lilas blanc de coty (launch 1910)

{an excerpt from  DSH’s dshnotebook blog …} 


There’s a sense of nostalgia doesn’t stop with the fresh lilacs in bloom around my yard and neighborhood.  I have found that for many generations, the scent of lilacs have been the subject of many a historical perfume.  Some rather famous in their day and important to the progression of the scent, in design terms.  A couple of favorites of mine, from the early twentieth century are from the classic houses Houbigant, with “Le Temps des Lilas” (1921), and Coty with his “Lilas Blanc” (1910).  And then a couple more, the mid-century beauties (both) “White Lilac” by Mary Chess  (1930) and Dorothy Gray (1945).  In the case of Dorothy Gray, White Lilac was among her most famous and best selling.

Vintage-Mary-Chess-WHITE-LILAC-Toilet-Water-Perfume                    dorothy_gray_whLilac_lotion

I didn’t get the chance to pull out the Mary Chess nor the Dorothy Gray from the ArtScent Museum‘s collection in storage but I did want to delve into the scent of the Coty “Lilas Blanc” since I have been thinking so much about the vintage styles of lilac perfumes while working with the fresh lilacs in bloom in the studio.  It’s interesting to me that as I’ve been working on my newest lilac inspired fragrance, “La Belle Saison” (a soon to be released, all natural / botanical design) as opposed to last Spring’s “White Lilac” (a mixed media creation), it’s the all-botanical that has come into being as a somewhat vintage referencing design.  Perhaps it’s that in the early 20th Century, the lilac-style molecules were less developed but I also think that perfume styles in general were more romantic and even with the soliflores, more impressionistic than realistic.  There was a sense of what a perfume must be, design-wise, whereas now, a soliflore can be as realistic and straightforward – linear as you please.  I don’t really think that was so back then.  Whether it’s a stylistic choice or a refection of the constraint of the perfumer’s palette at the time, it’s true that most florals, even intended soliflores have a ‘bouquet’ quality about them.

ArtScent Museum’s “Lilas Blanc” de Coty, c.1920’s

Coty’s Lilas Blanc opens with a waft of soft green leaves and lemony nuances that give me an immediate impression of magnolia and hawthorn.  Just beneath is a subtle layer of violety ionones adding to the fluffy powder impression that begins moments into the scent and continues well into the drydown.  The heart begins to reveal the full bouquet concept notes of jasmine, heliotrope and clover emerge along with a rosey-honey-plummy-lilac accord that feels sweet, and rich but still quite soft and demure.

ArtScent Museum’s “Lilas Blanc” de Coty, c.1930’s

As the base note weighs in, the jasmine and heliotrope warm themselves against musk, civet, and powedery-woody vetiveryl acetate.  The use of the acetate instead of the pure oil allows the soft fluffiness to continue instead of being pulled solidly into the earth.  The acetate is more sheer and manageable when a light hand is needed.  The very end drydown is soft, warm, and honey-floral-fuzzy, like the underside of a bumble bee.

There are nuances in Coty’s Lilas Blanc that very much remind me of vintage style apple blossom perfumes; of course because many of the same ingredients were used to create them and the overall fantasy of the “Spring Floral” has similar qualities to it.  {Apple blossoms are another charmer for me and I have a thing for finding all kinds of vintage versions to compare).  What I really found interesting is there is little evidence of the fruity nuances that are found in fresh lilac blossoms and in more modern perfume constructions.

There is definitely a romance to lilac perfumes, whether vintage or more modern in style.  I’m having a ball chasing that chameleon around with my perfumer’s organ.  And waxing poetic about one of the most beloved flowers.  ox

Image credits:  dreamy lilac shots by DSH, ArtScent Museum Lilas Blanc images by DSH, mary chess image found here; dorothy gray hand lotion image found here; dorothy gray summer splash image found on eBay.



Something wonderful happened a few weeks ago, during the Open Studios event we had at the beginning of the month.  A delightful woman who was looking at paintings at the studio fell in love with the ArtScent Museum and decided to donate her late mom’s perfumes to us.  Of course, we were thrilled as there is always a treasure in the box, among many usual bottles / perfumes that are easy to procure, to help complete our collections or create a point of interest for a theme show.  This particular donation was filled with incredible “preciouses”.  {Yes, that’s a Lord of the Rings reference and it’s how we all feel about each bottle, sample and decant we catalogue.  Each one is true love for one reason or another}.  Exciting isn’t the word to describe the delving into a donation box… JOY is, I think.

You know I felt the need to share some of the treasures. And make some “art shots”, too.  ENJOY~

fabulous vintage Chanel no.5 Eau de Toilette {still sealed}
a great assortment of Lanvin’s Arpege {even a vintage decant!}
micro mini of Le Galion’s Bourrasque {art shot}
I just LOVE this delightful insert. A gem.
Vintage Chanel No.5 Extrait

Gratitude is another word, too.  The one we feel towards our benefactors, large and small.  Thank you.

{originally published 10.31.12}

something fun for today :: vintage vignettes

While we’re still enjoying the glow from the opening of our first mini-show of Francois Coty, we’ve taken the opportunity to make some micro “assemblages” as a previews for upcoming concepts / items to be on display in a more formal show.  Here’s one of my favorites:

a couple of Lucien Lelong ‘hobnail’ bottles.  Hauntingly beautiful.

{originally published 10.26.12}

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Maggie Mahboubian

I treasure my tiny bottle of Indiscret parfum. It is a masterpiece that unfolds exponentially as it dries down.

at long last :: our first mini show: Francois Coty early works

As many have noticed as they started following our progress back in July of last year, no one has heard from us in quite awhile.  Much has happened in the progress of developing the Museum, from happily having our display cases arrive and be installed to considering what we will show first.  While the official launch and opening of the Museum is set now for next year, we have decided to mount a small *preview show* to coincide with Boulder Open Studios and the fact that the Essense Studio will be open to show all of Dawn’s paintings, gem art works (jewelry) and of course her multi-sensory aroma art pieces.

We are so happy to announce the first showing of “Francois Coty: Early Works” starting October 6, 2012.  This isn’t the full compliment of Coty works in the museum’s collection but they are some of our favorites.  We’ll have a complete Coty show in the future but for now we are thrilled to have these beauties on display.  We heartily invite everyone who will be in the Boulder, Colorado area to come and visit us.  Here are some of my favorite pieces (but not all…) in the show:

Blessings to all who helped make this dream a reality.  ox               {there is more to come}

{originally published 10.2.12}


the  Art Scent Museum room ready to be filled

It’s taken most of the month, but the construction is finished.  A new wall, a new floor, lights and an all hand-painted, completely GOLD room has emerged.  Yes, this is what we envisioned all along, to make the room gold.  Some folks looked at us strangely when describing it but this is what we wanted and it really works: the sense of walking into a jewel box all sparkling… or now that it’s done, like walking into Tutankhamen’s tomb, all splendorous.  And somehow a small, windowless room has been transformed to feel remarkably spacious, comfortable and luxurious even without its precious cargo: the perfumes themselves.

DSH sniffing a 1927 ‘raspberry’ stopper from an early bottle of Lanvin “Arpege” in the gold room

The next step is, of course, the display cases.  Soon come.

For now, we’ll enjoy the glorious gold.

{originally published 7.31.11}

the ArtScent (perfume) Museum

The first wall has just gone up and we’re about to start painting.  It couldn’t be more exciting!  We’ve been cataloging for nearly a year and things are starting to fully manifest; it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL.  The Art Scent Museum.  It’s a dream come true.

So, we’re starting this blog to not only share the development, goings on, and exhibits at the Museum but to share our passion for all things scent!

Welcome to ScentMuse!

{originally published 6.18.11}

hello ScentMuse

This is our new blog.  We’re happy to be here.

We’re currently switching over all of our older posts (for continuity) from our old blog.  We’ll publish the original date at the end of each post to catch you up.  Hopefully we’ll get going on more frequent posts soon to tell you all about what’s happening at the ArtScent Museum.