The DSH line has been on my radar for many years, I could not remember however why I had not sampled any of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz creations. As you can imagine I was delighted when Dawn contacted me and offered me the chance to try her creations. At that point I remembered why I hadn’t ordered any samples myself: her catalogue is simply so large that it becomes intimidating. It is very difficult to narrow it down based on the note description, a practise I avoid. After an incredibly kind and friendly communication I asked her to send me anything she feels very proud of, anything strange or green or earthy. I received a huge number of samples that kept me busy for a long time, just to catalogue and prioritize. Somewhere among these samples I found Le Smoking, one of Dawn’s compositions commissioned by the Denver Art Museum to complement the Yves Saint Laurent Exhibit retrospective.
It has been a very long time since I have felt so moved by a perfume. I cannot begin to describe how introspective, uplifting and deep this scent is. It is so rich in ingredients and nuances that I almost feel intimidated by the attempt to describe it. It opens with a thick green note that I perceive as a mix of galbanum and labdanum. There are many other notes in this opening accord that serve to make the green notes less bitter and perfectly balanced but the overall impression is that of deep, early autumn, ripe vegetation. As the mid phase notes begin to establish themselves, the most wonderful cigarette smoke accord laces the composition. It really smells the way cigarettes smelled when we were 12 years old and feeling envious of grown ups who were smoking. It is the idealised, platonic form of cigarette smoke. It smells elegant, sophisticated, perplex. It makes me think of Marlene Dietrich wearing a black tuxedo and smoking a cigarette pipe. But in equal measures it brings to mind beatniks and jazz clubs. The base of the composition initially appears as a rich mossy chypre and all these elements would be more than enough to make me love this perfume. And then magic happens! What smells like a modern green chypre from up close, exudes the most beautiful classic fougère sillage since the 80’s. All the history of Yves Saint Laurent’s fashion revolution with the introduction of the feminine tuxedo, The Smoking, has been distilled through Dawn’s sensitivity and talent and the result is one of the most mysterious, eloquent and intelligent perfumes I have ever tried. A perfume that not only defies perfume classification but also laughs at its face. The same way that Yves Saint Laurent laughed at the face of gender classification in fashion with his homonymous creation.
Inside my box of DSH Perfumes treasures there many different scents, I am sure that I will be coming back to talk about several of them. It didn’t feel appropriate however to talk about any other scent in this quick sniff because Le Smoking really has to be lit with a very special spotlight. I do not want to predispose anyone with my note perception in this one, they are irrelevant. Le Smoking is a journey it I leave it up to you to tread this road and read this perfume any way you like it. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has achieved something very difficult with this creation: she has composed a scent that is sexy and intelligent in equal measures. If I find you at a time you are compiling your next to-sample list, please add this right at number one. If you are not interested in trying something new, please make an exception for this chameleonic scent. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz managed to cross a diamond with a pearl!
Notes from Parfumo: Bergamot, Blackberry, Clary sage, Galbanum, Hyacinth, Neroli, Bulgarian rose absolute, Carnation, Chinese geranium, Jasminum grandiflorum, Honey, Cannabis, Orris root, Brown oakmoss, Castoreum, Frankincense, Leather, Peru balsam, Tobacco absolute
Notes from my nose: the Quintessential Chypre, the Quintessential Fougère