Posts Tagged ‘Mata Hari Perfume’

First: Happy, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  ❤    I, for one, can’t believe that the Holiday season is here, but I say that in every post just about.  I guess I still have no handle on how to perceive time.  Fast or slow.  All I know is that it feels like yesterday that I posted about Happy New Year, 2012, and another new year is almost here again.  One thing that IS different when compared to last year is that I have a new NEW, functioning (yay!) website and I think it’s even better than ever!  It’s very interactive, with facebook likes, reviews and even a button to email a scent idea to a friend should you find the perfect suggestion for the ones you love… or want to make sure that they know what’s perfect for your wish list.  Please do check it out.  I sure had some fun “liking” things when I first saw those buttons.  🙂

What’s even more to like?  The return of a beloved and longed for beauty: Mata Hari Perfume.  This perfume was and still is talked about with reverence and adulation; like a long lost lover who has never been forgotten.  It was originally released as a very limited edition, as I used materials in the formulation that were vintage and many from my personal “stash”.  I hadn’t exactly expected that I would be receiving calls and emails asking for samples, drops even, of this precious liquid for years after the edition was sold out.  So, I made it a personal mission to re-source new materials that would match as closely as possible the oils that I had used in the original.  And I am happy to report that after about a year+, I have found what I need and made a new batch with the new materials and it came out just as beautiful as ever.  Hallelujah!  I still love it and she holds all of her seductive charms.

Now, Mata Hari is back and with plans to have her be a permanent addition to our offerings; glorious flacon and all.  I have missed her.  I hope that Mata Hari is a welcome sight (and smell) for those who have wanted more and those who have only heard the legend of this beautiful creation.  Happy Holidays indeed.

image credit: Mata Hari Image found here

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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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This is just a little quickie post.  (It’s already been a jam-packed week so far and it’s only Monday!)  For now, I’d like to show you the lovely Mata Hari presentation bottle (in case you haven’t seen it at the site yet).  I LOVE this fabulous bottle … it so perfectly fits the fragrance.

Yeah…I’m in love.

Also, here’s the winners of the Holiday Sampler set  drawing:

* Anita

* Lucy

* Martina

Winners, please email me with your address so I can send the sets to you.  (dsh@dshperfumes.com)   Get ready to be in the Holiday mood and everyone, have a great Thanksgiving week!

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greta garbo as mata hari (1931)

Well, the our project has launched and I’m already racing to finish the next phase of Holiday projects.  I haven’t forgotten my new love, however.  She is still firmly in my heart and on my mind.  You know, I had this one drive home from the studio when I thought of over five REALLY good ideas (well I thought they were at the time) to illustrate the project but by the time I got home, I had forgotten to write them down, thinking that they were so memorable that I would, of course, just remember them.  Of course, I did not.  Except for Mata Hari.  And as the weeks went by and I wracked my brain to remember what I forgot, Mata Hari stayed with me.  The seduction had already begun.  In fact, the story of Mata Hari had enthralled me years ago when I first saw the fabulous Greta Grabo movie Mata Hari.  (I am a HUGE Greta Grabo fan!!!  And what an OUTLAW she was… a woman in pants in public!?!  But, I digress.)   I wanted every single outfit Adrian had created for her; especially the velvet and jewels dress with the fabulous skull-cap and the all black velvet number she goes off to the firing squad in.  She was captivating.

fabulous Adrian outfit no.1

I was also really struck by the fictional Mata / Greta ‘s infatuation with the seductive, erotic orchid in whose ‘pouch’?  (labia?) she hid her coded messages as double agent.    It reminded me of the true to life fascination with orchids and their exoticism / eroticism of the late Victorian and early 20th Century eras.   Hmmm… I think I’m on to something: there are many classic perfumes from the 1900’s to 1910’s that mention orchid as a main heart note ingredient.  Now this is a good place to start.   We know that orchid notes are conventionally ‘fantasy’ notes, somewhat based on olfactive research on the flowers but at that time, many of the orchid accords were rich blends of heady florals, oriental balsams and resins and pure imagination.  So, this was the first accord that made it’s way into my consciousness for my perfume Mata Hari, the Vintage Orchid.

The next step was to decide: Oriental?  or Chypre?  The project by it’s nature makes me lean toward any liberal use of oakmoss but there are tons of spices on the IFRA list as well.  Mata Hari was pretending to be Indonesian, of Hindu royal birth, so that sends me in the Oriental direction.  But then I had it: a fruity Chypre not only typifies the fragrance chic of the time and place (Paris c.1910-1918), but the fruits speak to Mata Hari’s sensuality while the moss and leather her prowess and sexual abandon (at the time not usually attributed to women).  Plus, it wouldn’t be difficult to fit in some oriental references to Indonesia and the Far East as well.  Perfect.

The next accord to construct was the leather.  Animalic notes can be tricky when using all botanicals to compose, but again, I went for the classical interpretation.  Based on birch tar, it’s a smoky, ‘brown’, tanned leather note more so than modern concepts of suede or black leather.

fabulous Adrian outfit no.2 (Greta Garbo with Ramon Navarro)

Another of the focus accords is lilac; notoriously elusive and usually created from synthetics.  I felt that lilac would not only pose a challenge but also speak to the ultimate feminine, the “Goddess’ energy at the heart of Mata Hari’s outrageous personality.  I worked on a relatively simple accord that I am happy with that approximates some of the aromatic signature of lilac and very much hits all of the ‘pitches’ that lilac hits but there was something about it that resembled tinctured lilacs.  It’s got an aged quality that works within the overall design but I do think that I’ll expand the concept in the future.  This is the ‘Lilac Cocktail’ accord.

I’m saving the best for last: the fruit note no.1 accord.  Peach?  Mango?  All botanical??  This accord, I must tell you, was the most fun.  Composed of citrus, florals and herbs, the fruit note is luscious and juicy with nuances of dried apricots and figs.  For me it symbolizes, well, a bustiness…all curves and feminine sexuality.

All told, Mata Hari is replete with the IFRA restricted aromatics… Here’s the list of every botanical included:  bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom absolute, mandarin, tarragon, sweet &  blood orange, davana, tagettes, galbanum, carrot seed, black pepper, cassie flower absolute, mimosa absolute, jonquil absolute, orris butter, rose de mai absolute, damascena rose otto, sambac jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute, ylang ylang, champaca absolute, osmanthus absolute, nutmeg, cinnamon leaf, cinnamon bark, clove bud, honey absolute, angelica root absolute, ambrette seed co2, benzoin, cistus, costus root, oakmoss absolute, peru balsam, australian sandalwood, styrax absolute, tonka bean absolute, vanilla absolute, cumin, patchouli, java vetiver, buddahwood, texas cedarwood, cassis absolute, myrrh gum, tabac absolute, and cade.

(*FYI: This list is the “full disclosure” list of ingredients.  It includes all of the notes used to create the accords as well as single notes to ‘sew’ it all together.  This means that some of the ingredients are in minute proportions, included to round out the design, not to show themselves like a parade of stars.  Others are focal points and meant to be observed.)

WOW!  Just about every bit of this design is from the restricted / banned list!  But what can I say?  I love these oils; truly and deeply.   And I know Mata Hari herself would love them, too.

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I don’t know about anyone else but for me last week was one crazy week…  Was there something in the stars? Or is it the pre-Holiday ramping up we’re all doing right now  (whether we realize it or not) ?   It might have also been the big excitement around the studio for the launch of the newest joint project with the Natural Perfumers Guild and eight bloggers, which starts TODAY!  Tah Dah: The OUTLAW Project.

The OUTLAW Project was presented to us, as perfumer members of the Guild, to create a perfume utilizing botanical perfume materials that are on the IFRA / EU restricted and / or banned list.  You might ask why we would want to do that?  Well, in the past few years more and more naturals have been singled out as ‘hazardous’ ( ie: might cause a rash or you might be allergic to it) and what we are left with is an increasing selection of synthetics to replace the naturals with.  I, personally, am not one to dis synthetics altogether as gross or whatever… I see their beauty and their value.  However, I do find that most perfumes that are composed of nearly all synthetics are poor quality, feel soul-less and flat-out don’t smell good to me.  This whole thing has sadly become a political hot button issue in many places and what seems to be the result so far is the killing off of some of our best historical classics (YSL Opium, whether you like this fragrance or not, is a masterpiece and has recently been re-formulated to exclude all of those pesky naturals on the IFRA /EU list and while some find the new fragrance pleasant, it’s not Opium…more like “Ghost of Opium”).

As a Perfumer I am horrified to consider life without rose absolute / rose otto, or jasmine, bergamot or styrax for that matter… These classic perfumery materials are fundamental to classic perfumery styles and without them, we can not practice our art.  As an artist, I will always work with materials that I have, but to be relegated to an entirely synthetic world changes everything.  And I don’t think it is for the better.  Not by a long shot.  So, the OUTLAW perfume project was born out of protest and a call to common sense and sanity when it comes to the potential risks of interacting with perfume.  A simple label should suffice (* if cigarettes can just have a warning label, why not perfume?) Plus, on the political side, seriously, we have more exposure to chemicals in food, which we completely ingest by eating, than we do from applying scent to the skin.  Oh and the chemicals I am speaking of are naturally occurring, like eugenol in cloves or terpenes in orange oil.  You could get more exposure by eating pesto (basil is on the list as well).

So, we will be outlaws: we will continue to produce perfumes outside of the confines of IFRA and the EU standards because we know that the materials we are using are not HARMFUL (to most everyone) and that a simple label suggesting caution and forethought when using the product is enough.  Also, speaking as someone with asthma and who has been tested to find that I am allergic to just about everything in nature (grasses, mold, pollen…) I know that I have to be careful in the world; people with allergies, etc know this.  So they will read the label, take it to heart and do the recommended patch test.  They will also go slow in terms of spreading something all over them before they know how it will react.  This is common sense and we will stand for that by going rogue…by being OUTLAWS.

By now, you might have read a bit about my OUTLAW perfume submission, Mata Hari, who was quite the outlaw herself.  I really liked that she was European so that I could take some influences from classic European perfume from the early 1900’s and show how integral the naturals are to the richness, quality and overall design elements of classic perfumes.  I also like that she was pretending to be Indonesian, of Hindu royalty and trained in the Temple rituals of her culture.  This inspired traditional Oriental aromatics that were also on the forbidden list.  All in all, I must have used over 20 essences on the list (*which is huge and you can see it at indieperfumes blog and also WAFT…blog), maybe more.  When creating an all botanical perfume, how can you not end up using notes that are on that list… EVERYTHING is on that list.

In this post I was going to talk more about the perfume but I ended up talking politics and the destruction of our art form.  Good.  We need to talk about this.  We are losing so much more than our history… we’re losing the opportunity to create more wonderful works on the continuum of that heritage.  Our future is at stake.   We must make a stand and become OUTLAWS.

ps: I almost forgot to list the bloggers who are partnering with the Guild to review the perfumes and talk about our project:

It’s going to be an exciting week!

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