Sunset Beach and Lost Lagoon by Ayala Moriel.

We were in Italy recently, and this is one of my favorite shots that I took on the trip. It’s from Francavilla al Mare on the Adriatic coastline and it truly embodies the relaxed nature of our time there. We had such an amazing trip, and if you follow me on instagram, you have probably seen the places we visited in this region as well as Siena and Rome. Incredibly beautiful and such delicious food of course!

Continue reading “Sunset Beach and Lost Lagoon by Ayala Moriel.”

DSH Perfumes Pandora

First things first here. Yesterday was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s birthday, so I’d love to extend her a happy belated one and certainly hope she had a lovely day. Today, many of us bloggers are joining forces to review Dawn’s newest creation, Pandora, which to me feels like a precious gift. I’m always very honored to test Dawn’s fragrances, but upon applying Pandora, I knew I was going to experience an extraordinary olfactory journey.

From its inception, DSH Perfume’s Pandora was to be an exploration of all natural and botanical ingredients that have only recently become available to perfumers. Emerging co2 extracts and newly attainable raw materials have expanded the natural perfumer’s palette and Dawn was part of a project that intended to focus solely on those ingredients. Dawn ultimately fell away from the project, and found herself delving deeper into Pandora’s potential and added a small dose of synthetics- aldehydes and ozone- as well as “old school” essences like oakmoss and ambergris. As a result, Pandora evolved into a perfume that tips its hat to the great classic perfumes while exploring contemporary botanical extracts.

The classic perfume that Pandora immediately reminded me of was Jolie Madame as it has a classic aura and possesses a similar swirl of verdant violet. Both Pandora and Jolie Madame have mysteriously green topnotes, Pandora’s being particularly minty while Jolie Madame’s are curvier and noticeably sweeter. Jolie Madame is more of a violet pastille in its opening, but nevertheless, they both exude a mossy violet tone and an animalic undercurrent.

Although these vintage nuances are present, Pandora stands as its own contemporary beauty. Dawn’s use of patchouli and vetiver co2 explores new facets of these well known essences. As a co2, vetiver is even greener and reaches the entire composition from top to bottom, unlike the essential oil which is mainly a basenote. Patchouli co2 is less spicy but even richer and bolder than its essential oil counterpart which adds a new dimension to this familiar scent.

Some of the newly attainable raw materials in Pandora include Juhi jasmine from Northern India, which according to Dawn is even more indolic than the jasmines sambac and grandiflorum. Muhuhu (also know as African sandalwood) is another newbie on the scene and Dawn tells me she is loving its deep, smoky-resinous quality. These four essences meld so well together- merging the floral with the earthy- which is very apparent in the heart. The oakmoss in Pandora’s “mousse de saxe” accord provides even more green depth to the middle notes, but also a mineral quality which feels very DSH Perfumes to me.

All that Pandora has to offer is stunning. It’s equal parts inky violet, woody floral and mossy darkness. Save for the drydown, which becomes rather silky and buttery, like a favorite scarf imbued with hints of the aforementioned notes but is very much its own stage of the fragrance. Wearing Pandora is an aromatic odyssey that’s complicated and lovely, light and dark, past and present, but most of all, exquisite.

Leave a comment and you will be entered in the drawing to win a 3ml purse spray of Pandora. Tell us about your most beloved vintage perfume and/or your favorite DSH perfume. Drawing now closed. 

Pandora is made up of 97.5% botanicals and 2.5% synthetic and is available at DSH Perfumes in several different sizes and price points.

Please visit the following blogs for their thoughts on Pandora: DSH NotebookEauMG, eyeliner on a cat, This Blog Really Stinks, Perfume Pharmer, Esscentual Alchemy, Indie Perfumes, and Oh True Apothecary.
Image of Pandora by Henrietta Rae at

Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by DSH Perfumes. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.


Roxana Villa's GreenWitch, the solid presentation

When Roxana Villa, creator of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, launched GreenWitch last spring I sang its praises among a choir of rejoicing bloggers. We were thrilled for this green chypre filled with the stuff of vintage perfume like oakmoss, patchouli, galbanum, and vetiver. I appreciated it so much that I put it in my Best Perfumes of 2010 post. This spring, Roxana has given us another presentation of GreenWitch which is slightly different from the liquid, but just as compelling.

Galbanum and oakmoss form the foundations of both GreenWitch formulations, but in the solid perfume, galbanum steps up as the dominant of the two. Galbanum is an aromatic resin of the Ferula galbaniflua found abundantly in Iran and gives perfumes a very classic, green scent. When I had the opportunity to smell galbanum resin on its own, I found it grassy and bitter, but with an herbal woodiness that I was drawn to and didn’t want to stop sniffing. Such is the case with the GreenWitch solid, it expresses this green resin crisply and authentically.

Apparently, galbanum can be challenging to work with as articulated by Mandy Aftel and Liz Zorn in their exchanges on Nathan Branch’s blog, Letters to a Fellow Perfumer: ep. 1 and ep. 2. Their conversation is very interesting but the part that really grabbed me was Mandy’s description of galbanum as a “green razor.” After spending a good amount of time with GreenWitch, it seems that Roxana chose not to dull the green razor, but rather exploit its verdant quality by blending it with other strong notes and complex accords.

In its solid form, GreenWitch plays more with the citrusy notes than its liquid counterpart. Petitgrain and bergamot share their sparkle and radiance amongst the fern and faux musk accords. It would have been hard for me to believe that something could actually be greener than the original GrrenWitch, but I think the solid actually is. I don’t know if it’s something in the beeswax base, but the galbanum is amplified in all its green glory! The liquid by contrast, and this is only in comparison to the solid, is more subdued and smooth. But there’s no denying that it too is intensely green.

I know chypres are not for everyone, but if you are a card carrying member of the chypre fan club, GreenWitch in either form is something you must experience. Also, if you would like to be entered in a drawing for a sample of the new GreenWitch solid, leave a comment! (Drawing is now closed). Please read more about Roxana’s vision and creation of GreenWitch at the following links: The Making of GreenWitch, and A Song for Spring.

Also, please visit the following blogs for more impressions on the solid version of GreenWitch.

Perfume Smellin Things

Windesphere Witch

Illuminated Perfume Journal

GreenWitch is available at Roxana’s etsy store. $28 for 5gm.

Posted by ~Trish


IFRA 43rd Amendment. A few natural perfumers weigh in.


The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) represents the fragrance industry and puts out guidelines for safe usage of fragrant chemicals and essential oils in perfumes and skincare. Recently, they released their 43rd amendment, which has caused an uproar in the perfume blogging community. This amendment puts restrictions on the use of several natural ingredients like oakmoss, ylang ylang and jasmine because of their potential to be allergens. For many, this means deep concern that beloved classics like Chanel’s No 5 and Patou’s Joy will either be reformulated or die. Both are unacceptable results for the die-hard perfumista. This is terribly disheartening for me to consider, but makes me nowhere near as concerned as I am for the small independently owned perfumeries’ and apothecaries’ well being. My concern is not purely altruistic of course. The notion of not being able to access what has become my favorite purveyor of jasmine based scents, In Fiore, and many other fabulously talented natural perfumers’ creations, is a fate I simply do not want to consider. 


As to be expected, there is much discussion about whether or not the IFRA really has the consumer’s best interest at heart, or if there are possibly legal issues, turf issues, or (ahem) monetary issues behind these restrictions. My skeptical nature says of course that’s the case! In terms of the legal aspect, it seems that a warning label that states: May cause skin irritation, discontinue use if this occurs. In rare event of severe allergic reaction please seek medical care would be enough to cover the perfume companies’ behinds. Has anyone read the label of a hairspray canister lately? I have one that reads: INHALING CONTENTS MAY BE HARMFUL OR FATAL. How’s that for a warning? My skeptical nature also wonders who funded the studies that deemed these natural essences such a public hazard (jasmine in particular) and how rigorously they were undertaken. But knowing that I am not going to overturn the IFRA’s amendment, or somehow get Chanel up in arms to protect their jasmine legacy, I took to corresponding with some natural perfumers that I admire greatly.


Let’s begin with Julie Elliott of In Fiore who quelled my fears about her signature essence, jasmine, having to disappear. She reviewed the 43rd amendment, and believes that for her products, the restriction percentages are workable and within a healthy range for skincare and should be fine for her perfumery as well. Ms. Elliott is a classically trained aromatherapist and intentionally avoids potentially toxic and reactive essential oils, or oils with too many contraindications, so efficacy and safety are paramount at In Fiore. Ms. Elliott also does not foresee any problems with her jasmine suppliers and said, “jasmine is the soul of In Fiore so we will do our best to keep them in business.”


Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums addressed this issue on her blog, Smellyblog. She also does not seem overly concerned about these restrictions, and plans to keep using oakmoss as she always has. And like Ms. Elliott, she is dedicated to keeping her suppliers in business. As she states on her blog, “This is the least I can do to support the oakmoss distillers and to ensure that they can keep producing oakmoss absolutes and that entire families of fragrances will not be erased from the face of the earth.”


Roxana Villa of Illuminated Perfumes provided me with a concise and eloquent statement about the restrictions.  Being an artist in several mediums, she feels that if someone were to limit her palette, she would simply adjust to those limitations or rebel. For example, Ms. Villa has created an oakmoss accord constructed from botanical and natural essences, without the use of actual oakmoss or synthetic oakmoss. Because of her dedication to ingredients that are pure, and have a vital life force, Ms. Villa would not compromise her art due to these IFRA restrictions. In the case of the oakmoss, she was able to adjust. But if rebellion is called for, so be it! Creativity and rebellion, now isn’t that the spirit of great art?

posted by ~Trish

Jasmine (original painting) by alisonhinks on