Despite having been deep into indie perfume for years and hearing lots about Darling Clandestine, I never got around to trying them out. I’m not sure why, really. I think that somewhere along the way I got the impression that their scents were just not for me. But after yet more raving from the folks on /r/indiemakeupandmore, I decided to take the plunge, and when a small sale rolled around I placed a small order for a set of three bitsy vials (more on these later) to test the waters.
And these little guys had a hell of a time getting to me! I placed my order on April 29th, it was marked shipped on May 12th, and then… nothing. It shouldn’t take a package more than a week to travel from Chicago to Philadelphia, so I messaged Evonne, the owner, on May 22nd, and she said to let her know if it didn’t show up by the following Tuesday (the 27th, two weeks after shipping). When it didn’t, she responded that she would send out a replacement. According to the package, my replacement shipped the very next day (the 28th), and I received it yesterday, on June 2nd. When it arrived, there was an adorable shark stamp on the back, with a little speech bubble that said “Godspeed!” I die.
While it’s never fun to have a package go missing (for the shop or the customer!), Evonne was nothing but friendly and responsive throughout our interactions – I couldn’t ask anything more from a shop owner.
So now that they’re in my hands, how do they fare? These reviews were done blind, without looking at the scent notes – descriptions were added after the fact. Darling Clandestine’s scent descriptions are generally fairly long and prosaic, telling a story rather than simply stating a list of notes, so I tried to grab the most relevant bits.
Small Saga: Figs and apricot wine and sweet cream unfolding into a mellow, soft wood. Deceptively creamy at first whiff, but then comes the Darling Clandestine complexity you’ve come to know and love.
My first impressions are green and kind of floral, but a creamy floral. Like moldering roses? I don’t love it. On skin it’s a bit better – still green and creamy-floral, but I don’t get that “flowers left in the vase too long” kind of impression anymore. I think there’s sandalwood or something similar at the base of it – it’s kind of woody and a tiny bit spicy but with a powdery edge. As it dries, it sweetens up a bit, and it’s really nice. At times this verges on perfumey, but I actually like it quite a bit. From sniffing it in the vial I was ready to put this one in the swap pile, but on my skin it’s a winner. I like it more the longer it wears.
La La La, All Right: Sun-drenched summer breezes and road trips and rivers and cornfields and river and road. This is a very green, very earthy scent, with a similar accord to that of Fisticuffs, minus the sweetness.
Whoa. Green again, but this time green green – all green, with nothing moderating it. It’s like huffing grass. On skin it starts off incredibly green, a bit sharp, but quickly softens. It smells like humid air – like being outside on a hot day the very second before the sky opens up and pours down rain. I can almost smell the steam coming up off the pavement. It’s really interesting. I couldn’t pick out any individual notes here if you paid me (lemongrass? sandalwood?), but I really, really love this. (It has fairly decent sillage as well – I didn’t think it would when I first put it on, but I could smell it wafting around me throughout the morning when I wore it for real.)
At this point I’m getting the sense that DC fragrances are best not judged on cold sniffs.
On a side note, The Dude was passing through while I tested this one. He said it smelled “like church in the fall.” And I don’t think he’s far off, actually. As this one dried I did start to get some light incense-y notes from it. In any case, this is definitely the front runner so far.
Morderteile Kelah: This is a fragrance I’ve created in honor of a magnificent lady with magnificent knockers. Amber, hyacinth, milk and strawberry jam are just a few of the elements that capture Kelah. As if anyone ever could capture her completely. You need a butterfly net, I bet. It’s sweet and sultry and spicy and summery, and I’m so very happy with it.
First thought: yum. This smells like creamy, milky strawberry. On skin creamy strawberry is still the strongest note, but there’s something floral as well. It’s oddly familiar, and one I actually like. Hyacinth? The bluish purple ones. It reminds me of Easter flowers. I’d call this a fruity scent with a floral edge rather than the other way around, which is why I like it. And I do like it. A lot. It’s just pretty. And easily one of the nicest strawberry scents I’ve tried. Also: boobs!
(Note: It is hyacinth! I swear I didn’t look at the notes. It’s just a weirdly specific scent memory.)
To sum up: Worth the wait. No losers here! I don’t know if I’ll need more than a bitsy of Small Saga (at first I thought not, but the longer I wear it, the more I think I might… ), but larger bottles and/or solids of Morderteile Kelah and especially La La La, All Right will be finding their way home with me at some point in the near future. I’m especially curious about trying out the solids, to see if I can layer them for more intensity and for touch-ups during the day. (In fact I have already messaged Evonne about the possibility to getting a vegan solid of La La La, All Right. I needs it, my precious.)
A quick note about the bitsy vials: I love them. I wish more shops offered this size – bigger than a sample, smaller than a full bottle. It’s a great way to test-drive scents, of course, but it’s also enough product that if I like something but don’t necessarily want to bathe in it daily, a bitsy will be all I need.
Hit up Darling Clandestine on Etsy for spectacular smells and excellent customer service. (And shark stamps.)