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Dirty Ginger – fresh and spicy and exciting – March 7, 2018

Heretic Parfums embossed packaging for 15 ml. -

When we teamed up with the Duchesse at Passage des Perles to offer a draw for the Passage des Perles "Naturals" Decant Pack on her blog, Kay and I were surprised at the comments from her followers, their overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to non-synthetic fragrances made from pure distillations and essential oils of natural ingredients. Yes, we love them, sure we buy them and we wear them, but interest in them has really blossomed in the last few years. So here’s a new one that I want to share with you: Dirty Ginger from American niche fragrance brand Heretic Parfums.

Heretic Parfums was founded by nose Douglas Little in 2012. All the fragrances in the line are 100% natural, artisanal and unisex. When the first ones were launched in 2016, they caught the attention of a lot of the right people: Heretic Parfums were the first natural line of fragrances to be sold at Barney’s in New York and Gwyneth Paltrow commissioned Douglas Little to create the first fragrances for her lifestyle brand ‘GOOP’.

And once he caught my attention, I wanted to learn more about Douglas Little. He was born in 1974 in Los Angeles. As the only child of two photographers, he grew up in a creative, artistic environment and says that he’s been obsessed with fragrance for as long as he can remember – the chemical smell of developer from being in a dark room, in a baby sling around his father’s neck as he developed photos, the smell of frankincense in church, the flowers and herbs and dirt from working with his mother in the garden, the smells of the dried herbs, resins and flowers that seeped out of the Herb Products Inc. store in North Hollywood, which he walked by every day on his way to and from school.

In his twenties, he worked for a professional cosmetic company and stayed in the professional beauty industry until 2003, when he launched his namesake home fragrance brand D.L.&Co. Despite the brand’s success, Little and his partner parted ways in 2009. By this time, Little had a sense of the landscape of the fragrance industry. He questioned why ‘natural’ fragrances had come to be associated with ‘hippies’ and ‘alternative –lifestyle’ types. He came to believe that there was an untapped market for natural perfume among luxury, fine fragrances. So, he studied with Mandy Aftel, the pioneer of natural perfumes, followed his own vision and launched Heretic Parfums.

Dirty Ginger is the latest fragrance launched by Heretic Parfums and while there is a rumor that it’s named for the red-haired Mr. Little himself, he says that “Dirty Ginger is a great example of nature being seen as modern and provocative. It started off with my love of ginger and wanting to build a fragrance around this spicy rhizome that did not fall into the gourmand category of perfume. So many ginger-centric fragrances lean toward a spicy-holiday chord and I wanted to focus in on the fresh-spicy and green aspects of ginger while developing something that was fun, feisty, bright, optimistic and perfect for warm weather.”

Dirty Ginger opens with a nose-tingling note of spicy black pepper and zesty, floral-scented lime. As the pepper and lime mingle and merge, they’re joined by earthy, spicy cumin. The cumin has a sweaty-smelling facet to it that adds an animalic dimension to the pepper and lime. This is the ‘dirty’ part, now comes the ginger part. Juicy, fleshy, hot and spicy - the ginger here is bracing and exciting. It zings up through the top notes and it is sublime! Shiso leaf, fresh and peppery supports the ginger and highlights its green facet and heightens the raw feistiness of it. A note of clove, warm and sweet, is a perfect counterpoint to the ginger. The perfect prelude to what comes next – earthy, woody, rooty vetiver – here’s the dirtiness that was hinted at by the cumin at the top. Dirty it may be, but it’s not dark or deep. It is more sensual than it is sexual. The base has a lightness to it from Palo Santo wood. Palo Santo, which means ‘Holy Wood’ in Spanish, is a mystical tree that grows on the coast of South America and is related to frankincense, myrrh and copal. It has sweet notes of pine, mint and lemon. It’s that balsamy pine that stands out on me. Lavender-nuanced clary sage gives the fragrance a lovely sophistication.

The drydown is fresh, woody and exciting and sensuous. Everything works together and nothing is out of place. 

Dirty Ginger gives me the impression that there is thoughtful intention in the composition and isn’t that what fine fragrance is really all about?

I think Douglas Little might agree – naturally.

Dirty Ginger is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.