When we heard that Jeffrey Dame, a longtime perfume industry insider, was about to launch new fragrances under the line Dame Perfumery Scottsdale, our ears perked up. What we've learned about Dame through his other line, Parfums Rétro, is that he doesn't make just one-off scents; he first develops a concept and then creatively builds the scents around the bigger idea. So what was the idea behind Dame Perfumery Scottsdale?
We knew it when we smelled it: modern, happy, optimistic, lovely. So we decided to give subscribers exclusive first access to all six scents in the new line, with three featured in the monthly collection, The Good Life, and three more available to sample on the site. Our subscribers have responded the same way, and we've heard countless complaints of "I don't know which one to choose"—a wonderful problem, if you ask us.
In this interview with Dame, we talk about the vibe he's communicating with DPS, why he wants to people to enjoy and not over-analyze scent, and how you can get your hands on his upcoming unisex release of the gorgeous Black Flower Mexican Vanilla.
Olfactif: You describe these six perfumes as “new-world fragrances.” What does that mean to you?
Jeffrey Dame: I mean that they’re fresh and clean and uncomplicated. They’re future-oriented without reference to the past. So much of what is being created in niche today is done by mining old, historical fragrances, and it sometimes feels overly serious to me. I think perfume is meant to be worn and enjoyed, not necessarily evaluated to death. Everything in this collection of fragrances has been designed with that in mind. And when I say “new world,” I’m saying they’re quite American: fresh, fun, and beautiful. Most perfume still comes out of Europe and France these days—even Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are owned by European companies—so I wanted to take a fresh, American look at perfumery and make everything easy to wear and not overly complicated just for the sake of complication. Each perfume is built around three notes—top, middle, and base—and is named that way, too. There are other notes in them, but the ones in the names are the ones that dominate.
O: It’s fun to experience perfumes that are complicated and even strange, but most people want to have a wide range of experiences, including some scents that are just lovely and enjoyable and don’t require serious intellectual engagement.
JD: Right. These fragrances are, in their own way, quite complex—which you’ll see when you spray them on and watch what happens as they develop. But what we’ve achieved is clarity of olfactive character. Yes, some people want fragrances that are complicated and have unusual characteristics, and they’ll write 10 paragraphs about the ingredients, but I think it doesn’t matter. A perfume you love should be one that makes you feel good when you spray it. That’s it. I really want people to wear and enjoy my fragrances, so they’re priced at $65 for a 100 ml bottle, which is a price point you don’t often find in the niche world.
O: You’ve also called these perfumes “modern,” and that rings true when you compare them to various fragrance trends throughout the 20th century.
JD: In the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, you had some really dense fragrances. If you could time travel to the 1950s and show my new Dame Perfumery Scents to someone, they’d find them smooth and quiet and pretty but not full of the oomph that popular perfumes had at that time. But the women who are wearing these fragrances today have been olfactively raised on the perfumes of the past 10 to 15 years. This style is what they’ve grown to love and enjoy wearing.
O: You do a lot of different styles, too. We featured Grand Cuir in your Parfums Rétro line earlier this year, and that whole line features classic, retro scents aimed at men.
JD: I like to play. I have some artistic projects, like the new Black Flower Mexican Vanilla that we’ve just launched, and we’re also doing a fragrance based on the Hatch New Mexico chili pepper this fall.
O: Another big project: the new Dame Perfumery Scottsdale shop, which will open this fall. Why did you decide to open a shop?
JD: The idea of a shop came from my love of connecting to people. I’ve done a lot of things in the fragrance industry over the years, but the one thing that has been constant is that I want people to have fun with their perfumes. The current approach to bricks-and-mortar perfume shops seems to be all about the architecture and design and the worshipping of the creator, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with the people who walk through the doors. It feels impersonal. I wanted to have a space where people could come, explore, and enjoy playing with perfumes. You’ll be able to play with some raw materials and have a good time without being followed around by salespeople or feeling like you’re supposed to be having some kind of high-end design experience. My goal is for women to say to their friends, “I went to this great perfume shop and had a blast.”
O: Speaking of women, most niche perfumers don’t make their scents with a male or female consumer in mind, but you take a different approach.
JD: I’m old-school. Even though the high-end niche level of perfumery is unisex, I do present my fragrances as for women or men, depending on the case. Of course, women who are interested in a scent targeted at men will wear it anyway, and the reverse is also true. But I actually created each scent in this collection with a woman in mind. In fact, one of the requirements I gave perfumers during the creative process is that they send me samples with women’s names on them. Normally in the creative process, as you’re working to land on the right formula, a perfumer might label a sample HX25Z, or Moon Rock, or whatever. But I required them to have women’s names. So when I see “Antonia” or “Brigitte” on the sample and I smell it, I can visualize her. It’s just a creative quirk to how I developed this line, although Black Flower Mexican Vanilla is unisex and the Parfums Rétro scents are aimed at men.
O: Black Flower Mexican Vanilla is a deep, rich, dark vanilla that instantly shot to the top of our vanilla list. We’re excited to be sharing that one with subscribers, too.
JD: So am I. We’ve gotten wonderful feedback on it, and we’re excited to hear more. I’ve always thought that a perfect vanilla is simply vanilla without added accents, but creating it is a task of restraint and avoiding add-ons of "vanilla + such-and-such." Pure vanilla can be too kitcheny sweet, so we had to do some perfumery magic to bring pure vanilla to life as a gorgeous eau de parfum.
O: Thanks for sharing all of these scents with our subscribers this month. Having seven scents to explore has been so much fun for all of us.
JD: Thanks for allowing me to share the Dame Perfumery Scottsdale fragrances with Olfactif subscribers! They can look forward to more DPS creations in the future—and I hope we can meet some of them in person at the DPS concept store when it opens in Scottsdale this fall.