Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s most heartfelt collection of the year is also one of their smuttiest, and there is none, they say, more tacky or hedonistic! As a bit of a tacky smutmeister myself, I was was ecstatic to receive a few offerings from this collection, in the form of their hair glosses, atmosphere sprays, and a few bottles of fragrance oils.
…but it’s kinda weird, right? I’ve been sharing my thoughts on BPAL’s fragrance oils for many years now, (see here for some Lupers of yore) but I don’t think I have ever touched upon or written about their hair glosses. Which is a shame on me, because they are incredible. I hope that you will forgive me. Also, I know, and I know that you know, that the Lupercalia collection was released in February, and now it’s April…but as I have hinted at before, I am a Taurus and neither beauty nor luxury, nor my opinion of items associated with those ideas, can be rushed!
You should also know that this collection is available until May 20, 2019, so there is still time to purchase for yourself or a friend, if you are tempted by one of the scents that I review today.
I’ve got quite a lot of hair as you can tell from this blurry photo, and my massive mane does not get washed very often. First of all, showers are gross and I hate having wet hair and it’s just a major production, and man, I’d rather be reading or knitting or basically anything else than washing my hair. Also, it’s color-treated, so I don’t think I’m supposed to wash the heck out of it. So, in light of that, it gets washed about once a week, sometimes twice in the summer months. In between washings, it’s vast, aggressive clouds of dry shampoo for the scalp and generously applied hair gloss on the ends; these practices works out fairly well for me and my unruly tresses, which have a mind of their own, and are basically a sentient thing apart from myself at this point. They do what they want! And they do not want to be washed!
Most of the time this routine gets me oodles of compliments on my hair–and okay, on one hand, that’s nice of course, but on the other, if you are an over-thinker like myself, you may fall down the gloomy, self-loathing rabbit hole of “…what? You think the rest of me is hideous? But my hair is good? THANKS I GUESS.” There’s no winning with me.
BPAL’s hair glosses are a luxurious blend of Tahitian monoi, camelina oil, argan oil, and karanja oil, created to give your mane a gleaming finishing shine without leaving it gloopy, weighted-down, or greasy. For your edification, and according to their product description, Camelina oil provides a protective coating for the hair follicles, argan oil nourishes stressed hair, enhances elasticity, and repairs cellular damage to the hair strand itself, and a touch of Monoi oil adds moisture and enhances softness. Your hair will be silkier, shinier, glossier, more vibrant, and frizz-free. But more importantly–your skanky hair (okay, it’s my skanky hair that is the skanky hair) will smell incredible!
Up until now I have mostly used BPAL X Haute Macabre’s collaborative Burying Point hair gloss on my own hair. With notes of patchouli, dried maple leaves, black sage, spikenard, and mandrake root, it smells a bit like damp earth and autumn breezes and on a personal note, reminds me of both my mother and her sister, which is funny, because they did not get along and never reconciled before they passed away. For all of these reasons I think of it as an “ancestral graveyard dirt” kind of scent; it’s unique in a really disquieting way, and for that I adore it.
I will say, however, that among the Lupercalian hair glosses I tried, there are one or two of them that are giving Burying Point a run for its money!
I will lead in with my favorite amongst these seasonal hair glosses and the suggestion that if you grab any of them for yourself, you absolutely must snag this one. First off: the name. Erotic Vegetables. Don’t you just love the thought of some hapless office mate inquiring as to whatever is it you’re wearing today that smells so nice, and you turn to them with a conspiratorial smile and reply, sotto voce, “that, my friend, is Erotic Vegetables!”
Notes include white cedar, tomato leaf, clary sage, woodmoss, sweet labdanum, clove husk, and leather, and though it is at first a powerfully spicy clove KO, it’s soothed with a tender bit of fuzzy moss, softly herbaceous sage and calming cedar, and blurs further into a memory, a gentle clove nostalgia:
I was 15 years old and though I had a boyfriend who occasionally drove me to school in the mornings, I often took the bus home. This involved a five to ten minute journey from the bus stop, down a partially developed street, and then a few minutes’ stroll up another road to my front door. On these walks home, I was sometimes accompanied by another girl, a year or so older, who apparently lived in my small neighborhood, though I didn’t recall seeing her before that year. She was tall, pale, swathed head to toe in black, and had spiky, midnight colored hair. She was an oddity in our subdivision, amongst kids who were firmly in either the “surfer” or the “skater” camps, but she seemed worldly and erudite, a little prickly, but funny, and was so wonderfully friendly; I had never seen or experienced anything like her in my life and I was both fascinated and terrified. Not of the way she looked, per se, but because she was a human and I wanted to talk to her, but I couldn’t.
She, however, had no problem chatting with me as we made our way to our respective homes after class, while she lit up a series of clove cigarettes and gestured vaguely with her inky tipped fingernails throughout the conversation. I have no idea what she talked about, only that she was the most marvelous creature I had ever encountered. I wonder what ever happened to her. I smell the memory of her in this scent and wish I’d been brave enough to forge a friendship. I would love to say to her today, “I’m wearing Erotic Vegetables and thinking of you.” I think she’d get it.
Le Coucher de la Mariée (billowing white clouds of sugared vanilla chypre) is a warm, musky, mossy/woody vanilla dreamboat of a scent inspired by the 1896 short film of the same name, thought to one of the very first erotic films. As the parts of the film that I have seen consist primarily of the bride in various states of déshabillé as she discards ungodly amounts of floofy layers of clothing, while her new husband alternately fawns over her, peeks lecherously from behind a screen, and sits off to the side reading a newspaper…I mean. No judgement here, but it doesn’t seem to me a particularly sexy cinematic experience, at least by today’s standards, and it’s hard to imagine anyone all horned up watching it a century or so ago.
The fragrance inspired by this very, very, very soft-core porn, however, is a sexy, sleepy sort of vanilla, evoking all manner of languorous, half-awake-at-dawn gentle throbbings and post-racy dream feels. It makes one think of lovely, cozy, faded, white cotton nightgowns, the kind with ruffles at the ends of modestly billowing sleeves and a row of small, pearly buttons at the throat. Maybe the gown has slid up over your hip, and bunched up about your waist throughout the night. You know, those sorts of feels. This is a bit of a problematic comparison, but if you’ve ever read Anne Rice’s–writing as Anne Rampling–Belinda, you might be able to conjure the specific kind of nighty that I’m referring to.
As a brief aside, I haven’t read that book since I was about 13, I wonder how it holds up? I imagine I’d be rather appalled by it now. Let’s chat about this in the comments, shall we?
Novel Ideas For Secret Amusements is a seasonal collection that usually accompanies BPAL’s Lupercalia offerings; it’s the line that Erotic Vegetables (above) is from and one I am so thrilled to see return at BPAL year after year. A limited edition Salon series, “celebrating the joy, humor, playfulness, and thrill of sexual intercourse through scent interpretations of Edo era Japanese erotic art,” these fragrances are delightful olfactory renderings of the various sexual possibilities explored in Shunga woodblock prints and, quite frankly, it’s a concept that thrills my secret pervert heart.
From Novel Ideas For Secret Amusements, I also spritzed and sprayed abundantly the following glosses:
The Monk And His Najimi (red tea, saffron, soft brown leather, patchouli, and white ginger blossom) is a spirited, vivacious blend; a glass of perfectly refreshing, abundantly iced tea, muddled with the the tart sweet pulp of red fruits, garnished with zingy curls of ginger. Discarded Shamisen (peach blossoms and cherry blossoms with vanilla husk, peonies, and orris root) is a sheer, rosy/powdery, dry spring floral and Mischievous Cat (white and golden amber, peach juice, green cardamom, vanilla cream, frankincense, yellow sandalwood, golden patchouli, and mandarin) is the quite the opposite of what I thought it might be (some sort of juicy peach xxxtravaganza?) but is instead the dusty sweetness of dried peach slices and the subtle woodiness of fresh cardamom, nestled against a backdrop of muted resins.
All of these hair glosses, along with the rest of the Lupercalia and Novel Ideas collections, are currently available at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and will remain so until May 20, 2019.