The first Sunday in Advent is traditionally the time when churches hang garlands and wreaths in a ceremony known as the hanging of the greens, to commemorate the birth of Christ. In like manner homes are festooned with festive decor and wreaths are hung on doors to welcome the Christmas season. The first evergreen boughs were hung in London churches in 1444 (I would love to know how this factoid was discovered!) and in 1500 era Germany evergreen boughs were formed into circles to signify God's eternal love. But this custom of hanging the greens predates Christianity and was a part of winter solstice celebrations by the Druids, Celts and Romans. Winter solstice, or Saturnalia as it was called by the Romans, occurs at approximately the same time as Christmas. Evergreen plants were treasured because they promised the rebirth of the sun and harvest so their use played a dominant role in the celebrations. These green plants of winter served as a reminder that the dark would not last forever; that the sun would return and the days of light lengthen. These habits were deeply ingrained so early Christians began to incorporate some of these celebratory features of the harvest festival into the season preceding Christmas.
DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame is the perfect green scent to capture the essence of the observance of the hanging of the greens. From the first whiff, Vert pour Madame takes me back to a hazy childhood memory of watching my mother complete her toilette for a night out. I remember faint images that include dresses with bell shaped skirts and waspish waists, red lips and darkened eyebrows, and high heels that usually only came out on Sundays. And a trail of perfume that was deep and dark and spoke of places I couldn't yet go and things that happened after my eight o'clock bedtime. Please don't think we're talking "old lady" perfume here, a term I heartily dislike. These perfumes called for no small measure of poise and aplomb to carry off, unlike many of the generic scents littering perfume counters today.
Vert pour Madame, a vintage style green chypre, harkens back to a day when perfumes had presence and made a statement. They sought to be bold and sometimes the center of attention. If you have feared that this style of perfume is long gone then Vert pour Madame will thrill you. I believe Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, creator at DSH Perfumes, originally introduced this perfume as a precursor to spring. Notes of hyacinth, jonquil, and lily of the valley give the scent a lovely brightness in the opening, but notes of cedarwood, patchouli, and moss bring it back around to a darker place. The perfume would smell lovely anytime of year but there is something about wearing this in cold weather that makes the green notes really sparkle and gives it a sharp crisp edge.
Chypre perfumes traditionally have bright top notes and deeper duskier base notes and it is this contrast of light and dark that makes them interesting. In Vert pour Madame Dawn uses notes of bergamot and galbanum to give that chypre opening, but she also adds the spring flowers of hyacinth and narcissus and these are the notes that I smell most at the beginning of the perfume's wear. Aldehydes add that sparkle and panache that makes this feel like a festive and sophisticated perfume, as well as giving it that sharp almost bitter edge. If you go to the notes list on Fragrantica you will see that Dawn, as is her custom, uses a basket full of fragrant notes to create this perfume. I'm not going to expound on each one because the notes are so well blended that what you smell is dazzling green.
My sample was taken from my one dram miniature flask of the EDP version of Vert pour Madame. DSH Perfumes also sell a perfume extract version and I can only imagine what deep gorgeousness this might contain. A sample may be a little gift to myself in the immediate future while Dawn's annual holiday sale is going on. Go to the DSH Perfumes Facebook page here to find details. Creating exquisite perfumes comes at a cost but your nose will distinguish the difference, sort of like the difference between buttering your roll with canola oil margarine or Beurre de Baratte. The site offers lovely presentation flacons which would make an exceptional luxury gift.
In conclusion I will give you an appropriate Christmas song. Christmas music is my favorite so expect more of this!
Top photo Google image. Perfume sample from my own collection.