My maternal grandfather made my grandmother a cedar chest when they were fifteen years old. He had the interior quilted and lined at a funeral parlor which I find both fascinating and macabre. (Where else would you have that sort of thing done I wonder?) Both of my grandparents are dead now, all of them are actually, or should I say they have “passed on”? My eight year old son asked me recently what “passed away” means. After I told him he said that it seems like a more peaceful way to say “dead”. I guess euphemisms aren’t as insubstantial as I had allowed myself to believe.
The faint smell of cedar lingers when you open the chest, and I can only imagine how potent it was eighty years ago. Lifting the lid used to reveal the dusty rose colored layers of remaining fabric that blended seamlessly with the wood’s pinkish tones. The satiny quilted lining became increasingly tattered and has since been removed as my mom had the chest refurbished many years ago. The restoration has created a new chest in appearance, but it still holds many memories, both cherished and painful.
When I first sprayed Siberian Snow on my skin, I immediately thought of my grandmother’s handmade treasury. Not that the perfume smells exactly like the chest, more like what I want my fragrance memory to be of the chest; cedar, wintergreen and jasmine. The D.S. & Durga website has frankincense listed rather than cedar, but you could have fooled me. Cedar it is in my mind.
Wintergreen opens the fragrance and remains an undercurrent throughout the Siberian Snow experience. The mintiness has a multi-layered effect that was unexpected and intriguing. Initially the wintergreen was enlivening, and then evolved into a familiar, comfortable feeling. My dad loved to have WintOGreen LifeSavers at the ready when my sister and I were growing up, which probably explains my nostalgia for the wintergreen scent. But it also added a quirkiness to the otherwise traditional woody floral composition of jasmine and cedar. (I mean, frankincense). The wintergreen used in Siberian Snow has an attenuated bitterness that tames jasmine’s floral lushness and gives the woody aspect depth and interest so it’s not thin and reedy.
It seems almost meaningless to call a perfume a “woody floral” these days. There are so many out there that they all begin to smell alike. I can assure you that when I say Siberian Snow is an “interesting woody floral” I’m not using that as a euphemism for “it’s just a little better than average”. D.S. and Durga, the creators of their eponymous line, have truly created an interesting woody floral perfume. Not every fragrance is 100% all-natural, but Siberian Snow is, along with Rosa Americana and Cowgirl Grass. And for men, Cowboy Grass, Barbados and Marblehead Reds.
I’m claiming Siberian Snow as my new favorite all-natural cedar fragrance, and D.S. and Durga can rib me a bit if it turns out that there really is no cedar in there after all. It doesn’t matter. My grandmother’s chest has been restored, my son has taught me to embrace euphemisms, and I publish perfume reviews even if I don’t get the notes right.
Siberian Snow is available at DS & Durga
Posted by ~Trish
14 thoughts on “D.S. & Durga: Siberian Snow”
Lovely you found a scent close to your heat reminding you of your grandmother and childhood.
It’s a fragrance I’ll always keep just for that reason.
Trish, I really enjoyed your post. I can almost picture and smell your grandmother’s cedar chest, fully lined, in it’s prime. I didn’t realize some of DS & Durga’s scents were natural, so thank you for making that clear. I am really keen on trying Siberian Snow now, all because of this one sentence from your review: “The wintergreen used in Siberian Snow has an attenuated bitterness that tames jasmine’s floral lushness and gives the woody aspect depth and interest so it’s not thin and reedy.”
Wintergreen is such an unusual note not used much in perfumery. The only other scent I know that features it prominently is Artemisia Natural Perfume’s Edenwood. I found it odd and surprising, and ultimately wouldn’t wear it, but I was glad to have smelled an interesting combination of notes.
Thanks so much Amy. It would have been something to see the chest the day my grandfather presented it to my grandma, all pillowy and intensely redolent of cedar. But it had its charms the way I remember it, having been beaten up by years of use.
D.S. emailed me and said this about wintergreen, I thought you’d find it interesting:
“Alas….there is no cedar in it, BUT the crisp note of wintergreen blended with rosewood–which is also in the top section–can create an effect that is dry like cedar.”
So there you go, it’s not cedar but rose wood!! Close enough 🙂
Siberian Snow isn’t a scent I’ll wear frequently, but I’d love to have a scarf that’s imbued with its scent, that I can put on when I want to conjure up these specific feelings.
that’s a really beautiful story about your Grandparents and how wonderful to still have the chest. Sometimes we attach too much meaning to things but sometimes we don’t- there are some things that are priceless for what they mean. I don’t have anything at all from either of my paternal Grandparents because of a horrible situation with family when they passed away- just a couple of photographs which are so prescious.
This scent sounds wonderful- I am going to look it up right away.
Thank you for your beautiful thoughts Rose. I am glad you were able to salvage those few photos of your paternal grandparents, so sorry though about the turmoil that surrounded their passing.
I wonder if you associate any scent with looking at those photos?
I associate the pictures with cigar smoke and good food rather than a particular scent. My paternal Grandma died a long time before I was born but she looks like she would have worn something chic but lovely- L’Air de temps perhaps?
I am so intrigued by this perfume. I love anything cedar so want to check out this faux cedar. I just keep forgetting to get it and hope that my suble hints to Walter will land me a bottle for some special or just ordinary occassion. Maybe writting you about it will get me to get off the couch and order myself some. Any other cedar ideas/recommendations?
Love the blog!!! and by the way the Diptyque sample box Megan got me at your recommendation is great!
Cedar is one of my faves too. Even though this technically doesn’t have cedar in it, the owner wrote to me and said there is rosewood which has a similar dryness, and frankly smells like cedar to me!
Jo Wood Amka is a lovely cedar/neroli fragrance, DSH Perfumes Chinoise and Bancha both have cedar in them too.
I have reviewed all of the above if you want to search for them here 🙂
I hope you needn’t have to order Siberian Snow for yourself, Walter should treat you! You deserve it 😉
Thanks for commenting!
It’s about time I simply stopped reading this blog! It just makes me long to experience these precious treasures that you describe so wonderfully. I have no “nose” as such and would therefore have much difficulty in actually deciphering what it is I’m smelling but I truly am captivated by the whole philosophy and beauty surrounding natural perfumery and knowing that I have sooo much I have not yet tried creates a kind of nervous tension in me that simply cannot be relieved. In saying so, the reverse side of that is knowing that there is always something out there that I can try that will uplift my spirits instantaneously. I am so happy that there are people out there that can create these wonders that allow common folk like myself an outlet from a sometimes monotonous existence 🙂 PS. I actually have a wonderful life and am very grateful, but like a lot of people, an escape from reality in the form of the transportation that perfume provides is a much welcome relief!
I hear you Laura! 🙂 Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I hope you keep reading and sharing your thoughts.
All the best,
I see this has a Hindu Goddess, pictured on the front box. I wonder what would happen if we had a Arabic script, with Allah or Mohammed on it?