Sunday, September 4, 2016

DSH Perfumes Chroma Collection

DSH Perfumes Chroma Collection was first created by perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum for an exhibit hosted in 2007. Over the years some new scents have been added to the series as Dawn has continued her exploration of pigment translated to smell. In addition to being a super talented perfumer Dawn is also an artist, and she discovered some years ago that she is synesthetic so it is a natural process for her to transition smells to colors and textures. Synesthesia is a phenomenon where stimulation of one sense is experienced jointly through another sense, in Dawn's case the intertwining of visual and olafactory sensations. This ability has led specifically to the Chroma series of perfumes which are based on various colors in the artist's palette. This is a large collection, and I will be giving just brief impressions of each of the perfumes in the line Some are old friends and others are totally new to me.

The Color Orange - There is an initial bright burst of orange, then some herbal notes come into play. This reminds me of how my skin smells when I've used a really good quality soap in the bath, in this case an orange scented one, and the clean aromatic layer of scent that melds into your skin.
Hansa Yellow - There is an immediate feel of fuzzy yellow flowers that almost makes me feel like I need to sneeze with spring allergies! Thankfully this is just a realistic impression of the yellow flowers and my nose remains clear to enjoy the smell of this perfume. The ylang ylang is the most present note on my skin. The jasmine is faint and the neroli is very tame. I smell the banana notes, but the lemon not so much. After a bit I get the sandalwood and vanilla notes but they are done with a light touch. This is a very spring like perfume to me and the notes seem to float. Later it goes into soft powdery notes which are muted on my skin. Dawn describes Hansa Yellow as a happy perfume and it does indeed give that feeling of lightness and well being.

Cyan - This opens as a translucent blue green fragrance with uplifting notes of linden blossom and chamomile. The linden blossom provides a light sweetness, tempered by the chamomile, as well as notes of yuzu and cucumber. Dawn was going for "ethereal" which she achieves through the use of airy notes, lightly applied.

Aquamarine Blue - The opening has a watery feel and displays that slight cucumber note you sometimes get with aquatics. There is a mineral tone to the watery notes as well as an overall feeling of airiness. This perfume feels ozonic and transparent to me and does feel like an interpretation of the blue sea, but just the water, without notes of suntan lotion, tropical flowers, or sun and sand elements which sometimes are found with this type of scent. As stated on the DSH Perfumes site, this wears more like cologne than perfume. After an hour or so of wear the musk note tends to dominate.

Blue-Green: Arnica  - On her website, Dawn identifies Blue-Green: Arnica as the "sense of atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest." This is also a watery perfume, but it is different in place from the Aquamarine Blue. While Aquamarine Blue feels more like the Aegean Sea, Blue-Green: Arnica is more akin to standing on a windswept beach with the cold moody ocean before you and a dark green pine forest at your back. The conifer note is present, but this is not a walk through the forest perfume. It just adds to the complexity and sense of place. There is also a trace of sweet lemon, which I think may come from the aglaia flower and petitgrain. This one has a nice dry down with a touch of pine cones and watery blue seas. I get good longevity and the scent stays true.

Veridian - Yet another green on Dawn's palette, this one is a forest green with no water to be found. I would love to know if green if Dawn's favorite color. She has so many green perfumes in her collection! I like this, but it doesn't beat out my favorite green of the moment in the DSH collection, Giverny In Bloomwhich is my green by which all other green perfumes are measured.

Quinacridone Violet - The DSH Perfumes website describes this as "an electric fruity floral fragrance." I get intense notes of jammy plum, quince, and the sweetness of dried fruits. This is a very foody scent on my skin. There are also notes of violet, osmanthus, and cassis bud. Violet is a note that usually doesn't work on my skin and tends to have a "plastic" smell. I think that is happening here because it never really gets beyond the jammy dried fruit stage on my skin.

Umber (Bois de Rose) - This perfume explores the deep, rich earthen tone of umber through a woody rose note. The rose is very subtle and comes across as dark and winey. Dawn was inspired by a Renaissance painting, The Tempest, and the moodiness and depth of color saturation is conveyed through the notes of the perfume. This would be a nice perfume to greet the cooler days of autumn.

Sienna - DSH Perfumes has several great Christmas season perfumes and this is one of them. Dawn takes sienna, a warm earth-toned pigment, and translates it to cinnamon. Although classified as a gourmand, I don't find Sienna to be overly foody. Notes of basmati rice and white oak wood soften the spice considerably. This could be a gateway Oriental perfume for those intimidated by that family of perfumes as it is soft, warm, and understated.

Mars Violet - This strikes me as a mulled wine smell when I first apply. The color on the bottle is a beautiful deep plum, a mixture of red and brown. There is a very faint sweetness to the perfume, but it is not overly fruity or gourmand to me.  Dawn calls it "fruit-chouli" because of the mixture of fruit notes with the earthy element of patchouli. Notes such as sugar date, balsam, plum, tonka, tobacco, sandalwood and oakmoss work together to keep the fruit from overpowering the earthiness of the perfume.

Albino (A Study In White) - Albino was a finalist in the 2016 Art and Olafaction Awards. With this scent Dawn explored the topic, "What is it to be without pigment?" Her inspiration was the albino raspberry, which shares the taste of its more colorful brethren but due to a recessive gene has a whitish appearance. The opening starts out citrus fruity and there is a moment when I get a strong sense of grapefruit pith. The overall feel is light and weightless, and there is no strongly identifiable note, which furthers the feeling of a blank slate.

And now for my two favorites from the line, one fiery hot, the other serenely cool:

Kohl Gris - From the first moment I apply Kohl Gris the scent begins blooming against the warmth of my skin and unfurls into smoldering spicy fire on a molten ambergris base. As stated earlier, violet does not perform nicely on my skin but the opposite is true of amber, a note which loves my skin chemistry. The menu of notes (and DSH perfumes often have a long list) reads like a grocery list of my favorites. Amber, sandalwood, frankincense, labdanum, clove tobacco, black pine, brown oakmoss...I could go on but there is not a note there that I do not love. This is one of my all time favorite scents to wear around Christmas. It speaks so much of the Christmas experience: warm fires, mulling spices, candlelit churches with incense, rich resinous gifts from the Magi. I eagerly await cold weather which is the backdrop this perfume needs to show off its full beauty.

Celadon: A Velvet Green -  the perfume is a light transparent green scent beautifully illustrative of the Chinese pottery for which it is named. Celadon pottery has a light jade colored shiny transparent glaze. The perfume Celadon is a translucent soft green scent, neither a watery or a vegetative green, but actually conveying the sense of coolness you get when touching the mirror like glaze on a celadon pot. The unique color is created in the pottery when iron oxide added to the glaze compound transforms during the kiln firing procedure from ferric to ferrous iron. Some similar osmosis happens with this perfume. On the one hand it exhibits a delicate translucence, then you notice the steely strength hiding in the depths of this fragrance, which Dawn calls "a soft and green variation on a chypre". Just like the pottery achieves its delicate transparency through the application of iron, this perfume has an edge of strength mixed in with the softness of its heart. The chypre effects are muted but give the perfume a stronger presence and turn it into something rather unusual and compelling. This perfume fades to a soft powdery green over time and I get very good longevity. Celadon is something special.

Thank you to Dawn for providing me with samples of the Chroma Collection. I own bottles of both Celadon and Kohl Gris. For more information on this collection go to DSH Perfumes.

Top two photos Third photo Kohl eyes photo from Celedon pot Google images.


Unknown said...

The Hansa Yellow perfume sounds divine!

Cynthia said...

April, Hansa yellow is very pretty and feminine.