For all my girlish beauty obsessions (Currently: obnoxiously bright lipsticks, turquoise toenails and lavender EVERYTHING), perfume has never really captured my attention or wallet. Enter Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, brought into my life via a sneaky acknowledgment in Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (which, incidentally, is the best book I’ve read in years, perhaps even my lifetime).
Black Phoenix are bringing Edwardian class to the digital age through their array of darkly romantic, hand-blended perfumes. In their words:
By utilizing our knowledge of homeopathy and aromatherapy, the conceptual theories of hermetic alchemy, and the aesthetic artistry of perfumery, we have mastered the art of encapsulating allegorical ideas into singular olfactory experiences.
Basically, a BPAL (not to be confused with BPAY or Paypal) scent won’t just make you smell deliciously irresistable to any sex within sniffing range; it’ll whisk your mind away along whichever path best corresponds with the oft quirky-yet-straightforwardly named bouquets.
True, one look at the intimidating list on offer is enough to make any girl reach for the assuring familiarity of her trusty designer scent (Pharmacopoeia? Ars Amatoria? I can’t even pronounce that shit, let alone tell you what it means and whether it’ll mix well with your natural scent); but half the fun is perusing the rows of virtual vials, studying the petite descriptions before closing your eyes and picturing the scent in your mind.
So: as someone who struggles to adequately decide which undies to wear each morning, how did I choose? I’m kind of ashamed to admit that, for my virgin experience, I stuck to what I knew; in this case, scents based on my two favourite cultural tomes like, ever, Alice in Wonderland and The Last Unicorn. Alice is a curious blend of milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot, while The Last Unicorn is an ethereal medley of frosty lilac petals, iris pallida root, orris, violet leaf, white chocolate, coconut, wild lettuce, white sandalwood, and oakmoss.
I’m yet to settle on a favourite: the spicy undertones of Alice, the sweetly subtle scents of the Unicorn, or Kabuki, an enigmatic and entirely addictive blending of cherry, red musk and star anise that takes me back to childhood nights spent sipping non-alcoholic sparkling burgundy and feeling most grown-up indeed. But considering the bite-size 5ml vials, affordable price point (most blends will set you back around $17 plus postage) and enticing addition of free samples or ‘Imp’s Ears’, this is one Phoenix’s lair worth exploring.
And finally: if you’ve ever wondered what a Japanese Ronald McDonald exercising on speed would look like, wonder no more.