Unfinished business — first, for anyone who’s wondered what I look like — here’s a photo of me, as you can see I’m not really a 65-year-old man. This is my new short hair cut, it was quite long, several of you asked what it looked like. There’s a slightly different version of this photo in yesterday’s makeup post if you want to see my snazzy lipstick. That white stuff on my coat and hair is snow — Diva took this of me on Saturday in the middle of the blizzard. I think I look like I’m ready to tear somebody at Guerlain a new one, don’t I? Musette says I look a little feral, and I know she means that in a nice way.
Second — as we all suspected, I am an idiot about Beyonce’s Heat fragrance. It is, indeed, a fruity, insipid musk; I must have had something (God knows what) on my hands that gave it that skank, and don’t you dare start typing nasty things into comments. The musk in the drydown is that same sour-fresh musk that I hate in large quantities in, say, some of the JLo fragrances.
I got a couple samples of new Dawn Spencer Hurwitz stuff in the mail (thanks, secret friend!) and so I got to try Kohl Gris, which seems to be making its way through the perfumista circuit the same way a couple other DSH scents like Mahjoun and Cimabue did.
As quoted from the DSH website, “Kohl Gris is the scent of the smoky eye; sexy, seductive and smoldering. Built on a classical base of ambergris, Kohl Gris wafts in sensuality and spicy smoke.” Notes, also from the website: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Black Pine, Clove Leaf, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Esprit de Lavande, Ambergris, Australian Sandalwood, Brown Oakmoss, Clove Tobacco, Labdanum, Olibanum (Frankincense), Orris.
Given my makeup post yesterday, a “smoky-eye” fragrance seemed like the perfect review choice for today.
As you might expect from that list of notes, it opens spicy and peppery – and with quite a bit of lavender. At that point it seems to me to be a darkish, stormy purple-gray. Then it becomes quite sweet, sweeter than I’d expected, the florals accenting the way that incense scents can sometimes be quite sweetly resinous; I assume this is the ambergris (which so far as I know is synthetic, in case the mere idea freaks you out) along with the labdanum. I’d had hopes for the sandalwood, given my current sandalwood search, but I’d describe this as more resiny/incense/spice than woods.
How do I feel about Kohl Gris? I don’t know. I can’t decide whether it’s beautiful and I like it, or whether it’s too ambery/rosy/lavender and I don’t. However, given that I’ve sprayed it on seven or eight different days to try to make that determination, it is clearly interesting, which is more than I can say about any number of other scents I smell in a week.
Next up: E’pices d’Hiver, the first in “an all botanical collection of fine perfumes.” (Does that mean all natural? I have no idea.) Notes are: Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Citrus Oils, Coriander Seed, Davana, Pink Peppercorn, Star Anise, Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Grandiflorum Jasmine, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Nutmeg, Spice Notes, Ambrette Seed, Labdanum, Siam Benzoin, Tolu Balsam, Tonka Bean, True Arabian Myrrh, Vanilla Absolute.
This would be a classic DSH spicefest, which you probably either love or loathe. Interestingly, this one has to sit on my skin for about five minutes, during which it’s very light, before it starts to bloom. Like, say, Mahjoun or Sienna, there isn’t a ton of development – lots and lots of spices, not especially sweet, I particularly love the first half hour when the bitter orange is quite prominent. There’s nothing pomander-ish about it; it’s fresh, not dusty. More complex than Sienna (which is an ode to cinnamon) and less ornate than Cimabue, it’s a nice interplay between juicy citrus and pungent kitchen spices.
I actually used a Posse post awhile back to gather feedback on DSH’s huge (and somewhat confusing) inventory and website. Among other things that happened after that feedback, they now offer smaller sizes in almost all their scents. Also, heeding the pleas of potential customers who were just looking for someplace to start, she came up with sampler sets (Holiday Favorites, Hidden Gems, etc.) , which I think is a great way to meet a line. I grabbed the Top Ten list here, for anyone familiar (or not) with the line, who might be curious: Cimabue, Jitterbug, Mahjoun, Nourouz, Cardamom & Khyphi, DSH Special Formula X, Au Lait, Rose Vert, Wild Fig, Ashram and dirtyROSE. ** All in EdP format. (This is available as a sampler set.)
That certainly includes some of my favorites. I’ll put in a plug here for Special Formula X (I have the X-treme version in oil.) My understanding is that it was first developed for Dawn to get a sense of how various notes might work out on a customer’s skin, depending on how they perceived X. I like musky scents and SFX is one of my favorites. Neither laundry-soap-musk nor dirty, it’s a warm, faintly sweet skin scent that is a perfect wallpaper scent while managing to be sexy at the same time. Fans of DSH will likely recognize it, it seems to me it’s a familiar base in her line.
And finally, there’s Cimabue, which is how I (and many other perfumistas) met the line, a riff on L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant, only a lot spicier and more ornate, highlighting the saffron without killing me with rose, which is the problem with ST. Cimabue is hands down my favorite saffron – and I have done some looking, believe me. Dawn told me once that saffron and rose, a common combo, are often paired because saffron on its own can be very bitter, and needs some sort of sweeter/floral counterpoint. While Cimabue has rose in it, I can’t pick it out. Instead, florals like jasmine and tuberose, as well as cardamom, nutmeg, clove, and lots of vanilla, craft this saffron scent into something labeled a gourmand/oriental. I don’t want to eat it myself, but I’m happy to smell it all day long.
On me, the oils hold up a bit longer than the EdP concentrations, although you have to give them time to set up on the skin, although I don’t have any complaints about the EdP longevity. I think the general consensus is that Dawn also does really nice roses for those of you who love that note in fragrance. I’ll stick with the spices and comfort scents, myself.
Sources: all DSH samples except Special Formula X-treme are private samples. I got X-treme directly from DSH.