What's the opposite of a Victorian violet? The answer, apparently, is Vers la Violette from DSH Perfumes (part of the Passport to Paris collection for Denver Art Museum). Greener than the classic Balmain Jolie Madame, Vers la Violette is a very abstract leather violet that has both an outdoorsy quality with a very sleek urban feel.
Perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz found her inspiration for Vers la Violette in a 1893 impressionistic painting, Village by Hippolyte Petitjean. This particular Village stands out among other Petitjean landscapes by being all about the skyline and the silhouette of the buildings against the sky, instead of his usual hills and trees backdrop. DSH ran with this idea and took the violet note out of the romantic garden into a modern setting where it's neither feminine nor masculine. The abstract effect is achieved because Vers la Violette isn't particularly powdery; neither is it candied. Instead, the fragrance starts green and airy, like opening a window early in the morning and letting fresh air in (the fresh element on its leafy and dewy facets don't sit particularly well on my skin, but it doesn't last beyond a couple of minutes). But what is in the air? Not an English cottage garden, that's for sure.
Instead, you welcome the city inside your room. And the city in this case is Paris. Violet, leather, and a hint of civet (not quite enough, if you ask me) feel like a smart suede jacket that one wears accessorizes with a vintage purple scarf and goes outside to face the day.
Notes: galbanum, bergamot, lemon, violet leaf, cyclamen, orange flower, orris root, Bulgarian rose, violet, sandalwood, oakmoss, labdanum, suede, and civet.
DSH Perfumes- Vers la Violette ($63, 10ml EDP. Other sizes, concentrations, and samples also available) can be purchased from dshperfumes.com. The sample for this review was sent for my consideration by the perfumer.
Image: A 1936 French airmail stamp.