October 7, 2017
Photo: Decades for Elle Magazine by Signe Vilstrup©
Very few perfumers rival the Vintage / Nouveau-Retro style of fragrance as authentically as Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (I’ve been around long enough that many of the perfumes I adore and anoint myself with are now considered “vintage”; perhaps that phrase might be applied to me as well). Heaven knows, I already wear Foxy, Rendezvous and Chinchilla to excess.They address an aspect of being which I cherish – my animal nature. When little sample sets arrive in the post from Colorado, shivers run down my spine: it’s Dawn! What olfactory mischief has she been up to this time?
House of Weil Zibeline vintage ad
Dawn has been revisiting the elegant aldehydic animalic oriental perfumes which delight so many of us. This time around, it’s her homage to the great classic from the House of Weil launched in 1928 – Zibeline by Claude Fraysse (Claude’s son, André Fraysse – created perfumes for the House of Lanvin; grandson Richard Fraysse currently composes fragrances for Caron.)
Myrna Loy by George Hurrell, 1934.
Because the Weils were well-known furriers, the fragrances created for them were ‘fur perfumes’: Zibeline, Chinchilla Royal, Hermine.
Kay Francis, gown designed by Orry-Kelly, 1934.
Une Robe de Zibeline stands upon its own merit: it is sumptuous and secretive as a veiled countess trailing sables behind her, gliding down the spiraling staircase en route to an erotic assignation.
Jean Harlow Dinner at 8
I dreamed of becoming such a female, worthy of a perfume such as this when I was a girl – knowing that if I couldn’t resemble her, at least I might smell like her. Such is the inner life. Is Une Robe de Zibeline a seditious perfume? You be the judge…
Carole Lombard by James Doolittle, 1936
Scintillating top notes alert the senses. Shimmering aldehydes tease the olfactory palate – bearing bergamot, lemon, nose-tickling black pepper and deft spice notes. Its heart is primarily floral: creamy, buttery ylang ylang holds court surrounded by a bevy of blooms, including my beloved carnation and growling grandiflorum jasmine. Few roses match the Bulgarian, who finds rosewood so companionable. Silvery orris counterpoints the coumarinic warmth of tobacco (so sophisticated!) as Dawn incorporates her own sable fur accord (I’m sensing costus). If this weren’t sufficient, we find ourselves draped in the leathery, animalic ambered base with a honeyed soupçon of French beeswax – in itself decadent and faintly overripe.
Marilyn Monroe Black Cape Sitting, Milton Green 1954©
This is a grand perfume – stealthy, sinuous, and unapologetically seductive. It doesn’t give everything away at once; it doesn’t need to. Suggestion, intimation of tantalizing intention is far more sensual than full disclosure. Unless you are nude beneath your sable dreamcoat, wearing naught but Une Robe de Zibeline.
Notes~Top: aldehydes, bergamot, black pepper, lemon, spice notes;Heart: ylang ylang, Bulgarian rose absolute, carnation, grandiflorum jasmine, orris, rosewood, tobacco absolute, coumarin, sable fur accord;Base: ambergris, French beeswax, brown oakmoss, castoreum, civet, East Indian patchouli, Siam benzoin, labdanum, Tolu balsam, leather
Thank you, Dawn – for the marvelous samples! My nose is my own…
~ Ida Meister, Senior Editor
~ Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief
Carole Lombard Coloured by History in Colour©
Editor's Note: "Une Robe de Zibeline is a reworking of “a more spiced amber oriental fragrance with subtle animalic hints from the DSH Perfumes ‘Retrograde Files’ (September, 2017). These designs are a remix of scents she had to stop making as the ingredients weren’t available any longer, etc., but now Dawn is able to envision them in a whole new light.” Ida wrote a review of the House of Weil Zibeline forÇaFleureBon in 2011, which is the fragrance that inspired Dawn. You can read it here. –Michelyn
Thanks to the largesse of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes, we have a draw for 10 ml voile de parfum of Une Robe de Zibeline for one registered reader anywhere in the world. Please be sure to register. To be eligible please let us know what appeals to you about Ida’s review, where you live, your favorite DSH perfume and if you like vintage perfumes. Draw closes 10/10/2017