Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Dragon Doodle

BPAL Dragon Doodle

A scribble of honey-drenched strawberry and white pear.

Much like Daenerys Targaryen, I have always loved dragons. As you might imagine, I always look forward to BPAL’s Dragon Con scents, since they are themed around my favorite mythological reptile. This was the scent I was most excited for from this year’s collection.

In the bottle: SWEET. Very, very sweet and fruity. I’m not really surprised by that, but I do hope that it softens on the skin.

On the skin: The sweetness becomes more bearable compared to what it was before, but it’s still a very sweet scent. The notes are really balanced: I get an equal amount of each note, and their smell is distinct. They go together very well. But there’s something about the quality of the honey and the way it’s mixing with the sweetness that I don’t like. It’s powdery, but also weirdly pungent. It’s hard to describe. Needless to say, this isn’t a scent for me.

TL;DR: Very sweet honey, strawberry, and pear. Smells weird on the skin. 3/5. 

Perfume Collections I’d Like to See

Today we are taking a break from your regularly scheduled programming for a fun speculative post. Sometimes, I see something or read something and I think “Hey! This would make a great perfume collection!” That’s basically what this post is about: themes around which brands should create scents. Here are a few of my thoughts.

The Nutcracker Ballet

I know BPAL did a Nutcracker collection years ago, but I would love to see another brand tackle this for the holiday season. The ballet has so many fantastical characters, dances and music  that it would make a really fun and festive collection.

  • What brand should do it? My pick would be Arcana. They’re really well-rounded note wise, so I feel like they could tackle the wide variety of material and do it well.
  • Scent ideas? I’d love to see scents about the different dessert themed dances in the second act: Spanish chocolate, Arabian coffee, Chinese tea, Russian candy canes, etc. There would also be scents for specific characters like Clara, The Nutcracker, Herr Drosselmeyer, The Mouse King, and The Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Without giving too much away, it is a sci-fi novel about a human man who comes to the sub-arctic planet of Gethen on a diplomatic mission. The humans of Gethen differ in one big way: they are ambisexual, meaning that they are neither male nor female until their monthly reproductive cycle. The novel is a classic, and the snowy landscapes and rich characters would be great fodder for perfumes.

  • What brand should do it? I would pick sixteen92 to do this one. They seem to specialize in complex atmospheric scents that evoke specific places and moods. In the book, the planet and climate itself are like a character, so that knack for atmospherics would really allow the beauty and danger of Gethen to shine.
  • Scent ideas? It would be cool to get really unisex scents for the genderless characters, in addition to the cold and mysterious atmospherics.

The Italian Renaissance

I’m a huge history nerd, and the Italian Renaissance is one of my favorite historical periods. Since it was a time of great strides in both science and art, there is no shortage of inspiration for perfume.

  • What brand should do it? For this, I can’t decide between BPAL or Poesie. Both brands have done scents based on pieces of art before, as well as scents that are evocative of specific time periods. I think they could both do it justice!
  • Scent ideas? I would love to see scents surrounding famous Renaissance artists, with the notes reflecting their particular artistic style. You could have scents based on Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, and Caravaggio, to name a few.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

This is another one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. It’s criminally slept on, if you ask me. The plot is basically this: Satan and a motley crew of infernal beings come to Communist Russia to screw things up for everyone. Meanwhile, the struggling author the Master wrestles with his newest work, and his relationship with his loyal paramour Margarita. It’s a fantastical, satirical romp through the Soviet Union with so many vibrant characters and scenes.

  • What brand should do it? I nominate either Arcana or BPAL for this one. Both have very diverse, well-rounded catalogs that would allow them to explore the whole spectrum of notes needed for this collection.
  • Scent Ideas? I would mainly want character based scents for this one, since they’re so rich and interesting. You’d have Woland, The Master, Margarita, Behemoth, Korovyev, Azaello, and Ivan Homeless. I would also have scents about specific locations and scenes, like Patriarch’s Ponds. I’ve actually come up with several full scents with notes for this one, but that is content for another post.

What are some particular collections that you would like to see? Let me know in the comments!


The Scenturion

Arcana: Pumpkins Crave Terror

Arcana Pumpkins Crave Terror

Holy Terror (burning frankincense, sandalwood, deep myrrh, and dusty beeswax candles) with glowing pumpkin and a small dash of pie spices.

In the bottle: I already love this. It’s that same sweet pumpkin note that other Arcana pumpkin scents have, but it’s much darker and more resin-y thanks to the Holy Terror. I like the smokiness that I’m getting.

On the skin: This doesn’t change much on the skin. It’s exactly what the description says: Pumpkins and Holy Terror. It’s not overly sweet at all, if that’s a concern. It’s spicy and warm and awesome. It’s like the distilled essence of Halloween in a bottle.

TL;DR: Not overly sweet pumpkins and Holy Terror. So very Halloween. 4.5/5.

Arcana: Pumpkins Crave Quietude

Arcana Pumpkins Crave Quietude

Soft vanilla, white amber, white musk, Mysore sandalwood, sweet pumpkin, and a tiny pinch of white pepper.

I’ve been super curious about this scent for a while, but it’s been very, very hard to find. When I heard that Julia was bringing it back, I got very excited. Would it live up to the hype?

In the bottle: Oh, this is pretty! I’m getting a sweet pumpkin and vanilla blend with a kick of pepper. It’s not too sweet or too foodie, which I am happy about.

On the skin: This is very nice. The pumpkin retreats into the back, and the blend is taken over by the vanilla, pepper, and sandalwood. It’s delicate and feminine, like the olfactory equivalent of white lace. The pumpkin is still present, just subtle; this isn’t a foodie, Halloween-y fragrance at all.

TL;DR: Vanilla, sandalwood, and pepper, with a hint of pumpkin. So delicate and lovely. 4/5.


Arcana: Apples Crave Cider

Arcana Apples Crave Cider

Bright, spiced apple cider drizzled with honey and a small wisp of smoke.

If you follow this blog, then you know that I have this weird thing about apple scents. While I love the smell and taste of apples in real life, I can’t stand apple-scented things. I have no explanation for this. Because of that, take this review with a grain of salt.

In the bottle: Well, those are definitely apples! This is a very realistic apple note too, and very much a red apple note specifically. The cider is very distinct too. Not getting much smoke yet.

On the skin:  The spices of the cider come out more on the skin, and I’m getting some nutmeg and cinnamon, with maybe a tiny hint of clove. At first, it threatens to go into Yankee Candle territory, but it never goes there. I’m getting more of the smokiness and less of the actual apples. As a result, I like this more than I thought I would! It’s still too apple-y for me, but it’s probably my favorite apple scent that I’ve tried. It’s really perfect for autumn. Throw is low.

TL;DR: Spiced apple cider and a touch of smoke. Not too bad actually. 3/5.


Arcana: Vatican Archives

Arcana Vatican Archives

Honey from the Papal apiaries, Roman figs, Atlas cedarwood, smoky frankincense and myrrh, crimson musk, black musk, and smudgy parchment musk.

Based on notes alone, this is definitely my kind of scent. I love a good spooky blend! I also just watched the film Angels and Demons, so the Vatican Archives have been on my mind. The only worrying note is the cedarwood, since I tend to amp that.

In the bottle: This is dark. I’m getting a very strong musk blend that almost reminds me out oudh, with a hint of church incense and figs. It’s ancient and scholarly; I can really smell that kind of “old tome” smell from the parchment musk.

On the skin: Whoa. Brace yourselves, because this is a strong scent. Lots of throw here. I’m really surprised on how this smells on me, honestly. I was expecting something in a similar vein to sixteen92 Liber Officiorum Spirituum, but it’s not like that at all. It’s very heady, with a fruity incense kind of vibe. I feel like that’s due to the combo of the figs, honey, and church incense. I don’t get any cedarwood, which I don’t mind. Of the musks, the red musk is most prominent. I don’t get much in the way of parchment on me. I could swear that there is oudh in it, because I keep smelling it. This is a dirty, mysterious smelling scent. I was hoping for something more book-heavy, and this is a bit too incense-y for me, despite the fact that I like church incense. I feel like I might like this on someone else who amps the parchment instead of the incense combo. I’m quite surprised! I thought for sure that this was going to be the big winner for me from this collection.

TL;DR: Fruity, heady incense and musk. Not what I was expecting, and I don’t like it on me. 3/5.

Arcana: Death Valley

Arcana Death Valley

Juniper berry, juniper branches, creosote bush, helichrysum absolute, and tiny wildflowers.

I have always been intrigued by desert scents, but I’ve never actually tried any. As a result, I went into this scent with no real expectations.

In the bottle: I’m fascinated by this. I’m getting a very strong sage-like note (I’m guessing it’s the creosote) with some soft florals. What’s so intriguing is how dry this smells; it really does evoke the image of a parched desert landscape.

On the skin: The dryness lessens a little bit, but it’s still very much a part of the backdrop of the blend. I’m getting something that is both herbal and almost citrus-like, and I have never smelled anything like it before! I’m gonna guess that that is the creosote. As it dries, I’m getting more florals from the helichrysum and the wildflowers. They’re not old lady florals at all though; they’re very bright and sunny and not floral in the traditional scent. This is a really cool atmospheric scent. I’m not sure how much I would personally wear it, but I’m happy to have it in my collection.

TL;DR: Citric, herbal plants with dry, sunny florals. Really cool. 4/5.