The brief was specific: all-natural ingredients - and only certain ones at that. The perfumer, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, looked at this list of modern naturals and, despite the limitations, decided to reconceive the traditional mouuse de saxe formula. Not exactly picking the low fruit! The resultant scent, the one I received to test, is 97.5% natural.
Out of the box came horrible, awful things. Jealousy. Hatred. Crime. Fear. Insanity. Greed. Lies. Some say these evils were accompanied by a terrible smell, but I can't say for certain.
Mousse de Saxe: A perfume base created with "geranium, licorice, leather, iodine and vanillin" according to perfume house Caron, who has used it in many of their creations. Perfume historian Octavian Coifan describes it this way: "The formula works like the classic 19th fougère perfume: a citrus bergamot top, a geranium rosy heart, a strong dose of coumarine and sweet notes, and a woody base with sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, methyl ionone, some spicy clove notes, a nitro musk note and a small jasmine-ylang facet - but no aromatic lavender note. The presence of an anise note combined with the general sweetness and the smoky IBQ might give a licorice effect."
She had so much. Beautiful. Talented. Creative. Bold. Curious. As with many like her, she may not have realized how much she really had. One she had let it all out of the box, I'm sure some people thought it would be all over. Maybe she did, too. How wrong...
This scent, Pandora, is classic. In it, you get the great vintage flavor of a classic base, mousse de saxe, some traditional notes - bergamot at the top, rose, jasmine in the middle- and other notes often thought of as "retro": aldehydes, ambergris, and that beautiful oakmoss! So as you see, Pandora is classic. And it's modern. Check out the ozone and peppers (so 2011!). Breathe in the green tea absolute. Experience the modern (read: not Indian) sandalwoods from Australia and Africa. Pandora is classic and it's modern. It's the perfect melding of the two, actually.
As with many things, if you focus on the bad you'll miss the good. Once the box was open, once everything was out, it was easy to focus on the bad. There was fear, anger and, I'm guessing, a little tinge of loneliness. A second look, though, showed that there was another result - the one I suspect she would cling to.
The first thing I smell is the oakmoss. It's always the oakmoss that I smell first when it's there, though it so rarely is these days. Oakmoss was the base of so many fine perfumes -before its use was limited so stridently by IFRA. Smelling it, my nose always passes a message to my brain: VINTAGE! CLASSIC! SEXY! And so it is with this one. Swirling, sultry, sexy oakmoss announces its presence and sets the stage immediately. You know what's coming, and if you're into this kind of perfume your heart starts to race.
It was given to her by Zeus as a wedding gift. She had long thought the box (or jar, whatever...) was the gift. She now realized she'd been looking at it all wrong. Despite the bad, the evil, the whole point of the thing was the hope. The truth. The gift was bringing it all out in the open and moving past the bad - leaving it to those who deserve it and focusing on the hope. I'm sure the gods are smiling.
Pandora is Dawn's first release after her removal from the Natural Perfumer's Guild. Having been freed from her limitations in this project, she transcended her original plan for this perfume. Having been freed from limitations in her professional alliances, she has transcended anything she has ever created. I told her this weekend that I think it is her best so far. I say "so far" because this scent is not her last, and I have complete confidence that she's getting more in touch with her muses. I have faith that her work is getting more complex, more beautiful. I have hope that the best is yet to come. Hope.
|Odilon Redon's "Pandora" |
Dawn's inspiration for the scent.
Top: ruby fruits (botanical accord), bergamot, aldehyde, spice notes, ozone, violet leaf absolute,
davana, cassis bid, green and pink pepper
Heart: rose de mai absolute, juhi jasmine, linden blossom absolute, yerba maté absolute,
cabreuva wood, orris co2, green tea absolute
Base: mousse de saxe accord (botanical) , cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris tincture, patchouli co2, vetiver co2, muhuhu, australian sandalwood, tonka bean absolute, oakmoss green, vanilla absolute.
Read other reviews of this brand new scent, Pandora, here: