Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Lady Una

Lady Una from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust has a pretty little fragrance by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Lady Una

In Bottle: Sweet and fruity with an underlying tartness from the berries.

Applied: Sweet berries up front with a bit of astringency from the green tea note and the berries that help with a little bit of tartness–not a whole lot of tartness here though as Lady Una is mostly honeyed berry. The fragrance continues on a rather linear path through its midstage and as it delves into its dry down the fragrance takes on a soft vanilla and clean musk.

Extra: Lady Una is a fragrance in the Neil Gaiman’s Stardust line from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab that focuses on concepts and characters from the novel.

Design: Lady Una is bottled much the same way as other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents. You get a small amber bottle with a plastic cap and stopper and a label featuring artwork by Sarah Coleman.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Honey, green tea, blackberry, vanilla, musk, spices.

Very nice soft fruity fragrance. If you’re a little too old for the vanilla and fruit explosion of most mainstream fragrances then give Lady Una a try for a softer, more subtle sweetness.

Reviewed in This Post: Lady Una, 2010, 5ml Bottle.

Soivohle Cumberland Ti

I’m still on my quest to find the perfect tea scent so a nice detour into Cumberland Ti by Soivohle was in order.

In Bottle: Black tea with a twist of honey and a little bit of spice.

Applied: A bit of citrus on the open followed with a deep, rich black tea scent and a hint of spiciness–something almost like pepper. As the fragrance ages the tea scent gets deeper and just a little bit of sweetness peeks out from the bed of notes. The chamomile doesn’t make itself very loud, it adds a bit of herbal quality to this fragrance that also leans a bit toward a slight floral quality near the end of the fragrance’s midstage. The dry down is a soft herbal tea-like treatment with a slight dustiness at the end.

Extra: Cumberland Ti  is inspired by a sweet southern tea with a sweet flavor.

Design: Cumberland Ti’s design is pretty much similar to the other scents in Soivohle’s line.The bottles are nice enough, but with Independent and Niche perfumes, you’re not buying the fragrance for the packaging. Though the packaging is usually nice anyway.

Fragrance Family: Aromatic

Notes: Tea, mate, honey, chamomile.

Beautiful tea fragrance though not exactly what I was looking for. It’s a very nice, complex and unique blend and if you’re looking for an off-beat tea, definitely check this one out.

Reviewed in This Post: Cumberland Ti, 2010, Absolute.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Fairy Wine

Fairy Wine from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is a part of their Neil Gaiman, Stardust collection of fragrances that are supposed to invoke characters or concepts from the book, Stardust. I was originally intrigued by this fragrance because it purportedly actually smelled like wine. Fairy Wine

In Bottle: Fancy that, it smells like wine! Wine with a hint of sweetness and blackcurrant.

Applied: Now I’m about as unsophisticated as you can get when it comes to wine so I can’t identify what type of wine this is if there is a type to this. All I can say is that it has that deep, fruity scent of wine with a hint of honey, a little bit of green bitter dandelion, and a few tart blackcurrants added into the mix for good flavor. The notes blend together very nicely with the wine taking on a bit more sweetness as the fragrance ages on the skin. The final stretch of this fragrance has me smelling less wine and more currant.

Extra: Fairy Wine is a joint venture between Black Phoenix and Neil Gaiman for a charitable cause that goes to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Design: The bottle is, of course, the same as all other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents. The only difference is the label which features interpretive illustrations of Stardust characters and other elements. The artwork was done by the very talented Sarah Coleman.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Wine, dandelion, honey, blackcurrant.

Well, I did go into this expecting wine and I got what I wanted after all. While I don’t know if I can wear this often it is quite a pleasant scent.

Reviewed in This Post: Fairy Wine, 2010, 5ml Bottle.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Snake Oil

Snake Oil is one of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s most popular fragrances. In fact, I can probably safely venture that it’s the most popular fragrances. Many people love it, and even those who aren’t within the BPAL folds tend to say that there’s something about Snake Oil that makes it special. Snake Oil

In Bottle: Here’s the thing about my bottle of Snake Oil. It’s been “aged” for two years so it smells different than a fresh bottle. Mine has a deeper vanillic quality to it, layered on top is an incense like smoke note, a jolt of cinnamon and clove, and a little hint of woods.

Applied: A bit of medicinal spice to this, I swear it’s a cinnamon and clove mix with some other spices I can’t identify. There’s a bit of an incense going on, smoking up the fragrance a bit and making the smooth vanilla scent that’s hidden underneath these opening notes. Snake Oil lasts a ridiculous time on me, and I can often wait most of the day for it to turn into something else. But as you keep wearing it, you’ll notice the spices and the smokiness level out a bit and dense, warm, vanilla fragrance will waft up. The vanilla in Snake Oil isn’t your sugary ice cream vanilla scent. It’s got a bit spiciness and sophistication to it. It draws with it a woodsy sort of note that I want to say smells a bit like sandalwood or some other sort of powdery, perfumed wood. The more you let Snake Oil wear on your skin the more vanilla and less spicy it will get until it turns into a lovely creamy, warm vanilla fragrance with a hint of some clove-ladden spice and wood in the background.

Extra: So there’s a practice amongst BPAL fans who adore Snake Oil. What you do is get some of the stuff and leave it hanging around for a bit. That’s it. You leave in a dark corner of your fragrance chest, cupboard, drawer, sock, what have you, and pull her out periodically to test. Many people have reported the vanilla becomes stronger and sweeter. If you like the spices and the woods then perhaps “aging” Snake Oil is not up your alley. It’s still an interesting experience to compare a fresh vial of Snake Oil to an older one.

Design: Snake Oil, aside from having a fancy label that makes it look like it actually came out of a tonic peddler’s wagon, is bottled in the same amber glass vials as the other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents.

Fragrance Family: Spicy

Notes: Cinnamon, clove, ylang-ylang, frankincense, amber, sandalwood, vanilla.

Please note that I’m only guessing at the notes list above based on what I think I’m smelling in Snake Oil. The official word on the BPAL website says that Snake Oil is “a blend of Indonesian oils and vanilla”. So we at least know for sure there’s vanilla but the rest of the notes list I’ve got is only a guess.

Reviewed in This Post: Snake Oil, 2009, 5ml Bottle.

CB I Hate Perfume Gathering Apples

I remember when I was in an apple binging mood where I wanted to smell like apples all day long. Then something in my mind clicked into place and I started to see–or rather smell–just how synthetic apple notes tended to be. Thus began my apple falling out. Unfortunately for Gathering Apples, it arrived after my infatuation with the note had blown away.

Gathering Apples

In Bottle: Very faint sweet apple scent. It reminds me of juicing my own apples.

Applied: Pretty much what I smelled in the bottle is what I got on my skin. The apple scent is a little plastic but it has a leg up on most of the other apple scents out there in that it’s not quite as sweet. It’s a tad tart, a little bit bitter, rather sugary but it’s about as authentic an apple note is probably going to get–or at least, it’s as authentic an apple note as I’ve smelled. The description for this fragrance claims there a hint of wooden basket in this. Try as hard as I might I can’t get any of the woods to come up, maybe it’s a part of that faintly bitter smell I got? I’m a little bit disappointed in this, but at the same time think it’s an accomplishment when it comes to making a usually very synthetic note like apple a bit more authentic.

Extra: So, if someone wanted to smell like apples would Gathering Apples be a good choice? In my opinion? Yes. If you want a light, more authentic, and a bit of an artistic interpretation of apple then Gathering Apples is fabulous. If you want a completely silly fragrance that’s strong and candied and don’t care if it smells of extremely synthetic apple then anything like DKNY Be Delicious will be good.

Design: You can get Gathering Apples, like most of CB I Hate Perfume fragrances, in two forms. A water sprayable form in a tall glass cylinder. Or an absolute form in a cute glass vial. The design is simple, the concept is simple, but it has a very scientific yet chic aesthetic to it.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Apple, woods.

The more I progress in this review the more sold I am on Gathering Apples. I wish it smelled a bit more authentic to my nose. I wish I wasn’t blind to the wood notes that are supposed to be in this. But in the end, it’s the strongest apple fragrance for authenticity that I’ve smelled.

Reviewed in This Post: Gathering Apples, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Soivohle Tobacco and Tulle

Been a while since I reached for the adorable box of samples from Soivohle. I don’t know why it took me this long to come back to them. I love them all but I suppose the other stuff waffling around in the drawer of samplers needed to be dealt with first. I feel like Soivohle is a bit of a palette cleanser after a bunch of chemical fruits. In my notes, it’s wedged between two celebrity fragrances, surrounded by a bunch of fruity ones so it would seem my theory holds some weight.

In Bottle: Lush, complex tobacco and florals with a warm sense of animalic musk and ambergris.

Applied: The tobacco blooms beautifully upon application and it blends in very well with the creamy tuberose note. This is dense and deep and dark. There’s nothing light and flowery and weak about it. It makes a big statement and I love how it eventually evolves into this subtle warm animalic scent without me even noticing. I really enjoyed the opening moments with the tobacco and tuberose. The tuberose lends a bit of help as the fragrance delves into its murkier, muskier undertones with the ambergris lending to that animal quality. There’s so much complexity in the fragrance as it ages on the skin. This smells classic and daring at the same time. Like how perfume used to be done and how it should still be done. The animalic element is just a bit too much for me so while I appreciate it’s complexity, I really can’t see myself ever being daring enough to wear it.

Extra: It should be noted that on Soivohle, the musk mentioned in the notes list below is actually a cruelty-free variant. In that it’s a “hyrax tincture”. Hyrax tincture, for all us grownups, is a petrified stone-like compound composed of urine and feces excreted by a guinea pig-like creature called the hyrax. It’s generally been “aged” for hundreds of years and is perfectly fascinating stuff.

Design: Bottled rather simply but you don’t buy Soivohle or other independent perfumer fragrances so you can admire the pomp and circumstance surrounding the design of the bottle. All you need to know is that it looks great, feels great, and works the way it should.

Fragrance Family: Smoky Floral

Notes: Tobacco, tuberose, musk, ambergris.

I know how daunting the price point for this might look but once again, keep in mind that all natural ingredients are expensive and the complex experience you gain from fragrances like these make up for the price point. You are also paying for higher quality ingredients than what you’d get in most mainstream perfumes and you would likely need to use very little of this stuff to get the same amount of power from your run of the mill EdP or EdT.

Reviewed in This Post: Tobacco and Tulle, 2009, Absolute.

BPAL The Zieba Tree

When I tried the Zeiba Tree I had expected a much woodsier fragrance than I actually got. While it does contain a bit of sandalwood, the majority of the fragrance depends on its fruitiness to get by. The Zieba Tree

In Bottle: Fruity and sweet, like lemons, peaches and–for some reason–a little bit of apple.

Applied: Perhaps it’s the citruses (particularly lemon) mixing together with the ultra fruitiness of peach because I smell a little bit of apple in The Zieba Tree. It’s odd, because it’s more of an authentic apple note than any of BPAL’s actual apple notes. I quite like it even as the sandalwood waffles in and out of the fragrance like it’s uncertain whether or not it wants to hang out or get out of there. The musk in this fragrance is a very light clean musk that makes me think of a tree that someone’s soaped up and scrubbed down. The rest of the fragrance isn’t too deep the resins add a little more of a tree-like quality to the fragrance but in general, The Zieba Tree is a predominantly clean and fruity fragrance with little hints of sandalwood.

Extra: The Zieba Tree, being a mythological entity was said to have housed bare-chested individuals in its branches.

Design: Bottled the same way as most of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s other 5ml fragrances.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Sandalwood, musk, resin, davana, lemon blossom, orange blossom, white peach.

I’m rather delighted at how fun the morph was when I first applied this and smelled apples. I’m not the only one who noticed as many other Zieba Tree testers have noted a whiff of Ye Olde Forbidden Fruit too.

Reviewed in This Post: The Zieba Tree, 2009, 5ml Bottle.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Josie

Josie is a member of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s District line of fragrances that focus on the sensual side of smell. Josie, in my case, hits a nice little sweet spot I have for peach notes. Josie

In Bottle: Strong. I mean, up your nose and clear out your sinuses strong. Josie is a heavy handed dose of sweet peach candy with a dollop of honey and a light dusting of sweet magnolia flowers. Yikes.

Applied: This fragrance is no wilting flower. It’s loud on application and remains loud until a few hours in. Your first impression of Josie is likely to be her very sugary personality that plays up the honeyed peach angle. If you aren’t partial to sugar, you might want to consider a difference fragrance because this stuff can be cloying. It dries down to a finer peach with a little less overbearing sweetness as the magnolia makes faint efforts to make itself present but don’t go digging into Josie looking for florals, she’s peach candy and honey for most of the ride. If you’re looking for something like a refreshing peach, you may have to look elsewhere. If you just want sweet peach candy then Josie should be up your alley.

Extra: I do like Josie, or at least like her concept of a simple sweet peachy fragrance. But she is very sweet and a bit too young for me now. If you liked Katie Perry’s Purr fragrance but wanted even more peachy goodness then give BPAL’s Josie a sniff.

Design: Bottled in a similar manner to BPAL’s other fragrances. You will get an amber colored glass vial with a plastic stopper. The label for Josie differs a bit from the other BPAL fragrances as it features artwork by the very talented, Molly Crabapple.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Honey, magnolia, peach.

Ultimately, Josie falls a bit flat on me because she’s just too sweet and I expected her to have a bit more temperance. Still, whenever I see someone ask for a peach fragrance I’m tempted to tell them to smell this.

Reviewed in This Post: Josie, 2010, 5ml Bottle.

CB I Hate Perfume Black March

CB I Hate Perfume (CBIHP) settles in a lovely little center of my heart as that fragrance house that did. In that, it took concepts of memories and did them and did them well. No surprise as the place is headed by Christopher Brosius. The man can make you a perfume that conjures memories you never even knew you had.

Black March

In Bottle: Earthy but fresh, like moist soil after a rainstorm where the electric charge is still lingering in the air and you can still hear thunder rumbling faintly in the distance.

Applied: Poetic opening, very unusual and very welcome to me. I get fresh, wet dirt and a cleanness that dries to scrub the earth but doesn’t quite make it. It’s like I said for the in bottle impression, this smells like the aftermath of a rainstorm. It’s a little crazy how Black March can make me picture so well, a little clearing, some sprouts of grass poking out of the dewy ground. But it doesn’t stop there, as the scent ages and heads into a mid-stage, Black March dries a little, gets a bit more dense and dark like drying soil as the sun peeks out and the faint smell of green leaves and tree trunks arrives. The dry down is much the same, sun-kissed leaves, baking earth, and tree trunks.

Extra: You might be wondering about the name of the fragrance house. This article touches upon it near the beginning.

Design: There’s two types you can get Black March in. A perfume oil that comes in a glass vial with a twist cap that looks very scientific lined up with other CBIHP perfumes. And the type I got which is the fragrance diluted in a water-base. My type  comes in a tall cylindrical glass bottle with few embellishments and the design is better that way. The minimalist artistic approach works well here.

Fragrance Family: Earthy

Notes: Rain drops, leaf buds, wet twigs, tree sap, bark, mossy earth, spring.

I think there’s a lot in CBIHP’s line that might work against people’s desire to wear them as fragrances though many people have many different ideas of what smells good and what constitutes a perfume. If you happen to love a scented candle and wish it was a fragrance too, you wouldn’t be the first one. And then there’s elements in CBIHP’s line that I can’t see myself wearing as a perfume like Black March. It’s beautiful, a fantastic little journey, but I don’t know if I would call it perfume. Which I suppose is what Mr. Brosius might be going for. I can spray this on and relive in a fantastic memory though, and I think that’s worth it.

Reviewed in This Post: Black March, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Il Profumo Macadam

Macadam is like one of those orientals you can’t believe is an oriental. It’s a lighter, airier version than the likes of CK Obsession or Opium. It works so well on the skin in such a subtle way.


In Bottle: A play up of light jasmine with a background of something deep and sweet and sensual.

Applied: The opener is a fantastic little floral bit that hits on green but doesn’t ever reach the point where you might classify it as clean or fresh. It’s a dewy green that complements the jasmine in this fragrance very well as the scent ages with a light floral heart mixed with a sweet coat of light amber and deep myrrh. Now, my description probably makes this sound like it’s quite a trip back to the 80s with the oriental explosion but the fragrance is actually rather subtle, it’s personal and one of the easiest to wear orientals I’ve encountered. The dry down is a hit of warm amber, patchouli that reminds me a bit of moss for some reason, and sandalwood.

Extra: Il Profumo is headed  by Silvana Casoli. The company has a boutique in Italy and online.

Design: Very simple bottle and design. Rectangular glass, silver cap with a slight lip for visual interest and grip. Nothing special about the design which helps when you’re trying to just focus on the perfume.

Fragrance Family: Oriental

Notes: Jasmine, peony, pitaya, white rose, amber, myrrh, patchouli, sandalwood.

I really like Macadam and and it’s light, interesting oriental personality. It’s extremely well blended and plays well on the skin. If you want a different oriental than the mainstream offerings, check this one out.

Reviewed in This Post: Macadam, 2010, Eau de Parfum.