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Last May I started thinking about an idea that I call “the retrograde files“.  It came as a little brainstorm about taking the time when Mercury is retrograde (an astrological phase that makes it look like the planet Mercury is sliding backward in its orbit when seen from Earth) to look back at projects that I haven’t completed, perfumes that I once launched but for what ever reason decided to discontinue, and the like, and to consider re-imagining.  Thus, using the ‘energy of the times’ to good advantage and taking what was good and making it better, clearer, and ultimately new again.  (Art, if nothing else, is recycling and filtering inspiration through one’s unique lens and the exact time and space it’s created in).  So as Mercury has gone into its retrograde phase I started looking through what is now a surprisingly growing section of my notebook.

 

Passionflower Perfume Poems was a small collection that I started releasing around 1999 – 2000 with a young, ‘millennial’ audience in mind.  It never quite hit the target the way I wanted it to… although a few of the perfumes have lived on in the form of special orders and requests by devoted clients who have loved the perfumes as their signatures for the past – wow – almost 20 years.   Lately the requests have come in with more frequency and something sparked: these Passionflower Perfume Poems scents seemed to be the perfect first candidates for inclusion in the retrograde files.

 

Say hello to April.

I didn’t rework this design too much, as it’s fans would be pretty bummed if I’d changed it a ton.  I did add some cool, humid notes via some molecules that I didn’t have in my studio c.2000, like cyclal-c and cucumber aldehyde.  It’s just as fresh and lively as the first design but with an additional pump up of the sweet pea and the green clover notes.  I’m really enjoying the energy of April with its clean but not soapy freshness and soft fruity-floralcy.  Fruity-florals aren’t usually of great interest to me (maybe that’s why I missed the mark with my first attempt at a ‘youth’ collection) but this one is fresh, green, and ‘unsweet’ enough for a more grown up audience and to keep me coming back for more.  I hope you like it and the other two heading your way this Spring. ❤

 

I thought I’d share one of the original stream-of-consciousness poems that went with the original launch.  I still think they’re fun:

April (poem)
green    clear    soft    white    frosty    dew  •  ethereal    morning    fresh  •  delicate    blossom    dawn    breath

emerge     enlighten     evolve  •   imagine     breezy    serenity     rain   •   shining     meadow     flowers    dream

sublime    veils    smiling   senses  •   relax    renew    refresh  •  awaken   cherish    clean    bright    light   pools

glistening    shower    sweetness  •   invite    pure    beauty    april    be    spring

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I left off in conversation about Fleuriste, and it’s cool, florist’s fridge effect as something made possible by the modern miracle of aroma molecules.  Now, in part 2, I find myself stepping back…not just in time and space (sort of)  but also taking a half step back toward classicism and warmth in the next carnation design.

With l’Opera des Rouges et des Roses, I didn’t set out to create a new carnation fragrance as if I was inspired and found the need for this fragrance.  Well, I did realize that it fulfilled a need in my range that I didn’t really have which was a garden bouquet perfume that featured carnation, roses, peonies, and jasmine.  One of the things I love about this design is that it flickers and flirts between hot and cold, fresh and lush until the final drydown stage where it just belts out an aria and dares you not to give a standing ovation.  It has PRESENCE.  At least that’s how *I* experience it…you might feel differently about it.

“l’Opera” as I refer to it in my studio was a fragrance born out an art project / installation project for Denver Art Museum’s “In Bloom” show of 2015, which ultimately was called the “scent experience”.  The idea was to create a fragrant room that would evoke the experience of walking into Monet’s garden at Giverny.  What came together was an amazing kind of aromatic sculpture that was ever shifting in the balance of the fragrance since the design was developed in three pieces that when blended together created the whole.  To make this sculpture ‘moveable’, the fragrant ‘pieces’ were sensor driven, so that as people moved through the space they would trip the sensor to send out more of the fragrance in their area.  Depending on where you walked, you would smell something somewhat different in the room, as in a real garden.  Pretty cool, right?   As I worked out the designs, it came together as a kind of timeline as well as a way to experience the actual fragrances of the flowers.  So, the initial scent was the smell of moist dirt, foliage, grass, and trees with green leaves with a faint whiff of flowers, but none you could put your finger on (Le Jardin Vert); the next was a cool, early morning/ early Spring bouquet of dewy violets, irises, and lilacs (La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes).  Lastly, came the warm, afternoon / late Spring bouquet of peonies, old roses, carnations, and jasmine (l’Opera des Rouges et des Roses).  I wanted to give the sense of time passing from morning through the afternoon as well as early Spring to late Spring.  (Monet had a LOT of flowers in his vast gardens and I wanted to showcase many of the flowers depicted in the show…so it was a tall order of many flowers).  I think that the space was a success and I haven’t heard of many other museums creating as memorable, creative, or daring additions to shows that might have come off as rather staid without it.


The design for “l’Opera” has become a perfume with many lovers in its own right; not just as a piece in the design that became “Giverny in Bloom” which is the ‘complete’ experience.  As a carnation perfume it has some references to Bellodgia de Caron as its focal is the carnation and rose duet.  As it is meant to be a garden perfume, l’Opera seems fresh when compared side to side with Bellodgia (extrait).  The required aldehydes and more powdery drydown of Bellodgia make it seem more ‘constructed’ than l’Opera.  But I can see how Bellodgia is the great-aunt of l’Opera, with the need to be dramatic, and still a love interest.  Bellodgia is the belle of the ball waltzing about in crinoline and pearls, whereas l’Opera may have a wilder heart; a love child made of the garden of eden and the theatre.

At first, I hadn’t planned on more than one carnation fragrance but you know how it goes… the creative urge knows no bounds, and so another idea begat another, etc.  While “l’Opera” is a bouquet and not a soliflore, I still think of it as a carnation and rose affair.  What ultimately completed my needs (and my clients’, I think) was last year’s duskier and darker addition to the lineup.  But that’s for the next post.

* the images used were taken by me at the Denver Art Museum’s “In Bloom” show in 2015.

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I have been in love with carnation perfumes since I started making perfumes (almost) 26 years ago.  At that time, way back when, the notion of making a carnation soliflore was very old-fashioned, and I was most interested in using it to create spiced woody oriental designs; very dry, VERY spicy and less floral than a bridge from the pimento / clove / pepper topnotes to the sandalwood / cedar / patchouli / frankincense in the base.  I still love those early scents…the ones that if you add a bit of bergamot and mandarin, they turn slightly tea-like or mix in some amber you’ll expand the depth of the woods.  But when I started growing the actual flowers in my garden the sense of carnations as florals more than spice came alive. And I started considering, why isn’t anyone making a carnation soliflore?  These blooms are so warm, sensuous, and frankly, delicious.  So, I set out to make my first back in 1997.

Of course, I started to research the historical background of carnation perfumes and found there were many more famous fragrances in that line than the densely carnation oriental that was most close to my “coming of age”, YSL’s Opium, and the Grand Dame of vintage carnation perfumes, Caron’s Bellodgia.  Two very popular carnation perfumes from yesteryear are Blue Carnation, from Roger et Gallet is a fragrance worn by Queen Elizabeth (apparently now only made for her), as well as the now discontinued Malmaison by Floris (we’ll get back to this one).  Francois Coty’s Oeillet France was in production for the first part of the 20th century and many lesser brands had their “Carnation” perfumes.  (Cardinal comes to mind as a brand that sold many soliflores in sets with carnation being among their best sellers).

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Some things I’ve noticed about the earlier carnation perfumes is the almost prerequisite use of aldehydes, and more of a bouquet design with a carnation focal note more so than a straight soliflore.  Of course, after Chanel no.5, a straight-forward soliflore would have seemed utterly passé and the same can be said of any perfume without aldehydes… it wouldn’t have been ‘modern’.  Both Bellodgia and Blue Carnation have this kind of ‘outline’ to their design.  What’s fascinating when thinking about how these types of designs, at the time of their creation, were meant to be modern and very ‘new’, they are the epitome of vintage, retro, and even classical from our vantage point.  I considered this when I started creating my own carnation designs, and my first was meant to be a true soliflore, in that I wanted to make a fragrance that smelled as realistically like the red carnations that I grew in my own garden, and very little else.  The perfume still had to have structure and so, of course, there are notes that uphold the focal gem of CARNATION in a setting meant to keep you focused on the gemstone itself.  In Oeillets Rouges, the setting is a simple topnote of bergamot and hints of spice (nutmeg, green peppercorn, and clove) and a base note of beeswax, ambergris, and vanilla.  These setting notes are mild and subtle never overtaking the carnation heart.  To my mind, this is classical in a pre-Chanel no.5 sense; a more Edwardian sensibility with the quest for natural-ness that the late 1990’s had great interest in.

Juxtapose Oeillets Rouges with a much more recent creation, Fleuriste, which came out just a few years ago.  I decided to make Fleuriste after years of people really getting excited about Oeillets Rouges (just the fact that I had a real carnation perfume made some people ecstatic) and I saw that the interest in carnation perfumes was on the upswing in general.  I also wanted to work on a really modern idea for a carnation perfume that came to me after smelling JAR’s Golconda for myself and hearing people’s reaction to it’s beauty.  The thing that I heard again and again about Golconda (besides the exorbitant pricetag) was the kind of cold / “florist’s fridge effect” that was so interesting about it.  This chilled topnote construction was what struck me about Golconda’s modernity and I wanted to see what I could do around that.

modern_pinks_studio1

“Smell-o-cules”, as one of my wonderful students calls them, are the modern perfumer’s dream as they can help construct out of this world ideas that don’t occur in nature.  Or even if they do, it’s difficult to get the parts that you want without having to also take parts that you don’t.  it’s this leap into man-made molecules that made the ‘chilled rose leaf’ accord possible.  Leaf alcohol does naturally occur (and I have used the natural / isolated molecule in some lovely natural perfumes) but in Fleuriste I used the man-made version along with some captive molecules from Givco (aka Givaudan Corporation) to give me a delicious, refrigerated flowers feel to the very opening.  And this is where the reference to Golconda stops.  I took a turn here to reference another great icon of 20th Century perfumes, realigning the structure of Diorissimo (by the great Edmond Roudnitska) to focus on the lilac – carnation underpinnings and pushing the lily of the valley and other greens to the back.  This with added spices helped tremendously when trying to construct a new carnation that had the sheer modern / cold topnote and still felt like ‘carnation’ which has spice and warmth afterall.

Fleuriste did all that I hoped for and more.  It’s become almost as beloved as Oeillets Rouges, and helped inspire the next two in my trilogy of recent carnation releases.  But for now, I’ll end here.  I’ll be back for more on the state of the {car}nations soon.

and ps: Happy Spring!!

pps: Well this is exciting!  The links to reviews that I wanted share have magically materialized thanks to some wonderful friends (and authors!)
Here’s Ida Meister’s review for Fragrantica.com and her amazing “Scented Snippets” column; and Cynthis Lesiuk’s take on Fleuriste for her lovely blog, “The Fragrant Journey”.  Thanks so much sweethearts! ❤

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images: my own carnation digital collage; Oeillets France de Coty from the Artscent Museum collection; and exaggerated pinks bouquet in my painting studio.

*** Kleptomania moment :: Confession:  I stole the title from a blog I’ve been reading and thought  that it was so clever that I had to use it.  I hope it’s ok.

 

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Can I just say how much I love studio visits??  ❤ ❤ ❤

Really, one of the best things about having a little shop (and my up and coming little museum!) attached to my studio is that I get visitors…pilgrims of a sort, to come for a visit.  In fact, although I have a nice local following in Boulder, there are times of the year when the majority of live people to walk through my door are out-of-towners who heard about my studio..or read about my work online…or have been buying things from my website for years and I will FINALLY get to meet them in person.  It’s really a huge treat for me, to show them everything  they could want to smell and even some things they don’t even know exist.

A couple of weeks ago, a wonderful writer, musician, and budding indie perfumer came for a visit and fortune smiled on us: it was a quiet afternoon in the shop (as it usually is on a random Tuesday between March 1 and April 15).  I got to show him bunches of exotic (and some vintage) raw materials, pieces from my upcoming mini-shows in the ArtScent Museum, and even some of my favorites that haven’t been catalogued yet but are sitting on shelves in my design room.  We talked about white floral constructions, aldehydics, retro-nouveau, and of course animalics (since I have been working on a series of animal / fur / texture fragrances).  What bliss!!

So, this is just a little shortie post to say *THANK YOU* to everyone who has come, who is planning to come, and who just wish to come check out my world.  I love sharing and it’s pure pleasure to see you. ❤

ps: Here’s a link to the article, just published, about ‘the nosey artist” ‘s visit.  I hope you enjoy his tour.

I’ve been really, really busy this year.  I know it’s only mid March, but for the first quarter, it’s been crazy.  I mean, I’m always busy working on things but this is different.  I’m not sure if it’s just that the world is accelerating… or something in me that’s “making my bees buzz” even more intensely.  No matter.  I like whatever this is.  It also means that I have more Spring launches in my line up than I had originally planned.  But that’s ok, too.

Foxy (digital taxidermy) DSH 2017

I started working on a new animalic almost on the heels of Chinchilla.  The fur accords have really had me jazzed and I am sketching out two new ones with different textures now.  (WHAT FUN!!)  Exploring texture as well as ‘flavor’ in scent is something I really enjoy and get deeply involved in.  With Chinchilla, I wanted the design to feature musk / muskiness as well as a palpable coziness and intimacy.  With Rendezvous it was indolic jasmine and an even more explicit intimacy that I had in mind.  With the newest animal in what I am now calling “my menagerie”,  I had a textural shift and an animalic feature note shift in mind.

Foxy, which will be officially released on my site on April 1, has a few inspirations.  First, of course, is to portray and speak to another animal  note, this time ambergris / amber, which I felt spoke to the color of the red fox perfectly, and to create a slightly more rough and feral fur accord.  The second source came from the time I’ve spent this past winter watching Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” with Xander.  I REALLY love bringing my experiences with him into my art practice… he is a continual source of inspiration.  (See Vert et Noir for some more fun 4 year old inspiration in fragrance).  The movie is a delight, if you haven’t seen it.  And although there are some themes that don’t seem suitable to a 4-5 year old, there’s a lot to enjoy.  From my perspective, I loved the (always) attention to detail in the art direction that Wes Anderson movies contain.  I used some of these fabulous details in the design of Foxy and I think that they work well in telling the story of the smart, sexy, creative, wild animals that foxes are.  And stylish… always, intelligent and stylish.

As portrayed above, the very topnote is of the ‘golden star apple” / apple whiskey that Farmer Bean basically lives off of.  And the very next in the line up is Mrs. Bean’s famous “apple ginger snap”, which gives a wonderfully playful introduction to what becomes a much more sophisticated fragrance as it develops.  To balance what could be a densely sweet perfume, notes of mitti attar (a co-distill of baked earth and Indian sandalwood) and Oak co2 extract are brought in to give an effect of their tree / house and how foxes live underground. After all of this fooling around, as it were, in the topnote, it was time to get down to business.

This is where the third and fourth inspirations come in, which is the retro slang term foxy as in “Foxy Lady” (Not that Foxy is at all a feminine fragrance; it’s totally unisex) and a wonderful writer who is sometimes called “Foxy”  (classic fragrances are very much appreciated by him and I am delighted to say his nickname kept coming up as inspiration when exploring fur notes).   The animalics trend seems to have stemmed in part from the great interest of late in the perfume styles and classics of the past and with that comes a retro-nouveau quality that sticks to even new or modern versions of the animalic genre.  It’s difficult to talk about animalic perfumes without bringing up its historical context and pedigree.  And fur fragrances will have that reference to the much more commonplace and accepted practice of fur wearing in the past.  Nowadays, it’s faux fur that is chic; to wear the real thing is to many to condone animal cruelty, but this is not meant to be a political post.

Because I *DID* want a retro nouveau vibe in there (but less Marlene Dietrich and more Farrah Faucet, or even Jimi Hendrix), I gave Foxy a bit more leather, sweat, and skin in the accords I created.  I wanted you to really sense that this is a wild, sensuous animal that could be a bit scratchy in places.

At a time when I know that comfort is needed and longed for, I couldn’t help wanting to make something slightly more provocative.  I’m not sure how it will be received… but I think we can all use some smart, sexy, playful energy in our world, too.   ❤

image credits: some are my own images; other were found and gathered on the web; most were pinned to my “foxy” pinterest board .

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This is just a quickie post to announce the launch of “Become the Shaman” at the site. It’s in conjunction with the (formerly secret) Project Talisman at CaFleurebon.com.  Check out the full scoop at CFB and enter to win one of the “Eau de Protection” perfumes. ❤

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“moon” egg tempera on paper , 1992 DSH

Some say that artists are always making ‘themselves’ in their work.  Much of my early visual art work was indeed self portraiture.  It makes sense since I was studying the figure from a very classical point of view, and as I was the model who was always available any time I was ready to work, self portraits were a common occurrence.  It was also a form of self exploration…you know the kind one does in their early twenties (and for many, well beyond).  In my last year of art school I started creating more symbolic work and incorporating the self-portrait into various forms.  I’m blown away at how these images and objects from what feels like a past life have found their way back into my consciousness and into my current work.  These older images have become the fodder for making new images for a new perfume and holding space for the energy behind what will be the first launch of 2017 for DSH Perfumes.

“moon, 2” egg tempera on paper, DSH 1992

“lilith” egg tempera on paper, DSH 1992

I can’t yet announce the name and the full concept, but later this month I’ll be able to spill the beans.  ( I clearly can’t wait!)  It’s for a ‘mystery project’ that really resonated  with me and how I feel I am navigating the world right now (slowly emerging from the early childhood phase of mommyhood, and post-election).  The project also prompted a major ‘looking inward’ and even, a digging into the past to find these artifacts.

“totem” clay pot 1992, DSH

I thought that for this post I would just share some of the images that helped inspire what’s coming out next.   It’s all art work from the early 1990’s that is coming back around to feel perfectly relevant now.  It’s amazing how these pieces fit seamlessly into the project and the visual story telling of the design.  And in terms of the kind of artistic and spiritual integration that I am going through right now, these couldn’t be more powerful.  I hope that you like them.  ❤

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