Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Scent of Hope ~ fragrance review, with an aside on Jacques Fath Iris Gris

Iris

I can’t think of another fragrance that matches the mystique of Jacques Fath Iris Gris. Sure, perfume lovers scramble for vintage Mitsouko and study its qualities by the batch number, but Mitsouko is still on the market, and vintage bottles are relatively easy to find. Jacques Fath, perhaps Dior’s closest competition in the New Look years, died in 1954 at the stupidly young age of 42, and Iris Gris — even the name is mysterious and moody — disappeared soon after. Scent of Hope is a recreation of Iris Gris that indie perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz originally made for a private client.

Perfumer Vincent Roubert developed Iris Gris in 1946, just as France was shaking free of World War II.1 Thanks to Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc, I’ve been lucky enough to smell a sample strip dipped in a bottle she bought unopened. I was surprised at how clean it smelled, and how rich the iris was, but of course that bottle was at least 60 years old. I cherish the amber-stained but now-scentless strip as a talisman. But how would Iris Gris smell fresh…

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Coty L’Aimant ~ fragrance review

Coty L'Aimant, vintage advert

“Look what I found for you,” my coworker said and handed me a Coty L’Aimant perfume ad shrink-wrapped on cardboard. It was all in gold and red, featuring a woman in a 1950s coiffure gazing into a tiny stage peppered with various L’Aimant products, from perfume to compacts to body powder. Each product was adorned with a horseshoe magnet encompassing a heart. “To be a magnet — wear a magnet — always!” the copy said.

Well, I could use some magnetizing. Who couldn’t? I remembered the bottle of vintage L’Aimant Eau de Toilette stashed in my perfume cupboard. It was time to put it to the test.

François Coty and Vincent Roubert created L’Aimant over five years, and the fragrance launched in 1927 — for context, the same year that saw the birth of Lanvin Arpège, Caron Bellodgia, and Jean Patou Chaldée. In his book Perfume, Nigel Groom lists L’Aimant’s notes as bergamot, neroli, peach, strawberry, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, vanilla, vetiver and sandalwood. The fragrance fell out of production, then relaunched in 1995, when Groom claims it became the most popular perfume in Great Britain…

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Knize Ten ~ fragrance review

Knize Ten fragrance

I bought my first bottle of the Knize Ten during a particularly long (and chilly) wet season in Los Angeles, and I remember walking to and from work for weeks — wearing Knize Ten — on streets lined with blooming jacaranda trees, their strongly perfumed blue flowers drenched with rain. Today, in Seattle, rain isn’t rare as it was in usually parched and sunny L.A., but Knize Ten still blends well with cool, stormy weather.

The Viennese clothing firm Knize has been around since 1858, and it introduced its first fragrance, Knize Ten, in 1924. (Knize used images of polo players in its advertising, and “ten” is the highest handicap in polo.) There’s no doubt Knize Ten has been through some reformulations* in the last 86 years (its leather and musk notes have been softened considerably since I wore it 15 years ago), but it still possesses a crisp, “classic” vibe; it’s a debonair, spicy-floral leather fragrance…

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Jacques Fath Green Water fragrance review

Jacques Fath Green Water cologne

Scorching weather has arrived — even in the usually temperate Northwest. Last week, the temperature in downtown Seattle hovered around 100 degrees Fahrenheit! During that heat spell I wore an old favorite fragrance: Jacques Fath’s Green Water.

French fashion designer Jacques Fath has been dead for over 50 years and few people recognize his name, but in his heyday in the 1940s and early 1950s, he was considered an innovative designer (and marketer) of women’s clothes. His designs were featured in films and his clientele included Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner. Fath died of leukemia at the peak of his fame at age 42 and his fashion house never really recovered from his loss — no matter who owned it or designed for it. Jacques Fath perfumes were kept in production…

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