Originally released in 1942 as Kriss, the name changed to Dawamesk in 1945.

Photograph courtesy of Alexandra Star of Parfums de Paris.

Dawamesk fragrance notes

  • Head

    • Lavender, Violet, Orange Blossom, Bergamot
  • Heart

    • Jasmine, lily of the valley, Rose, Ylang ylang
  • Base

    • Clary sage, Cinnamon, Leather, Tonka, Moss, Musk

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Dawamesk (1942/1945 – original name Kriss)

Lavender, Violet, Orange Blossom, Bergamot;
Jasmine, Muguet, Rose, Ylang;
Clary Sage, Cinnamon, Leather, Tonka, Moss, Musk

Dawamesk is a green food paste, or preserve, comprised of pistachio, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, sugar, orange juice, butter, and surprise, surprise, Hashish.

It seems it was consumed by a number of Parisian artists in the mid nineteenth century, washed down no doubt with absinthe, to induce hallucination and inspiration. Hugo, Dumas, Balzac and Baudelaire were among those who reportedly enjoyed this treat.

Jacques Guerlain reportedly used hashish to soothe his depression, when his youngest son was killed in WWII. It is intriguing to think that this forgotten scent may have been inspired by the scent of the Dawamesk paste, reportedly a mix of anise and orange liqueur. In any case it is the most singular parfum creation story I have yet to come across.

Guerlain released the scent in 1942 under the name of Kriss (reportedly a type of dagger). Perhaps this was too grim for his clientele, besieged by Hitler. It was renamed Dawamesk and re-released in 1945.

The vintage decant I am experiencing has the initial effect of a fragrantly sweet leather with a dark base, most probably the combination of clary sage and lavender. If one imagines Chanel's original Cuir with a jasmine and cinnamon thread, one would come closest to describing the effect. There is certainly no anise or orange liqueur impression. As the dry down continues, the leather effect is reigned in and the floral bouquet of rose, jasmine, ylang and muguet takes over. Because of its sweetness it would seem most appropriate for women, but a young man could certainly wear this successfully as well.

Knowing its provenance, this has the feeling of being a very personal scent, one worn only for oneself and to evoke a fond memory. It is an absolute delight, bringing broad smiles to myself and my partner. One could say it is the embodiment of youth in a bottle, ever hopeful, ever positive, ever joyful. A treasure!
22nd August 2018