Maybe you don’t watch movies and think, “I want to smell like that!” But have you ever loved a movie’s aesthetic so much you wanted to wrap yourself up and roll around in it? If so, you should probably peruse the pantries over Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. This killer cool boutique has a wide array of fragrances inspired by pop culture, from its Sherlock Holmes colognes, to a Dungeons & Dragons-spurred line, and even Fraggle Rock fragrances.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab came onto my radar when they concocted tribute scents to one of my film obsessions, Jim Jarmusch’s vampire hang movie Only Lovers Left Alive. Yeah, they have a scent based on a SWINTON character. You best believe I own that, as well as the ones for Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston’s vamps. Perhaps it was only natural this fan friendly site of spooky obsession and funky fragrances would be drawn to Guillermo Del Toro’s decadent (and totally underrated) gothic romance Crimson Peak.
Each Crimson Peak-inspired perfume comes in an elegant amber apothecary glass vial. But with 30 to choose from, you might well be overwhelmed by choice. The bad news is you better get to picking. Only 400 bottles of each are being made, and several of these specialty scents are already sold out! The good news is, I got some vials. So here’s a brief review of this delicious and deranged line of scents. Perhaps it’ll help you find the perfect gift for the romantic in your life.
Snow marbled with blood-red clay, frozen over the scent of decayed wood.
The line’s signature scent promises to smell like its titular haunted house. I don’t know about clay. It smells sour to me. But the decayed wood I get…and I kind of like it.
A flutter in the darkness: wild plum and blackcurrant with aged black patchouli, vetiver, red rose petal, tonka absolute, and opoponax.
There’s also an scent called “Insects” with patchouli and dried fruit. i haven’t sniffed that one, but must admit Black Moths is not my favorite. Never a big fan of patchouli, this reminds me of any hippie headshop you might wander into, thick with incense smell.
Between Your Heart and Mine
Heartwood bois de rose and vanilla-touched rose.
Now this one is a favorite! Its scent is floral, light and lovely. I’ve already recieved compliments when I’ve worn it out.
Fairy Tales and Lies
A proper Gilded Age Happily Ever After: lilac water and rose petals swirled with a gleaming amber chypre and a touch of Italian bergamot.
A little heavier, a little darker. Great for a night out where trouble might be on the menu.
A leather-bound manuscript, ink barely dry. A Gothic ghost tale, personified. The pages are permeated with a preternatural, otherworldly quality - but only slightly, as the ghost is a counterpoint; leather and paper and splotches of ink, with a hint of ghostly chill.
It’s unreal how this smells like a leather-bound book. It’s weirdly alluring. The paper smell is fresh and takes me back to days lost in the stacks of my local library bookworming it up. The leather is the aftertaste, adding an air of sophistication. I imagine this is what Giles from Buffy The Vampire smells like, which is to say it’s damn dreamy.
Firethorn Berry Tea
It’s a little bitter.
Bit frustrated that this is the only scent without a detailed list of ingredients. For me, a perfume can be a bit like wine. If I smell it on my own, my thoughts don’t extend much beyond “I like this, I don’t like that.” But when I can read what’s in them, then it’s easier to pick out the individual touches. Like, “Oh, yes pear! Totally tasting that.” Maybe it’s a trick of the mind, but it works well enough for me. As to how my uneducated nose judged the scent named for Lucille’s deadly tea, it’s actually not as bitter as you might fear. Sweet, though not without a trace of tang, an edge of other.
Love Makes Monsters Of Us All
Flora and fauna, man and beast entwined in a cycle of endless brutality: soil and rot and the heat of rage, blood-smeared musk and sharp decay.
Named for Lucille’s grand confession, this one’s got a body to it, that yeah I can see smelling like decay. But it’s actually an elegant and alluring smell. There’s a grassiness note that makes it an inviting blend.
Sir Thomas Sharpe
Black amber darkens a pale fougere.
I had to look up fougere: “a fragrance family including fresh, floral, herbaceous and woody/warm elements, typically blended with notes like: bergamot, oakmoss, lavender, coumarin (tonka bean), sandalwood, and geranium.” Yeah, I get that. There’s a herbal element mixed with the dark amber body. Fitting for this Hiddleston anti-hero whose a mix of wickedness and longing, slathered in sex appeal.
Bay rum and sandalwood.
Okay, I was prepared to loathe this one because McMichael is a doof, and Charlie Hunnam feels like he’s in some other movie altogether. Fittingly, this smells nothing like the rest of the line. Where everything else gives a dark vibe or a delicate floral scent, this one is warm and bright! I wouldn’t mind my mister wearing it.
Pearlescent vanilla musk with white sandalwood, grey amber, white patchouli, ambrette seed, and oudh.
Is it weird to say this is exactly how I imagine Wasikowska’s naive writer smelling? This is a ladylike scent, sweet and light. I could imagining wearing it with a strand of pearls to tea with friends.
Lady Lucille Sharpe
Faded red roses and a glimmer of garnet with black lily, ylang ylang, smoky plum musk, and black amber.
Fuck your sweetness. Much like Jessica Chastain brought a dark beauty to Crimson Peak as this sharp-tongued lady, this scent seems like it blooms in darkness. It’s delicious, perfectly paired to days when you need to be a BAMF.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab also boasts nail polish and jewelry in its Crimson Peak line.