made its debut at the Spring 2009 Sniffapalooza event, named for a pale blue/green tint you might think of as a color that is restful and light-filled, though the light is filtered through a prism of water in the luminous aquamarine way of the shallows around a tropical island. An eau fraiche that’s perfect for summer, it joins the weirdly wonderful Quinacridone Violet and ferociously green Viridian in the Chroma 2 lineup dedicated to the abstraction of colors in the artist’s palette. Cyan is a tender, wispy thing, cooled with bergamot, linden blossom, cucumber, jonquil, wood violet and seaweed, of all things, though it is not an oceanic/ozonic fragrance by any means, it brings to mind cooling streams and sun-dappled pools filled with polished stones. The ethereal linden dominates at first, and when the gentle violet drydown commences it is really beautiful. It is fairly fleeting on the skin, but it’s meant to be splashed with abandon, I think. That’s what I would do with it.

Also perfect for cooling down is the exuberant Yuzu, which shares its dazzling life-like juiciness with DSH’s Pamplemousse, but is a bit sweeter, with interesting base notes of cedar and sandalwood playing off the fruit. This is one of the 100% natural fragrances in the line, and the regular spray is water-based and short on longevity, but I really like it. For a stronger concentration, get the roll-on oil formula instead of the spray. It probably won’t turn sour on you like so many citrus blends, unless your skin clashes with anything that has a peel. It contains no less than nine different elements of citrus in it, pretty much everything in the perfumer’s arsenal: blood orange, lemon, white grapefruit, yuzu (in both top and heart notes), green mandarin, lime peel, pink grapefruit, petitgrain and neroli. This was also new for summer 2009 and there is still time to put it to good use. It’s in the new Garden Bathe Aromatherapy collection. When I put this on, my nose was glued to my arm all day long.

Another new scent in the Garden Bathe group for summer is Sud de France, which unfortunately did not agree with my skin chemistry. Opening with bergamot, lemon and other citrus notes, it never got beyond a rather harsh and bitter quality. I was waiting for the linden rose, hay and other softer elements to kick in to make the promised feeling of summer life in the South of France to come to life. It puzzled me, because citrus almost always agrees with me, even grapefruit, so I don’t know what happened with this one. The cedarwood in the base kept popping up all day, adding to the astringent quality. The idea is lovely but it’s sadly not for me. I put it away in the hope that it will be different later on.

The delightful Bermuda Lyme from the Essense Oils Studio collection is sunny and cheerful and unlike so many lime-based scents it’s wearable for the ladies as well, since it is absent the usual overpowering, camphorous woods and other clichéd “masculine” accords that so often accompany this note. This one is available in the full range of regular Eau de Parfum spray, water-based body spray, roll-on oil and the bath and body range of body wash, shower cream, etc. I could just live in it - it’s got plenty of lime character from both lime peel and Khaffir lime leaves, but it’s also infused with coriander seed, geranium, juniper berries, rosewood, rum and tobacco. Yes, those do sound manly don’t they, but it somehow works great as a unisex scent, and it’s very well balanced. My sample is the water-based spray, and as I write this it’s heading toward ninety degrees outside; I could use a liter or two right now, or just fill a kiddie pool with the stuff and I’ll be happy.

Moving on to the fall season, the ultra-comforting Epices d’ Hiver, new for fall 2009, is just delightfully spicy without being gourmand. A unisex scent imbued with nutmeg, sweet orange and other warming notes, it has a slightly smoky background like a burning candle that I found very pleasing. Ms. Hurwitz has a real flair for this style of scent, and this one just got better on me with time, never getting overly sweet. It is the aromatic equivalent of being in a room with a fireplace as the festive elements of the winter season waft through the house. It’s one of those fragrances that would work equally well as an ambient scent, but although it does not feel as though it was conceived that way, it would make an awesome candle or potpourri. It is far more subtle and refined than the typical fragrances used in this way, so don’t let that put you off trying it.

With the 2010 preview Bancha, the perfumer has once again ventured into new territory, adding a different facet to a common perfume ingredient, yet it’s very familiar to me. You see, I have drunk a lot of bancha tea in my life; back in my misguided youth I was really into macrobiotics, and this was one of the allowed beverages, a very coarse type of Japanese green tea with a straw-like character. Bancha the fragrance is an excellent take on this and it really brings back the memories. Much in the way of the masterful Memory and Desire No. 1, this 100% botanical fragrance is compelling and different and nearly devoid of sweetness. It’s earthier than any other tea fragrance I have ever smelled, with an authentic roasted touch to add even more depth, and I like that very much; it will make a really great masculine scent. A distinct green character lifts it up and keeps it from being too “twiggy” – a quality I know only too well from having drunk so much bancha – in macrobiotics you don’t put sugar in your tea, ever, and bancha is pretty chunky stuff. I place this one emphatically in the “win” column.

I have one fragrance from my earlier series to revisit – Cimabue, one of the most popular scents in the DSH lineup. For some reason it did not click with me the first time around, even though a reading of the notes would make it seem ideally suited. Along with my new samples I received some Cimabue in the oil formula instead of the EDP. Oh boy, does it ever make a difference, now I am totally in love with it! The concentrated fragrance oil brings out all the hidden depths and it just comes to life. This really highlights the importance of trying different strengths and formulations of a perfume to see which one you like best. For my part I will put this complex saffron-infused Oriental style perfume oil to good use when the cold weather arrives.

Image credit: Mt. Fuji overlooking tea fields in Shizuoka, Japan, via

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Anonymous Claudia0219 said...

I love the DSH fragrances and own Cyan , Arnica, Fire Opal, The Color Orange, Celadon and Viridian. What i love about the DSH fragrances is that on me they do not leave a medicinal trace of smell behind as so many natural fragrances do. Cyan is absolutely beautiful and i feel all her fragrances are definitely office safe :)

12:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Claudia, I totally agree - there is no "apothecary" vibe in the DSH line, it's real perfume, done with an artistic viewpoint, proving that you don't have to settle for second-rate scents when you want something natural and botanical.

1:35 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore Cimabue! That being said, it might well be the only DSH I adore. I ordered heaps of samples from her a while ago and really wanted to love her collection. Sadly, so many of her scents carried a musky-mustiness with them that didn't work on my skin. I'm glad that others love and appreciate her style as it is certainly unique.


7:06 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Such a gifted woman, and a lovely human being ;-)
[Love you, too, btw !]

I have quite a few of her works- all very different.
Adore Viridian, and the QV;also Dirty Rose, Vetyver, Reinette, Minuit.

8:39 AM EDT  
Anonymous Parfymerad said...

I read about Cimabue a while back, and being a saffron fiend was really keen about seemed to be a more complex, long-lasting Safran Troublant; it's good to know that the oil works better. And the newer scents sound gorgeous, especially the orange one.

The problem is - *sob* - shipping to the UK doesn't seem an option on the site...maybe TPC does them?

9:08 AM EDT  
Anonymous Parfymerad said...

Uh, strike that, I checked again & she does ship to the UK. Tho $18 for postage of a $4 samples comes to the same thing...

9:30 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

Just starting to explore DSH, and really appreciate the time you've taken with what is a rather (!) wide ranging line. I recently spent some time with Celadon, and really enjoyed what I found, so am looking forward to playing with the samps I just got.

I keep hearing good things about Cimabue, and yet I didn't happen to order that one, lol. I'll take that as a good thing, and be sure to try it in the oil when I do get around to it. However, with that extra love from Chaya, I am especially looking forward to Dirty Rose {waves at Chaya!}.

9:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Acaislim said...

Uh, strike that, I checked again & she does ship to the UK. Tho $18 for postage of a $4 samples comes to the same thing...

9:46 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Great reviews! Can't wait for the Epices d'Hiver to be released. But I have a question about the version of Cimabue that you loved - was it the oil that is available in the pulse roller on her site or the parfum extract? Am going to be restocking this long time fave of mine for the winter and am trying to decide now between the oil and parfum. I spoke to someone at DSH (Dawn wasn't in) and she said that the EDP should be basically identical to the oil in the pulse roller, but, obviously, if that is what you tried, they work differently on the skin.

3:15 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I have got to try these..

7:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Dawn Spencer Hurwitz said...

Thank you, Donna, for the lovely review! It's so exciting to read such beautiful writing when it's about your own work...every artist's dream!
I wanted to answer a question about Cimabue: the oil essence that is used in the oil roller, parfum / extract and the EdP is the same formula, however, with the EdP and the Extract there is alcohol added which can change the way the essence works on the skin. The Oil roller doesn't have the alcohol so it will work a bit differently on the skin (be warmer and hold a bit closer to the skin as the alcohol gives the scent it's diffusion, aka sillage). Thank all for your very kind comments! ~Dawn

8:22 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Thank you so much for your response about the Cimabue! Definitely will be trying the oil formula for both it and Mahjoun.

9:19 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the fact that there are so many bath products that carry the fragrance loyally. I love bath products (and have dry skin) and her products range is amazing. I need to try Cyan, we still have lots of warm days. Bermuda Lyme sounds like what I'm looking for, too. I love fresh lime, but it's almost always drowned with cedar, which my skin amps up. And I'm still in love with her FruitStripe, which makes me happy every time I sniff it.

10:35 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Lovethescents, have you tried any of the soliflores or citrus scents yet?

11:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thank you dear Chaya, same here! :-)

Isn't that QV something else? I want to try Dirty Rose next.

11:26 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Parfymerad, you had better love saffron if you wear Cimabue, it's got plenty of it and it lasts extremely well!

11:28 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

ScentSelf, I have still not made a dent, it seems, as many as I have sampled, but I keep finding things I like! I think Mahjoun has risen to the top of the list so far - but I have yet to try that Dirty Rose!

11:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Elle, its the rollerball oil, it's definitely not the parfum. I believe I tried the EDP before. With this one, the more concentrated the better, I think. Of course now that I have tried the oil, I want to try the parfum too!

11:33 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thank you very much, Dawn!

It's amazing how different the oil is on me, now I am thinking I need to get the Mahjoun in that too and not an alcohol based version as I had planned. With cool weather on the way, I am dreaming of Mahjoun for Christmas.

So many perfumes, so little time... :-)

11:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Quinn, I really liked the Bermuda Lyme, it's such a happy perfume. I have not tried Fruitstripe though, but I loved that stuff when I was a kid!

11:41 PM EDT  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Wow - you really make the Bermuda Lyme sound fabulous. I think that I may have to finally break down and order a DSH sampler pack. If nothing else, I need to get the stench of Penhaglion's Extract of Limes out of my brain - cheap green candy with an overlay of Murphy's oil soap. Blech.

8:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Cynthia, that sounds dreadful, I would hope for better from Penhaligon!

1:36 AM EDT  

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