Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Q&A


I know many of you are fans of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, as I am.  I love her comfort scents in particular, and I have reviewed a number of her fragrances on here.  Dawn emailed me recently and we got to chatting back and forth and one thing led to another and … thus today´s post.

Dawn will be stopping by during the day to check out your comments and add her own responses, so this is your chance to ask her questions!  Also please note her request for your input on streamlining her site and her line.  She knows she has some hardcore fans on the Posse and values your opinions.

Finally, Dawn offers us a permanent discount: 10% off DSH purchases online with the code posse (yay!)  I had a wee bit of difficulty pasting her Q&A in due to formatting errors on my end, so apologizing in advance if I have to go back and edit something to correct it if she points it out to me.  Here’s the link to her website.

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Q: Which fragrance in your extensive line are you most proud of, and/or which would you most like to draw attention to as possibly an overlooked gem?

A: That’s a REALLY difficult question to answer.  In terms of ‘most proud’, I’m not sure (It’s kind of like choosing a favorite child) but I can name some scents that I really love and wear often: Rose Vert, Cafe Noir, Tamarind/Paprika, Arome d’Egypte, Minuit, Ambre and Menthe Moderne. Of course I’m also very proud of the aroma-colors.  I love this exploration and creating perfumes that are multi-sensory. In terms of hidden gems, I would have to mention:  Parfum de Grasse (which is such an elegant, classical floral), blue-green: Arnica (one of the most unusual refreshing green scents I’ve ever worn), Violetta di Murano (a violet Chypre perfume based on an unusual violet flower I found on the island of Murano), Essenza dell’Ibisco (an incredibly sexy, full-grown woman’s floral bouquet) and Umber: bois de rose (an earthy, ‘stormy rose garden’ scent based on my own eglantine rose).  These are perfumes that seem to have a more eclectic appeal but I think are wonderful.

Q: Among perfume fans, you’re admired for your work with roses, spices and comfort scents.  (I also like that your comfort scents aren’t super sweet bakery items.)  Do you feel you have a particular affinity for these?

A:  I am not sure if I feel a specific affinity for comfort scents but I do love the concept of perfumes being influenced by foods/drinks.  Not only do many foods have wonderful aromas that would be great to experience anytime in a perfume, they can be really complex and interesting.  Also, foods carry the notion of comfort; aromas we are used to and love; that make us feel good.  In terms of designing gourmand (usually where comfort scents would be found) scents, I prefer a bittersweet approach or a just touch of cream, sweetness or syrup; hints of foody items but not really a full blown ‘cake scent’ per se.  That’s just my taste.

Coffee is one of my favorite gourmand notes and so I created “Cafe Noir” back in 1997 (before the trend really took off) based on it.  I think it was my first gourmand perfume, actually.   It has an authentic warmth, depth and richness from the coffee absolute but wears like a perfume with added balsam, spice and floral notes.  It’s a sexy, smoky and wonderfully sophisticated bittersweet gourmand.  I guess you could say it’s ‘my’ comfort scent.  I’m also truly delighted to know that many of my clients feel comforted by a scent I have made; it makes doing this work all the more meaningful.

Q: I find your simpler scents layer quite nicely.  Do you ever layer scents, or recommend layering? Any suggestions?

A: Yes, I do recommend it and even encourage my clients to experiment and feel creative with perfume layering.  The DSH New Creations collection was designed with this concept in mind and even comes with a layering chart to help with making decisions of what to layer to good effect.  I have been considering creating a master layering chart that would incorporate every scent possibility, even among different collections.  It’s a pretty large undertaking, so I’ll have to get busy!

I have two recommendations to any one who wants to get into layering but doesn’t feel confident as to how to start:

1) layer a simple scent with something more complex.  Two complex perfumes together have more chances to clash, but shifting or accentuating a note in a complex perfume has a way of feeling different without making a ‘mess’.  (for example: add a layer of bergamot to freshen a deeper scent, sandalwood to add some richness or a light musk to soften a stronger scent).

2) layer a brighter scent with a deeper/warmer scent.  These two styles tend to balance well with each other instead of too much of one thing or another.

Q: You also do dupes/interpretations of some classic scents, in addition to your own vintage-style creations.  Was this driven by your own interest in vintage scent styles, or customer demand?  To you, what smells “vintage?”

A:  Both customer demand as well as my personal interest.  Many of my clients have found me, I think, because I have always offered chypres, animalics and orientals, even when the trends in commercial perfumes were moving away from them.  Back when I had the Essense perfumery in Boston, we sold some “designer dupes” in oil format to accommodate our local clients and tourists looking for their scent in an oil or a better bath/body care option.  We also offered reformulations of cherished discontinued scents.  That is how it started; with just a few options.  Since then, I have added a number of interpretations of classic perfumes, especially from perfumers that I greatly admire, such as Jacques Guerlain, Francois Coty, Ernest Beaux and Edmond Roudnitska.   It’s as close to walking in their shoes and thinking like them that I can get.  This process has spawned a full blown passion for vintage scents to the extent that I am currently working on a Perfume Museum so that I can foster further interest in vintage styles of perfume design and greater awareness of the history and art form of perfumery.

There is another aspect to my interest in vintage perfumes: they are designs with larger proportions of naturals, including natural animalic notes, combined with selected synthetics. I feel that they represent a better balance than many of today’s commercial perfumes in terms of their beauty, complexity, artistry and allure.

To me, there is an inherent warmth associated with these older perfume styles that make them smell ‘vintage’.   They have an ambery, balsamic, sometimes mossy and animalic accord in the drydown that is pretty consistent in most vintage perfumes.  There is also a tendency toward an aldehydic topnote and a sweet, powdery feel in the drydown that can be considered ‘vintage’ as well, such as Chanel no.5, Arpege, Chypre, l’Origan or one of my faves, Fleeting Moment by Balenciaga.

Q: Your website is really extensive — some would say intimidating, due to the sheer number of scents.  If you could ask the Posse Blog readership for input, what would you want to know?

A: Well, it’s true; I have heard to my dismay that the site is overwhelming.  I have an insatiable need to create but I might have created a monster!   So, I have been contemplating what perfumes/notes I should cut and which to keep so that I can ‘prune the site’ into something more manageable and enjoyable.  I guess that my question to readers would be which scents should I NEVER consider discontinuing?  There are some beloved scents that may not always make the highest sales numbers but I don’t want to get rid of any scent that is cherished.  Is there anything you wouldn´t miss at all? {March asks: do y’all find the website confusing, or is it just me?  Of course the longer I’m on there the less confusing it is.  Has anyone used the search feature?  How did you like it?}

Q: Finally, can you tell me more about your “X” scent?  I found it really fascinating.  On me it goes through phases of being something like a drugstore musk, only its perfect, idealized version — with alternating whiffs of what I’d describe as sweaty male armpit, only in a really good, sexy way.  What do you learn about perception and skin chemistry from X?

A: Formula X developed out of working directly with clients; creating custom signature scents.  As a part of a scent development, I would analyze the reactivity of my client’s skin by trying different notes and judging the shift and then I realized that some materials I had been working with tended to do this better than others while some would actually amplify the scent of a person’s skin.  These notes (I never tell which they are) were used to create Formula X.  It is, in fact, the shift that tells the most about the wearer’s skin and how that chemistry can affect a perfume, any perfume.

Your skin, from your description, sounds to me like you have ‘musky skin’.  This means that scents tend to seem stronger on your skin than another’s and that if there is musk in the design that it will be more noticeable.  It also means that I would recommend that you stay away from the ozone/marine family as they will be too strong. I recommend warm, soft chypres; soft florals and spicy perfumes that aren’t too intense as possibly your best families.  {March says:  was that ever spot on.  Dawn, have you been browsing in my closet?!?}

I should also say that I released Formula X as a possible product/scent to wear since many of my clients said that they just loved the way it smelled on their skin; just as is.  it really is the perfect ‘non-scent’ perfume, when you just want a little something but you aren’t into being really ‘scented’, if you know what I mean.

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Thanks very much for your time, Dawn, and for offering to drop by here during the day to check on comments.  Readers, Dawn´s in Boulder and thus on Mountain time.  Finally, look for my reviews of some new-to-me DSH comfort scents in the next couple weeks, thanks to all your input on comfort scents posts I have found some winners!

image: DSH’s cool-looking studio in Boulder, dshperfumes.com


  • DAWN says:

    To the Perfume Posse:
    I’m REALLY grateful to everyone’s comments and the ‘posse at large’ for their generosity of time and attention so that I may have some help with my project. You can’t begin to know how helpful you have been. Again, thank you March, for the amazing Q & A… I had a wonderful time contemplating the answers and it’s just been such a pleasure all around. All my very best to the Perfume Posse!

  • DAWN says:

    hi, Kristen! I’m glad the new scents got to you so quickly and safely. 🙂 I’m glad you like to explore the site and so I will be very careful when ‘pruning’. It seems to me now that more people like the breadth of the site than are crazed by it. It’s so helpful to know what works and what doesn’t.

  • Kristen says:

    I just got my order of Chevalier D’Automne and Robe De Zibeline.
    I like your site because I find something new every time, and don’t “wear it out” too quickly. Through reading all these comments, I find I have not seen at least half of what there is to explore!

  • Do not remove one drop of the perfumes from your site! I fling myself through them to comfort myself, and can be anyone I need to be by selecting scents! If there is a problem, it’s the fussy search engine that doesn’t always intuit what I want, and demands correct spelling and spacing. Huh. There is so much joy on that site, it’s amazing!

    • Flora says:

      I completely agree – you can never have too many, and the fact that they all have excellent descriptions makes the site a veritable library. So much fun to get “lost” in it! 😡

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Quinn (and Flora)! What an eye opening experience this has been~~~ thank you for letting me know that you enjoy the rather large scope of the site. I so appreciate your comments!

  • annie says:

    :xWeeeeel,Dawn,let me just tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your creations over the years…When I was working in the hospitals,we had to be careful of not offending the patients.People would stop to ask what I was wearing,as it was WONDERFUL…I had men follow me back down to the lab to see what I was wearing(and I was no spring chicken,or cutie-patooty…in my 50’s,spiky red hair,and rather “..buxom”…we all know that means ah,full-figured)….what was I wearing????…Pretty much any of your WONDERFUL musks,Tibet and another that starts with T???….all were fantastic,and I certainly do thank you for all the fun during a difficult job!:)>-

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Annie! Oh, I love that story – thank you so much for sharing it. 🙂 I am so glad that there were some good subtle scents that you could enjoy in the restricted atmosphere of a hospital. I have worked with a number of nurses, doctors and aides that do want to have a scent for their own personal wellness (and happiness) and want something that will be suitable when working with illness. I try to make some scents that will match with most professions.
      I won’t get rid of any musks… but as I mentioned in an earlier post, some scents do ‘go on vacation’ so if there’s something you don’t see, just email and we probably still have it.

  • Gail S says:

    Please don’t ever discontinue Minuit :d

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Gail! No need to worry where Minuit is concerned. It’s one of my all time personal favorites, so I would probably make it for myself even if no one else wanted it. 🙂 But, I am thrilled to know that you can’t live without it either.

  • Rappleyea says:

    March and the rest of the Posse – brilliant idea!

    Dawn – thank you so much for the great interview and for taking the time out for us.

    While I’ve been wearing perfume, mainly the classics, for, oh, about 100 years, I’m fairly new to the niche lines. This is a line I haven’t yet tried, but now I definitely will. Your artistic vision and sensibilities really resonate with me. Again, a big thank you and all the best to you.

    • DAWN says:

      Thank you so much for your very kind comments, Rappleyea! I hope that you will love anything / everything that you try from DSH. Please let me know if there’s something special you are looking for.

  • Pantera Lilly says:

    Thanks March and Dawn, what an eye opening post! I am on my way to the site and see what I can find!

  • rosarita says:

    This is so exciting! Thanks Dawn and March for making the posse discount happen, that’s awesome. I would add to the chorus above for 10 – 15ml bottles of everything. I wish everyone in the industry would offer these as a matter of course; when you love/want to try dozens (hundreds) of scents, a small bottle choice is great bcs I feel I have a chance at finishing it! As for favorites I’d hate to see disappear, I adore Inner Sanctum. Winter wouldn’t be the same without it (and I live where Winter is an entity.) The balance of incense & rose is perfection. 😡

  • Zoe says:

    Oh March, you’re making me regret I live on this side of the ocean.
    I’ve been wanting to try Dawn’s creations forever now (especially Mahjoun & Cimabue – both sound scrumptious), but there’s only so many artisanal lines you can cough up the shipping/blind buying costs for, you know?
    Dawn, your ‘x’ sounds fascinating! Like a diagnostic tool for the skin. As to the website: I think it would benefit from being a bit less “wordy” – perhaps having the full descriptions and ordering options of a scent behind a click on a new page. Yes, more clicking – but it would mean less scrolling too, and it would be easier on the eye, I think. I too really appreciate the categorization according to dominant notes, that helps break the total amount of scents up into manageable portions.
    One other thing: to me, the initial screen with DSH on one side, and then Parfums des Beaux Arts/Essence oils on the other is a tad confusing. I never seem to know what the difference between the two is, and that information doesn’t seem readily available.

    Here’s to hoping you can branch out towards Europe soon!

    • Gwyneth says:

      WEll…..to give the other opinion,
      I really like having the descriptions of the fragrances right there along with the name. Sometimes a name alone won’t strike my fancy for some reason, but the description of the notes will be just what I’m looking for, and I would have missed out entirely if I was going simply by the fragrance name alone. I’d rather scroll and be able to see many listings than have to click in and out of screens. Just saying….:-?

    • sweetlife says:

      Zoe I had the same trouble choosing between Essenses and the other–I felt like I just got lucky.

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Zoe! Thank you for your suggestions. I hope that you will try Cimabue and Mahjoun~~~they are two of my most popular scents, especially in the spiced gourmand category. If you like that style, I think that you will love these two. The two sites are actually that – two separate sites that I had a while ago that are now linked with one home base page. The ‘essense oils’ side focuses more on the use of oils (oil essence format, although we offer sprays, and aromatherapy) as well as materials for creating your own scents at home, so essential oils/absolutes and simple essences. The ‘parfums des beaux arts’ side focuses more on completed collections or lines. This is where you will find more traditional offerings; perfumes in flacons, eau de parfum sprays and some oils but it’s just more straight forward. It’s an attempt to present all of the various incarnations of my business and work onlline (from my essense perfumery in Boston through all of the collections). It’s a lot, I know, which is why it’s so helpful to hear from the posse on how I can make improvements, changes and consolidations.
      ps: Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for some new sampler packs that will have free shipping… I’m pretty sure that I will have one that contains Mahjoun and Cimabue in it so you can try them without a big $ to ship to you in Europe. 🙂

  • DAWN says:

    Hi everyone! WOW! This is so exciting and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to hear so many wonderful suggestions! I am just popping in now to say a quick hello and thank you and will be back in a few hours to answer questions (since I pulled an ‘all-nighter’ and am just now getting to bed from yesterday… and I need some sleep since I would like to at least make sense). And thank you March for being to kind and generous with your time and making this happen!

  • Samantha says:

    Hi Dawn…I love browsing through your site and have spent hours doing just that, it seems like it’s really easy to navigate and very well set up to me but I’d love to see a section of reviews.I’m always flipping back and forth to Makeupalley to see what people thought of the ones that I’m finding intriguing and want to sample. Please never get rid of Toast, Tonka Vanilla or Halloween..I love them all.

    • Gwyneth says:

      Yes!!! A place for reviews!
      I spend a HUGE amount of time reading reviews for fragrances, and that is usually the most important factor in my choices for trying new scents. This is EXACTLY why I haunt places like the Posse, MUA, POL, BN, etc…..
      Before I buy a bottle, and before I sample, I always read reviews!

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Samantha (and Gwenyth)! Thanks for this suggestion, too! I will have to talk to my web masters about this one. Sadly, I am NOT a techie in any way so this is out of my scope of ability. Do you have any suggestions about how it would function? (Like, does every scent have a link connected to it that then goes to a reviews post place? this shows just how little I know about it…but I’m interested). I am not expecting you to know anything technical but if you get a chance, could you email me with a description of what it kind of looks like? ([email protected]) Thank you!

      • DAWN says:

        oops! – sorry to typo your name, Gwyneth:-s

      • Natalie says:

        Just jumping in to say that you can visit Luckyscent’s site to see how they do reviews — nothing fancy, you just click on a link on each perfume’s page and it takes you to another page with customer reviews at the bottom. You could also have tabs at the top of the page for reviews (I don’t know of any perfume sellers that do this, but check out the recipes at Epicurious for an example!). If you have lots and lots of time on your hands (not likely, I know!), you could even have one section for “professional” reviews (links to blogs, newspaper articles, etc.) and another for customer reviews.

        • DAWN says:

          Thank you, Natalie; that’s an awesome place to start. I will check it out and also ask Franco how he does it. 🙂 perfect.

  • sweetlife says:

    This is excellent, March, thanks! I’ve been meaning to sample Dawn’s work ever since her marvelous post on Memory and Desire’s perfume-in-a-poem project, and I’m looking forward to it more than ever now.

    Dawn, in answer to your questions about the site: I know that for me, personally, I have to kind of “adjust my vision” and expectations when I come to your site. I’m used to the idea (myth? marketing tool?) that perfumes take a long time to develop, and when I see that many in one place from one person I feel a little overwhelmed. I think–how are these all related to each other? Are they different mods of a single idea? If so, how to choose? (I have the same problem with the BPAL site, but much worse.) This could very well be my problem, not yours.

    The thing that is most helpful to me about your site is being able to browse by the traditional note/categories (and I *love* that you’ve made incense/resins it’s own category). I can get my footing that way. I know where I am in your story.

    It was surprising to me, then, that there were no sampler packs based on those categories. (At least, not in the “samples” section.) I’d love to see those. It might also be helpful to have some samplers based on commonly understood categories like the seasons or the holidays. I was intrigued by the yearly limited edition samplers, but since your line is brand new to me, those groupings are more meaningful to you than they are to me, and they require me to go research the descriptions of each scent.

    I love the idea mentioned about about a feature scent, or a top ten list on the front page of the site. Per March’s interview you might add a “favorite hidden gems” feature alongside of these to keep the top ten from just perpetuating itself.

    And that is way more than enough suggestions! Sorry for the :-@
    it’s just that I’m one of those people who’s been deterred from trying your line by it’s sheer abundance and I’d be excited to have an easier time of it!

    • Natalie says:

      Just wanted to add my voice to sweetlife’s request for more sampler packs based on note/mood/season/greatest hits/etc.; I’m eager to try your line, and this would make it so much easier. Huge thanks for taking the time to listen to us!

    • Mals says:

      Oooooh, yes! Sampler packs selected by “holiday,” “chypre,” “incense,” etc. Would buy the holiday one in a heartbeat, and maybe an incense one too.

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Sweetlife! Thank you very much for really wonderful suggestions – especially the sampler pack additions. Yes, I should create those and I will get to work! 🙂
      All I can say about my prolific nature is that I am insatiable – about aromas and about creation. (I am the same with painting, too). Some of the scents are only related by the concept of their collection (like les rouges or the limited editions) and others really *are* different takes on a similar theme, like variations on rose or musk, etc. (This happens more in the essense oils). So, I think that the easiest thing to do to figure out which to try would be to use the search function (product search) and type in say, musk and all of them will come up. You’d have the descriptions to help you choose. (maybe?) I don’t know if this helps elaborate the ideas behind the organization of the site or not…I will think on it some more. I will also get to work on the lists and sampler packs for the “my picks” and “hidden gems” etc…I appreciate your insight- thank you!

  • divinemama says:

    Thank you Dawn and March!

    After reading a review of some DSH perfumes over on Perfume Smellin Things yesterday, I browsed your website for the first time yesterday and wasn’t intimated at all by the scope of your line. There are many that I want to sample and dread the thought that something will be removed before I can sample in order to make the site more user friendly.

    The scents that intrigue me are your Gardenia and Incense perfumes. I would love to buy samples of all of them and play with those first. Then I am sure I would move over to the Woody/Chypres and Florals.

    I would also add my vote for 15 ml size edps.

    Thank you again Dawn the generous discount and for making yourself available to the Posse!

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Divinemama! I am glad to know that as someone new the site didn’t make you run screaming at the size of it. 🙂 That heartens me.
      I am happy to extend the discount member code for the posse — it’s now a permanent addition to the site. And don’t worry, we aren’t cutting anything yet… just contemplating how to prune to make room for new growth as well as make the site more user friendly.

  • Junebug says:

    Wonderful interview! I am new to the DSH world, but have discovered Winter White, which I just LOVE! I was very impressed with the quality of products and they were so nice and sent a good selection of extra samples to try. The site has an amazing selection of bath and body products and I plan on ordering some body lotion to accompany by perfume purchase. I am really tickled I have discovered DSH!

  • Disteza says:

    What a great post! I’ll chime in that the easier it is to purchase samples, the more likely you are to get a sale–I remember having gone to the site before and couldn’t figure out how to order a sample, and gave up. I managed to get some through TPC and some trades though, and really liked a few–here’s where I beg on my knees that Tamarind/Paprika never be discontinued….[-o< Like Louise a couple of comments up, I also have some serious scent-eating skin, though I magnify the heck out of cumin, so much so that some otherwise lovely scents are unwearable. I usually end up wearing leather, incense, gourmands, and roses; is there anything in your line that I shouldn't miss given those characteristics? Thanks in advance for your recommendations!

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Disteza! Thank you for letting me know that you had trouble ordering samples… I think that I will have a section made for the welcome pages with some tips on “how tos and recommended scents” so that anyone who comes can find what they need as fast as possible.
      So, in terms of some recommendations, here are some scents that I think might really interest you as they seem to fit your ‘likes’ and have some tenacity:
      – from the essense studio collection: Inner Sanctum (has the incense and rose), St. Valentine (rose gourmand with a chocolate note and violets), Cardamom & Khyphi (an incense spice scent that is delicious and unusual) and erotica (a deep leather oriental) and then from the parfums des beaux arts side: Minuit (spicy oriental / chypre / incense), American Beauty ( a red rose with some real sillage and good tenacity) and Cafe Noir (gourmand orinetal – coffee). I would also recommend Tamarind/Paprika to you but you already know about it.:) (and unless osmanthus absolute cones off the market, that’s here to stay).

  • Amanda says:

    I had to de-lurk for this one. This post came at an excellent time for me as I spent literally almost 2 hours yesterday browsing various sites for reviews of DSH scents to help decide which to order. That’s great news about the posse discount! I would second the suggestion of selling smaller bottles, 1oz or 0.5oz sizes would be great. I’m really looking forward to ordering some samples and exploring this line.

    • DAWN says:

      hi, Amanda! Just wanted to say thanks for “de-lurking” (that’s just a fun phrase…) and thanks for checking out the site. If I can help you find something, please let me know.

  • Mals says:

    Oops, sorry: I meant to say 1/2 oz. (15 ml) bottles. Or even smaller. (Curses, wishes she had ten times the budget.)

    • Gwyneth says:

      Jumping in here to agree with a BIG plea for the option of 15ml bottles.
      Having smaller bottles would facilitate the opportunity to try many scents. Knowing me, I would definitely spend MORE money buying smaller bottles than taking a chance on only ONE bottle in a larger size.:d

      • aelily says:

        I completely agree. I made a similar comment a few weeks ago, when we were discussing cost v. expectations.

    • sweetlife says:

      Hey ladies — just got back from Dawn’s website and she had 1 oz. and .25 oz (15 ml) purse sprays for the scents I looked at. Maybe they’re not available for all of them?

      • Mals says:

        sweetlife, there are some smaller bottles there, but not all scents offer them. (Really, I’m just whining because I can’t afford a 1 oz bottle of my favorite, Oeillets Rouges. It’s quality, Quality! stuff… but I can’t swing it. Even the 1/3 oz is too rich for me. I’ll just drain my sample and maybe try one of the essential oil versions of carnation; they’re relatively inexpensive.) Good Lord, I hope I don’t get addicted to ALL the samples I’ve ordered… the Tubereuse (beaux arts) is exquisite. So is the Celadon.

        • sweetlife says:

          I figured, Masha. Thanks for the update. And for being so kind as to not point out my ridiculous math. l-)

  • Mals says:

    I am new to the world of scent, but recently discovered DSH’s website and have spent, um, way too much time there window-shopping (or is that Windows-shopping?). I have a limited budget and am making do with samples, decants, and small bottles. I’m a big fan of Oeillets Rouges — I adore carnation, the spicier the better — and need to try some of the gourmand-type scents, too.

    I have not found the site to be difficult to negotiate; however, it is time-consuming to browse simply because I keep seeing things I’d love to try. My one request would be this (and it’s a request I’d make to nearly all the niche parfumiers whose sites I’ve visited): the option of smaller bottles, please. I can’t spring for full 100-ml bottles, or even 50-ml bottles of even a third of what I want. I’d love to see the option of, say, 1 oz (30 ml) bottles.

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to learn and comment!

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Mals! Thank you for your excellent suggestion! We do currently have a lot of small size bottles (samples, 1 dram oils, purse size edps – 8-10 ml) but I don’t believe that we offer that for every scent in every collection. I will definitely explore adding more of these; for sure. 🙂 I am also glad that the site is a source of fun and imagination for you; it’s what I want it to be. Thanks for the help!

  • Masha says:

    Well, I ‘m crying because I’m in Europe and unless I get to Boulder I will never be able to try these! However, I’ve looked over the site and have some suggestions. First, you might want to have a “top sellers” category, or “Best Buzz” category, so that newbies to the site could try a few of those first. Then perhaps arrange the total line by traditional categories. The search function is helpful and necessary. You could retire scents that haven’t sold well but have a note that you can blend and sell them to those who already have and love them (if you wanted to do that). I think Ava Luxe does this. All the best to you!

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Masha! 🙂 Thank you very much for your feedback and suggestions. I think that a few others agree with you, especially about the “best sellers” and ” my current favorites” section to help browsers get started. That’s really helpful! I have a question for you: If I were to come to do a trunk show or some event in the future in Europe, do you think that people would travel to come to it?
      In the meantime, we do send sampler packs (the pre-set, ‘by collection’ ones) to anywhere in the world with free shipping…it may have to do until you can visit Boulder.

      • Masha says:

        That’s an intriguing idea. Let me communicate with some European Basenoters, it’s possible such a show could be coordinated with a Basenotes get-together in Europe. Hmm….

      • Masha says:

        Basenotes is working on a London get-together for fall, 2009. I postulated the idea of you coming to Roja Dove’s incredible boutique at Harrod’s, as we have some contact there. Are you interested?? Should we keep going with this idea??:-?

        • DAWN says:

          hi,again, Masha~
          Yes :d I’d be very interested in coming to Roja Dove’s boutique (I’ve just finished reading his book as a matter of fact) and doing something with basenotes. it all sounds lovely!! I have another invitation in London as well (that is luckily open ended) so perhaps this could work out well. When in the Autumn? I should start blocking out time now… please email me about it ([email protected]) and thank you so much for jumping on that ‘idea wave’ and going for it!

  • Musette says:

    Wonderful interview – great idea…I have not yet tried any DSH but this post is making me want to change that!


    • DAWN says:

      hi, Musette! I hope that you will check out the site and please email if you are having any trouble finding something. I will be posting some new lists and sampler packs in the coming weeks to help get you started.

  • Suzanna Mars says:

    Wonderful interview!

    I find Dawn’s site a pleasure to browse; even though large it is a neverending source of fascination and temptation.

    My fave DSH is Cafe Noir, and, for the record, I thought I disliked coffee notes in perfumes. Have also loved Mahjoun and Cimabue and I look forward to trying some of the florals. My only hesitation is which to select.

    • DAWN says:

      hi, Suzanna!
      Thank you for mentioning Cafe Noir and I am so glad that you love it as I do. How can I help you select a floral? Do you have some florals that you like/dislike so we know which ball park we want to play in? I’d be happy to help.

  • Elle says:

    SOOO thrilled to see this post! As anyone who knows me knows, I almost *never* finish a bottle of perfume or even make much of a dent in one – I have an awkward, embarrassing quantity of bottles that require a large, walk in closet space to store – but I’ve finished off and had to replace quite a few scents from Dawn…several times over. I’ve been on a vintage/classic scent jag recently where I’m mainlining the Guerlain, Caron, etc. extraits, but it seems that it’s scents from DSH – from both the Beaux Arts line and the Essences – that are my serious “go to” scents over time. I only have a second to write at the moment, but I will come back later to list all the scents I can’t even begin to conceive of life w/out – but let me just say that I practically mainline several of the scents from the Les Rouges line and Mahjoun, Tamarind/Paprika and Cimabue. I get the shakes just thinking of not having them on hand. Must run, but will be back later. Oh, and I know the site is huge, however I think it would be difficult to change w/out completely separating the two lines and making separate sites. I find the search function to be *enormously* useful – even just to look up qualities of different notes from any perfume.

    • Elle says:

      Finally have a second to add on to the scents I’m unabashedly begging to never have d/ced. Apart from the scents I’ve already mentioned, *please* always keep Hinoki, Au Lait (my idea of the quintessential comfort layering scent), Marzipan, all of the Les Rouges scents (I know I already mentioned them, but they’re worth repeating), Beach Roses, American Beauty (OK, all of your rose scents), Essenza dell’ Ibisco, Giardini Segreti (deserves to be *far* more well known than it is), Vetyver, Chai Tea, Coffee Absolute (another genius layering scent), Lush Honey, Oude Arabique and Arome d’Egypt. Frankly, this list could go on, but for the sake of highlighting those I need the most, I’ll stop there.

    • DAWN says:

      hi, Elle! Oh, I think that I am blushing a little from reading your post. 🙂 Thank you very, very much. It’s a HUGE compliment to be mentioned in the same paragraph as the classic Guerlains, Carons and the wonderful old(er) masters.
      I will certainly not get rid of any that you mention (well unless some ingredients come completely off the market, which does happen, but isn’t all that likely). No worries, there. I am very happy to know that you are having so much fun layering and enjoying the scents.

  • Louise says:

    Thanks, Dawn, for visiting!

    My “issue” is that I have perfume eating skin. Whereas March has the Musky thing going on, I have a (name?) difficult challenge-many scents are gone before I can put on my hat.

    Do you have recommendations for scents/formulas that have a better tenacity. I enjoy most animalics, some aldehydic florals, incenses/woods and not-too-sweet orientals, especially spicy things. I am also a classics fan, and collect and wear vintage Guerlains, Rochas, some Carons.


    Thanks so much @};-

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Louise!
      hmmm… so I have a couple of questions for you:
      Do you generally wear EdP or oil essences or what format? Also, how do you feel about layering? and where do you live? (what kind of climate)? These can be factors as to how your skin is working with your scents.
      The families of fragrance that you seem to gravitate toward are known for their tenacity (for the most part) so I don’t think that I would recommend different families… you can also email me at: [email protected] if you want to talk ‘offline’ about your skin and what it’s doing.

  • Cynthia says:

    About the site: I guess I like choice…I find all the descriptions fun to browse through, although you do need some time to do so. I initially found the different sections a bit confusing, and it would help to understand why scents are in the different categories. But I really wouldn’t like to see the site’s offerings cut down considerably. I also liked being able to enter a note on the search site and find suggestions. I know it must be time consuming to make up the samples, but it is much appreciated and great to be able to “try before buy.” By the way, my favorite is Oeillets Rouge, and I used to love Fresh Carnation, although I don’t see that on the site anymore.

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Cynthia! Thank you for your feedback; It really is helpful for me to know how the site is for users. Which categories are confusing? do you mean the families or which ‘collections’ things belong to? I would love to know more so that we can be devising plans as to how to make improvements. I am so glad that you enjoy the samples.. I know it’s the only way to really decide on a scent (to test it). It would be madness, I think, to have a scent website and not offer samples. Thank you, again. ps: some scents on the site just periodically “go on vacation” but we still have them – like the “fresh carnation”. So, if you’re looking for something and don’t see it, just email us about it. Chances are we have it.

    • Cynthia says:

      Hi Dawn, My initial confusion when I first went on the site was what was the difference between the Beaux Arts and the Essential Oil perfumes. Are all the perfumes in the Essential Oil site oils? Or is it just a different philosophy behind the perfumes on that part of the site? I’m not explaining myself very well! I also like how you have creative themes running through your line, such as the current emphasis on the color inspired perfume. I DO believe perfume is art, and your creations certainly showcase this idea.

  • Bryan says:

    Thank you so much for this opportunity. You rock.

    I am deeply drawn to your florals, especially tuberose, as EVERYONE on here probably knows. I have purchased more than a few from you and just love them. Thank you.
    I have a question for you concerning gardenia. First, which of yours is your favorite? The one that truly captures, in your opinion, the beauty of the vain, reluctant monster. Since all perfumes based on the flower must be reconstructed, how do you do it without losing patience? I believe I have the beaux arts one, if that rings a bell… I need to go check.
    What do you recommend from your vast collection, that I can’t live without? I do not discriminate when it comes to florals and it took the posse to point it out….I spray myself, my sheets, etc. Psychotic or what? :”>

    • March says:

      Dawn, butting in here to add: on Monday Bryan said he was also looking for a carnation WITHOUT clove (we were discussing difficulties finding one note not joined to the other). I know folks are big fans of your carnations — which would you recommend that would avoid that clove-y thing?

    • DAWN says:

      Hi, Bryan! 🙂 thank you very much for your compliments; I am so glad that you love the Tubereuse (one of my personal faves, too). So, I am torn between recommending the sheer sweetness and minimalism of “Pink Gardenia” and the lush, slightly intense “Nouveau Gardenia”. I feel that both have a true gardenia quality but show different moods of the flower. or maybe it’s seasons of the flower… – oh yes, I should also mention that one is more modern in it’s design style (pink) and one is slightly more vintage inspired (nouveau). Giardini Segreti is another gardenia scent that I love but it is less true as a soliflore and a more traditional pairing of gardenia/ tuberose as a floral bouquet. It has an old world style to me that I love about it.
      You know, the challenge if Gardenia isn’t frustrating…I love it. To really explore and attempt to create something that rings true in terms of a flower or something that you would recognize and feel the same things that you do when you experience the real thing is very compelling and to do that while at the same time creating something that is a “perfume”, not just a representation. That’s the challenge. It’s actually REALLY exciting!
      I wonder if you have tried the Giardini Segreti and another of the “Italian Journeys” , Essenza dell’Ibisco? The EdI is not the scent of hibiscus (as the name might lead you to believe) it’s a tuberose scent that although it mentions being wildly feminine, I think that anyone could wear it due to its animalic drydown and rich character. It isn’t for the faint of heart, though. Also, I don;t know if you like rose, but I would recommend American Beauty or (my personal favorite in the rose category) Rose Vert. Now that I am thinking of florals, I would also recommend that you test Madonna Lily (if you like lilies, that is).
      Also, about March’s carnation question… most carnations have a naturally occurring clove aspect; having said that, “soft carnation” is a pretty straight forward soliflore that is softer and greener than most and I would also draw your attention to “fleuriste” which is based on Golconda. Fleuritse has a different spice tonality; some cloveiness and a little nutmeg/ cimmamon that gives a slightly sweeter, rounder feel. Fleuriste also has a wetness that most carnation scents do not have. I would recommend a sniff of either of those if you are searching for a carnation that is not too spicy.

  • Flora says:

    What great timing! I am in the process of getting to know the DSH scents and I do have favorites – but so MANY favorites, it would be hard to list them all.

    As far as “comfort” scents go, it’s hard to beat Mahjoun in my book – I may need to get a Jeroboam of that stuff. It might very well be my Gourmand/Incense HG. 😡