Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Outlaw Perfumes: "Mata Hari" and "Gypsy"

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Beaux Arts Studio
Mata Hari
I think of myself as someone who really dislikes fruit notes in perfume, but on smelling this I realize that it’s Frankenfruit that made me feel this way; the overwhelming Kool-Aid like “fruit” of mainstream scents. This is different, soft and gentle, with peach and apricot   presiding. Then there is a black pepper note that appears with heat and spice, which   fades back as the florals emerge.
As always, I’m testing first on skin, then on a strip of watercolor paper, but this time on clothing too.  On my odd skin, botanicals cycle through the entire top-heart-base very quickly. On paper, they often don’t smell much like their skin application. On clothing, warmed by the proximity to skin -- that’s where this scent really shines. 
Yesterday, I dabbed generous bits of this on the collar, cuffs and neckline of the shirt I was wearing. At first I thought it had disappeared, but after awhile, I began to realize that it had enveloped me in a haze of florals and, later, spices. (As with all the botanicals I’ve tried, it stays close to the skin -- this quality is what makes these such good office scents.) The haze, wafting up from my collar, stood up to a few hours spent painting. In the presence of linseed oils and mineral spirits, that’s commendable! 
This is a very pleasant scent that could be worn for anything. It has many ingredients, and is well-blended, so that none of them come leaping out of the mix for long. The final drydown features the spice notes: cinnamon and clove, ambers and woods. So we have a soft fruit, gentle floral and spice/amber base, all in one perfume.
There are many notes. The ones that appear on the IFRA’s proposed “restricted-substances list* will appear in red italics.
This is a limited edition. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Parfums des Beaux Arts will make 25 5 ml perfume flasks and 10 15 ml Perfume Presentation Flacons of “Mata Hari.”
Notes: Top: bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom absolute, mandarin, tarragon, sweet and blood orange, davana, tagettes, galbanum, carrot seed, black pepper.
Heart: cassie flower absolute, mimosa absolute, jonquil absolute, orris butter, rose de mai absolute, damascena rose otto, sambac jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute, ylang ylang, champaca absolute, osmanthus absolute, nutmeg, cinnamon leaf, cinnamon bark, clove bud, honey absolute
Base: angelica root absolute, ambrette seed C02, benzoin, cistus, costus root, oakmoss absolute, peru balsam, australian sandalwood, styrax absolute, tonka bean absolute, vanilla absolute, cumin, patchouli, java vetiver, buddahwood, texas cedarwood, cassis absolute, myrrh gum, tabac absolute, cade

Charna, Providence Perfume Company
This is a challenging scent. The perfumer calls it  “maybe a sweet amber fougere,” or a “fougere light,” but I perceive its opening as very dry, a little pine-y, a little dusty. There is also a presence I’ve never been able to identify, but which seems common to many of the botanicals I’ve tried -- it reminds me a little of grape. I think it may be the alcohols in which the essential oils and essences are dissolved, as it never lasts long. It’s very apparent here. 
There is a slight bitterness which comes up too: lavender. There's a citrus note from the “lemon petitgrain” which I assume is an essence of lemon twigs and buds. “Gypsy” is built around Pink Lotus, which I haven’t encountered before (but looked up). It’s  earthy and herbal in full strength; I’m thinking that the herb note here, which approaches anise but then backs off, must be the Pink Lotus. 
From there, the fragrance turns a little soapy, but not in a bad way -- that could be the lavender, too. There is a flash of something sharp, and then the fragrance relaxes into a clean, transparent, herbal drydown.
To me, this is a man’s scent. It’s outdoorsy in a uncontrived way. -- an herbal/piney fougere. It’s dynamic, changing as it progresses, too. 
I would use this as a sachet, or environmental fragrance. I’m going to make a drawer sachet from the rest of the sample. I think this fragrance would be heavenly as a mysterious scent on a wool sweater. It has pretty good longevity, still perceptible on the scent strip after 24 hours, and on clothing after 2 (so far).
The notes that can be found on the IFRA’s proposed “restricted-substances list” appear in red italics.
Notes: Top: Galangal, Lavender, Lemon Petitgrain, Cardamom
Heart: Pink Lotus, Bulgarian Lavender Absolute, Violet Leaf
Base: Tonka, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Patchouli, Costus, Vanilla
Ed. Note: The farmer’s market where I shop for food has a bin full of galangal root! It’s used in cooking as one would use ginger. And am I poisoning my friends by using cardamom pods in coffee? Um, probably not.

Remember: leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for one of the Outlaw Perfumes!


womo531 said...

DSH's style is surely more is more~ Very curious to sniff both of these and I'd love to see how Gypsy is with that Galangal...

queen_cupcake said...

Of all the Outlaw Perfumers, DSH is the one I am most familiar with--and I love a lot of their creations. Not being a big fruit lover, I wouldn't necessarily be interested, either. But I now trust DSH to make something beautiful every time. Ashram is my current favorite. Would like to try both Mata Hari and Gypsy, actually.

Lisa BTB said...

I an impressed with the list of ingredients of Mata Hari. Wow! I'm not a fruity fragrance lover either. I have to try this one.

Anonymous said...

Oh, fine, I'll admit it: I like fruit. I love the fizzy, fruity green-jasmine of Hanae Mori Haute Couture. My favorite part of Mythique was the apricotty bit up top. I totally dig the rich, homemade-fruitcake vibe of Mauboussin...

And am a huge fan of DSH. In fact, I think I'll go play over there now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pat, for the lovely review of Mata Hari! I loved creating it; especially working out the fruit note in all botanicals. I am so happy that you enjoyed it (while painting! even better!. I look forward to reading the rest of your reviews for the OUTLAW project, as well.

Isa said...

I have never tried any DSH perfume but Mata Hari sounds awesome.
An herbal fougère like Gipsy is always welcome too.

Seeing so many red words in the list of notes makes me so sad :(

JoanElaine said...

The drydown for Mata Hari sounds divine. I didn't think I would like fruit in a fragrance, but then I tried Mitsouko.

Gypsy sounds very unique. There are many notes in Gypsy I am not familiar with so I have no idea what it would smell like!

Lisa Ashby said...

I'm dying to sniff Mata Hari. I've tried many DSH perfumes and they're all wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat, lovely review. I, too, must confess that I can be kind of a fruity gal once in a while. The Mata Hari sounds lovely. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Pat, guess I messed up posting this properly. That last comment was from me, Ann, down in PTC.

slipbananapeel said...

I think *I need Mata Hari in my life. Like now

Perfume Reviews said...

Impressive. I'd like to sniff both of them as well ;-)

do pheromones work said...

The entire concept of masculine scents its from the perfumer,when designing a scent in such a way that it will appeal to men. Well,will certainly visit your site more often now.