Sunday, September 4, 2011

DSH Perfumes - The Roses

Eight Long Stem Roses For A Birthday

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is an indie perfumer from Boulder, Colorado. She sells her perfume from the Essense Studio in Boulder and from her online shop. I previously reviewed her Secrets of Egypt collection which sought to recreate the perfumes of ancient Egypt.

I think she's a genius. Her perfumes all smell so true; you can smell the high quality materials and the love she has for each note she uses. Every one I have tried has been beautiful in some way. The Parfums des Beaux Arts are from her "ready-to-wear" collection. The Essense Oils are from the Essense Studio, perfume and essential oils  aromatherapy collection. The perfumes labelled Natural are made with 100% botonical materials.

A while ago I left a comment on Dawn's blog and won a set of samples from her perfume collection. The samples were all rose perfumes. Today Facebook told me that this week Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has a birthday, so I thought it was an excellent occasion to finally tell you about the roses.

American Beauty (Rose No. 1)

Parfum des Beaux Arts
American Beauty has the feel of deep, blood-red roses. There is a little tart-berry fruitiness from the cassis up top, a soft velvety rose heart and a smooth dark woody base with lots of patchouli and a touch of balsam.

Top notes: Bergamot, Cassis Bud, Palma Rosa, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Orris
Base notes: Ciste Absolute, East Indian Patchouli, Mysore Sandalwood, Peru Balsam

Beach Roses (Rose No. 3)

Parfum des Beaux Arts
I can smell the ocean breeze and the waterlily in the top notes of Beach Roses, giving it that salty, aquatic feel. The rose note is soft, sort of lemony and creamy. The base notes are lightly earthy and musky.

Top notes: Lemon, Neroli, Ocean, Palma Rosa, Violet, Waterlily
Middle notes: Carnation Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Demine Rose Otto, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Rugosa Rose
Base notes: East Indian Patchouli, East Indian Sandalwood, Musk

Tea Rose

Essense Oils
Tea Rose is a true rose fragrance that's almost hyper-realistic, like a bunch of fresh cut roses transformed into a neon sunset. It's intensely sweet and green and somewhat sharp up top, with hints of lemon and tea cutting the sweetness. It smells exactly like tea roses and much like The Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose but it calms down to something softer and fruitier, like rose hips tea and roses.

Top notes: Tea Rose
Middle notes: Tea Rose
Base notes: Tea Rose

Dirty Rose

Parfum des Beaux Arts. Natural
Dirty Rose smells like rose petals tossed on a fire. It opens with a curl of wood smoke up my nose Followed by a leather note underneath. There's also a lot of wood and moss in there and some tobacco. The rose isn't apparent at first, but it grows in the heart of the perfume subtly, a twisting pink and red ribbon in the darker hues of black and brown. I am not usually a fan of natural perfumes, but this one might change my mind.

Top notes: Bergamot, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Mastic, Pimento Berry, Pink Peppercorn, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Middle notes: Buddahwood, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Gallica Rose Otto, Labdanum, Olibanum (Frankincense), Orris, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Virginia Cedar
Base notes: Ambergris, Brazilian Vetiver, Cassis Bud, Guiacwood, Hiba Cedarwood, Leather, Myrrh Gum, Oude (Agarwood), Styrax, Tobacco Absolute, Treemoss

Umber: Bois de Rose

Parfum des Beaux Arts
Bois de Rose smells like sweet curried roses to me. Spicy curry, sweet rose and fresh green leaves are balanced with a bitter woody note in the heart and a dark mossy base.

Top notes: Bergamot, Eglantine Leaf, Thorn Apple (accord), Violet
Middle notes: Gallica Rose Otto, Nutmeg, Orris, Patchouli, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Base notes: Ambergris, Brazilian Vetiver, Brown Oakmoss, Ciste Absolute, Vanilla Absolute

Le Rose Fleurette (Rose No. 2)

Parfum des Beaux Arts
The only rose perfume that I can't find listed on the DSH site, Rose Fleurette must have been discontinued. The sample card describes it as "Delightful. Blushing. Flirtatious."

Although Rose Fleurette is pretty, it's the only one that I'm note sure I could wear. The opening has a magic marker note, high sweet and sharp, (maybe the apple blossom?) that wrinkles my nose. But after that, it's a fresh, pale pink rose bouquet. It seems sort of fluffy like those giant peony-style cabbage roses. There's a touch of sweet and pollen-y yellow heliotrope in the base with light honey and musk.

Top notes: Apple Blossom, Bergamot, Violet
Middle notes: Centifolia Rose Absolute, Damask Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Sweetbriar
Base notes: Heliotrope, Honey, Honey Musk

Arabian Rose

Essense Oils
Like the Tea Rose, this is a "single note" oil. Arabian Rose is an accord meant to re-create the smell of a particular flower, the indigenous rose of Arabia. It's a big, lush, full, real rose, but more velvety in feeling than the tea rose. It's very strong at first but it softens and gets greener in the drydown.

Top notes: Cyclamen, Damask Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute
Base notes: Moroccan Rose Absolute, Sultry Rose, Tea Rose

Rose Vert

Parfum des Beaux Arts. Natural
Rose Vert is one of the "Perfection Connoisseur Fragrances" - four natural perfumes that form an ultra luxury line within DSH Perfumes. Each one is created with fine natural essences, rarely used in commercial perfumes because of the difficulty in sourcing them and the cost.

Rose Vert opens with lemony citrus. The roses in the heart smell somehow vintage to me, like I have rediscovered a lost Victorian perfume. Rose Vert is like something precious that was kept in a tiny crystal flacon and dabbed on the bosom of a corseted and bustled lady. It's the condensed essence of  rich roses and moss.

Top notes: Citrus Oils
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Damask Rose Absolute, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Turkish Rose Otto
Base notes: Treemoss


My favourites of the bunch are:

  • Beach Roses, which I think I would wear all the time, it's easy and care-free.
  • American Beauty for it's lush rose-red bouquet with dark patchouli.
  • Dirty Rose for all the smoke and leather and moss and the ambergris skin note. It's like a gorgeous and slightly rough man bringing me roses.

House: DSH Perfumes
Nose: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz


  1. Oh, yay - a DSH roses review post! I think her roses are so lovely, and as you say, "true."

    We've got different tastes, I think. I did not get on well with Umber, dirty Rose, or American Beauty, but look at all those balsams and that patchouli... almost a guarantee that they wouldn't suit me. Beach Roses is very comfortable, and the salty, earthy character keeps the roses from being too sour and weightless. I love Rose Vert, though. Wearing it feels like swinging high up over the crossbar of the swingset.

  2. :) Thank you so much for the birthday week review and for your thinking of me! It's such a pleasure to be here; I loved reading each one. I am honored.

  3. Hi Muse,

    We do have different tastes! I love the balsams and patchouli. But hey, that's why it's great that DSH has so many roses to choose from.

  4. Hi Dawn, thanks for stopping by, and Happy Birthday.

  5. Yesterday as I was smelling a tea rose in the park I thought that I want a perfume with exactly that rose scent. Thank you for the review, I will be testing at least some of these roses soon since I like both - the flower and the perfumer.

  6. Lovely review of the roses perfumes, none of which I have smelled. I think I would love the leather note Dirty Rose. As for patchouli and balsams - bring them on! I am in awe of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's artistry - she is so prolific.

  7. Hi Undina, You'll be amazed by the Tea Rose essential oil.

  8. Hi Anna, Dirty Rose is amazing. I wore it again yesterday and loved the leather.

  9. Great reviews. I have only smelled American Beauty once, in a sample pass, and have to admit: I hated it. But I honestly think the sample had gone off or something. It just didn't smell good, and I've never smelled a DSH that didn't smell good, even if it wasn't "me".

  10. Hi Jen, I can't imagine hating American Beauty, unless you hate patch-roses. But I'm a big fan of the genre.


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