In a winter that has dragged on for what seems like an eternity as one wet, super-extended November, life ground itself down to a dark gray powder as plaintive and as melancholy as any early Bergman film.
Melancholy is no state of mind with which to celebrate the coming arrival of spring. For spring, we need exuberance, beauty and above all things else, a perfume to put a smile on our faces, a cancan laugh on our skin and not a little sunshine in our souls.
Of all the perfume families I have become enamored with over the course of my life, few make me run for the hills faster than the dreaded fruity floral/oriental. In fact, the mere term ‘berry’ anything turns me green in all the worst ways. I am neither so young nor so naïve to think it necessary to waft any berry in my wake to add to my dubious allure.
Nothing pleases me more than to eat my words and give myself over with a rueful laugh to the wonders of my all-time favorite berry of all.
Imagine it. A succulent, fragrant, red berry in front of you with all its promises of a carefree summer’s day dances its exuberant Galop Infernal around crème frangipane and a flaky, warm brioche. I double dare you not to feel your wintry cares drop to the flowering ground like so many superfluous woolen overcoats.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ Amouse Bouche – part of her triptych of perfumes created for the Denver Art Museum’s Passport to Paris exhibition – is that kind of strawberry.
Amouse Bouche (the misspelling is an intentional visual pun) was inspired by the Paris of the Belle Époque and by a humorous sketch by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec called The Dunce’s Cap.
With such inspirations, it would figure that this is a) neither an ordinary strawberry nor b) an ordinary fruity-floral gourmand.
I don’t know what I expected, and you’d think I’d have a few ideas by now. Nevertheless, here it is. Yours truly, conquered by a laughing strawberry extravaganza as swirling and dizzying as any Art Nouveau curves, as lighthearted and flirtatious as the cancan dancers at the Moulin Rouge and with all of La Goulue’s unrivalled appetite for all of life’s most delectable pleasures.
Follow me now Messieurs et Madames, in through these ruby red doors into a sparkling, ever-present heart of luscious strawberry (with optional lemony champagne). Do you feel your cares melting away by the minute, can you sense how winter all but burns to an wisp of fog in your mind in that juicy, happy heart of light?
Come in, come in! Our show is only just beginning as all your winter-worn cares vanish like smoke in the limelight, for here come our belles of the ball in their strawberry skirts and their flashing black stockings, les dames fleuries, the blushing jasmine and the queenly rose, the neroli with her saucy winks and the ylang with her sunshine yellow laugh.
Cold? What cold? Impossible to be cold in such warm and happy company as the troupe dances out and in again as the crowd roars its approval, as the strawberries twirl in aldehyde champagne and dulcet buttery vanilla whirls its pas de deux with caramel until at long, long last, only the sandalwoody gloss of tonka bean and vetiver fade away as the sun rises over Montmartre.
When you know that in those hours in the magical dark only laughter and sunshine breathed, when all winter woes and worries fled far, far north. All that remained was the joyous memory of an ooh la laugh of strawberry bliss and even your soul was very amused indeed.
Notes: Aldehydes, strawberry, bergamot, lemon, grandiflorum jasmine, Bulgarian rose, neroli, ylang ylang, butter CO2 extract, Tahitian vanilla, ambrette seed CO2 extract, caramel, tonka bean, Australian sandalwood, vetiver.
Amouse Bouche is available from the DSH Perfumes website, where sample sets of the entire Passport to Paris collection are also available and absolutely recommended.
Disclosure: A sample of Amouse Bouche was provided for review by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. For which I thank her with my words, a wink and a laugh and a half!