the gift of smells


Two bitsies + one 5ml + one 7.5ml. The cap is cracked on Vortex, hence the tape.



Perfume is much easier to mail.

Before I ever got my first real Darling Clandestine order, I was very generously gifted these babies by some lovely redditors over at /r/indiemakeupandmore. (Thank you /u/DerpYu and /u/janemorrisgoodall!) They were looking to re-home some unloved perfumes, and I had never tried DC – they were like my awesome-smelling fairy godmothers.

Reviews were done without looking at the scent notes – descriptions were added after the fact. Darling Clandestine’s scent descriptions tend to be lengthy and more like stories than a list of notes, so the most relevant bits were picked out where possible.

Harpy: Harpy is a sailor’s delight, with notes of sea salt and dark bay rum, milk and coconut squeezed with bitter lime.

In the vial I get lime, a lot of it, and a tiny bit of sweetness. On skin there’s a coconut-y sweetness, creamy and tropical, that is set off nicely by the tangy lime. The base is salty and musky and there’s something slightly alcoholic about it – it’s reminiscent of drinking salt-rimmed mojitos at night on a hot, sticky beach.

I really love this and can see myself wearing it a lot during the summer, because it makes the sticky humidity that is summer in Philadelphia feel almost appealing, instead of what it actually feels like, which is being inside of someone’s mouth.

I’m glad I tested this one out before the shop closed, because I was able to grab a solid to layer with my bitsy. A full bottle of the oil is definitely in my future as well, but since my order has already ballooned to epic proportions over the last week or so, I’m trying to show a modicum of restraint. (Also I need to leave some things to buy after she opens up again!)

Serpentina: A crisp, green, ethereal fragrance with a little opium bite.

In the vial this smells green – like green tea, but deeper, and almost a little smoky. On skin it’s the same – a big hit of green tea, with something slightly smoky underneath. Like smoke drifting in the window of a tea house. And it’s not a charred bonfire smoke or an acrid cigarette smoke – it’s sweet, but not like pipe smoke, which is usually what I think of when I think “sweet smoke.” It’s like burning tea leaves? I don’t know.

The base is deep and mellow, and after a minute or two something a tiny bit tangy starts to creep in. This one is really interesting. It’s heady in a way I usually ascribe to white florals, but it’s definitely not floral. It’s just got that kind of feeling. You take a deep breath of it and it fills up your head, like breathing in smoke.

I’m not sure I’ll need more of this, but it is really interesting scent and I’m glad I got to try it.

Dewlap Valentine: “He loved strawberries and bananas and dark leafy greens and usually had them smeared all over his face so he smelled like all of those things together, plus a little something . . . reptilian.” A wonderfully complicated blend, fruity, salty, musky, earthy, at once dark and sweet and green, morphing over and over on the skin.

In the bottle this is deeply, intensely fruity. Very ripe – almost over-ripe – banana and strawberry with a muskiness to it. On skin I’m immediately hit with an odd green tang before the sweetness starts to take over again. It’s very musky and sweet – first the banana is strongest, then the strawberry, then they mix together again before starting all over – but the whole time it has that green tanginess working around the edges. It’s almost salty. This is definitely not your average fruity scent. It’s a bit strange, and very strong. But also very interesting, which is a theme I see emerging with DC’s blends.

I do like this, but as I have a 5ml I don’t anticipate needing more. Also after looking at the description, I really can see it being described as “reptilian.”

Vortex: This winter is not your average winter, and Vortex is not your average “winter” fragrance. There’s no evergreen, no mint, no “holiday” spice—just a vast expanse of cold, white and blue, frigid, soundless. Stark and invigorating, this fragrance is purely unisex.

In the bottle Vortex is very brisk and clean, almost abrasively so. On skin it’s slightly more mellow, but still a cold, white-blue ozone kind of scent. But at the same time it’s almost a little warm – like breathing in through your nose on a below-freezing day, when the air is so cold that it burns going in. It’s an odd scent experience. I keep pinging back and forth between cold and hot.

This one seems a bit less complex than the rest of the DC scents I’ve tried so far – it’s not a morpher, aside from the cold/hot thing – but I like it for what it is and I think it’s appropriate, given the inspiration, which was the endless snow-covered hellscape that was our 2013/14 winter.

All of these save for Vortex are currently available from Darling Clandestine, though Evonne is closing up shop tomorrow (6/12) to move. She should re-open again in a month or so, at which point she will be doing DC full-time, which is so wonderful and really couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

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