“Above my cradle loomed the bookcase where
Latin ashes and the dust of Greece
mingled with novels, history, and verse
in one dark Babel. I was folio-high
when I first heard the voices.”
Iris absolute, raspberry leaf, orange flower, opoponax, benjoin absolute, vanilla, sweet musks.
What do you think of when you think of dust? That stuff that collects behind radiators, or rolls across your kitchen floor like tumbleweed? Or perhaps you think of Philip Pullman’s Dust, particles of consciousness which stick to you as you grow up? Or maybe you think of the particles of which the universe is made, and the substance to which everything must eventually return? Whatever your interpretation of Dust, this intriguingly-named scent has it’s very own response.
When you spray Dust, by Perfumer H, it doesn’t roar into being like so many perfumes do. It doesn’t leap from the skin in an orgy of metamorphosis in those first few seconds as the blast of alcohol evaporates and scent is shot away from the body like some sort of olfactive projectile. Dust exists quietly instead, and emerges from the flacon perfectly and fully formed, right from the start. Where it wasn’t present a moment before, now it is. Rather than appearing, it feels as if the scales have dropped from your eyes and you are noticing something that was there all along. It’s a strange opening, a beautiful one, and Dust doesn’t feel like it behaves in the same way as a normal fragrance somehow. This was perhaps the first clue of some of the delights this scent contains.
A gorgeous, paper-thin iris note is the first thing you notice about this scent. It is thrilling and full of that special magic that good iris notes can be, but which is often so lacking. For a moment it feels as if you have been able to glimpse the veil that separates worlds, and it is a sparkling, shimmering iris-hued diaphony. Very beautiful, very delicate, and very ethereal.
Dust by Perfumer H is exquisitely blended and there are no hard edges or harsh chords as new notes make their entrance. One of the most beautifully accomplished facets of this scent is the harmonious balance of the warm and cooler elements. The iris which opens the scent is cool, thin, transparent, but this is joined as the fragrance matures, by a beautiful whisper of warm vanilla. The scent teeters between warm and cool but the skill of Lyn Harris, the perfumer, keeps it right on the line between them.
In the heart of the fragrance, Dust becomes more powdery and a touch drier, the greener hints in the top moving away a little as a more floral, warm blush colours the face of the fragrance. All the time that cool, sweet breath of iris stirs the scent, running under everything else and giving the fragrance a movement which is a beautiful counterpoint to the more static notes that lay over it.
Exquisite is a word which is bandied about a little too often in the fragrance world, but here its use is completely justified. The poise of the scent is almost agony to observe, so finely is it balanced. It’s the glorious agony of good art though, that strikes a chord deep inside you and makes you resonate with the universe.
In many ways, spotting the individual notes in Dust feels like a futile exercise. This is one of those scents which is textured and so evocative that whilst you do need to understand what it smells like in order to decide if, for you, this is worth tracking down, there is perhaps more value in describing the texture of the fragrance.
Dust does have elements which are dry and dusty, but this isn’t a dead dust, nor is it the sheddings of human life. Instead there is something in Dust which is alive, dazzling, sparkling and almost magical. There are flecks of green, hints of warmth, speckles of resin, and it all dances on a current of cool iris that ripples through everything and lifts the dust motes up in a lazy, gentle spiral.
There’s something very minimalist about Dust too, it has that effortlessly simple feeling which belies very well designed and executed things that actually take a lot of effort to get to that point. Dust the perfume is that complexity/simplicity, warm/cool, light/shade very beautifully accomplished.
The other stuff
There’s a fleeting beauty about Dust by Perfumer H, meaning that it doesn’t last for ages on skin. We tended to get somewhere between 3-4 hours of longevity out of it, but it is one of those fragrances that goes away, only to reappear a little later because you’ve warmed up or exerted yourself and reinvigorated it again.
Dust is a bewitching sort of scent which stays very close to the body as you wear it. It is the sort of fragrance which would utterly transfix a lover, or anyone who came close enough to smell the fragrance on your skin. The sort of scent that you really fall in love with.
One of the (very minor) issues with the experience of testing Dust is that the samples come in very beautiful dab bottles, rather than a spray, and it did cause us to ponder if longevity and projection would have been improved with spray application. It’s a little tricky to get enough on from the dab bottle without tipping the whole lot over yourself in one go, so we tended to go cautiously lest we spill the precious contents!
Dust feels like the sort of scent which is delightfully gender inclusive and we felt that most people would be able to wear this without feeling self-conscious. Just as it should be.
The contemplative and soothing tone of this scent, along with its delicacy lends it more towards being an autumn or spring scent. It might get smothered and some of its nuances lost by the more overpowering-smelling seasons.
Perfumer H, as a brand, are a bit interesting. They are very exclusive, but not in the way that certain brands are exclusively available everywhere. Their website is so minimal as to be almost pointless. In a way it is almost like they have deliberately made themselves inaccessible so that only the determined (or the deep-pocketed) will search them out.
The brand offer three main concepts: bespoke creation, selecting an already made, one-of-a-kind Laboratory edition scent, or the rotating seasonal collection (which is likely to be the entry point for mere mortals).
Perfumer H have been operating for five years and are the brainchild of Lyn Harris, formerly of Miller Harris fame. The focus of the brand is not just shifting units it seems, given their relative lack of visibility, instead it must be on forming relationships with clients who are affluent enough to be able to afford Harris’ chic bespoke creations – a service which is offered from the store in Crawford Street, London and which can take up to six months to complete.
We visited their beautiful store last summer, and found the staff there to be delightfully attentive and well informed about the scents. Whilst it might look a little intimidating to ‘normal’ people, we certainly got a warm and friendly reception when we visited.
One of the options for Perfumer H fragrances is to have them supplied in the most gorgeous hand blown bottle. It adds to the price, but if you can stretch to it, the bottles are seriously beautiful and add that extra level of artistry to the scent.
Perfumer H are available from their London store, as well as the following locations: