DSH Perfumes captures a familiar realm in perfumery with enough variance within the internal structure of each fragrance in that it becomes reinvention. These structures rely on old and historically tested accords, yet what lies atop of these underpinnings come across as fresh and brilliant, with enough creative juiciness to make them interesting. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ well-grounded approach to scent with an emphasis in the non-perfumed aspects of perfume is something I find particularly appealing, with an ability to capture scent as a textural and aesthetic entity.
Photo by http://www.dshperfumes.com/
DSH’s Seven is without a doubt my favourite of the samples sent to me from Dawn. Seven has the same effect of instant exultation as walking past an aromatherapy shop with an impressive presence and salubrious sillage. Seven is able to move downwards with a vintage, slightly worn faded-hue, with a hot gust quality of patchouli mixed with a wash of pure, healing herbs and incense. This is joined with a slight sour hum, like a chypre that has lost its citrusy top note. In every sense it is a big perfume played at the optimal volume. To me, it’s as if Jean-Paul era Guerlain did a patchouli; a cross between Vetiver and Mitsouko, reminding me that even timeless things can read as vintage.
Matsu is a fabulous woody vetiver cologne which follows a fresh trajectory until that dissolves in a sheer woody cloud of specific and controlled proportions. Matsu achieves a naturalistic feel without feeling unstructured, overall pulling it off as a respectfully polished unit: that being a pine-vetiver with soft incense undertones, a sticky, almost sappy overlay with enough florals and citrus to make it buoyant and transparent.
Zeitgeist 55 plays homage to leather à la Knize Ten, managing to merge within this leather bicycle jacket structure a bourbon old fashioned cocktail. It makes sense to me, really. The off-sweet powderiness of carnation, florals, and the ripe sweetness of animalics found in this style of perfume is in itself bitter. Pair it with bourbon, sweet patchouli and immortelle and you’ve got a leather old fashioned. The leather in Zeitgeist 55 moves closer to suede with a more rounded sandalwood complexion. Superb.
Albino (A Study in White) maintains an intellectual air without bragging about it, indeed reading as a white fragrance. Like a vast blanket of snow, Albino is a predominantly grapefruit-driven, fruity fresh scent without suffering from the usual fruity fresh ailments (being trashiness, mostly). A raspberry-grapefruit-basil top note (Cointreau’s bittersweet quality comes to mind) descends into a creamy rhapsody where ribbons of white musks surround creamy woods. There is an abstract counterpoint in the far, far distance of Albino that could evoke colours of pink (rhubarb, jasmine) and green (vetiver, patchouli), but Albino’s layers of white covers that adequately.
The Voices of Trees isolates the furry quality of conifers, moving it into the stylistic confines of something fougere-like; top-down in nature. The citrus at the top and lavender which exists between the top and the heart pivot around a wonderfully sticky sap accord bolstered with cedar and incense. Whilst lavender isn’t the focus in VoT, the warm autumnal sunlight of maple leaves gives the lavender a roasted quality. Expansive, stylistically like an inverted L’Air du Desert Marocain in a forest setting.
Vanille Botanique is an interesting creature, thankfully not treating vanilla like Frapin’s 1697 or L’Artisan’s Vanille Absolument. Instead, it is somewhere amongst the boozy and brisk transparent smoke of Tauer’s Vanilla Flash, Uncle Serge’s 5 o’Clock, and Giacobetti’s Tea for Two. Vanille Botanique is a baseless perfume which deceivingly looks heavy but actually isn’t, with a long romantic jasmine heart that expresses both citrusy and oily yellow facets, served with a side of ginger biscuits and tannic black tea.
Finally, Vert et Noir manages to tackle the aquatic category of scents with a fierce sensibility, rendering it multicoloured and somewhat interesting. A spiced ozonic scent, Vert et Noir clashes crisp vegetal notes of melon, celery, lettuce, and cucumber (to name a few) and an expected herbal crunch with the fierce, immobilising claw of black liquorice and black pepper. The result is an intriguing scent of salty skin, stiff yet free spirited. A vegetal done right.