Guerlain Dawamesk was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1942 and was originally named Kriss. During the war years, the production of luxury products nearly ceased and Kriss was the only perfume produced between Coque d'Or in 1937 and Fleur de Feu in 1948. It was in production for just a very short time and is one of Guerlain's rarest perfumes. Kriss was actually commissioned by the Nazis as "an original perfume to the glory of their army" and was named after a stabbing weapon called a kris which is a dagger with a wavy blade originating from Southeast Asia. It was this type of dagger that was a standard issue to all members of the SS.
According to research by Will Inrig from Osmothèque, unfounded rumors spread of Jacques Guerlain being a Nazi collaborator as the war drew to a close and Kriss was quickly withdrawn from the market. Guerlain explains that its short lifespan may also have been due to the scarcity of raw materials during the war. The perfume was relaunched in 1945 under the new name Dawamesk, but the fragrance's formula did not change. The bottle we are decanting from is from 1945 and was an unopened vintage find. This is the second time I've had the unbelievable pleasure of finding a bottle of Dawamesk which some consider to be the holy grail among perfumes. This, along with Djedi, can make your life complete!
Dawamesk is an oriental fougere featuring top notes of lavender, violet, orange blossom and bergamot; middle notes of jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang, clary sage, cinnamon, leather and animal notes of civet, musk, castoreum and ambergris; and base notes of tonka bean, moss and musk. The name actually refers to a dough made of hashish, pistachio, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sugar, orange juice and butter. The pastry was consumed in India and Arabic-speaking countries and was already known in the ancient Near East. In the 1840s, a Parisian group dedicated to the exploration of drug-induced experiences met at the Club des Hashischins. The group included famous French writers Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Baudelaire and Honoré de Balzac.
In her book, Le Roman des Guerlain, perfume expert and historian Élisabeth de Feydeau explains that Kriss actually wasn't a new composition. Jacques Guerlain felt so outraged by the Nazis' demand that he simply dug out one of his older, unreleased formulas and poured it into a plain glass bottle, now known as the "war bottle".
The House of Guerlain is one of the oldest perfume houses in the world. It was founded in 1828 by Pierre-Francois Pascal Guerlain. Pierre-Francois composed and manufactured custom perfumes with the help of his two sons, Aime & Gabriel. Guerlain catered to the high society of Paris and had a very loyal following. The perfume house was so successful that in 1840 Guerlain decided to open a flagship store at 15, Rue de la Paix. The house was at its peak in 1853 with its fragrance Eau de Cologne Imperiale which gave Guerlain the prestigious title of His Majesty's Official Perfumer of France.
Pierre-Francois died in 1854 and his sons took over the perfume house. Aime became the master perfumer and Gabriel managed and expanded the house. Aime created several fragrances including Fleur d'Italie, Rococo, Eau de Cologne de Coq and his greatest creation, Jicky. In 1914, Guerlain moved to 68, Champs-Elysees.
The business was then handed down to Gabriel's sons, Jacques & Pierre. Jacques became the third master perfumer and created many fragrances during his time at Guerlain including Apres L'Ondee, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue, Eau du Coq and Ode. A number of these fragrances are still available today. Jacques' grandson Jean-Paul became the fourth master perfumer and among his creations were Vetiver, Habit Rouge, Samsara, Nahema and Jardins de Bagatelle.