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mercury_planet_image_2

Mercury has just gone direct.  (woo hoo!)  I’m sure that a bunch of you have heard of the astrological term “Mercury Retrograde” which basically means that the appearance of Mercury, as it moves in its orbit when seen from earth, looks like its moving backwards.  Symbolically, it means that everything you are trying to do to get ahead on projects, move through traffic, deal with communication of any kind, etc, will also be moving (or feel like it’s moving) backwards, too.  Travel goes haywire, electronics get goofy, and the basic gist is to stop working on moving forward as it’s time to do a re-wind so you can reexamine old ideas, old projects, and or older works to see if they can or should be updated, made more perfect, or reworked in some way or just tossed on the heap.  It’s great for clearing out and making room for the new as well.  So while now is the time for getting back to the *new* stuff, as this phase passes I’m still working on something I’m calling the “retrograde files”.  Its actually kind of exciting.

 

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I’ve been slowly compiling a list of materials, oils, single notes, and older designs that I used to sell on my website that people still write in and ask for.  Usually clients can get these items by special order or what have you but I’ve been attempting to create some “Archives” pages for the site so as to make the process easier.  And instead of getting annoyed at the apparent cosmic slowdown, it’s been a wonderful journey, like taking some extra quiet time to look at a scrap book or an old photo album.  It’s the scented equivalent of “This is your Life”.

 

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As I’ve looked around in my notebooks and dug out some old bottles I’ve rediscovered some very interesting ideas and lovely perfume names (you know I love that) that I had sort of forgotten about.  Some of these designs are from very early in my body of work and I see now that had I had some of the materials available now, the concepts might have been realized very differently.  So, my big idea is this: when Mercury goes retrograde I’m going to set myself down to re-imagine some of these older works.  It’s a go with the flow and artistically grow kind of thing.  I don’t know if I will release the new visions or not but I know that I will enjoy the process.  I like this looking back / looking forward notion.  We’ll see how it goes and I’ll keep you posted.❤

ps: here’s the next retrograde phases for 2016: August 30 – September 22; and Dec 19 2016 – Jan 8, 2017.

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image credits: I found these images on the web: beautiful mercury planet image found here; moving backward image here; berlin 1994 photo album here.

 

dude, you smell great

It’s no surprise that more and more men are stopping into the studio to find the perfect scent.  I’ve been blessed with a pretty strong male clientele from the beginning of my perfume practice, but lately there have been more than the usual…and I love this…for lots of reasons.  I’ve known for quite awhile that scent culture is blossoming among young men; that they are checking out niche firms alongside the mainstream houses to see what’s new, what’s different, and even what’s challenging.  Yes, challenging; intellectually and aesthetically.  I think this is huge.  We know that scent has the power to get inside you before you are consciously aware and start you on a path to emotion, memory, and experience.  Now add that it can open your mind to design elements that may not be initially ‘handsome’, or easy, or even recognizable.  There is a push that can make you go deeper and the result is a true(er) connection to yourself and the art that you are experiencing.

 

 

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Unlike many perfume establishments, in my studio / shop I don’t categorize the perfumes by fragrance family, dominant note, or gender.  I arrange the bottles by collection as each collection has meaning, a story, and a relationship between its members.  It’s my hope that people will take notice of how each design relates to the others sitting next to them.  This can be a little disorienting to the casual shopper who doesn’t know what they’re in for when they walk in.  I often get asked: “Where’s the stuff for guys?” to which I reply, “everywhere”.  :)   This allows me to ask some important questions so that I am able to curate a bit for each client.  I like that.  Not so much to be in control but to break the usual patterns to allow for a really authentic experience.

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In the past few months I’ve been seeing some interesting patterns forming and I’m pleased because some really great scents (IMO, of course) have been getting some serious love.  SEVEN, one of the first designs I created specifically with men in mind and with a kind of meditative yet vintage-y (non-fougere) vibe has been the pick of a number of new clients.  I love its vetiver meets incense, woods, and herbs.  It’s really easy to wear and since it’s 88% botanical there’s an intrinsic quality and depth to the perfume that comes through.  SEVEN has had a steady stream of admirers over the years since it came out, as a limited edition, in 2002.  It hasn’t been a sleeper, but as of late it seems to just hit the spot and I am really happy about it.  Another design that came out with SEVEN that’s been garnering new fans is Michelangelo.  When I created this design I didn’t have scotch on my mind (and the “whiskey notes / boozey thing” hadn’t happened yet) but there is a really distinctive single malt scotch note to the opening of Michelangelo that I truly love.  It’s not exactly Macallan, but it’s in that ball park.  It bursts open with a slightly herbal nuance, and a hint of oak and caramel in the background but it’s not sweet and it’s very low on the (smoky/loamy) peat.  The remainder of Michelangelo is a wood paneled men’s club (think the Bohemian Club meeting at the Bohemian Grove ) with the whispers of the cigars once smoked and patina-ed leather armchairs.  Michelangelo is also high in naturals (94%) and masculine in very artistic way… (maybe that’s why a number of women also love and wear it, too!)

 

 

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From my viewpoint there may be a trend in the making for herbal notes.  I’m not sure if this is because younger people are getting more familiar with herbs through exposure to aromatherapy or new culinary interest, or if it’s because it’s very foreign and new.  I do see more and more interest, especially from men, in herbs, conifers, and woods.  We know there will always be a love of musk (the clean and the dirty ones), leather and oakmoss, as well as the citruses.  And vanilla is still really big with the guys (Vanille Botanique and Vanilla Bourbon Intense, I’m looking at you), but I am very encouraged by the recent gravitation to the retro-nouveau / classic stylings of SEVEN and Michelangelo.  As they say in Boulder: Dude, you smell great!


image credits: found on the web: 1st image found here, 2nd image found here, 3rd image here.

on the green

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Once again it’s been a pretty cool and rainy Spring.  Last year we had a similar vibe with days at a time of mountain in fog and mist; and real rainy days (which don’t happen like they do in New York or Boston, my two locales before making Boulder my home).  It produces a wildly vivid greenness in the grass and the new leaves just starting to come in full as we get ready to move to Summer.

I absolutely love the moist earth smells, the freshness of the lawn with its sweet apple-y watermelon rind mixed with hay, the cool mineral-y vaporous atmosphere that resides around the irises as they open to the world.  Since creating last year’s “big project”, Giverny in Bloom for Denver Art Museum, I seem to re-connect with the green perfumes that I have created over the years all the more.  Maybe it’s because the real garden I was using to model the gardens at Giverny was my own.  I am so familiar with that violet / violet leaf / misty cool greenness meets powdery sweetness mixing in the air with the slightly fruity anisic nectar of the iris all mingling with the fuzzy spicy woody glue-like lilacs around and in my yard.  I don’t have nearly the explosive volume or variety of Giverny but the pieces are there for me to puzzle together again and again.

 

 

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Recently at the AIX fair in LA I got to do a soft re-launch of my “CHROMA” collection and in preparation I was filling lots of sample vials and mini flasks of Celadon: A Velvet Green and Viridian.  Again, the experience was filled with remembrance of Springs past.  The deep, almost dark forest-y quality of Viridian juxtapose the soft, almost frosted stillness of Celadon seemed completely in step with this current spring, a rather misty and dark mood.  It occurs to me just how much I love the green fragrance in all of its forms.  Even the muguet in my neighbor’s garden returns me to the roots, as it were, of my love affair with green.  This Spring, once again, I’m feeling inspired by the bounty and intensely joyful rebirth, even with its dark, rather cool, and drizzly days, to explore the “green”.  Two new designs are tapping on the shoulder of my creative psyche asking to be put down to paper in the notebooks and maybe sketched sometime soon.  I’ll leave you to wonder what they are and what will come up next.😉

rainy day dreaming

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It’s day three of rain and fog, and it’s beautiful.  Misty, subtle color saturation, and soooo much green.  I never know how long this part of Spring will last.  My garden loves it and so do I.

 

 

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It sets me to thinking about art, image making, new perfumes, and setting my heart free.  Lately there has been so much busy-ness, travel, and so much to do.  The sound of the rain and the feel of the mist make me want to slow down and….dream.

 

 

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I’m so thrilled that rose season is in full swing!  I was right when I assumed that the roses would be spectacular this year from all of the Spring rains.  Such blooms!  And although some of my plants had some pretty severe die-off from a deep November frost (and thus they won’t bloom this year) some came back so splendidly that I am just smitten all over again.   How could I possibly resist their charms?

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first eglantine bloom of 2015

The eglantine that I mentioned in my last post is just popping with the most lovely foliage (the scented part) and delicate single petal pink roses.  I get the same feeling every time I rub those leaves between my fingers and sniff the scented air that I must make another perfume with an eglantine leaf note just to have the pleasure of working with it again.  I created an eglantine leaf accord for the CHROMA scent, Umber: Bois de Rose, mixed with a moody aldehydic violet – dark rose heart that may not be to everyone’s taste but I really love it.

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chapeau de napoleon moss centifolia

All of this has been just in time to give me a great boost of energy for the talk I gave on Wednesday to the Rose Society of Denver at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  What incredible fun it was to show isolated rose alcohols and some of the minor constituents that give various roses their unique character.  Of course, I also shared examples of natural rose oils: Rosa Gallica Otto, Rosa Centifolia Abs., and Rosa Damascena Abs.  The best part was having everyone hold the cards pre-scented with selected isolates in one hand and smell for them on the card with the natural rose oil in the other.  Everyone’s favorite of the natural rose oils was the Centifolia and with little wonder, it’s incredibly complex with the most fabulous mildly spicy, deep rose scent with honey, berry, and violet nuances.    Among all of the roses in my garden, I have to admit an immense weakness for the moss Centifolia, “Chapeau de Napoleon”, that’s looming right now.   Not only is it so very beautiful, but the moss hybrid gives it a deep resinous, rose oxide kind of hit mixed with the luscious old rose scent complete with berry, honey, spice and violet nuances.

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penelope blush musk rose

Another absolutely wonderful rose that’s stolen my heart is a blush, musk rose that’s just begun to bloom.  The scent of the petals are quite subtle, no surprise there, as like the eglantine it”s not the flower that gives the fragrant impact, it’s the stamen.  There’s a milky, ambrettolide-ish aroma that I just love.  It’s pale and soft, which reflects the petals so perfectly.  Needless to say, I’ve been truly inspired by these beauties; even more than in previous years.  Maybe it’s because my work in general has been completely immersed (well, nearly completely) in flowers since last Autumn and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  😃. Awesome.

I hadn’t planned on making these rose posts into a “3-parter” but I think that’s where I’m headed with it.  I still want to share some more roses (Ispahan and New Dawn, in particular) before the season is over and we’ll be onto other things as the Summer progresses.  Plus this gives me a chance to do another little drawing /giveaway for three more lucky winners.  Just post a comment about your favorite color or genus to be entered to win a rose discovery set 2: American Beauty, Saving Grace, and Umber: Bois de Rose; all in 3ml spray samples of EdP.  Entries will be allowed until June 19 at midnight.  Winners will be chosen at random and prizes will be mailed out on June 30 (since I’m headed back east to see my eldest nephew graduate from High School. )  Good luck and don’t forget to get out there and smell the roses.    ox

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I’m excited to share the first rose drawing scents with the winners:  Congratulations Joey Vega, Rosarita, and Calshopper!  Please send your info to me at:  dsh at dshperfumes dot com  so that I may send the discovery sets to you.  I hope that you will truly enjoy these roses!   oxox

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austrian copper – yellow roses

 

June is right around the corner and so with it brings the big blooming season of my cherished roses in the garden.  The yellow roses are in bloom now as they start early but the others are just beginning to bud.  This may be in reaction to a long, cold but very wet snap we’ve had since mid-April.  The roses are loving the extra moisture and I’m expecting an incredible show in about a week.

It actually couldn’t be better timing as I’m preparing a talk for the Denver Rose Society at the Denver Botanic Gardens on June 10th.  The talk will be all about roses, rose molecules that give the aromatic signature of ‘rosey’ and how this applies to the creation of rose perfumes.  I’m really excited!  I LOVE talking about roses and rose fragrances; especially how they might seem easy to create because there are so many of them and the rose scent is so recognizable.  Of course, it’s really deceptive.  There are a gazillion different roses with as many varying scents and if you’ve started to *smell the roses* you know this is true.  It’s actually true of lots of flowers: we think we know them but if we start to examine them more closely they show many ‘faces’ and many fragrances.

 

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napoleon’s hat centifolia

 

Since last Fall or maybe even earlier I’ve been immersed in flowers and floral perfumes.  I’m not sure why, exactly; the inspiration as well as the work itself has brought me to the garden again and again.  With the Brilliant Collection for the Cartier exhibit a multi-facteted white floral emerged for Deco Diamonds, a lush, damp earth hyacinth for Jacinthe de Sapphir, and a deep ruby-hued rose for Rubis Rosé.   There’s a fascinating array of fruit nuances found in roses, from zesty citrus nuances, to crisp apple and juicy pear, to lush blackcurrant and berry-like notes.  Rubis Rosé has a deep tea rose in the heart and a bright red raspberry top note.  It’s a combination of influences: my neighbor’s vintage (1960’s) tea roses and the fabulous berry quality of classic red long stems.  I also wanted to create a rose design that spoke to a real classicism as well as the mid-century fruited-aldehydic-floral.

You know, speaking of aldehydics and roses, I find it very interesting that some of the roses in my garden display a sort of green aldehydic quality.  Part of it is a linalool-ish citral (citrus-y) flash and other parts are the geranium-like,  green rosey aromas of geraniol and geranyl acetate.  The yellow roses (the Austrian Copper roses especially) that are blooming right now have this incredible scent.  It has those geranium-rose notes at play with an almost metallic kick as if it were a constructed perfume with the citrus-green rosy mix of aldehyde c-8 and aldehyde c-12 Enic in the top.  I love it!

 

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harrison’s yellow

 

Years ago I created an all-botanical yellow rose scent called “en Vacances” which is based on a Harrison’s Yellow that grew in my back yard when I was a kid.  It always bloomed on the last day of school.  To me it was the scent of Summer Vacation.  Saving Grace, also in the Garden Bathe aromatherapy perfume collection, is another more woody-based, more clearly rose (I smell it as pink) design that has some of these characteristic gernium-rosey tonalities as well.

 

blooming eglantine, june 2010

blooming eglantine

 

But it’s not just the geranium-rosey aromas that are coming out of the rose garden.  One of my favorite aspects that is showing up is the characteristic peppery-green notes wafting from the leaves and stems on the centifolias and the fabulous scent coming from the green apple – aldehydic fragranced leaves of my eglantine.  It’s reminiscent of certain peonies, which for me are filed away in my mind as a subcategory of rose note flowers.  They are their own delicious, wonderful thing, of course, and they too have quite a lot of variation from dewy, ever so slightly powdery-apricot-y, to softly watery pear, to a very deep and spiced rosy-green.  Last year I created a Peony perfume after many years thinking on it.  I wanted to tell a story like a ‘day in the life’ of the peony flower kind of experience.  I could bring it from a slightly metallic-green, softly peppery – softened with dew note at the beginning, through its most ‘rosey’ phase and into a twilight shaded and darker aspect in the drydown.  I’m not sure it’s for everyone but I really like it and I feel it tells it’s story nicely.

 

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jacqueminot rose

 

I grow a fair number of “Old Roses” but I hadn’t really pushed myself to decipher their varied nuances to the point of creating a perfume to speak to their unique characters until recently.  Deeply honey – spice, almost carnation-esque, the old rose types are rich and can be a bit heavy.  It would be very easy to get involved with a perfume design around the old rose scent and end up at “granny rose” in no time.  Not that the roses themselves do the powdery note that I most associate with granny rose but the density of their scent and how you work with that quality could get you there if you weren’t very careful to avoid it.  I’ve smelled too many old rose and tea rose perfumes that, for me, smell of granny rose due to their sheer density.  (If you couldn’t tell: Granny rose is not my thing. At all. But I digress).   I can’t talk much about a recent project I’ve been involved with for Denver Art Museum just yet but I will say that it’s allowed me to delve into the old roses character some and pull it into a rose bouquet that is unlike any of my other rose designs.  First off, it’s not intended to be a rose soliflore but the rose is clearly experienced along with a couple of other focal floral notes.  There will be more on that topic, and more very soon.😉

This seems like as good a place to stop part 1 for now.  I’m hoping that as I send this out and in the next few days, some of the other buds will pop out into full blossom.

I’m so thrilled to be talking flowers and roses in particular, that I’d like to offer a little drawing for 3 sets of 3 – mini sprayers of Rubis Rosé EdP, Peony EdP, and en Vacances EdP.  Please leave a comment about your favorite rose and/or rose perfume to enter.  The 3 winners will be chosen at random in the wee hours of June 6th so the deadline to enter is 11:59 pm on June 5th.  Winners will be announced on June 6th.  I hope that everyone will enjoy the start of Summer and good luck in the draw!   ox

 

* images are all my own.  you can see most or variations on them at my instagram page.

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