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white_lilacs1_dsh

Although it’s been raining non-stop for nearly a month and really chilly, too, it’s almost June and Spring will be blossoming into Summer in no time.  I didn’t want to let the moment pass to reflect some more on my adored lilacs.  I wait for them all. year. long.  Something about them sends me soaring into a reverie of nostalgia; of my own past and an imaginary one of what my mother’s and grandmothers’ Springtimes must have been like.  It’s almost as if I start imagining vintage home movies in my head about how women in generations past felt about being feminine, being beautiful (?) or sultry (?) and how they would express it.  I’m not exactly sure why this sort of thing takes me over every time I smell a lilac, but it does.  I am immediately there in the back yard of my childhood, smelling the lilacs that my mother and grandmother had also enjoyed.  i think of them in the fashions of their era, with their hair and make up done, in fresh Spring dresses with a soft breeze blowing.  It’s incredibly romantic.  And elusive, like the fleeting nature of the lilacs themselves.  I feel like I can never be like them but I can surely admire them.  Maybe that is why I am such an avid admirer of the lilac.

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That sense of nostalgia doesn’t stop with just the fresh lilacs in bloom around my yard and neighborhood.  I have found that for many generations, the scent of lilacs have been the subject of many a historical perfume.  Some rather famous in their day and important to the progression of the scent, in design terms.  A couple of favorites of mine, from the early twentieth century are from the classic houses Houbigant, with “Le Temps des Lilas” (1921), and Coty with his “Lilas Blanc” (1910).  And then a couple more, the mid-century beauties (both) “White Lilac” by Mary Chess  (1930) and Dorothy Gray (1945).  In the case of Dorothy Gray, White Lilac was among her most famous and best selling.

Vintage-Mary-Chess-WHITE-LILAC-Toilet-Water-Perfume                    dorothy_gray_whLilac_lotion

I didn’t get the chance to pull out the Mary Chess nor the Dorothy Gray from the ArtScent Museum‘s collection in storage but I did want to delve into the scent of the Coty “Lilas Blanc” since I have been thinking so much about the vintage styles of lilac perfumes while working with the fresh lilacs in bloom in the studio.  It’s interesting to me that as I’ve been working on my newest lilac inspired fragrance, “La Belle Saison” (a soon to be released, all natural / botanical design) as opposed to last Spring’s “White Lilac” (a mixed media creation), it’s the all-botanical that has come into being as a somewhat vintage referencing design.  Perhaps it’s that in the early 20th Century, the lilac-style molecules were less developed but I also think that perfume styles in general were more romantic and even with the soliflores, more impressionistic than realistic.  There was a sense of what a perfume must be, design-wise, whereas now, a soliflore can be as realistic and straightforward – linear as you please.  I don’t  really think that was so back then.  Whether it’s a stylistic choice or a refection of the constraint of the perfumer’s palette at the time, it’s true that most florals, even intended soliflores have a ‘bouquet’ quality about them.

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ArtScent Museum’s “Lilas Blanc” de Coty, c.1920’s

Coty’s Lilas Blanc opens with a waft of soft green leaves and lemony nuances that give me an immediate impression of magnolia and hawthorn.  Just beneath is a subtle layer of violety ionones adding to the fluffy powder impression that begins moments into the scent and continues well into the drydown.  The heart begins to reveal the full bouquet concept notes of jasmine, heliotrope and clover emerge along with a rosey-honey-plummy-lilac accord that feels sweet, and rich but still quite soft and demure.

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ArtScent Museum’s “Lilas Blanc” de Coty, c.1930’s

As the base note weighs in, the jasmine and heliotrope warm themselves against musk, civet, and powedery-woody vetiveryl acetate.  The use of the acetate instead of the pure oil allows the soft fluffiness to continue instead of being pulled solidly into the earth.  The acetate is more sheer and manageable when a light hand is needed.  The very end drydown is soft, warm, and honey-floral-fuzzy, like the underside of a bumble bee.

There are nuances in Coty’s Lilas Blanc that very much remind me of vintage style apple blossom perfumes; of course because many of the same ingredients were used to create them and the overall fantasy of the “Spring Floral” has similar qualities to it.  {Apple blossoms are another charmer for me and I have a thing for finding all kinds of vintage versions to compare).  What I really found interesting is there is little evidence of the fruity nuances that are found in fresh lilac blossoms and in more modern perfume constructions.

There is definitely a romance to lilac perfumes, whether vintage or more modern in style.  I’m having a ball chasing that chameleon around with my perfumer’s organ.  And waxing poetic about one of the most beloved flowers.  ox

Image credits:  dreamy lilac shots by DSH, ArtScent Museum Lilas Blanc images by DSH, mary chess image found here; dorothy gray hand lotion image found here; dorothy gray summer splash image found on eBay.

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I think that it was last Spring that the flowers started calling.  More than ever before, I’ve wanted to engage in the realm of the flora.  Perhaps it started with Instagram coinciding with my daily walks with Xander.  I suddenly had an incredible visual outlet to use that was so easy, fun, portable, and interesting.  It was a way to make art on the spot when, these days,  studio time is so difficult to come by.  The flowers infiltrated my psyche through visual art and now it seems that my whole world, in perfumery as well, is just FLOWERS.  {I’m in love, can you tell?}

 

 

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Last years White Lilac, Peony, Scent of Hope, Jacinthe de Sapphir, and Rubis Rosé have given way to a flood of floral inspiration around the studio.  I’m just beginning to complete some of the new designs for release, but I promise you, there are some big bouquets in my future.  :)  If you follow my facebook stuff, you’ve already seen the first glimpse of the new “Fleuriste” perfume that is all carnations and chilled rose leaves.  I’m really enjoying the modern aspects and variations on the carnation theme and it’s so different from one of my best loved florals:  Oeillets Rouges, which is a warm, honey-kissed carnation.  {By the way, have you noticed the HUGE resurgence of interest in carnation perfumes?  It’s outrageous.  Now that Malmaison, and Blue Carnation are no longer in production and Bellodgia isn’t what it used to be, the carnation lovers are on the hunt for a new love}.  We’ll see how the cool-green / modern Fleuriste fares compared to the classic style of Oeillets Rouges.  I’ll be interested to see.

 

 

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I’m also really excited that at last (!) we’ve had a stellar lilac season so that I could complete an all natural / all botanical perfume based on the French lilacs that bloom in my front yard and the Persian lilacs that bloom just outside the back door to my studio.  I’ve been working on this design for about 5 years now, since the lilacs in Colorado haven’t fared so well over the past few years {with all of the late Spring snow we get, so many lilac seasons are doomed!}  But this year, even with a Mother’s Day snow storm – Yes, I did say MOTHER’S DAY – we had a fabulous crop and I reveled in their glory.  Anyone who loves lilacs will know that they are heavenly, but oh so temperamental, and vexingly  chameleon-like as the scent changes from the first bloom on the tree, to a later full bloom aroma, as well as how they change their fragrance after they have been picked.  I had to go through many a lilac season to attempt to nail them down into some kind of formula.  It’s been an intoxicatingly wild ride but I’ve arrived at something that *I* think is beautiful.  And really speaks to late Spring in all it’s splendor.  I’ll be writing more about “La Belle Saison” soon.

 

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For now I’m hoping to spread the love and flowers.  They make me happy and I hope that they do for you as well.  ox

 

image credits: crab apple blossom image, from dsh_artscent; carnation image found here; Persian lilacs and French lilacs images from dsh_artscent.

Wishing everyone a new year filled with brilliance, surprising moments of light and clarity, health, creativity, and most of all love.

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Let’s not forget laughter, too.  Happy Year of the Sheep my friends (starting in February, of course).  oxox

image credit: I found this Shaun the Sheep image here.

For awhile now, since cannabis became legal in Colorado, it’s been on the news, on talk shows and buzzing just about everywhere.  There of lots of folks having a lot of fun with this whole thing and I’ve been thinking that it’s about time that I had some fun with it, too.  In all honesty, I have played with various marijuana accords for years (I think that I started in earnest in about 2005 when a friend said that a various strain was their favorite smell EVER).  I’ve created and even used a few of my accords in perfumes, from Bodhi Sativa for the PLAP-athon in 2010, to Le Smoking for the YSL Retrospective collection in 2012.

 

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It’s funny to think that I have smelled and “appraised”?, “reviewed”?, no, dissected? quite a few strains of cannabis over the years, mostly as a kind of parlor trick for many of my musician* / stoner friends even though I’m not a smoker myself (being asthmatic and all, smoking anything is OUT).    My friends think it’s hilarious and / or fascinating as they hear me describe the top, middle and base nuances of their favorite kind bud.  There is an intrinsic sort of perfume to this generous plant from animalic (skunk) to fruity, incens-ey, conifer, floral, sticky sweet, dry woody and green leafy, etc.  To check out some real flavor / fragrance profiling, this chart from a Netherlands seed company has some amazing variation:

 

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So, here comes the fun.  I’ve busted out some of my older notebooks and taken a look at some of my early accord notes and yes, I like what I started.  It’s time to finish and I’ve chosen four variations to focus on.  I’ve actually been contacted many times to create some cannabis perfumes using exclusive strains for some of the dispensaries, but none of these potential clients has taken the final plunge into investing in the concept.  Mores the pity for me as it would be wonderful to play with some of these unusual flavor/ fragrance profiles that these unique strains possess.

Back to playing with the accords: I’m going to start at the beginning with my very first which was based on a conifer-resin / dried  bud / green smoke kind of scent.  It’s quite woody with a definite conifer (junipers, spruce and pines) feel but it’s the ‘green smoke’ that interests me.  I want this scent to be a kind of “you’re walking in the woods and you smell the smoke(rs) over the trail” kind of thing.   All of the cannabis scent designs feature an atmospheric quality; I think that is just part of the mystique around the plant and the imbibing culture.  Cannabis has such a distinctive aroma that it tends to evoke some kind of ‘otherness’ which is transporting.  The real design challenge is to create with this distinctive / atmospheric note and still end up with something you would call ‘perfume’.  To my mind, a perfume has a sense of presence that is beautiful, well constructed, tells some kind of story (or sings a song or paints a picture… you get the idea) and very often displays it’s sense of continuity to the history of perfume.  There are artistic references and precedents that came before that show up in a contemporary work that make it seem to ‘fit’ within the structure of our expectation.  This is just part of my loose definition, however.  I suspect that there are many other perfume designers out there working today that want to break with any sense of continuity and create purely abstracted / atmospheric / story telling aromas and that’s great but if it’s not wearable and recognizable as perfume, maybe it isn’t.  It’s aroma but not perfume.  Anyway, that’s a debate that could take far too long to ever get to a conclusion with.  These are just my thoughts on it.  Back to the perfumes (and yes, I want these to be perfumes within my own criteria, so they have to be wearable).

 

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The conifer design has come together with the help of some unusual materials that I had to bust out just for this project.  One of them is chrysanthemum.  I haven’t used this note in too many designs; one reason is that studies show that many people associate the scent of chrysanthemum with death.  (I don’t really want to create funereal perfumes – unless I am expressly trying to do that).   But paired with the sulfuric, tangy-sweet scent of hemp, it works beautifully.  Another aromatic that I haven’t had the opportunity to use much before this design is the common juniper oil that I got from my friend, distiller Eric Bresselsmith.  It’s a great fresh, green juniper note that doesn’t do the too terpenoid signature that juniper berry oil does.  It gives a fresher, sweeter feel to the topnote and does part of that sticky sensation that speaks to ‘bud’ as it heads to the heart.  Lastly, the Ayurvedic co-distill Choyas, which I just can’t seem to get enough of these days, were indispensable.  I used a combination of  the rich, smoked wood Choya Loban as well as the densely calcined Choya Nahk.  It took a bit of doing to turn this smoke note from brown / black to ‘green’ but I did it, I think, with the help of galbanum and sweet basil.  The entire foray into the woods and back rests on a smooth bed of sandalwood, both natural and some of the sandalwood-like molecules, as well as some animalics (yes, I had to use the synthetic skunk note I found).  All in all, this design dries down into a very elegant, masculine-leaning perfume that displays the hemp thing but doesn’t totally flaunt it (even with the skunk).  I really like that.

 

i love you mary jane

My second indulgence is way more playful and another completion of an older accord / idea from more than a few years ago.  It’s a fruity – indolic floral cannabis that is *very* hemp, and very clearly a pot perfume.  It’s got a surprising amount of fruit, at least *I* am surprised at how many / much fruit the cannabis could handle and require, really, to fulfill the design.  One of the elements I love about this perfume is the topnote…all tangy grapefruit, rhubarb and cassis bud juxtapose  a richly sweet blackberry, apricot and mango accord.  ( I said there was a lot of fruit).  I never would have thought that I would go for anything quite like this but it’s surprising.  The dominant cannabis note with the ‘super fruit’ in the top and a big sampaguita flower heart makes for a sensuously wild ride.  I did want at least one of these designs to read as a big sweet bud and this is the one.  I don’t think that this kind of design is for everyone (well the whole cannabis thing is divisive) but for those that love that smell, this will be the one that hits the spot, I predict.  There’s also a very nice oriental lily, osmanthus and some ylang ylang in the heart and  more than a few fun resinous-wood with incense nuances in the drydown.  Of course one of the notes that many folks associate with pot is patchouli and this is where patchouli is the most featured of all of the designs.  I couldn’t call this a typical “fruit-chouli” but on some skins it may actually read that way.  On my own skin, which has gotten way sweeter since I had a child, it’s bright, sweet, and very hemp-ish in the first notes but dries down into a soft, green edged, fruity-floral-woody.

The third of the collection is probably my personal favorite, but on that, I’m going to say goodnight, and save the third and fourth designs for next time.  I will say that this third scent is one that I have a hard time getting enough of…especially in the drydown.  It’s kind of, (gulp), addictive.

(Disclaimer: * This isn’t to say that musicians are synonymous with pot smokers, either).

image credits: lab of cannabis vials image found here; flavor wheel image found here; rocky mountain high image found here;  i love you mary jane image found here;

talkingtrees

 

As promised, I have shown up again to announce the winners of the (long-awaited) drawing for the 3, preview, 3 ml samples of Seve de Pin.  And the winners are:

• Michelle H

• Anita

* Linda

Please email me at:  dsh at dshperfumes dot com with your address and it will be on its way!  I hope that you will love them and that you’ll let me know what you think.
Be back soon  ~ox

*image found here with a poem (that evokes perfume no less … though I’m not so keen on the musical choice).

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Well, we’ve done it!  The Scent of Hope is finally out and available on the website.  And even better, there are samples and presentation bottles heading out to loads of iris fans everywhere.  I can’t remember a more exciting launch nor one that has filled me with so much joy.  I give huge, grateful and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has participated in making this dream a reality.

This image (above) of the 15 ml presentation flacon makes the bottle look as thought it is floating amidst clouds and sea.  It captures a bit of how I am feeling about this scent: elated and dreamy, yet immersed in something like the density of water.  It is a very REAL feeling, this one, and I am proud to be a part of it.

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I’m also very excited that the project has had some early reviews and I hope, there will be more to come.  I just have to share:  The wonderful Ida Meister’s fragrantica.com (p)review and lovely Tama Blough’s thoughts for CaFleurebon.com.  I hope that everyone who has followed the creation of this scent will give Scent of Hope a try and even more, will share their experience of it with me (us).      ~ox

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ps: Here is another great post about Iris Gris that is not specifically about Scent of Hope  (thank you for the mention, however!) but is all the same beautiful and I wanted to share it here as well.  From the Sound of Scent blog.  Enjoy!

pps: I bet that you have wondered what the heck happened to me since the beginning of June and oh yes!  the seve de pin draw winners.  (!?!?)   I’m going to finally announce those in a post tomorrow evening, so stay tuned and thanks for your patience with my crazy life.  :)

 

 

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Something is happening to me.  I can’t seem to get my head (and nose) out of the woods these days.  It’s a trend that seems to be popping up in all parts of my creative world: in my own (paltry at the moment) design time at the studio, in my classes with private students, and even in terms of what I am wanting to photograph right now. Of course,  I have been working with conifers and fougeres in my studio for awhile now, but I think that this shift in my psyche really set in in 2011, right around the time I got pregnant (hmm…) with some more classical constructions as well as some more modern ‘abstractions’ in the making.  The thing is that while I have been dancing around this concept I have had few actual launches to show for this line of exploration.

Last year’s Matsu, which was a rather abstract, Japanese influenced ‘pine’ scent expressed a humid, green woody concept with a brilliant bergamot flash at the opening (and containing no actual pine of conifers) is really the only launch that I have managed.  Until (sometime close to) now.  Well, I’m not ready to launch this particular design just yet but I think that it is finished.  It’s a much more literal experience of a pine / spruce fragrance but it doesn’t read at all like pinesol or worse, in a way, a bad interpretation of Polo or Pino Sylvestre.

 

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Something that may have spurred on this creative indulgence in the conifer arena has been a lovely friendship that has sprung up between myself and the micro-distiller, Eric Bresselsmith and his wonderful company that features *rocky mountain region* materials.  I have been getting new materials from him for years without having the space or time to really jump in and work on crafting the perfumes I have in mind when he shows me samples. Finally, I have little by little managed to get something going with some very wonderful and rare aromatics.  I want to take a quick moment to touch upon a few of my favorites that Eric has brought me: Concolor White Pine (distilled from recycled Christmas trees in Aspen, CO),  Common Juniper (a shrub that I have torn out of my own yard to make way for a rose garden but yields a lovely, GREEN take on juniper oil), Engelmann Spruce (a delicious, slightly fruity, airy, clear as a bell, spruce) and Great Western Sage (a dry, spiky but gorgeous sage scent.  If you like smudge sticks, this is for you!).  Eric also makes some very wonderful and creative co-distills using the woods, leaves/needle and cones of the conifers sometimes mixed with shrubs and sometimes different but similar species of evergreens.  I really like some of the juniper and cedar co-distills that I have tried.

One of the most incredible and very rare oils that I have gotten (and used in this new design) is an infusion of 50 year old resin crystals in pure pinion essential oil.  It is magical in the extreme.  It was also a labor of love as Eric told me that he was out with the ancient felled pinion armed with tweezers picking the crystals off, little by little, by hand.  As soon as I smelled it I just said, I want this.  I didn’t ask how much; I just knew that I needed to get as much as I could afford.  Seve de Pin (Pine Sap) is based upon this beauty.  There is wider story than just wanting to showcase a new material, but I had started this design years ago and it seemed to be waiting for this last ingredient to make everything fall into place.

 

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Seve de Pin was partially inspired by the smell in the night air on my first overnight trip away from my parents when I was 4 years old and in pre-school summer camp.  *The trees were speaking to me all night long* and in this construction, there is the distinctive smell that was in the air (in the drydown) that night.  I would know this smell anywhere.  It is mysterious and ancient and all-knowing.  Like the earth itself.  And that there are secrets that may be revealed to those who listen (and smell it).  Along with this sense of peering into other realms, there is comfort and protection, too, inherent in this aroma.  Like lying cozily on a soft bed of needles, nestled in the trees with only the night sky above;  you are sure to see the shooting stars.

 

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There is another inspiration, which was simply the incredible sensation of the first clear, oozing pine sap from the pine trees in my own back yard each Spring.  Maybe the reason this scent has been so long in the making is that I can only really work on it during a few weeks in Spring; I need experience that wonder first hand.  The new sap is unlike the aged sap that you find incrusted upon a more worldly tree and I wanted to really capture the airy freshness of that first exudation.

It has been interesting to construct this from almost all natural ingredients (99% botanical) with just a touch of green note accord in the top and an augmented resinous base to give the architecture something firm and stable.  Naturals have their intrinsic beauty but many times it is just impossible to get the structure to hold it’s form.  At least the form that I am working to sculpt or to use the former metaphor, build.  The tendrils of the naturals want to collapse on themselves and rush to be together in the middle.  It sometimes takes a lot of skill to get the pieces to confirm to the shape that you have in mind; something that is quite vertical as opposed to horizontal (landscape) or rounded / voluminous (a bouquet of sorts).  These few synthetic structure “poles” support the flickering nuances of the different shades of green leaves and needles, the cones and most of all the sap that dries into the crusty, delicious resin.  The fluidity of the design needs to be upheld.  It is sap and air after all.

I’m deliriously happy about the final result, I have to say.  Ask anyone who has been around me as I test it.  They will tell you of a crazy woman who can’t stop huffing the blotter (I almost NEVER do this) and swooning about, rolling her eyes in ecstasy.  I am that child again under the stars hearing the whispering murmurs of the trees and dreaming of the possibilities of life.

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I’m not sure when I am releasing this new perfume BUT I would love to share~

So, I am offering a drawing for 3ml EdP deluxe spray samples to 3 lucky winners.  Please leave a comment about your favorite conifer, or evergreen scent or better yet a favorite scent memory.  The drawing is open until June 8 at midnight MST.  Good Luck!

* images are all my own.  you can view some and others by me at my instagram page.

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