The inaugural Perfumed Plume Awards were held last week in New York City. The awards were modelled after the Prix Jasmine and the UK Jasmine Awards and were set up to showcase and reward US fragrance journalists and their writing. There were six categories, including Scent Stories in mainstream media (newspapers and magazines), Scent Stories in digital media, Visualisation of Scent Stories, a Fragrance Book Award and Science of Scent Stories. Winners included Mark Behnke from Colognoisseur (Scent Stories, Digital), Mandy Aftel (Fragrance Book Award), Dana El Masri (Science of Scent Stories, for Michelyn Camen of CaFleureBon) and Jasia Julia Nielson (Visualisation of Scent Stories, for Michelyn Camen of CaFleureBon). Congratulations to all of the inaugural Perfumed Plume winners: what a fabulous bunch of writers!
You can read more about the awards and find the full list of winners at the Perfumed Plume website. You can also read the winners’ entries, as well as other Top Submissions on the Scent Stories page. I was thrilled to discover that my very own entry for the awards, At The Intersection of Taste and Smell: Aftelier Perfumes’ Cepes and Tuberose, was considered one of the Top Submissions. While I didn’t win an award this year, I feel very honoured that my piece was included on the Perfumed Plume website in the Top Submissions list.
Belated Announcement: Escentual Ships 4160Tuesdays Fragrances to Australia
Australians, take note! This is a somewhat belated announcement. Fabulous, proper perfumes from London’s 4160Tuesdays, made by Sarah McCartney, can now be transported to the Colony of Australia from Old Blighty (the UK, for those who don’t speak Australian). Sure, you’ve been able to buy 4160Tuesdays’ wares heretofore from the USA and get them shipped to Australia, but at quite a cost. Escentual, however, offers shipping for an incredible £4.95 (about $9 AUD), or £7.95 (about $15) for registered mail. I chose the cheaper option when I ordered my 50ml bottle of the gorgeously girly Tart’s Knicker Drawer recently, and it got to me in under two weeks. I am so, so thrilled that we Australians can now get our hands on a good range of 4160Tuesdays fragrances easily and affordably. Go to it, convicts!
Breaking News: Lancashire Couple Finds 1.5kg of Ambergris on Beach Walk
It’s very timely indeed that this trending story just popped up on Facebook while I was writing today’s Redolent Roundup. Gary and Angela Williams, from Lancashire, stumbled across a rugby-ball-sized lump of the stinky, yet extremely valuable fragrance material ambergris (excreted from whales), while on a beach walk. Lucky them. It could be worth about £50,000, apparently.
I thought I found a lump of ambergris once, a couple of years ago, and I was so excited that I took it home to check, although I must tell you Olly Technic wasn’t too thrilled about transporting it in the car. It smelt revolting. Sadly for me, it turned out to be a stinky potato sponge, as identified by the kindly folk at Ambergris.co.nz. If you think you’re lucky enough to have found some of this rare perfumery material, check out their website to find out if you have the real deal. They have great photos and all sorts of tips and tricks and tests to determine if your ambergris is ambergris, or not.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (DSH Perfumes) Releases Two New Fragrances: Rendezvous and La Belle Saison
What a prolific and productive perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes is. And what a lovely person she is too, for she kindly includes me on her list of lucky folk to receive samples of her latest releases. I’ve been a fan of Dawn’s well-crafted and creatively conceived perfumes since we met (virtually, that is), last year. You can read my interview with Dawn for my Thirteen Thoughts: Perfumer Interview Series, if you’d like to find out about her creative process, which is really interesting. I hope, sometime in the near future, to write an extensive article on Dawn’s Chroma Collection, which is based on her own synaesthetic experiences at the juncture of smell and colour.
La Belle Saison
La Belle Saison is a tale of spring, with its exciting promises of new life and growth, and of a fragrant blooming shrub, the lilac. I don’t think of myself as much of a floral fragrance wearer, and yet, I do love certain flowers: violets, iris, mimosa, orange blossom and heliotrope all drive me wild. I’m not overly familiar with lilac and I’m not sure I’ve ever spotted or smelt a lilac bush, though this may be more out of ignorance than any kind of absence of the plant round here; apparently they grow very well in Australia.
So, smelling Dawn’s La Belle Saison has been a bit of an education for me in learning to identify lilac. Armed with seven more perfumes from my collection, all containing lilac, I taught myself over the last few days to identify the note. Interestingly, the scent of lilacs cannot be extracted from the flower itself, so when a perfume lists “lilac” as an ingredient, it is always a perfumer’s concoction, a combination of other ingredients, that, when combined, smell like the lilac flower. Apparently (according to Victoria Frovola from Bois de Jasmin) rose, almond, lily of the valley and a dash of clove are often used to recreate the smell of lilacs. This excellent article on Bois de Jasmin really helped me understand how lilac smells, and how perfumers replicate the smell.
La Belle Saison is an all-botanical fragrance, and as such, due to the cost and scarcity of the natural ingredients, is available only in a limited release. You can find out all the details on Dawn’s website; various sizes and samples are available, but only 80 pieces (plus samples) will be up for sale initially.
Dawn has created an “impressionist-style” fragrance that isn’t intended to be a photo-realistic soliflore. The fragrance…
“expresses the feeling, as well as the scent of lilac, of Spring’s freshness, and incorporates the nuances of other blossoming beauties that are releasing their fragrance nearby…”
Source: La Belle Saison Press Release
Some of the other blossoming beauties included in Dawn’s composition include jasmine, heliotrope and rose.
How does La Belle Saison smell? It opens quite green and airy with a soft, almost watery floral note lurking beneath. At this stage there is a subtle crispness that is quite fresh, but it is quickly mellowed and balanced by the floral ingredients. Dawn lists cucumber as a note, which accounts for the watery-fresh facets of the opening. There is also a hint of spice at first and I suspect a dash of clove has been used, which blends with a touch of anise. The fragrance quickly morphs and develops into a very different character. I’m not a smell-colour synaesthete (sadly), but as the fragrance becomes richer, I see a vivid hot pink colour in my mind’s eye. La Belle Saison becomes much warmer and sweeter, almost stridently so, only a scant ten minutes after application. The sweetness of the lilac almost reminds me of bubblegum at this stage. Acacia honey has been added too: perhaps this gives La Belle Saison its confectionery-like character? Thankfully this is tempered with a subtly tart, almost citric sourness. I find the lilac in this fragrance to be front-and-centre; it’s not obscured by other notes. Heliotrope, that lovely soft, fuzzy almond-vanilla floral note, emerges much later on, leaving a kiss of romantic warmth on the skin. This is a rich and sweet fragrance for those who like old-fashioned florals with a modern twist.
Redezvous is almost a polar opposite to La Belle Saison, and is a daring fragrance in a vintage animalic style. I’m happy to see strong, funky animalic fragrances making a bit of a comeback lately: from Angelo Orazio Pregoni’s marvellous Peety (for O’Driu) to Ellen Covey’s Bat (for Zoologist). Rendezvous contains
“…the four traditional animal notes: musk, civet, ambergris, and castoreum with added elements of aged oakmoss, and botanical “animalics”; ambrette co2, labdanum, and hyracium tincture (aka African Stone). The heart is filled with indolic juhi jasmine, orange flower absolute, and gardenia balanced by a slightly sharp and spicy white pepper and aldehyde top note.”
Source: DSH website
With all those animalic notes my nose is totally distracted, and I don’t really notice the floral ingredients listed, yet do take note: they all contain indole, which can surely only serve to amplify the already incredible sexiness of this fragrance. Rendezvous is a bold, warm, rounded fragrance with a touch of daring. It is deeply corporeal. Lovers of vintage animalic fragrances need to try this.
Disclosure: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz provided me with samples of both fragrances for review. Warmest thanks to Dawn for generously providing me with these lovely fragrances! You can read my fragrance review philosophy at my About page. I am never paid for reviews and keep them honest and respectful to the perfumer.