Last Friday, I finally received something that I wasn’t yet expecting, although I was almost mad with impatience to actually get it: I received some of my first Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) purchases. Two things came in the mail: an imps (sample vials) purchase from someone at the BPAL.org forums, and a wonderful enabler who sent me a welcome private message and some imps, also from the forum. I gave them all a sniff, and have found one keeper.
I actually wouldn’t call myself a perfume person prior to this. I did go on a hunt for the right perfume a few years ago, ending up with Calvin Klein’s Eternity Moment, but I’m sure everyone, once in their lives, goes on that perfume hunt. I’ve seen BPAL a long time ago and wanted to give it a shot, but never got around to diving in–the sheer number of scents, not knowing what to get, the higher cost and the “unknown” of international shipping, not having my own credit card or Paypal…it wasn’t going to happen.
Over the years, however, I’ve got my own credit card and I got my own Paypal and I’ve bought a number of items online and shipped internationally. And a couple weeks back, Jen tweeted about BPAL’s new RPG line, and well…you know me. I HAD TO HAVE THEM. (Desperately searching for bottles…I don’t care for some of the scents, but omg those bottles, I MUS HAS DEM.)
And as another friend pointed out, BPAL appeals to the collector/hoarder, because of the sheer number of scents and the pretty labels, and the really interesting themes behind them. I’m totally a collector, and can be quite a hoarder if left unchecked! (*cough*)
Another aspect of BPAL that completely won me over is the community behind it. As mentioned, within hours of my joining the forum, someone out of the blue private messaged me and offered to give me any imps that she’s selling if I was interested in them. I don’t think this is a regular occurrence or anything–don’t join for free samples, folks!–but as a newbie, I was instantly won over with the generosity and welcome that was extended to me. There was also another person on the forum who was offering a number of random imps to newbies only for the cost to ship the imps. I’ve read elsewhere–and I agree–that it’s likely the Lab’s practice of sometimes giving free imps with its shipments has fueled this generosity in its usual patrons, such as paying forward and giving some goodies in their own shipments too.
The smellies! They have arrived!
Instead of going directly to the lab, I wrote out lists upon lists of scents I wanted to try, as a bit of a shopping list. I joined the forum first, and my approach changed. I still have that list, but around two or so weeks ago, I bought a couple of imps from other people at really affordable prices. I told myself I’d get these, and then I’ll be better able to figure out what scents I should give a shot, as well as find out if I need to stay away from some (skin chemistry etc). I was impatient to have my first sniff, but I was resigned to wait until mid-May.
I checked my mail last Friday AND FOUND TWO PACKAGES!
I was going out with my mom and sister, and could not indulge myself yet, but upon coming home, that was the first thing on the agenda. They are wonderful. I received the forum fairy’s package, as well as another package I bought, all in all containing:
Rhododendron and bellflower petals swirl through deep, cool, dark aquatic notes.
A quiet scent, soft, calm and enigmatic. A perfume of mystery, of whispers, and of secrets behind secrets. White sandalwood, lilac, gardenia, violet, orris, lavender and ylang ylang.
Beautiful, radiant daughter of Demeter… her loveliness was so exquisite that even Hell itself could not resist her. Pomegranate and rose.
A rakish blend of leather, anise, lavender, bergamot and amber with tonka, lemon peel and lusty patchouli.
- Queen of Sheba
Her scent is a bounty of golden honeyed almonds and a whisper of African and Middle Eastern spices.
Starry white lilies lend an eerie brightness to the deep black wooded scents of cypress and oak, layered with a touch of crushed dried leaves and the faintest aquatic note.
- Blood Pearl
Lustrous, sanguine, soft and lavish: soft orris, blood musk, and coconut.
- The Miller’s Daughter
Spun gold, tear-soaked straw, and rose-infused amber.
But also containing imps/testers/decants of Jerusalem Cherry Infused Honey, Strawberry Moon 2009 and Ruffles, Bustles and Corsets (A gathering of ladies for an afternoon tea. White orchids, sprigs of lavender and petite vanilla butter cream frosted lemon pastries), a bottle of The Girls love Vanilla (For anyone who loves loves loves the smell of vanilla, this is the supersaturated honey soaked, sinful, hedonistic custom rare and unabashed blend you have been waiting for. Outrageously lovely. Too pretty for angels almost, but not too pretty for you! Characteristics: vanilla, honey, sweet, foody), two potpourri tarts, and a homemade soap sample (and a card from the fairy).
I sniffed them all, starting with Persephone, and decided I’d try Persephone first. It was a very lovely scent, but ended up smelling almost soapy and faint to me, so just before we left for the night, I washed it off and tried on Ulalume. Unexpected, but I love it! It was very woody at first, but ends up an airy, starry lily, as described. Definitely worthy of a bottle.
money sink hobby
All this spells out to be a wonderful new hobby, not just the collecting bit but in training my sense of smell to pick out notes in the perfumes. It’s relaxing and intriguing, and clears my head while trying to decipher which is which, and what smells good to me. And the joy of finding a scent that is beautiful wet and in the bottle as well as on my skin–priceless.
If you’re interested in following the scents I’m trying and my thoughts on them (and various other perfume-oil-related rambles), I started scentwhims.tumblr.com :)