Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes has recently released the results of yet another collaboration with the Denver Art Museum – her eighth! - and once again she has demonstrated why she is one of the finest perfumers in America – and the world. The Giverny In Bloom Collection that accompanies the museum's major Impressionism exhibit is a perfect rendition of the artist's vision. There are four fragrances in the collection, three of which are actually the component accords for the final finished result named Giverny In Bloom. Each one has its own special character and is color-keyed to reflect its relationship to Impressionist art and gardens. Let's walk down the paths of Claude Monet's famous garden and see what we find.
La Danse des Bleus et Des Violettes is an homage to blue and violet blossoms, and its shy and wistful character is guaranteed to charm. Rich in violets, iris and heliotrope with a touch of lilac, it is ever so soft and slightly powdery; it reminded me of the delicate paintings on bone china teacups, yet it is no relic consigned to a display cabinet; a a breath of green and true to life floral notes keep it firmly in the garden. The violet is quite prominent here but everything is swirled together and so well-balanced that nothing is at the forefront for too long as all the notes have a turn in the limelight. For those who find most violet soliflores to be too melancholy, this would be a good one to try. It is not rain-washed and sad but restful, evocative of a shady corner where one stops to sit on a bench and contemplate the surrounding garden's beauty.
The more extroverted L'Opera des Rouges et des Roses is a celebration of reds and pinks, with plump roses and peonies jostling for attention with warm, spicy carnations and almost being upstaged by a sublime note of jasmine. This is a cheerful scent, rich and sweet, spilling over with abundance and joie de vivre, a garden party in a bottle. I love these “old-fashioned” style florals and I mean that in the best possible way; perfumes with exotic woods and spices are all the rage these days, but the skill required to create a mixed media floral perfume that is both original and interesting cannot be denied.
My favorite of the three individual accord scents and the one that to me stands alone best as a finished perfume is Le Jardin Vert. Perhaps this is because it has one of my favorite notes in it – I just can't get enough galbanum, and there is enough of it here for my “green fix” and more; oakmoss, “dirt” accord, bergamot, pine needles – you name it, my favorite green and mossy things are all included, along with the ethereal breath of linden blossoms. This is a liquid vision of all those paintings of the bridge over the pond at Giverny, with weeping willows trailing in the water and lily pads covering its surface. The cool freshness of this perfume has been most welcome during this sweltering summer, and I have reached for it several times when the mercury rose to unbearable heights.
So, you may be wondering, what happens when all three of the base accords are combined to make the perfume called Giverny in Bloom? I really only need one word to describe it: magical. This is where the perfumer's genius reveals itself, in a thrilling symphony of scent and color that is worthy of a tribute to the master of Impressionism. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the many superb florals combined with the green, mineral, earthy and woody materials create the uncannily three-dimensional effect of a living place. Its overall character is that of a green floral, with the galbanum of Le Jardin Vert still glimmering through. I can close my eyes and imagine I am there in Monet's overflowing garden, surrounded by the sensory feast of aromas and colors, not knowing where to look next, the dizzying jumble of grass, leaves and flower scents rising in the warmth of the sun and my skin caressed by cool breezes. The alchemy of this fragrance is such that when I walked back into the room where I had sprayed it I few minutes before, I smelled strong echoes of the two grandest green florals in perfume history – Balmain's Vent Vert and Jean Patou's Vacances, the latter one being my favorite perfume of all time. The originals of those two masterpieces are sadly no more, but now Giverny In Bloom is here to bring those lost gardens back to life.
Image credits: Water-lily Pond and Weeping Willow; The Rose Walk, Giverny; and Branch of the Seine Near Giverny by Claude Monet via Wikipedia.org, all in the public domain.
Disclosure: My testing samples of the perfumes in this review were given t me by DSH Perfumes.