**For more about the Outlaw Perfume Project, please read this**
When you search the Life.com website for Mata Hari photos you will find them with the tagline "Dancer, Stripper, Spy". Historical evidence shows she wasn't much of a spy, at least not a real double agent, but Mata Hari still paid with her life. Her notoriety had probably had something to do with that. She was a legend in her life and became an even bigger one when Greta Garbo put on the exotic headdress and took on the famous role.
This was the inspiration for the Outlaw Perfume Mata Hari by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. The perfume does justice not only to the complex and mysterious women- both the spy and the actress who immortalized her, but also to the time period (the turn of the 20th century) and to the genre. Mata Hari is a fruity animalic chypre, and it doesn't get any better than that. Like many of us, I'm somewhat familiar with vintage classics. I own a few, but most of my bottles are from the early days. I have often wondered what the very first bottles of Mitsouko (1919) and other perfumes from that time were like. It seems like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has given us a very good idea.
There's a lengthy list of notes on DSH website and on her blog, but deconstructing Mata Hari wouldn't be doing it justice, because this perfume is all skin, emotion and sensuality. There's a bitter bergamot opening, an exotic full heart of spice and pulpy fruit and a dry-down that is all leather, oakmoss and a gorgeous musk. The fact this is 100% botanical perfume is a(nother) wonderful testimony to the perfumer's talent and skill. It also proves a certain point regarding natural perfumery. The sillage is modest but the staying power quite phenomenal. I can still smell it on my skin 10-12 hours after application, and believe me- I've been using it sparingly.
The bottom line is that Mata Hari is a rich, dark and sensual perfume. When you wear it, the last thing on your mind is eco-whatever and the crunchy granola image of natural products. This is a real perfume, evocative and sexy. It lingers on skin, warms up and envelopes you discreetly (trust me- you wouldn't want Mata Hari to announce your and her presence to the entire boardroom or teacher lounge), draws in the few deserving ones and leaves a delicious leather and peach aroma on your sweater and (his) pillow. It's eye-rolling/toe curling good. Between this lively creature and DSH's other recent brilliant creation, Cuir et Champignon (review coming very soon), I'm in very deep trouble.
Mata Hari is a (very) limited edition (which makes me want to cry). You can read more about Dawn's inspiration for the perfume and the creative process on her blog. A 5ml flask bottle is $85 while the beautiful antique bottle presentation (15 ml) will set you back $225 (dshperfumes.com). A sample for this review was provided by the perfumer.
**DSH is having a holiday sale at the moment- 20% off with code holiday10 (until December 13th). **
Photo of Mata Hari in 1904: life.com