Tag Archives: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Iris Trilogy

None of us has doubts about the fact that the world of perfume is a vast one and that no matter how many years have passed since you jumped down the proverbial rabbit hole, it still has many mysteries and secrets that maybe never will see the light of the day. For me one of those mysteries is American perfumery. There’s so much happening in European perfume market that I never had a priority on trying the fragrances from across the ocean. Plus living in Poland makes it harder to put my hands on any samples. But sometimes I get a chance to try something thanks to some good souls that take their time to send something to me. Thanks to Dawn Spencer Hurwitz herself today I have an opportunity to smell The Iris Trilogy. I’m flattered because she knew I was a huge iris fan.

L’Or{ris} starts with a clean, delicately soapy yet fizzy aldehydes, that feel slightly starched and talcy like white towels waiting for you in your hotel room. In no time a bubbly smell of prosecco invites you to take another sip (and possibly another deep whiff of a perfume as well). This champagne-like accord feels sparkling and filled with optimistic aura. On the skin it’s warm and rounded, with a golden halo. Later on the warmth is contracted with a colder, metallic note that forms a sort of a silver lining underneath the top layer of L’Or{ris}. Following the idea of a prosecco bottle I could compare the metallic tones to an ice bucket. Are we a VIP or what? Heart of the composition reveals a bounty of orris in its multiple incarnations. There is a gorgeously buttery iris concrete blended with an earthy aspect of the orris root. Dawn even included some Florentine iris which is a very precious material. It’s more velvety, violet-like fresh & more floral. Rose absolute and rose attar from Bulgaria make L’Or{ris} more sensual and adds a floral smoothness to it. Angelica and ambrette (vegetal amber) intensify the perception of iris but with added verdant inflections. Sandalwood notes together with ambergris create a comforting, creamy base that marries woody and powdery nuances in perfect harmony. Addition of oak wood note makes this DSH creation to last on your skin for many hours. L’Or{ris} is a golden lace iris.

Iris Tuxedo was actually the first fragrance that was born in what later became an Iris Trilogy. Compared to L’Or{ris} described above it is a much darker fragrance but has a common structure that links both of them. The opening brings a raspy and slightly acrid smell of black tea assisted by a rich & smoky aspect of plum, or should I say prune since it’s more like a dried fruit. Blackcurrant bud makes it a tad more juicier but it doesn’t change the fact that this Lapsang Souchong resembling smell rules the opening. As time flies the orris comes to the fore and it’s very similar to what I could smell in L’Or{ris}. The most significant difference is the fact that here in Iris Tuxedo there’s a big (relatively) beeswaxy impression that has been woven into the silky fabric of orris. It carries a specific odour, a bit like a natural candle but also with a royal milk facet. The drydown directs a lot of our attention on ambrette which gives this fragrance a vegetal, kind of marshmallow-like (minus the sweetness) muskiness. Angelica adds some succulent green vibe with a hint of spiciness while oakmoss adds a characteristic sylvan touch which is very pleasant. Butter CO2 extract enhances the creamy richness of orris root and the latter one gradually melts into a balsamic layer of resinous & slightly sweet myrrh. Iris Tuxedo lives in its own category of glamour. It surely conveys the idea of contrasting black & white elements of tuxedo if you ask me.

The final fragrance in Iris Trilogy is called Man Root and this is Dawn’s more masculine interpretation of orris. First thing that reaches my nose is the aroma of freshly washed carrot – it gives off a clean, kind of cold and vegetable aroma that shortly gets surrounded by a number of other scented impressions. There’s a hint of bergamot that adds more tartness with a lightly acidic backnote that plays nicely with the carroty smell. There is, once again, angelica in this perfume, which gives that sturdy, green vibe with a glimpse of something metallic. Followed by pepper that spices up the composition and a dry immortelle note that smells like hot sand to me. The heart of Man Root provides the same combination of smooth orris butter, chilled silk impression of Florentine iris surrounded by a bit of Bulgarian roses, some jasmine (that is hard to detect on me). What has changed here compared to previously discussed fragrances is that in Man Root violet plays a more significant role. It smells almost ‘blue’ to my nose, with a lot of elegance and is almost like an irones infused cologne. Additionally turmeric gives it an orange-tinted lining with its specific smell. Think of typical Ayurvedic cosmetic lines. The drydown once again has a similar structure, that’s another common thread in the Iris Trilogy. Plus Dawn has added a ginseng accord which can have a human-like shape (mandrake), so that’s probably where the name came from. The earthy and rooty character is additionally emphasized with vetiver.

The Iris Trilogy is a series of very well-made fragrances that really are like a treasure vault to anyone who loves orris. Only superficially the 3 perfumes seem to be similar but once you wear them for some time you will realize that there is some uniqueness in each and every one of them. For me it was even more exciting to smell them because I watched a couple of Dawn’s live sessions on Instagram when the fragrances were still in development and people kept sharing their ideas and suggestions with her. She actually used some of those while composing. Personally I’m drawn the most towards L’Or{ris} because it feels the most polished among the three and it’s the most ‘me’. I highly recommend trying it along Iris Tuxedo and Man Root if you have a chance.

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Monday Quick Sniffs, part 58


Paris 1948 sets off with a lactonic peach accord that immediately brings in the retro vibe. It’s a combination of juicy fruit flesh inside and of a fuzzy skin on the outside. Shortly the fruitiness is followed by a grapefruit note with its characteristic tartness and zesty smell. Not long overdue is a basil that adds a fresh, summery verdancy to the perfume. Heart of this 4160 Tuesdays composition combines floral and woody notes. Rose is presented here as a multi-layer dress from the past epoque, rosy tones are entwined with something dusty and a little bit old. Orange blossom adds a bit of lightness and richness here, while cedarwood and rosewood create a charming substance of the perfume, again with an old-fashioned edge to it. Addition of honey adds something glossy to Paris 1948 yet at the same time there’s something animalic to it. Musk and labdanum confirm this wilder element appearing on my skin. It’s resinous, balmy, slightly dirty. Hay adds some dryness with a coumarin undertone. Oakmoss note and its shrub-like scent with a bit of mustiness completes this woody chypre fragrance. Despite putting Paris in the name of this fragrance I imagine this scent as a good companion for a stroll around a foggy London.


For me Maison Francis Kurkdjian is one of those brands that worked for me once (with Grand Soir) and any other time was just okay-ish. Now that the brand is owned by LVMH they make sure that any bestseller is then introduced in a different concentration or as a matching body product – all that to make more money on the scent. Hence no surprise that Amyris Femme was just introduced in extrait de parfum strength. Its composition opens with a floral freshness. There’s a bit of dewiness and something citrusy to this mandarin blossom note. After a moment it becomes more fruity, when pear joins – adding a smooth scent of ripe fruit. It doesn’t take very long until iris joins. Amyris Femme offers a very feminine rendition of this flower. It’s powdery, sensual and kind of musky. Jasmine absolute introduces some solar energy and a bit of lightness. Over time this perfume turns really, really sweet – to the point that it reminds me of a marshmallow or some other sugar puff. Amberwood molecule adds a warm and gentle ambery facet while amyris adds more substance to the blend through the introduction of the woody element. The perfume has a moderate power and its sillage is rather skin-bound. Did we really need this iteration of MFK Amyris Femme?


Courtesy of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz I have a chance to try a bunch of fragrances she composes in her studio, based in Boulder, Colorado, USA. Encouraged by comments from other fans of DSH, White Rabbits is the first fragrance I decided to test. Immediately after rolling this sample on my skin I got a feeling that this perfume is going to stay quite vegetal for its entire lifespan, and I wasn’t mistaken. For the first 2-3 minutes I smell a fresh carrot note that is also rather juicy and has all the soil washed off it. After a few minutes White Rabbits reveal a bounty of iris goodness. The perfume becomes almost a soliflore, filling your nose with orris scent. And it’s a gorgeous one. It has a soft texture of the butter and a slightly fatty, rich scent reminiscent of butter as well. But on the other hand it’s also a powdery one with a rooty facet. It sure is a fluffy scent – if rabbits fur really smelled like this I suppose I would’ve had a herd of them by now. Over time the green, resiny angelica adds to the scent. Ambrette, also known as musk mallow adds a vegetal musky vibe that pairs very well with iris and entire composition of White Rabbits.

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