Ever since we moved to the Washington DC area we have not taken advantage of all that the area has to offer. There is one thing we have done every spring since we moved here and we do it in a way different than most. In 1912 Japan gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the United States which were planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington DC. It took a lot of care and replacement of trees that died to keep the grove thriving; which it has. There is always a huge cherry blossom festival in the city during March and the area swells with tourists. This is where being local has its advantages as Mrs. C and I avoid the crowds by visiting after midnight on an evening with a full or near-full moon. The moonlight provides what I believe to be the perfect illumination to the spring shower of petals as they rain down with the breeze. As we sip our sake and walk through the trees we are met with the vitality of the young as they seal their attraction with kisses under the cherry trees. Mrs. C and I share a kiss of affirmation of many years of happiness. One thing which has always struck me on these evenings is the overall milieu of scents, there is an inherent delicacy as the grass, the flowers, the wood of the trees, the sake, the water, and the moonlight provide the veil over it all.
I would receive my sample of the new DSH Perfumes Gekkou Hanami a few days after this year’s visit. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz translates that to “sakura gazing in the moonlight” where she seemingly was inspired by the same thought.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Ms. Hurwitz mentions that the Japanese reverence for the sakura cherry blossoms is they are a symbol of beauty and death. It is part of the process as the shower of the beautiful petals comes as the blossoms begin to expire over a couple weeks. Ms. Hurwitz captures the delicacy and weight of those two terms within Gekkou Hanami.
Yuzu is the gateway to the grove. Ms. Hurwitz uses it as a tart kiss with which to enter into Gekkou Hanami. First up is the green of the grass with an accord of different green ingredients. This isn’t photorealistic it is the green blades as washed out by moonlight. It is sheer as is almost every phase in this perfume. The stage for the cherry blossoms is set by rose, lilac, and honey. Honey can be a problematic note but recently perfumers have been using it as an opaque effect upon which to float some other notes; which is what happens here. Then a triumphant cherry blossom accord arrives. All too often in a perfume based on this the perfume goes for overtly almost cough syrup sweet. That is not what you experience in a rain of cherry blossoms. What I smell both in reality and in Gekkou Hanami is the delicate sense of petals paired with the green of newly budded trees. Ms. Hurwitz captures it all as beauty has been served. For the death half of the duality she brings a base of cedar and frankincense. These are pitched with a little more strength as they tend to overwhelm the delicacy as the incense in the cedar paneled temple provides a meditative space to end upon.
Gekkou Hanami has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage.
Ms. Hurwitz has a special touch when she allows Japan to inspire her perfumery. Many of my very favorites are when she produces fragrance in this vein. Gekkou Hanami is an ephemerally beautiful piece of perfumery capturing midnight in the garden of beauty and death.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by DSH Perfumes