Touching the forbidden is always alluring as well; fascinating and wonderfully naughty. I like this. As I began to research what exactly is meant by forbidden fruits I was surprised and delighted to find out that there are many fruits on the list for various reasons...
So says Dawn Spencer Hurwitz in reference to her latest release, the initial trio in a new series called Les Fruits Défendus (Forbidden Fruits), three all-natural perfumes inspired by the cherry, the fig, and the date. Late summer feels like the perfect moment for these scents. My husband and I grow cherries and figs in our small urban garden, so I'm very tuned-in to their seasonal growth and sensory appeal these days. (We also like to buy dates at local Middle Eastern groceries.)
While I've been enjoying all three of these Forbidden Fruits, Eau Cerise is my favorite. It's described as "a wonderfully sophisticated all-botanical, black cherry floriental fragrance" whose notes include black cherry, violet leaf, rose, champaca, cassie flower, licorice, rose geranium, oakmoss and more. (For complete lists, see the Dawn Spencer Hurwitz website.) Cherries have symbolized youth and the eventual loss of sexual innocence in Western art for centuries, hence their inclusion in this collection.
Eau Cerise is the most classical-feeling and most feminine fragrance of this trio. Applied to my skin, it initially makes me think of cherries preserved in brandy. Robin suggests that those of you who like the cherry note in Serge Lutens Rahat Loukhoum will enjoy Eau Cerise, and I agree. It turns less boozy after about fifteen minutes, developing into a dusky, fruit-tinged floral — the rose note is lovely here, and I keep thinking that I detect some iris too — with hints of green from the violet leaf and geranium giving it a slight edge. Since this is an all-natural scent, its longevity is only a few hours, so I've been obsessively re-applying from my little roll-on sample vial.
If you're a fan of fig perfumes, you'll want to try Figue Interdite, "an exotic all-botanical green, fruity, floral fig fragrance with milky nuances in the heart and woody/botanical musks in the dry down." (Notes include coconut, ylang, apricot, peach, davana, galbanum, jasmine, linden, cedar and sandalwood.) The fig is occasionally named as the fruit of the Garden of Eden in ancient Jewish texts, and it's a long-standing, cross-cultural symbol of fertility and sexuality, due to its fleshy, seed-stuffed interior. (Figs: more than just Fig Newtons!)
I don't wear fig fragrances, but I enjoy sniffing them. Figue Interdite is a playful interpretation that seems to shift from stem to leaf to fruit: that is, it starts off with lots of cedarwood, lightens up to reveal its bitter green notes, then gradually smells more like the fig itself. (And the fruity part is very light on the coconut, I'm happy to report. I'm not a coconut fan.) Figue Interdite is quieter and stays closer to the skin than famous niche figs like Diptyque Philosykos or L'Artisan Premier Figuier; if you find either of those a bit "much" for you, you may enjoy Figue Interdite.
Last but definitely not least, we have Bakul Medjool. This one is described as "the scent of a desert caravan in an all-botanical, exotically sweet, resinous, sugar date and incense fragrance." It's named for its use of bakul attar (obtained from the flowers of the mimusops elengi tree) and its evocation of the medjool date, and its notes include elemi, frankincense, benzoin, cinnamon, labdanum, bitter almond and woods. (I can recommend this National Public Radio piece about the date's history as an "exotic" treat!)
If you know and love Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Cimabue, you may want to add Bakul Medjool to your "to try" list. It's not identical, of course, but it satisfies a similar craving for a spicy-yet-smooth oriental. It starts off very oak-y and liquor-y, but that's just the early stages. There's also a mouth-watering burnt sugar accord, a chewy nut-wood mix that does remind me of dried fruits like dates, and smoky threads of resin. The dry down also includes a creamy sandalwood. Bakul Medjool is the most enduring of these three scents, persisting for 6 hours or so on my skin.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has just released a few other all-botanical fragrances, including Summer Cologne and Lis Oriental, that I'm looking forward to trying. For the moment, however, I'm happy with these three "temptations."
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Les Fruits Défendus, Volume 1: Eau Cerise, Figue Interdite and Bakul Medjool are available in a variety of sizes and formats; the 10 ml Eau de Parfum roll-on is $60 for Eau Cerise, $58 for Figue Interdite and $59 for Bakul Medjool. For buying information, see the listing for Dawn Spencer Hurwitz under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image is detail from China Bowl with Figs, a Bird, and Cherries by Giovanna Garzoni [background color added], 1651-1662, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.