June 18, 2014
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
DSH, as she is called by her devoted following, has worked with aromatics for over 20 years. Dawn came to perfumery in 1991. While working at Boston’s ESSENSE Perfumery, she developed her talent for creating perfumes based on fine art principals. For the past several years, Dawn has created “Art Projects”, the newest collection to Dawn’s innovative lines of ready-to-wear artisan perfumes. Dawn has created aroma-art expressions for Denver Art Museum, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA), the Dairy Center for the Arts and has presented one person multi-sensory art gallery events including “Quintessence” for Naropa University’s Nalanda Gallery (2010). All of her creations are available at Dawn’s own Essense Studio in Boulder, Colorado, where she is based.
Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
Your Name: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Where you live: Boulder, CO
Where you came from: Dover Plains, NY
Your Medium: Perfume
The name of your work: Debutante in White with Blue
Dimensions: (Height, length, width & weight) : 4”, 2.5”, .75”; approx 1 oz.
Price: Wholesale (how much would your work be to buy?) $75 per/1oz.
What made you want to participate in this project?
I enjoy collaborative projects; especially when engaging multi-sensory art concepts. When I heard about the concept of ‘artistic telephone’, I knew that I wanted to play.
Without going back to the art I sent you what do you remember about it?
The flowing form (shape), tonalities and texture, the medium (paper), the sense of who might inhabit the piece and when they might have inhabited it.
What was your first reaction to the art? (thoughts, emotions, memories, tastes, smells etc?)
A feeling of time and space. The object spoke of form and fashion as well as who might have worn the piece, where and when they might have. It felt like a time capsule piece of delicate beauty. I wanted my piece to speak to this sense of history as well as the form and medium.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the art I sent what would it be?
What emotion did it elicit?
Fragility in the face of convention. It felt youthful but attempting to be more…like a girl trying on her mother’s dress. I felt the temporal nature of living in society. That this moment and all that is dreamed of it will change to new moments with new expectations and new requirements. I also felt something about the fleeting nature of fashions.
What was the art about in your mind? (Did it tell a story? Paint a picture? Etc.)
I think that the art was mainly about medium (paper) and the construction of something that one wears out of something that one does not wear. I also felt that there was something about the chosen medium as a statement to comfort vs. rigidity and conformity. I imagined the girl / woman who would wear the paper dress and where she might wear it, so in that sense it did tell me a story. Or I told a story about it.
Take me through each step of your process from getting the art to the creation of your work.
When the paper dress was first delivered, I immediately felt the ‘story’ coming about a girl going to a party. But not an informal one: it was a cotillion or something like that. And it seemed retro, so I was immediately drawn to vintage ingredients. I also wanted to speak to the fact that the dress was paper – white with blue touches. I wanted to express the sense of the paper, the color and the shape. (It was a flowing skirt with a fitted waistline and ruffles along the strapless top, all frilly with ruffles of blue). These ruffles also gave the impression of carnations from a florist, so that was my focal heart note. As the dress was retro (it seemed mid-twentieth century) I thought that the historical reference of aldehydes and a slightly animalic drydown would speak to the perfumes in vogue at the time. I composed the perfume design in my head as I looked at the dress. When it was complete in my mind’s eye, I was ready to start formulating. I wanted to create the perfume that represented the dress itself as well as to create the perfume that the “wearer” might lavish on themselves while wearing the dress. This is what I had in mind. It IS the dress as well as the person who wears it.
What did you title your work and why?
Debutante in White with Blue ( I almost added a date: 1958? Or perhaps, 1965? ’72?) The piece gave the impression that this might be a debutante’s coming out gown. I feel that it fits the sense of youthfulness and formality inherent in the dress.
What part of your work came to you first?
The entire smell came flooding into my perception immediately. I started writing down impressions that my mind’s “nose” was smelling as I looked at it and felt the texture. It usually all comes at once.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different?
I normally create in a similar fashion. I create a number of multi-sensory interpretations, so this was a type of thing that I do every chance I get.
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation?
I used a very classical, structural approach instead of a more modern approach. I felt that this would speak to the ‘society’ within which the dress might find itself.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know?
I chose to create a spray, Eau de Toilette, vehicle instead of a stronger perfume format as I felt that the young woman would not have used the extrait / perfume at this point in her life. It seemed like the way she would have worn the scent (with the dress)
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience?
Yes, I very much enjoyed this project and working with Sally. It really is one of my favorite types of collaborative projects.