Please welcome guest blogger Mlle Ghoul from These Unquiet Things and Dirge Magazine! S. Elizabeth is a fancier of fine old things, nostalgic whimsies and magics both macabre and melancholy. She is a shadow seamstress, star stitcher, word witch, and weaver of the weird. Find her on her blog, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
DARKLY DREAMING: BLACK PHOENIX ALCHEMY LAB. Part enthusiast’s memoir and part course guide. Primer/BPAL 101:
With over 15 years of experience, Beth Barrial (née Moriarty), proprietress of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, creates perfumes whose origins “…lie in the things that fascinate, horrify, enchant or disturb [me] on any given day, and can be stimulated by the season, my mood, current events, tales I’m reading or any manner of day-dreamy, ephemeral influence. (via sheknows.com)
“At its heart, our perfumes really are simply an extension of me,” says Barrial.
Whether it’s comic book based, fairy-tale inspired, or encapsulating the fragrance of various aspects of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, she’s noted in saying that she’s “…never concerned with whether or not something smells pleasing, only whether the scent really, truly encapsulates an idea.” (via tor.com)
And what grand ideas they are! Peruse the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website and you will find collections devoted to myths and folk tales, beloved books and cinema (Dark Crystal and The Last Unicorn? Yes please!), RPG tropes, poison gardens, female positive comics and graphic novels – if there is a weird or obscure interest favored by dark-minded, romantic souls, no doubt you will find a fragrance dedicated to it here.
BPAL fragrances are oil blends, which may take some getting used to if you’ve only ever used mainstream alcohol-based perfumes. It should also be noted that all of their products are hand-blended in house, and with the exception of their honey-based products, all of the scents are vegan – and there is absolutely no animal testing.
Where to start, though? Take a moment to read through their general catalog, a section on the site that ranges from “Aesop’s Fables” to “Wanderlust”. These are the scents that are probably not going anywhere anytime soon, unlike the limited editions, which may be seasonal or holiday or anniversary inspired and for which there is only a short window of time to purchase.
They’ve also made it easy on newcomers and provided a “Beloved Favorites” section, which lists several scents that are quite popular, the above mentioned “Snake Oil” (Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.); Alice (Milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot) and Miskatonic University ( Irish coffee, dusty tomes and polished oakwood halls), to name a few.
Still overwhelmed? Perhaps you need to examine what sort of scents you like. Do you prefer foody, gourmand scents that call to mind a sweet fluffy dessert, or a heady cup of drinking chocolate? Or maybe you lean toward florals, the scent of blossoms and blooms, which can range from light to lush? Or perhaps, like myself, you gravitate toward deep, mysterious scents, redolent of resins and incense? Fragrantica has a fantastic guide to read up more on these things to further pinpoint which type of scent may interest you the most.
Once you’ve determined for yourself what notes intrigue you and you’ve found a handful of corresponding scents on BPAL’s site, order a few 1/32 oz sample sized “Imp’s Ears” option of the oils – this way you can try them out before committing to a full bottle and realizing that maybe coffee and rum don’t smell as delightful on you as you previously imagined.
Were I recommending a sample order, I would be certain to include the following: Snake Oil (of course!), Morocco, Dorian, Dee, and Dana O’Shee, for incense-y or sweet scents. Perhaps Ghost, Embalming Fluid, or Shanghai for something lighter. I can’t honestly comment on the fruity ones because I’ve never liked the idea of smelling like a fruit salad, but I do hear that Hollywood Babylon, Fae, and Croquet are quite nice, so you may want to include those as well. Florals? Try Lucy’s Kiss, The Black Rose, or Delight.
In the past I have often recommended Danube (Rhododendron and bellflower petals swirl through deep, cool, dark aquatic notes) and Antique Lace (A soft, wistful blend of dry flowers, aged linens, and the faint breath of long-faded perfumes) – alas, they have both been discontinued! If you can get your hands (or at least your nose) on them, I highly suggest you do so. More on that in a bit.
Up next week: BPAL Intermediate and Advanced Studies!
Haute Macabre’s Exclusive Black Phoenix line is currently available to order for the holiday season.