About a month ago, a regular poster over on /r/indiemakeupandmore posted asking if anyone would be interested in testing out scents from her upcoming perfume line. I’d read enough of her comments and posts to know that she a) loves perfume and b) knows her shit, so I threw my hat in the ring. Obviously she ended up getting in touch about testing them out, because here we are!
The soon-to-be-launched company is called sixteen92, and the lovely lady behind the brand is Claire (aka /u/vanityclaire). She’s also an art director/designer, which you can definitely tell because the website and branding is fantastic and very professional.
The catalogue is available to view now, and it consists of 15 scents, all but two of which are vegan. Swarm and Mellifera both contain real honey notes, and are plainly marked as such, which I appreciate intensely because often it’s very hard to tell whether a scent contains real or synthetic honey notes without taking the time to email the brand. And that’s fine, I will do it, but it’s certainly more convenient to have it clearly stated, and it shows a level of consideration that I appreciate a lot.
I was sent 5 samples for review: Sauin, Lolita, Shadow Show, Encantado, and Grimm. All reviews were done as blindly as possible, though I was somewhat aware of what was in each one.
Sauin: Black licorice, sugared ginger candies, yuzu, dragon’s blood, moss.
In the vial, I get black licorice and sweet, sugared citrus. On skin the sweet citrus and warm ginger are the strongest notes at first, but then there’s black licorice, making itself known in a big way. The sweeter elements definitely remain detectable, but this is a black licorice scent.
After a few minutes, the dragon’s blood comes out to play, deep and resinous, and it’s a really wonderful complement to the black licorice. At this point the sweet citrus and ginger have mostly burned off (like they do) and the scent is much deeper and spicier than it started, but still smooth.
Further on, it develops a really awesome green-ness, plush and dark, like a carpet of moss. It plays so well with the licorice and dragon’s blood. Man. I wasn’t so sure about this one when I first put it on, but it is amazing. I like black licorice (and anise) scents, but I’ve never really loved one – but I love this. I will definitely be getting a full-size bottle of this, and wearing the hell out of it come fall.
Lolita: Crisp apple skins, tart peach candies, rose absolute, sugared violet.
In the vial, I get mostly sweet, sticky, sugary peach candy, and it is magnificent. On skin the peach is the strongest note, with dry, crisp apple and some soft floral elements underneath. As it dries the peach gets almost milky, like peaches and cream.
Unfortunately this one is very fleeting on me – most of the scent burns off before it even fully dies, leaving just a faint peachy sweetness behind. Claire mentioned that longevity has been an issue with this one, which isn’t surprising given the notes. But when I sent her my thoughts about the scents, she said that she’s had some success with adding a fixative to the blend to extend the wear. It’s still not going to be a marathon laster – I love apple scents enough to know that’s just unreasonable to expect – but it should stick around a bit better, so that’s very good to hear.
The scent itself is lovely, fresh and light and candy-sweet/tart, appropriately young and girly. I’m actually considering adding a bit of my sample to an unscented lotion, because I’d love this as an all-over scent.
Shadow Show: Kettle corn, spun sugar, apple, machine oil, rusty metal, dirt.
My first impression in the vial is popcorn, and then cold metal, like a rickety ferris wheel turning on a dark, almost-chilly early fall evening. It’s odd and specific and very interesting. On skin it’s mostly popcorn, salty and sweet, with a bit of fruity apple and a hint of dirt and that cold metal smell in the background.
As it dries down, the elements swap and meld into something that smells buttery, woody, and a little spicy, with a cool edge. I’m not sure where that woody element is coming from, but I like it quite a bit. I like to imagine that it’s the creaky wood seats in the ferris wheel. A while after it’s dried, the machine oil sharpness comes out, just a hint at first, but it gets a little stronger over time.
This is another one I wasn’t sure I’d like, but I do. It’s also one of the more accurate scent renditions of “a night at the county fair” that I’ve tried. I haven’t been to something like that in years, on account of how I’m a cranky weirdo who hates people and crowds and fun and puppies (that’s not true, I love puppies), but I daresay Shadow Show makes me want to venture out the next time one comes around.
Encantado: Flor de sal (sea salt), Brazilian lime EO, tobacco, bay rum.
In the vial: Whoa. Salt and rum and lime, this smells like a deeper, more alcoholic version of DC Harpy. There’s tobacco in there too, wet and sweet. On skin it’s sweet and buttery and salty, like suntan oil and mojitos and a hot breeze off the ocean at dusk. It smells really good.
This makes me want to go to the beach and do unseemly things even though I kinda hate the beach in the summer (see above re: cranky weirdo, also it’s just too fucking hot and I can’t stand it). As it dries down, the tobacco peeks out, and it gets a bit stronger as time goes on.
The overall feel this scent leaves me with is warm and salty. It’s quite sexy. It starts out sweet, but I think this could be unisex when all is said and done.
Grimm: Cocao absolute, tonka bean, tobacco, immortelle, wet forest moss & leaves.
In the vial I get rich chocolate, then tobacco and wet leaves. It’s sweet but sharp and green. On skin the chocolate note fades fast, leaving mostly tobacco with a damp green edge.
After a few minutes, the tobacco melds into the green elements until it’s not exactly recognizeable as tobacco anymore, but just contributes to an overall sense of a dark, damp forest. A bit of smooth sweetness re-emerges at this point as well.
There are tiny hints of HoG Samhain here; it’s got shades of that same herbal coolness that’s so evocative of a dark, rainy fall night. Grimm is not nearly as chilly as Samhain – they actually smell nothing alike – but it’s atmospheric in the same sort of way. If I were assigning them colors, Samhain would be a dark, cool greenish blue and Grimm would be a murky, deep olive brown.
Grimm is really lovely. It’s dark and deep, green and a tiny bit sweet. It’s very evocative of a dark forest without necessarily smelling like a dark forest, if that makes sense. I have an unholy weakness for any scent reminiscent of trees or leaves or forests, so this is a serious win for me.
This oil is pretty, too, all filled with dark sediment (the cocoa absolute, I assume) – definitely shake this one up before applying.
So there you have it! My favorites of the bunch are Sauin (hands down) and Grimm, but I really enjoyed all of them to varying degrees.
Sixteen92 is launching in the very near future, and I highly recommend trying them out – I’m very happy with what I got to try, and will absolutely be sampling the rest of the scents (barring the non-vegan ones of course) when they’re available. I’m particularly keen to try out The Awakening and Penny Dreadful.