Atmosphere

Finishing Touch: Making Scents

August 2010

Creating perfume is often considered a French specialty, but self-taught niche perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, owner of Essense Studio in Boulder and creator of the Parfums des Beaux Arts worldwide collections, has been designing fragrances for nearly 20 years. Hurwitz, who began her career as a painter, is a “synesthete,” or someone who can associate scents with specific colors or textures. Having launched her newest line, DAWN Perfumes, at Barneys New York in Tokyo, Hurwitz’s “nose” is recognized internationally. Here, her aromatic advice.

  • How To Buy
    Bring home samples before buying full-size to let the scent develop on your skin over time and to avoid any stray smells—say, from the last five people who sprayed the testers.
  • Where to Dab
    Apply to body pulse points like the inner elbows, but skip your wrists—hand washing will strip you of the scent. Go for the back of the neck, not the sides where perfume may react with your lymph nodes. A touch at the décolleté allows you to gauge potency.
  • Smell & Tell
    Visit Hurwitz's studio and ask for a dab of her "Formula X"—it enhances your natural body scent so she can sniff, analyze, and develop your fragrance profile. For example, powdery skin types should avoid sweet scents and try sharp or spicy florals.
  • What's Hot Now
    Fragrance follows fashion this season, which means updating the 1970s, an era known for green and woody aromas. Today's versions are "fresher, softer, and cleaner," says Hurwitz, whose Celadon and Viridian are modern interpretations of classic '70s scents.

Essense Studio, 4593 N. Broadway, Space 120, Boulder, 720-563-0344, www.dshperfumes.com