Today´s post evolved from my most recent fragrance acquisition, a swap on MUA that (small world) turned out to be with a Gail, a blog regular. Gail shares my fondness for comfort scents and included several interesting things in her package, which got me headed in a new direction.
Yves Rocher Neonatura Cocoon – okay, I see what appeals. I really do. But this is two or three tiny baby steps too far in the direction of Angel to delight me – I really bring the patch out. It is, to be sure, a much quieter, more streamlined composition of chocolate, vanilla and patch, and any of you who love that cocoa-patch dynamic should check it out.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (DSH) – the focus of the rest of today´s post. The DSH line is enormous. How enormous? The reviews of her scents on MUA go on for 21 pages at 15 fragrances per page. You do the math; it´s crazy, right? Going on her website is so overwhelming I never end up ordering anything. The company´s based in Boulder, and a lot (all?) of the scents come with ancillary bath/body products. Thus, many of the scents are of the attractive-but-not-earth-shatteringly-complex type you might like in a body lotion. I can´t speak to the breadth of DSH styles – she does dupes and vintage type scents, and various “inspired by” fragrances. I have also read that she knows her way around roses.
To my nose, something she does really well is a particular style of comfort scent. Pick some combo of: woods, incense, vanilla or clean musk, spices, rice steam, subtle florals … you get the picture. Her gourmand, woods and spice scents have a wearable seamlessness to them. They are not particularly sweet, and they are not “foody” – even her highly popular Café Noir, while smelling very much of coffee, isn´t something you´d want to drink. The equally wonderful Cimabue, a riff on L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant, is chock full of spices, but you wouldn’t mistake it for something to eat. Anyhoo, here are some comfort scents from her line, which I am enjoying right now as chilly, blustery weather will not loosen its freaking grip in my neck of the (still leafless) woods…
Blond Suede. Bergamot, spice notes, violet, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, hay absolute, orris, amber, castoreum, honey, leather, sandalwood. There is exactly one review of this on MUA, and I ask you – where the heck are the other 85?!? This stuff is great. From the website: “While most leather scents are deep and overtly’ animalic’, Blond Suede is wonderfully light and subtly textured.” Blond Suede is a reasonable facsimile of suede; there´s that light buttery leather-goods note, and the faint tinge of pepper to give you the texture. But the beauty of the scent from my perspective is the other note that sneaks in a few minutes later — a dead ringer for the divine maple-hay-curry goodness of immortelle. I have no idea whether DSH was aiming for immortelle, or maybe it´s a trick of some combination of the honey, hay and spice notes, but why quibble about perfection? Blond Suede is, essentially, gentle spices, suede and immortelle – soft, velvety and comforting.
St. Valentine. Bergamot, nutmeg, Parma violet, Bulgarian rose, centifolia rose, raspberry, tea rose, amber, Bourbon vanilla, dark chocolate, French vanilla. This smells like a softer, incense-free, easier-to-wear version of S-Perfume´s 100% Love. Mostly chocolate, vanilla, roses and a pinch of violet. Having overdosed awhile ago on 100% Love, this wasn´t pure love for me, but the husband, two friends, and the girls adored it.
Mahjoun. Bitter almond, cardamom, cherry blossom, lavender, lemon, sweet orange, Bulgarian rose, fig, hazelnut, honey, nutmeg, orange blossom, sugar date, amber, Atlas cedarwood, cinnamon bark, clove bud, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh. Comfort scent par excellence. I´d compare it to Chergui (okay, okay, minus Serge´s special je ne sais quoi sauce), only the drydown´s deeper and missing the honeyed amber sweetness of Chergui that sometimes makes me feel a bit ill. Much less sweet and smoother than you might gather from that list of notes; darkly spicy but restrained about it. Layers beautifully with …
Sienna. Cinnamon leaf, curry leaf, pink peppercorn, basmati, cinnamon bark, honey, white oak, civet, labdanum, leather, peru balsam, tolu balsam. This gets dissed as “not enough” on the boards, and I´d say that´s part of its charm. It´s a subtle scent, I grant you. It´s the level of subtlety you reach for when you want your scent to be discreet; the cinnamon is not blasting up your nose, and the rest is a faintly spicy resinous scent. Sometimes that is precisely what I want. Layers beautifully with Blond Suede, giving it a subtly sweet cinnamon/spice kick.
Having tried these, here is the list of ones I really want to try next: Chai Tea, Gingembre, Prana, Au Lait, Ceylon, Tamarind/Paprika, Lumiere, Poivre, Indochine, and Piment/Chocolate. Note the mellow, gourmand theme there. If you´ve tried any of those or any of the other DSH line and would like to comment, or add to my list, please do so.
On another subject: We (and you) do a fair amount of grumbling on this blog about how we wish fragrance came in smaller sizes. I was in Sephora recently when I noticed the limited edition set of Kenzo Amour bottles (below), which – come on! – are the cutest things – I think 3″ – 4″ tall? (Guessing.) When looking for a photo on their website, I see they now have a two sections (airplane-friendly and petite) devoted to smaller sized bottles or bottle sets.
Granted, this is generally mass-market stuff — what is Sephora if not mass market? But I´d love a little bottle of the Omnia Crystalline, those Kenzos, and some others. I think this is a great marketing strategy by Sephora; on average their consumers are younger and less well-heeled than those at, say, Nordstrom, and they´re probably more likely to buy a $35 fragrance than a $70 one. Or they´ll do what I´d do – spend the $70 and get two fragrances. I also like the small bottles because they´re easy to throw in a purse or a travel bag. My (perhaps completely meritless) hope is other retailers notice the small bottles sell and try to work something similar out with their own inventory.
chai tea image: everythingcoffee-tea.com; Kenzo Amour, Sephora.com