Thursday, January 28, 2010

She's clingier than Ivy, and she's zingier than black-eyed Susan...

DSH Perfumes American Beauty (Rose No. 1)

There was a time in my young life when I really wanted to be a landscape architect. When I thought "landscape architect" I meant, you know, like Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park, the grounds of the Biltmore estate, the grounds of far flung univerities like Michigan State, WashU in St. Louis, and Stanford in California, and many other beautiful outdoor locales. My (bio) mother, being the sort of person who doesn't tend to encourage people to dream, told me that "landscape architect" meant driving the truck for day laborers who worked in yards.

Did I mention my whole family was also really, really racist? Yeah. There are reasons I live three thousands miles away now.

Anyway, my dream of landscape architecture crushed, I never lost my love for natural and structured landscapes or the beautiful flowers that frequently adorn them. Consequently, I have a weird amount of familiarity with flowers and plants, particularly roses because I have been in love with them since my uncle planted one in my grandmother's yard as part of his marriage proposal. I've always found them very romantic. Thus, I now feel the need to impart a little floral history knowledge to you, dear reader.

The "American Beauty" rose was actually bred in France in 1875 and is of the hybrid perpetual variety. The cup-shaped flowers are actually deep pink and strongly scented, are frequently confused with "Rosa," aka "Red American Beauty" which is actually a hybrid tea. Your hybrid tea (the photo set left here, which is actually the "Caesar Chavez") is the more familiar and popular image of a rose, so what many of us think of as the "American Beauty" rose, a rose frequently thought of as the red lush roses from the film American Beauty, is actually a deep pink rose with ruffly petals (pictured here, set to the right). The American Beauty is the official flower of the District of Columbia, so if you've visited DC in Spring or Summer, you've probably seen these in full bloom.

But enough about flowers. Let's get to the floral perfume!

According to the perfumer, American Beauty is "Caressing. Enveloping. Passionate." The notes are

Top notes: Bergamot, Cassis Bud, Palma Rosa, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Orris
Base notes: Ciste Absolute, East Indian Patchouli, Mysore Sandalwood, Peru Balsam

American Beauty is greener and woodier than other roses I've tried. It is definitely more "rose" than anything else, probably a testament to the all the different rose essences in the mix here. It is a more classic rose scent, and that it is so well done is a testament to Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's skill as a perfumer. Making a classic rose that doesn't smell synthetic, that actually smells appealing? That's quite a get. In that sense, American Beauty is reflective of the actual history of the American Beauty, even if it is not what popular culture has necessarily brought us to picture when we here American Beauty. Because the truth is, the real American Beauty actually has a nicer smell than it's hybrid tea impostor. It is the rose that appears so frequently on vintage postcards. It used to be the American popular image of a rose, but has in recent times been replaced by a flower that might be more photogenic, but is not quite as nice an experience. And that, well, that could be a metaphor for beauty standards all over right now, couldn't it? It would be nice if we could capture that image of true quality again.

You can buy American Beauty direct from the perfumer in 1oz EdP for $90, as well as the parfum in various sizes and presentations, including antique bottles and limited edition charms. American Beauty is also available in shea butter based body creme, body lotion, or foaming body wash. This one is also available through The Posh Peasant.

"I'm daffy as a daffodil.
It's laughable the way I thrill
when roses are in bloom.
Pansy is pretty; willow is tall.
Violet's kisses, tulip's recall...
how can I choose one?
I love them all.
Still I finally chose an American beauty rose."

- "American Beauty Rose," Frank Sinatra (you can listen to the song here)

Want more reviews? Try...
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin' Things
~ a review from Essence of Perfume
~ a review from Sniffapalooza Magazine

3 comments:

Ines said...

I see your winding your way through DSH creations as well. :)
Although I know she's very talented, I get surprised over and over again when trying her perfumes.

Diana said...

Yes I do love her scents. It's one of those things where I tried a bunch of them when I first started but never reviewed them and now I'm finally winding my way back around to them. I love not only the amazing quality, but the variety of scents and the variety of presentations available. In the wake of Ava Luxe basically ending most of its line, it's nice to see DSH constantly adding new things.

ChickenFreak said...

Mmm. Green and woody and rosy. I'm still trying to find my rose - how can I love the flower so much and not love _any_ of the perfumes? Sounds like a candidate.