Axis Mundi – The World Goes ‘Round

Someday I’m going to make it to Boulder and visit Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ shop, DSH perfumes. I’ve loved her scents since I was a newbie – for one thing, it’s easy to get samples – and she’s always got something new to try. Her website’s sorted into notes and genres which makes it fun to browse. And she carries a variety of size options, which means you don’t have to throw $300 at her for a bottle you’ll never work through if you’re going to keep slutting around in perfumery.the way I do. Even her offerings that aren’t necessarily my style (intense greens, powdery scents) seem really well-done.

I’d started off with Amouage Bracken Woman (which I’ll probably review next time) and oh ho, there’s a counterpoint to DSH’s style.  Bracken is huge and green and barks at you in a really loud voice. It’s Perfume in the Grand Manner. It’s one of those weird small-plates dining experiences with a celebrity chef and a lot of flash and oddball edible foams and what have you. I’m glad I tried it, but I’m not sure how I feel about it.

DSH is …. more like dinner on the porch at a good friend’s house. This friend knows what you like, and based on that maybe she whips you up something interesting, maybe a frittata or salad with a combination of flavors you haven’t tried before, and so some parts are familiar but the whole is new and fantastic. You think back on the experience and smile.

Anyhow, I needed to switch things up so I thought I’d try Malmaison, the DSH carnation, but I grabbed the wrong sample vial, which is how I ended up falling in love with Axis Mundi.

If I were making a sample list from the DSH website, it probably wouldn’t have made it on there.   “The Axis Mundi is the cosmic center of the world; the link between Heaven and Earth… a meditative incense design filled with resinous notes and a deep, smoky background.  Perfectly unisex.” That sounds like a perfectly nice incense/amber/resin and I have standbys in that department, thanks very much.

But this? Man. I had one of those moments…. the rare flash where I lose myself in a scent and everything is color and sound.   What was I smelling? I saw bolts of scarlet and swirls of deep blue. I don’t think I moved my nose from my wrist for five minutes. I just kept smelling it, breathing in and out.

Now here’s a tipoff – look at some of the notes this scent is tagged with on DSH: amyris, bakul attar, champaca leaf, choya ral, elemi, amber, frankincense, cedar, labdanum, agarwood, Siam benzoin, myrrh, etc. etc.

No wonder I’m dying over here – look at all that smoke and wood and incense! Champaca and attars and oudh, oh my! There’s a hint of green at the top, a whiff of smoke, and then everybody else shows up – leather and resin and wood and incense, but so perfectly in sync that I wouldn’t say it’s “a leather frag” or “one of those non-churchy-incenses.” What I would say is I don’t have anything like it, and it’s made up of familiar scents put together in a way that feels totally foreign to me, in the best possible way. Axis Mundi is with me tonight while I sit in my favorite leather easy chair, listening to some sweet jazz in the dark, somewhere between awake and dreaming, between heaven and earth.

  • Portia says:

    Dawn sure knows how to make fragrance. I love her work March.
    Portia xxx

  • RoseMacaroon says:

    Thanks so much for the beautiful review! Definitely feel you — absolutely love every DSH i have tried, and she’s really prolific on top of being a huge multitalent. Will have to try this one, and soon.

  • Kate E. says:

    I love her site–so beautifully organized! I’d love to visit her shop but I feel like it would have to be a sleepover…

  • otamom says:

    I wouldn’t have immediately considered this one, either, but it will go on my DSH ‘want’ list!

  • Melissa says:

    One sniff from a sample of Axis Mundi and it went straight on my buy list. It’s gorgeous.

  • Tara C says:

    Hmm, that sounds great! Making a note.

  • Rosemary says:

    Oooh, I’m gonna have to add this to my “wants” on my perfume spreadsheet! Yes, I keep a speadsheet of perfumes 😉