In ten years of CaFleureBon Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen has had an uncanny ability to find perfume lovers who want to communicate that via the written word. The colleagues I had for the first four years when I was Managing Editor through to the current roster of singular voices bringing Ms. Camen’s vision of “scented salon” to life. Different voices creating a site which celebrates the diversity of perspective about perfume.
One of those writers she brought into her salon was Robert Herrmann. Mr. Herrmann started writing for the blog in 2016. Every writer expresses themselves differently. One of the things about Mr. Herrmann’s columns was his sense of joy. Some perfumes he wrote about reminded him of places and people from his past. He elegantly wove that into his description. I never met Mr. Herrmann but his was the kind of writing which allowed me to come to know him.
Tragically his voice would be stilled in October of 2019; succumbing to a long-term health battle. His words will live on, but Mr. Herrmann had another idea. He wanted to creatively direct a perfume to live on after him. He called Ms. Camen in the last weeks of his life. In his final days he had a specific formula along with a specified perfumer he wanted to achieve it. He would leave all of it in Ms. Camen’s capable hands.
Ms. Camen is a determined artist on any given day. When given a task for a friend like Mr. Herrmann she is exactly the person to see it through. It helped immensely that the perfumer Mr. Herrmann wanted to compose his perfume was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Ms. Hurwitz is one of many things I cherish from my days of working at CaFleureBon. She has been a friend to Ms. Camen for years. The same was true for Mr. Herrmann. When she learned of this request, she was honored to take it up. The more complete story can be found in this article at CaFleureBon.
This is the genius of Ms. Camen’s vision. She created a community where this kind of request wasn’t a bridge too far. It was the natural extension of those who share love and passion for perfume. DSH Perfumes BIWA is the result of that.
BIWA refers to a lake in Japan where a variety of freshwater pearls are harvested. Mr. Herrmann wanted to evoke the rarity and pearlescence of these tiny jewels into fragrance. Ms. Hurwitz is one of my favorite perfumers, but it is when she is given an Asian theme, like BIWA, where her work reaches a new level. This continues that. Following the instructions given by Mr. Herrmann under the eye of Ms. Camen, Ms. Hurwitz would deliver.
Mr. Hermann was a lover of aldehydes in perfume. It is no surprise that he wanted those to be where BIWA begins. The shading he had asked for was a bit of mint. This is the herbal version of mint given a more vegetal quality. It makes the mist of aldehydes glow like the reflection of the vegetation off the early morning fog rising off the lake. Ms. Hurwitz is one of the very few perfumers who has perfected a rice accord. It appears here as if it is the breakfast of one of the pearl harvesters as they stand on the shoreline. Jasmine and vanilla scent the steam off the rice with differing vectors of sweetness. Breakfast finished, our harvester looks through the hinoki and evergreens on the shore. The first breeze of the day brings the transparent scent of the woods while removing the mist from off the lake.
BIWA has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
The best things in perfume seem to work when all concerned are on the same page. BIWA is a classic extension of the other Asian inspired perfumes by Ms. Hurwitz. There is a serenity to most all of them. It speaks to place in my perfumed center where I am most calm. Mr. Herrmann seemed to know instinctually that BIWA was right in her wheelhouse. This is a gorgeous paean to beauty of purpose filled with heart and soul.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by DSH Perfumes.
Editor’s Note: All proceeds from BIWA will be donated to Mr. Herrmann’s husband to defray the significant medical costs incurred. It can be found at Indigo Perfumery or DSH Perfumes.