Lately, when I pick my perfume for the day, I've been choosing comfort scents that soothe me just enough to get some necessary work done but not so much that I want to cocoon myself in bed. Over the past two weeks I've kept returning to two particular fragrances that fit that description, and both happen to be inspired by beverages: Sunday from Arielle Shoshana and Hot Masala by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.1
Arielle Shoshana Sunday is a "sweet, green, undefinable" scent promising "Sunday serenity, any day of the week." It was inspired by Ari's favorite Sunday-morning beverage, matcha horchata, and was developed by perfumer Cécile Hua. It includes notes of matcha tea, rice milk, cinnamon, maté absolute, cardamom, coconut, amber, sandalwood and vanilla.
I've tasted matcha (a beverage made from Japanese powdered green tea) and horchata (a drink of sweetened rice milk with cinnamon) separately, but not together, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Sunday. My verdict: it's delightful. Sunday dawns like toasty-sweet puffed rice on my skin. Its "green" notes hover like steam over the rest of the composition, which is more milky-spicy (but light on the cinnamon, which relieved me!) and then dries down into a cozy sandalwood with nutty and vanillic accents.
Sunday doesn't read specifically as "tea," nor as "gourmand," although it incorporates both ideas into its final impression. Robin enjoyed Saturday, Arielle Shoshana's debut fragrance, and I'd recommend Sunday to her as well. It might even qualify as a "wood pudding™," her favorite fragrance sub-genre — "spicy and creamy, and comforting." I hope she'll give it a try, if she hasn't already!
I recently caught myself wondering, "Will any independent perfumers respond to our current situation through their work?" Yes! Dawn Spencer Hurwitz writes, "Many times in the past, as a visual artist, I have begun series of drawings as a form of confronting/contending with difficult emotions and situations in order to find a healing space. In the time of COVID-19, I have felt this same need arise: to create a series of work based on things found around my home."
One of Dawn's "Isolation/Meditation" scents derived from those drawings is Tea and Charcoal; another is Hot Masala. I like both, but Hot Masala is the one I keep craving right now. It combines a "golden milk accord" with a "mix" of jasmines, resins, and spices; other specific notes include ambrette seed, sandalwood, butter C02, champaca leaf, coconut pulp, frankincense, galub attar, green cardamom, myrrh, opopanax, benzoin and white pepper.
That reads like a lot, but Hot Masala smells smooth and compact, and does not remind me of a bag of spicy Indian snacks! It starts off like a very buttery jasmine on my skin, and then the spices filter through the creaminess. I'm noticing cardamom, turmeric and soft white pepper, with the blend of resins giving everything else a base to rest on. Despite its creamy aspect, Hot Masala never turns dessert-like; even with that bouquet of spices, it feels soothing rather than invigorating.
Hot Masala is an all-natural perfume and, as such, has good staying power on me. I'm still noticing a subtle layer of milky woods on my wrist up to five hours after applying it...and then I'm looking forward to "refreshing" it.
Perfume has been giving me even more pleasure than usual lately, despite (and/or because of) my jangled nerves. I wish we could all share a soothing drink together, and I wish I could come up with an appropriate toast for us to exchange — not "cheers!" but something a little less celebratory and more restorative. If you have an idea for that toast, please share it below! And, as always, take good care of yourselves.
Arielle Shoshana Sunday is available as 10 ml ($26) or 50 ml ($125) Eau de Parfum at the Arielle Shoshana website. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Hot Masala is available in various sizes and formulations, including 10 ml ($58) and 30 ml ($125) Eau de Parfum at the DSH Perfumes website. Samples of both are also available at their respective websites.
1. Ari, proprietor of Arielle Shoshana, and I became friends through fragrance circles when she was living in NYC, but I purchased my own sample of Sunday out of curiosity. Dawn and I have become friends through social media and email over the period of many years (and multiple purchases). As Robin would say, I know them both well enough to warrant a disclaimer: if I had hated their fragrances, I probably just wouldn't have said anything.