For the past few days, I've been feeling the need to purge after all my holiday indulgences — too much wine, too many desserts, more than a few late nights. I need to eat lighter, drink lots of water, get a little winter sunshine on my face. Even when I'm reaching for a fragrance in the morning, I want something crisp that pierces my mental fog. That means a short break from my usual soft florals and sweet orientals, in favor of something different. For the past few days, I've been trying Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Albino (A Study in White).
Hurwitz writes, "What is it to be without pigment? There seems to be a kind of quality; a luminosity and sense of lightness. So then what? 'White' materials…and a questioning: what does white feel like? Albino takes an abstract look at white from a synesthetic and textural stance." Albino's composition includes notes of grapefruit, guaiac wood, musk, rhubarb, sandalwood, sweet basil, grandiflorum jasmine, tonka, vetiver, white cognac, white oak, ambrette and patchouli.
I'll admit that Albino's name put me off for a minute; it's just a little distracting. (Why not name this fragrance Alba or Blanc, or something that doesn't make me picture a white rabbit?) Now that I think about it, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has created other fragrances that allude to the color white. Winter White makes me think of snow, cream, and white chocolate; Powder feels like cotton balls and baby powder. Albino is different, though; it's not fluffy or comforting. It evokes things that may be pale but are also a bit raspy and raw: birch bark, homespun linen, the fibrous pith of citrus fruits.
That last one, the fruit pith (grapefruit, specifically), is front and center in Albino: it's very bitter in the fragrance's opening, where it's joined by hints of smoky-burnt wood, but it mellows a little once a tart rhubarb note and something like over-ripe red berries emerge. Albino never turns "juicy," however. It's dry, even astringent. I can catch the anise-like note of sweet basil in the heart, and then the rest of the fragrance's development brings out some natural-smelling wood notes and a very quiet hint of creamy tonka. The grapefruit pith, interestingly, never really fades out; it's surprisingly tenacious for a citrus note.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz describes Albino as a "modern fougère," and it's definitely gender-neutral, perhaps slightly more "masculine" than "feminine." It wears close to the skin and has average staying power. It's an unusual take on the color white, and it's definitely invigorating — by the time it wears off, I'm even feeling more focused and ready to get on with the rest of my day.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Albino is available in Voile de Parfum and Eau de Parfum in a number of sizes ($6-$155). For purchasing information, see the listing for Dawn Spencer Hurwitz under Perfume Houses.