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eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Monday, September 12, 2011

DSH Perfumes Pandora: A Beautiful Evil [new launch]

The image that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz associates with her new perfume Pandora  is of Odilon Redon's 1914 painting "Pandora", and she sites Redon as one of her favorite artists and an ongoing inspiration to her. Redon is also one of my favorite artists, so I was happy to know that Dawn and I have one more thing in common (and this is a good 'un). Redon's "The Spider" has been a long-running spark to my imagination, and while quite different from the style of "Pandora", a case could be made that "The Spider" could also represent the idea of "beautiful evil" as told by the Greek Hesiod

he may look evil, but you'd be surprised

Most of us know the Greek myth of Pandora, and how she unleashed evil on the world by opening her box, but there is always a flipside when it comes to extremes. Along with evil, she also set truth free upon the world and allowed humankind to gain knowledge of what truth really means. This changes the ideals of the human race forever. To me, Socrates' statement that "the unexamined life is not worth living" very much applies to me. I find the alternative a bit terrifying-- I'm the sort that prefers to live in truth no matter how disagreeable, because honesty and integrity are of paramount importance to me. As I discovered the artistic intent behind Dawn's perfume Pandora, I realized how well this concept suits not only my life, but Dawn's as well. Dawn is one of those people who, if you know her at all, you know that her intentions are pure, her spirit is generous and her conscience is clear. These are the kind of people I like to surround myself with. 

Pandora is a siren song to lovers of the classic, unadulterated chypre; in fact, it has many of the startlingly narcotic qualities of the much-missed vintages that perfume lovers the world over currently mourn. While the ozone and aldehydes present in the opening give Pandora a bit of modernity, the predominant notes soon reveal themselves to me as rose de mai, patchouli and oak moss. It's the recreation of the "Mousse de Saxe" accord, however, that is most noteworthy here. It was originally created by Ernest Daltroff for the French house Caron, and famously used in Nuit de Noel among others. It traditionally consists of geranium, licorice, leather, iodine and vanillin. In Pandora, Dawn has modified and used it to great effect, giving the blend a cool, almost icy anisic smoothness, like a deep chocolate brown in olfactory form. With the inclusion of oak moss, Pandora confidently leads us to the densest part of the forest to seat us on its rich and fertile floor, where it's unclear even what time of day it is (but it ceases to matter). Dawn used some materials that are relatively new to perfumery in order to create this perfume, and it leaves its impression as an ode to the classics (which Dawn is spectacularly good at), while treading new ground at the same time. 

The drydown is my favorite part of Pandora-- it leaves a long-lasting trail of powdery and slightly sweet amber and tonka, the soft breath of orris, and recalls vintage Miss Balmain and even Coty L'Origan. There is history contained within these rich depths, and if there is evil to be found in this particular beauty, it can only be through the temptation to indulge oneself. 

Pandora is 97.5% natural origin, and 2.5% synthetic origin, and the notes include:

TOP: ruby fruits (botanical), bergamot, aldehyde, spice notes, ozone, violet leaf absolute, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper

HEART: rose de mai absolute, juhi jasmine, linden blossom absolute, yerba mate absolute, cabrueva 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, green oakmoss, vanilla absolute

Here is a list of links to other bloggers participating in this launch event:

Scent Hive
Perfume Pharmer
This Blog Really Stinks
Esscentual Alchemy
Indie Perfumes
DSH Notebook
Oh, True Apothecary
Scentual Soundtracks

[sample of fragrance provided by DSH for review]


  1. The ex-philosophy major in me (I spent two years specializing in Hellenic philosophy!) squealed while reading this review. The chypre lover in me swooned.

    I hope to have the opportunity to try this scent soon! And as always, your reviews are second to none.

  2. If Apollo gave music and Aphrodite beauty, to Pandora, you have surely given given her a heart. This one is definately going to the top of the list.

  3. Oh, this is a very exciting release! I cannot wait to try it after reading the review!

    Love Greek mythology, too.

  4. Joey- I should have known you were a philosophy buff. That totally makes sense for some reason. I loved studying philosophy, but was a skeptic ALWAYS. Debbie Downer, they called me.

  5. Sharryn, you just made my heart melt with your comment, thank you!

  6. Warum, thank you for your comment! I do hope you try Pandora, I think many people will love it.

  7. How much did I love reading this review? I'm now in love with the Pandora painting and feel fuzzy looking at the spider. I'm intrigued by the perfume and spellbound by your words.

  8. What a beautiful, lyrical review! I'm such a sucker for Greek mythology. And with notes like that, it has to be epic. This is definitely going on my to-try-soon list!

  9. Carrie, I think that I have to steal Liz's phrase to describe how I feel at reading your incredible review: "spellbound by your words". :) I absolutely am... I especially love that you 'get' Redon... not everybody does. You are right: yet another thing we so connect on. I love that, too! It is a pleasure and an honor to be here at eyelineronacat! Thank you so much! oxoxo

  10. Gadzooks! What a punch this perfume must pack - y'all are going bonkers over Pandora!

    Judging by your description of the notes, plus your summary of intent and backstory, Pandora deserves every bit of "hurrah" she gets!

  11. With each next review I read I'm more and more interested to try this perfume. I really like the name. I wonder what will be released when I first open the jar?..

  12. Oh- this sounds fabulous. I have been obsessed with vintage scents lately. And that drydown sounds exactly like what I am craving!