You Know How to Whistle, Don't You?

"You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything, and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." - Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not

Monday, November 28, 2005

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

I tried Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, after seeing them recommended/pimped all over the blogosphere. The descriptions and images on the website, while a little too Goth for my taste, were intriguing and I loved the literary references. Alas, the oils were by and large not to my taste. I kept finding them overly chemical-- too many scent-memories of drugstore fragrances-- and overly obvious. Scents in the parfum concentration are supposed to be softer (due to the smaller proportion of alcohol) even as they're richer. The parfums I own are exquisite and a privilege to wear. These oils may not contain the alcohol of an eau de toilette, but soft and rich they are not. Too many were like the stomp of a boot or a battering ram, a brutal, coarse announcement of a newcomer's presence. My impressions below, jotted down as I tested them...

Bastet - Started off with a blast of cherry candy. Ugh. Five minutes later, already transmogrifying into a warmer blend of scents. Still sweet, but the cherry's gone or absorbed. It's now a golden sweet scent. Nutty, incense-y and with the spices from the sweet side of the spice rack, which always make me think of Christmas. It's partly the suggestion of the name, I'm sure, but I smell this and think of curling up in front of a fire on a cold winter's night. Four hours and a couple of handwashings later, it's dying out, but it's stayed lovely ever since getting over that cherry. I may want this in a larger bottle, but I'll have to remember to put it on at least 30 minutes before I need to smell good.

Harlot - First sniff: full-on cinnamon blast. I know there's supposed to be rose in this but I could only smell it at the midpoint. It started off smelling like I was standing in front of a Yankee Candle rack, a place I normally avoid like the plague. At midpoint, it's not as bad, but still candle-like. Drydown - it's pretty much straight rose now, and nowhere near as dark or strong as I'd expect. I get pink rose, when I was expecting blood red. Nice, but nondescript. If I want rose and spices, I'll go for Caron's Parfum Sacre. Harlot is like its simple-minded cousin.

Lady of Shalott - Initial thought: I like this-- it's not so bad. Water-flowery (lotus? waterlily? or am I just making Lady of Shalott associations?) Like it less on drydown. It smells like several things tossed in together that just don't quite fit. Like Eau D'Issey (aquatic floral) with potpourri. It smells like Pier One.

Maiden - Very clean floral. Initial impression is a color: light girly pink. Tried it at the same time as Lady - at first sniff I liked Lady more, but as they dry down, I'm finding Maiden more wearable. Straightforward light floral, feminine but not coy.

Kostnice - First sniff: lemon and lily. Revised to lemon and daffodil. Nice, but a bit detergent-ish. Midway: Now it smells like lemon soap and salty sweat. Very sharp and odd. Ends up salty and woody, with a little sweat still lurking under there. Reminds me a bit of L'Aromarine's Atlantis.

Moon Rose - First sniff: Just the way it sounds. A beautiful pale rose.

Othello - Started off with an indefinable fruity rose smell. Not soapy exactly, but that's the best way I can put it. Has stayed that way initially. Not at all the masculine dark scent I was hoping it would be. A bit later - I don't quite get dryer sheets as someone on Makeup Alley does, but it does present as a drugstore fruity/flowery smell. BPAL says it's "Arabian musk with two roses and a bevy of Middle Eastern and Indian spices." I get the rose, but it's wimpy and watery. No musk or spice at all. Update I: Actually, when I sniff around the margins of the perfume area on my wrist, I do get some of the spices. The center is still all watery rose, though. Update II: Ended up washing it off. I was ready to try something new and this one clearly wasn't doing it for me.

Xiutecuhtli - First sniff: can't pin it down. It's very smooth-- I can't break out the elements. Frustrating. Midway: very sweet. Floral, but not flowers I can pick out. South American/tropical, or am I just reading into the name? Stays very sweet and floral, possibly with some vanilla. It's got a similar sweet foody note and reminds me a bit of a bad, less complex Coco Mademoiselle - is that vanilla, patchouli, or what? In the drydown, there's a light hint of the woody note in Kostnice (assuming it's not that I've accidentally rubbed my wrists together) that makes the scent slightly more likable.

Hymn - First sniff: lemon and soap. Like Kostnice. At midpoint, I'm still getting mostly lemon and soap. Drydown- now it's all incense, and soft incense at that. Very nice, but I'll have to remember to apply long before I go out.

Tenochtitlan - Initial whiff is very sweet and chemical. Like potpourri. Ew. Update: not getting better. I wrinkle my nose every time I smell it. Fruity/spicy, way too sweet, and fake. Washed that sucker off.

Amsterdam - First sniff: new-mown grass. Fresh, light. A good spring and summer fragrance, an excellent bath or home scent (and I mean that in a good way.)

Prague - First sniff: Light potpourri. Midpoint: Can barely smell it. Reapplication: Light, sweet but also a bit white/green floral smell. Drying down, the lilies really come out. Pleasant, green and light in the drydown. I'll keep the imp, but won't bother with a bottle.

The Hanging Gardens - First sniff: potpourri. Midpoint: potpourri. Drying down, I get a much more distinctly fruity and juicy smell. Too much all smashed together-- I can't pick out any of the elements described at BPAL.

All in all, meh.


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