Malta 1565 – Blood, Sweat, and Cumin

MaltaMy Hub has written a book about renaissance Malta, and since it is coming out this week, he looked at me and said, “Can you write a post about Malta?”

Of course I was willing to write a post about Malta, but since I write about smelling and gardening for smells, I needed some whiff, or huff, or some sort of olfactory in for me to write about.

The Hub’s book deals with some fairly hair-raising events which occurred 450 years ago (The Great Siege of Malta: The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St John, Bruce Ware Allen, Fore Edge Books, there it is!), but not so much with agriculture on Malta. The island has traditionally been a source for world class honey (the Greeks referred to Malta as Melite, “honey sweet”), which would suggest a rich lode of blooming flowers – but for whatever reason, this has not translated into perfumery as it has in, say, Grasse.

The one unquestionable perfume contribution of Malta, however, is cumin.

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Bare Skin Scents

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Marilyn Monroe in Niagara

Maybe this is an ooh la la sort of question, but I wonder what are the best fragrances for nudity?  Now I realize that the answer is going to vary a good deal because the subject of skin and what works on the skin also varies considerably from one person to another, but factoring that in, which are the very best scents for nothing at all? 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

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