Mata Hari by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for DSH Perfumes 2010


Post by Portia


Hi there Independent Fragrance Lovers,

It’s no secret that I’m a Dawn Spencer Hurwitz fan boy. I love her aesthetic, the fragrances are mostly a perfect fit for me and I also love that being an independent perfumer the fragrances are more alive and interesting than a lot of the modern, ultra smooth, panel tested to mediocrity fragrances available in both the mainstream and niche lines. Dawn is free to use ratios that would be unheard of in the mainstream and is allowed to let her own charisma show through in the fragrances. Add to that how lovely she is to deal with and the obvious delight she gets from creating fabulous scents and I am lost. I bought a dram of Mata Hari after a sample I had positively sent me gaga.

Mata Hari by DSH Perfumes 2010

Mata Hari by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Mata Hari DSH PerfumesPhoto Stolen DSH Perfumes

DSH Perfumes gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, coriander, fruity notes No.1 (botanical accord), green mandarin, neroli, orange blossom, sweet orange, blood orange, tarragon
Heart: Blackcurrant, champaca, cinnamon, cloves, lilac cocktail (botanical accord), Moroccan rose, orris root, marigold, davana, may rose, otto rose, osmanthus, nutmeg, angelica root, honey, Sambac jasmine, tuberose, vintage orchid ( botanical accord)
Base: Sandalwood, ambrette seed, peru balm, cumin, cedar, myrrh, tobacco, benzoin, Buddah wood, cassis bud, labdanum, patchouli, green oak moss, vetiver, leather (botanical accord), musk, tonka, cade, vanilla

If you have read anything about Mata Hari by DSH Perfumes you’ll know that the scent is Dawn’s recreation of Greta Garbo as Mata Hari in the 1931 film. Mata Hari (1876 – 1917), an artistic name taken in 1897 is Malay for “sun” (literally, “eye of the day”, was a Dutch born erotic dancer who was accused of being a German spy in France in WWI and was executed by French firing squad.

Mata Hari DSH Perfumes Mata-Hari Garbo 1931 WikiMediaPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

Mata Hari has a really old school, vintage fragrance feel and is a second cousin to things like Rochas Femme and Guerlain Mitsouko. It’s a parfum concentration so you get a thick, rich and syrupy opening full of fruit and herbs but already backed by balms, resins, woods and leather. It’s hard to believe that there is no animal product because Mata Hari is as feral as you can imagine, maybe the honey.

As the initial blast calms to a dull roar the bittersweet heart comes through and the spicy notes, rose, honey and white flowers are only noticable when I put my mind to finding them, really Mata Hari is a spicy, floral bouquet with dark green broken leaves and some snapped twig. Then Mata Hari becomes softest moss, leather and amber, it hovers lightly on my skin for a couple of hours before I lose all traces of it.

Mata Hari DSH Perfumes Mata-Hari_1910 WikiMediaPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

Further reading: Olfactoria’s Travels and Perfume Posse
DSH Perfumes has $75/1 dram and samples

Who is your favourite independent perfumer? Have you tried Dawn’s work?
Portia xx

16 thoughts on “Mata Hari by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for DSH Perfumes 2010

  1. Hi Portia,

    Mata Hari is my all time favorite DSH perfume. It was first created as a limited edition for the Outlaw Perfume Project in 2010, a Natural Perfumer’s Guild “competition” of sorts designed to highlight the uses of natural fragrance materials that had been banned (outlawed) by IFRA. Mata Hari was so popular that the limited run sold out in two or three months or so. I was able to get my hands on the falcon in the above photo before it was gone. Subsequently Dawn’s fans kept asking for Mata Hari to return and happily DSH brought it back. Thank you for reviewing this one! I love it and it is in my regular rotation.

    Azar xxx


  2. I really love DSH perfumes, and am always glad to read about others who appreciate them, too. I’ve been on a self-imposed no-buy lately but I’ve always wanted to try this one. I agree that Dawn’s approach is unique and I love her aesthetic sensibility. Some of my faves, in no particular order: Vert Pour Madame, Ashram, Inner Sanctum, Prophesy, Cimabue, Cafe Noir.


  3. HI Portia, oh DSH perfumes are wonderful aren’t they? I recently stocked up on a few edp’s, Fleurs d’oranger, Parfum de luxe and Oeillets Rouges (my all time favourite Carnation perfume),dreading the thought of an 15% hike in the GST and what that means for future perfume purchasing let alone the travails of the AUD. Her perfumes are expensive for us Australians now, however her product is impeccable and unique. She took pity on me with this order and gave me a whole lot of samples to try including some really new ones (can hardly wait 🙂 ). So kind of Dawn. I have never experienced anything quite like her orientals, which I think are the best of her range. Other favourites are the divine Mahjoun, Ashram, Ancient Air, Cafe Noir, Cimabue, Poivre, Oude Arabique, Vetyver and Indochine, 2 of her perfumes will be amongst the 10 I take if I had to suddenly evacuate my home, just can’t imagine a life without her Oeillets and Mahjoun. Thanks for your wonderful review Portia, and now the marvellous Mata Hata has been added to my list of samples to try. Your photos really set the mood for this one. Donelle xx


    • Hey Hey Donelle,
      Always great to see you. We are DSH fan twins. Yes, her work speaks to me on many levels.
      I have Mahjoun too. YUMMY!
      Portia xx


      • Glad you like Mahjoun too. Yes we are DSH scent twins. Have a wonderful holiday with Jin. Enjoyed your fun videos of Tonka Vanilla and Datura too. When you mentioned Orange flower I became aware of my current obsession over Orange flower perfumes with all the current humidity. I am thinking that some floral notes like narcissus and orange flower really need a little heat and moisture to shine. Donelle xx


  4. This got to be a must try perfume. When I was a little girl, I was so fascinated by Mata Hari. 😀 From a tormented housewife to a Femme Fatale; what a transformation!
    I’ve tried only 5 of Dawn’s perfumes so far but even with those small numbers, I can say that her creations are really well composed and high quality.
    I really enjoyed this review, Portia!


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