Monthly Archives: May 2014

Interview with Jeffrey Dame of Parfums Retro: Tilting at WIndmills

Don Quixote

Don Quixote

To end my series on American perfumers, I’ve included an interview with Jeffrey Dame, the man behind Parfums Retro and last year’s well received perfume Grand Cuir.

He answered the same set of questions I gave to every other perfumer, but as Jeffrey has been an insider in the US perfume industry for a long time, his perspective is different. He looks on the world of perfume both as someone who obviously likes and wears perfume, but also as someone who has had to develop and market scents professionally. He’s learned the art of launching new scents, and navigating the crowded marina of already existing ones without sinking, and these days that’s not easy. This is his view on creating niche perfumes and how the US fragrance industry has changed since he entered it. Continue reading

US Series Perfumer’s Top Ten

Grant Wood

Grant Wood

Even though there are lots of perfumes to love from all the perfumers who participated in this series, I want to give readers the condensed version, so here’s a list of the perfumes that I think give you an idea of each perfumer, and I’ll keep this to liquid perfumes. Where perfume oils are concerned I recommend Sage Machado’s Onyx and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Pamplemousse, with the understanding that generally, I’m not an oil wearer.

What did I find that was really up to the very best standards? Which perfumes  from these US artisanal perfumers should anyone who knows perfume try? OK, here goes: Continue reading

Liz Zorn and Soivohle: An Appreciation

John James Audubon

John James Audubon

Ever since I began this series of posts on US perfumers- which is now reaching its end-I’ve had one thing in mind, to convince folks that yes, US indie perfumers are sophisticated enough to produce some top quality perfume.

Liz Zorn is a case in point.  When I started sampling I hadn’t tried all the perfumers.  In fact hadn’t read reviews of their scents either, except in the cases of Mandy Aftel and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, so the work of Shelley Waddington, Ellen Covey, Neil Morris and Liz Zorn came out of left field for me.  Liz Zorn’s line is one of the most interesting, because the complexity and delicacy of what she produces is so marked. Continue reading

Interview with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Starry Night

Starry Night

Do you have a smell from childhood that you loved-anything from your Mom’s perfume to your dog’s paws-and what was it?

A: You know, there are so many smells from childhood that I loved (and still do): the scent of my neighbor’s muguet and lilacs in Spring (these still remind me of my mother and grandmother); violets in my own back yard; the smell of my grandmother’s house (my husband and I bought our house partially because the basement smells like her basement did); warm hay in the humid New York Spring and Summer.  I could continue for a very long time, but these are some of my top favorites.

Are you a synesthete, do you “visualize” odors, or “taste” colors, and does it affect your output?

A: Yes, when I smell smells I not only see colors but sense textures and shapes.  For me, aromas are sculptural / architectural and multi-sensory.  The synethesia effects everything that I do from paintings to perfumes.  I have even created a collection of perfumes called CHROMA that express some of the colors in fragrance form.  I will say that sometimes I let the textural aspect take the “front seat” while at other times my work is about the color or the shape as a primary focus but the overall experience is woven into everything that I make. Continue reading

An Instinct for Scent: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

The Moment

The Moment

Back in the very early days of the perfume world online, many people liked to loiter on the corner in front of Makeupalley, and one of the great attractions of the place was the huge number of reviews you could find of practically any perfumer, but posters kept mentioning the same three initials: DSH.  What was DSH?  I found out that DSH meant Dawn and she had one of the largest selections of perfume oils and perfumes (all her own) anywhere on the web.

Of course, I succumbed.  I was only a little perfumista and that site was huge, acres across seemingly.   You could lose yourself in the meandering beds of hypnotic oriental perfumes, or get sleepy on the chypre bowling green, and the floral section was like a maze. You had to keep one hand on the clipped catalog as you passed through so as to come out again at the other side. I would have gotten happily lost in that extensive pleasure ground of perfume. Only, I had a small child then and not much leisure. How could you justify taking time off to read about something as superficial as perfume? Continue reading

Interview with Charna Ethier of Providence Perfumes

    star quilt  Do you have a smell from childhood that you loved-anything from your Mom’s perfume to your cat’s paws-and what was it?

I grew up in rural New England on a farm in the woods.  My fondest childhood scent memories are of the smell of wood smoke, wet wool, hay and blackberry bushes. 

Continue reading

Earth and Earnestness: Providence Perfumes

US quilt ProvdenceRight at the beginning Charna Ethier of Providence Perfumes gives you a clue to the kind of perfume she composes, Classic Collection, then Luxe Line, are the categories into which she divides many of her scents.  The classics are the scents she has cleverly re-cast as natural perfumes, and they may strike you as familiar.

Tabac Citron certainly was.  I knew that fragrance backwards and forwards.  Tabac Citron is none other than Jicky in a new setting involving a little tobacco.  The same coda of creamy lemony custard and tangy lavender trails past your nose as in the original.  You know this perfume.   Cocoa Tuberose is more of an original. CT’s the white flowered perfume you’ve always loved, but crossed with a gourmand, whereas say, Joy was all about civet and tuberose, Cocoa Tuberose is all about something you already know and love- and if you’re like me-stuff yourself with from time to time: chocolate.  Both are eminently wearable and can be easier on the sinuses than the synthetic boosted Patous and Guerlains. Continue reading

Interview with Neil Morris

boy portrait for Neil MorrisDo you have a smell from childhood that you loved-anything from your Mom’s perfume to your dog’s paws-and what was it?

Yes, the smell of the earth when all the ice and snow have melted and you can tell by the scent in the air that winter is really over! I used this memory to create one of my EARTHTONES perfumes called DARK EARTH. Another smell from childhood would be the scent of vanilla birthday cake! I always loved vanilla and still do! I have to hold myself back from using it it just about every perfume! Continue reading

A Romantic at Work: The Perfumes of Neil Morris

red portraitSome perfumers produce formulas that are universally likeable.  There are perfumers whose perfumes are like ice cream, they go down easily with everyone.  But if you read the comments on perfume websites, you will find that Neil Morris has a style that is either loved or misunderstood by many people.

I fall into the first group.  Very few perfumers can send me a set of samples- as Mr Morris genially did- and have me wear nearly everything in the selection for days on end.  But I did with Neil Morris’s scents. Why?  Well, that’s the interesting part. Continue reading