Archive for December, 2010

I think that I might be the last of the bloggers to come to some consensus of my bests for the year 2010. It was a whirlwind of amazing projects and new adventures for me (the beginning of this blog included!), so much so that it’s been difficult to quiet my mind and focus enough to put something into words. Before I begin my own quirky little list I’d like to thank so many who have made a huge impression on me this year; who have supported my work and others who are producing wonderful works of art and love. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and to have be able to share them. So, here goes:

*best perfume experience of the year: lots of enthusiastic children coming to the studio to explore their sense of smell! Having the ESSENSE STUDIO open for two years now has led to lots of folks bringing their children in to “smell smells” with me. I love to watch them love and hate each aroma with perfect honesty and full on emotional impact. I can immediately tell that they are being brought in touch with sheer joy at their humanity as they revel in the experience of their fifth sense. It brings me pleasure without end to see their faces even when their tongues are *hanging out in disgust. (*moss and civet do this pretty often).

*the most fun I had this year with fragrance: Sniffapolooza! There is no other event that brings me in contact with dear friends, amazing clients that I would most likely never get to meet, perfumistas from all over, and some of the most creative and down right fabulous people you will ever meet… all this wrapped in a frenzy of perfume sniffing, perfume speaking and perfume thinking. I love it. (* Highlight of Spring Fling: Mark Behnke’s piggy back ride. * Highlight of Fall Ball: (there’s three): Meeting Monica Miller, Ida’s lipstick-napkin-art and the gasp of delight when I announced Cuir et Champignon at the Sunday luncheon.

*most fascinating accord of the year: Galbanum & Bitter Almond while researching ancient Egyptian perfume formulae. We all (Mary, Amber and I) thought this combination could be a train wreck but boy were we wrong. It seemed like it might be a heavyweight fist fight for who would dominate but it is a wonderfully unusual dynamic that works beautifully in the most surprising way. The galbanum brings out a green almost wheat-like nuance from the almond and the spike of the almond mirrors the sharp bite of galbanum but it’s undertone sweetens in just the right way. All I can say is, who knew? It was love at first sniff.

*best department store perfume I smelled this year: Kalimantin by Chantecaille. (I hope I am spelling that correctly). Kalimantin is to me like being in a cozy cashmere sweater eating softly spiced rice pudding. Could there be a more elegantly comfort-filled experience? This true comfort perfume is lovely and beautifully balanced; nothing is out-of-place or jagged and with just the right amount of sweetness. It’s really well done.

*best natural perfume I smelled this year: Cannabis by dupetit. Although Cannabis has been around for quite a while, this Autumn’s Outlaw Perfume project brought a sample my way. Each of us at the Studio loved this wildly unrepentant ‘pot’ perfume that is superbly balanced in lively citrus and evergreen freshness that made it a terrific scent to splash around in.

*perfume I wish I’d had the chance to sniff but didn’t in 2010: Un Carillon Pour Un Ange by Tauer. I did have the good fortune to test Andy’s lily perfume when it was still known under it’s working title “Gabriel” but I haven’t gotten to the finished product. Of course, I have heard wonderful things and suspect that the addition of the leather and more ambergris has changed it greatly. I know many who have swooned over it and I, too, would like to fly on the wings of angels.

*best raw material discovery of the year: Spanish Lavender Absolute. Sweet, chewy and deliciously earthy and rich. Fruity nuances, too. I can’t wait to get you alone, my pretty. I think we will make beautiful music together… (Who knew that lavender could be luscious?)

*vintage perfume discovery of the year: La Jacée c.1925 from Francois Coty. I am fortunate enough to have smelled many BEAUTIFUL masterpieces of perfumery since historical perfume is a HUGE fascination for me (to the point that I am in the process of creating a small perfume museum of my own) but this gem is virtually unknown and truly unlike any other perfume I have tried. La Jacée is a light, almost ‘eau de cologne’ style perfume based on heliotrope and jasmine with lilac, lily, an iris/ violet complex and benzoin. It is as modern as a Brancusi sculpture and shiny like a new art deco automobile.

*best fragrant flash-back moment: Bitter Orange bath bar by Agraria. The spicy-bitter orange-moss scent was a revelation and as close to the scent of a long-lost (and loved) calvin klein potpourri from the ‘80’s that I have ever come. It has just the right balance of green, herbaceous, mossy, earthy, woody, smoky, spicy and orange. It is a smell that I cherish and am thrilled to have found again in a wonderful everyday item like a soap.

*best new line of perfumes I found in 2010: (my pick and everyone else’s it seems): Atelier. In particular, the Trefle Pur is outstanding and my go to scent when I need an antidote to the inevitable fragrance overload at Sniffapalooza. I make a beeline to it each and every time I am at Bergdorfs and I find it soothing and refreshing without fail. It is fabulous!

Thank you Trish at Scent Hive for organizing this blog event and inviting me to take part. I am glad to be welcomed into the community of perfume bloggers such as my compatriots in this (my first) joint blogging adventure:

The Non-Blonde
Smelly Blog
Roxana Illuminated Perfume
I Smell Therefore I Am
A Rose Beyond the Thames
All I Am a Redhead
Schreibman’s Live
Portland Examiner
Sorcery of Scent
Scent Hive

I hope that 2011 will be an exciting, creative, prosperous and health-filled year for everyone! I am looking forward! oxoxo

Image courtesy of Roxana Villa

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Just a quick note to wish everyone a lovely, Merry Christmas (if that’s what you celebrate) and a deliciously starry sky to everyone as a blessing to all.

starry night no.11 (mixed media on canvas, 2007)


Thank you for making this a warm and cozy day to celebrate love and togetherness. Wishing everyone JOY~
oxoxo, Dawn

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a full moon in lunar eclipse

Welcome to the shortest day of the year…we’ve gone down deep now seeing the darkest place but also the spark of new light. The Winter Solstice is a magical day / night and I am celebrating it. I am not sure if everyone knows that along with it being the Solstice, there was a full moon and a lunar eclipse early this morning. (This confluence has not happened on the Winter Solstice since 1638!) This is one powerful day and night; I love it. Although I missed getting up to see the eclipse, with its orange-crimson hue but I am still sending my blessings out. Today, even as I’ll be at the studio working, I will be wearing little dabs of Twelfth Night, which I always associate with the darkness of the Winter Solstice even though its name actually refers to the Christian celebration of Epiphany. Twelfth Night is one of my first Holiday scents, launched in 2001, and is still one of my favorites. It’s a scent that I turn to every year about this time. The juniper, oakmoss, patchouli and incense have a lot of power and they speak to me of the solemnity I feel in the deepest dark of the forest. This is the Solstice.

I am wishing everyone new light, inspiration and upward movement… and all the joys of the Season.

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napoleon's hat


Just a quickie post to announce the winners of the draw for the solid perfumes:

* Elisa : Winter White

* Josephine: Cafe Noir

* Jennifer: Tubereuse

* Bellatrix: Sampsuchinon

* Dionne: Piment et Chocolat

* Gisela: Cimabue

Please email me at dsh@dshperfumes.com to give me your address and we will send your solid perfume prize. 🙂

Congratulations lucky winners and thank you for your feedback!!   enjoy~ enjoy~ and happy holidays everyone!

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Way back, what feels like a lifetime ago, I had a small custom perfumery in Boston.  (In the long, long ago of the early nineties).  Back then, I made perfumes by hand just like I do now but I also made solid perfumes for my clients.  I certainly thought that they were fun but I never really thought about them as anything more than a novelty.  So, flash forward oh a dozen years or so to now and the decision to launch solids for our special Holiday offering for 2010; WOW!  how times have changed and the love of the solid has blossomed in our absence from the genre.  Besides the fact that the solids are exciting and so, so cute for stocking-stuffers / to hang on the tree like an ornament, they are red-hot as a fragrance item!

Cafe Noir

I really am amazed at the response to our new solid perfumes!  I knew they would be fabulous because they are some of our best selling scents and in those cute little hat boxes (!?!), how could we go wrong.  But they have just been flying out the door (we’re already on our third or fourth run of production on them) and we’ve only just begun.  Maybe it’s the lovely, light but rich (the added beeswax note?) scent that makes them so irresistible or that they are so perfect to drop into your bag and have them where ever you go.  Even on a plane.  All I know is that I’m in love and I’m so happy to say that I am not the only one.  We’re even in the planning stages to release another five solid perfumes in the Spring.  Hmmm….

I think it’s time to do a little draw to share the love.  Great idea, huh? 🙂  Up for grabs are 6 solids:  1 Winter White, 1 Tubereuse, 1 Piment et Chocolat, 1 Sampsuchinon, 1 Cafe Noir, and 1 Cimabue.  This way we’ll have six lucky winners.     * To enter the draw, please leave a comment about which scents you would like to see in solid format as we expand the collection.   I’d love to know your thoughts.  The drawing is open until Tuesday, December 14 at 8 am MST.  Good Luck everyone!

Winter White

ps: You know,  people always ask me what *my personal faves* are, so I thought that I would chime in with my two (s)cents (yuk yuk yuk: silly pun intended).  I gotta say it’s a tie between Tubereuse and Cafe Noir for me (although, I do carry Sampsuchinon around in my handbag, so I guess that’s three).  Oh and I LOVE the box for Winter White;  the quilting is so fabulous and retro that it has to get an honorable mention.

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I was so on top of it a few weeks ago… or at least it felt like I was.  Now, look: I am behind again.  It’s Holiday time and I know what comes with that but every year I secretly harbor delusions of grandeur that I will be able to do everything I want and need to do; on time and gracefully. (ha ha ha ha ha: that’s funny).

What that means is that I am just now mentioning that if you are a member of the Denver Art Museum, I will be there *TODAY*, December 6, for their Holiday Trunk Show.  What that also means is that I will be showing the new Sampsuchinon solid perfumes in the carved stone vessels and the Flappers & Pharaohs presentation bottle.

Flappers & Pharaohs Presentation

While I’m announcing things, here’s some other great news I’d love to share about Holiday events and such:

On December 10 and 11 I will be at BMoCA (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art) for their Holiday Trunk show, not only stocked with the new Holiday Collection Boxes / samplers and with Garden Bathe Aromatherapy Collection boxes, but with a collection of my Gem Art jewelry pieces and some small paintings in tow.  It’s super exciting t be among 40 artists juried into the show and to have the opportunity to help support the Museum with my Art.  *If you’ll be in Boulder, please do stop by…it should be great fun!

waxing philosophic mixed media on paper, 2009

Also on December 11, I will be blasting back from BMoCA to attend  my own party… that’s right: our Holiday Party / Open House at the ESSENSE STUDIO is on for December 11.  It’s starts when we open at noon, for tasty treats and warm drinks, plus the official launch of “December” at the studio; I’ll be there with bells on from 4:30 pm  to 7:30 pm.  (You should also stop by to enter  to win some of our Holiday treasures and for your free sample!)  We’ll be showcasing Mary’s jewelry and Amber’s hand-made cuffs and chokers, too.  It’s going to be a great day!

I’m also thrilled to thank Mary Jarrett, editor of the BOULDER Magazine for her wonderful interview with me in the Winter 2010 / Spring 2011 issue!  I just love that she ‘gets it’ about Aroma Artform and wanted to get the word out about it and the Essense Studio. (Plus, it’s totally cool to see one my images from this Summer’s Quintessence : Multi-Sensory show, “Akasha” in print!!)

akasha, 2010 - multi-media on canvas

And I am so excited to be mentioned in the LA Times.com, in their “Smells like the Season” article.  Winter White is such a soft and delightful scent and I couldn’t be happier to see it get some love.  (Thank you Denise Hamilton!)  Well, the Winter White solid perfume is so incredible that I’m going to have to do a post all about those (solids) soon.

That’s all for now… I am wishing everyone a lovely start to their week!

*ps: Due to popular demand, we’ve decided to extend our Thank You / Holiday sale until December 18!  So you can use code: Holiday10 to get 20% off through 12.18.10.  Enjoy~

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Mata Hari, 1905

Can you believe how perfect she is for me: even her stage name, Mata Hari, means “Eye of the Dawn”.  I feel as though everything about this perfume has come from some other place and has ‘clicked’, in every detail, including the name.  I was contemplating other themes for the project but none could compare; none could be so romantic and daring.

I have to say that I am beyond thrilled by some of the reviews of Mata Hari Perfume… Thank you Gaia at the Non-Blonde and Monica, Michelyn and Mark at Ca Fleure Bon who really got the essence of what I was going for and especially the historical references, which I think are not only integral to feeling the perfume’s design but also to the Outlaw project in general, since what we lose with the IFRA restrictions is our access to the great masterpieces of history.  I’d also like to especially thank Donna at the Portland Examiner for all of her kind, poetic words for Mata Hari.  It’s really more than most artists can hope for to have their work praised but even more to feel as though ‘the message was received as intended and understood’.  This is a HUGE and rare thing in Art.

Mata Hari, 1910

One criticism (well maybe, maybe not) that seemed to show up here and there from commenters was that the ingredient list was too much…too expanded.  “Why not simplify”?,  you ask.   My response is this : How could I economize?  With the ingredient list or the bottle or any part of it?  To my mind, it is not possible with the outrageous Mata Hari!  It is not about ‘more being more’ but about what the design calls for.  Vintage perfumes were complexity and sophistication themselves…not the more modern, streamlined ‘simple elegance’ ( which I love, too ).  This style of perfume is not Zen…and it’s definitely not about austerity.  It’s about ostentation and seduction.  There is no way to skimp or withhold when you are Mata Hari.  And so, I didn’t.

This whole project has been a delight for me.  Thank you to everyone who participated from the other perfumers in the Guild to the bloggers who spent SO much time reviewing the designs and everyone who followed the scent trails around cyber space.  Wishing you a wonderful December and Holiday Season~~~

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