darling clandestine falloween pt. 1


Electricity So Fine, What Mandy Makes, The Moon is Leaving for The Wheels, Tiny Ice Bees, Don’tGoPleaseStay, and Vardogr

Part 1 of my Darling Clandestine Falloween review is upon us! After almost all of the Falloween stuff has already sold out! Because I am the worst! Moving right along…

Today I have three of the new scents that DC released for Falloween, plus two returning fall/winter scents and one new scent that was released in August but that I’m just getting to trying out now. In October. This is how you know you have too much perfume, friends.

Electricty So Fine: A night-black canvas of artemisia absinthum and mosses and blackest tea and port wine, splashed with an electric sizzle of sparkling violets.

Not a Falloween scent, per se, but I got it when it was released and still need to review it, so here it is. In the bottle I get mostly violets, sharp and almost abrasive. Yikes. On skin it starts out the same, but I can pick out darker, deeper things underneath if I sniff hard. Honestly, though, I don’t like this one. At all. It’s sharp and bitter and hits me over the head with awful soapy violets. After about 5-10 minutes, it does mellow out – it’s not as sharp, not as loud, and much more tolerable – but the main scent is still soapy violets, more reminiscent of fancy grandma hand soap than something I want to wear as a perfume.

A very rare complete miss from DC – I’m not even sure I’ll keep the bottle, because I can’t imagine ever wearing it again.

What Mandy Makes: Mandy requested a scent that evokes “loneliness.” Very smoky. Ozoney. Faintest hint of “Oriental” musk. Topnote of cucumber, though there’s no commercial “cucumber” fragrance ingredient. Smoky drydown, sweet musky finish.

I should not have ordered this perfume. There’s almost nothing about the description that sounds like anything I want to put on my person. But DC inspires a Pokemon-esque collector’s mentality in me, and also it’s kind of got my name in the title (though the only allowed people who call me Mandy are blood relatives, on threat of painful death). So here we are.

In the bottle I smell mostly cucumber – deep, musky, smoky but still watery cucumber. It’s odd. On skin the cucumber is slightly less prominent, but still provides a distinctly cucumber-y wateriness to the scent. It’s light but deep, and I have a very hard time picking out any kind of individual notes. There is a smokiness to it, but not in the usual sense. As it dries it gets warmer and a little sweeter. It smells at once kind of like a traditional perfume but also nothing at all like a traditional perfume. I find this scent confusing.

I’m also mystified as to where this overwhelming cucumber-ness is coming from, since the description notes that there’s no actual cucumber in the mix. Evonne’s wizardry in action, I guess.

I like it more than I expected to, but I don’t think it’s a “me” scent. Cucumber has never done much for me, either as a food or a fragrance. (The Dude said it smelled like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, because his nose is broken.)

The Moon is Leaving for the Wheels: The tang of tawny dead grasses, parched by sunset, dampened by first frost. Brooding vetiver, ripe blackberries, sweet Melissa, shy mosses, pettigrain twist.

In the bottle, I smell berries and something herbal and grassy. The combination smells just a tiny bit like Flintstones vitamins. The purple kind. On skin – whoa, very different. Dry and grassy and herbal, like an overgrown field in late fall, just before it all turns to frost and dirt. The berry is there, in the background, but it’s not really sweet. There’s something deep and woody and a tiny bit citrusy in the base. There’s also a mustiness to it that I don’t really care for. It does soften with wear, but it never completely goes away.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one, to be honest – looking at the description, I should love it. Blackberries, check, sweet Melissa, check, moss, check. The petitgrain is what’s giving it the woody, citrusy thing. I’m guessing the vetiver is responsible for most of what I don’t like  – the harsh musty smell. In any case, I don’t love the overall effect. I don’t dislike it, necessarily – especially after about 20-30 minutes when the mustiness softens – but I’ll need to test it out some more before I can say for certain whether I actually like it. However it definitely did give me a headache, so there’s a strike against it.

Tiny Ice Bees: I wove a wisp of damp silk—crisp, delicate, ozoney, watery—with a subtle splash of pineapple and tart green orange and grapefruit. No honey. Come on; that’s predictable. This is a thing that happened in the dead of terrible winter.

This is the Falloween scent I was most excited for. In the bottle it’s tart and fruity – sweet pineapple and grapefruit? Definitely citrus. On skin it’s very light and crisp, with grapefruit being the most prominent note to my nose. There’s something faintly floral about it as well. It’s sweet – much sweeter and simpler than most DC scents. It’s very much in the same category as Tilt-a-Whirl that way.

I like this one. It’s a very clean scent – I read a review at Hello There, Blondie! that said it was reminiscent of wet laundry, and I think that’s very accurate. I think most people would probably enjoy this one, unless you have an extreme hatred of grapefruit. (When I shoved my wrist under The Dude’s nose, he said it smelled “herbaceous but also like the beach.”)


Super-sized vegan solid action.

Don’tGoPleaseStay: My very favorite new little sliver of rock’n’roll, available ONLY in solid format because the ingredients need to “toast” to come alive. This is a true “natural” perfume, a slow infusion made with a fantastic cacao absolute, the very finest oakmoss, crushed juniper berries, cardamom pods, just a tiny bit of ylang-ylang, a pinch of chipotle pepper, and dark vanilla. Think deep, smoky, mossy chocolate gin.

In the tin, DGPS is chocolatey and herbal and a little cool-smelling. It’s like chocolate gin. (I don’t like gin. I think it tastes like a sad christmas.) On skin it’s sweeter, more chocolatey, but not foodie-smelling – the herbal/green elements keep it from venturing into that territory. It’s mellow and soft, sweet, a tiny bit spicy, but with a juniper edge. The overall effect is very comforting and snuggly.

This one wears very close to the skin, and sillage and lasting power are both quite low – Evonne does note this possibility on the listing page for the scent, since it’s an all-natural perfume, and it’s definitely true in my case. After about 10 minutes I could barely smell it anymore, even when I put my nose right up to my wrist. Which is kind of a bummer since I really like it. At least my solid is super massive for frequent slathering.

Vardogr: This weird little concoction is truly a masterpiece. Oh, it’s gooood. And weird. Dark, damp, herbal—mossy forest floors, sunken alleys, underground spaces—with a dozen unlikely notes including pure essential German chamomile, bitter black coffee, hazy Indian musks, sharp herbs and a whip of leather. It’s not for everyone. It’s strange. But oh my, is it fantastic.

I’m reviewing a solid of this, but I already bought a bottle when DC re-opened. So spoilers: I like it.

Straight out of the tin, I smell coffee and deep, musky green. A little sharp. Strange, in a good way. On skin the green is most pominent, a deep, dark, slightly murky forest green. It is a bit sharp, and quite strong, and the coffee I smell in the tin is pretty undetectable, which is a shame because I feel like it gave it a nice, smooth depth and counterbalanced the sharpness. After a while it does make an appearance, though it’s never as strong as it is in the tin. I’m curious to see how the oil is different, if at all.

After a little more time, the whole thing has softened a bit, and there’s something close and cozy about it. Not “cozy” like fluffy towels and a mug of tea, though – no warm vanilla musks here – but cozy is the word coming to mind nonetheless. Like… being inside by a dying fire while it’s raining buckets in the middle of the night.

Vardogr is kind of a weird scent. That’s a bit redundant, I guess – DC’s thing is weird scents – but I’d call Vardogr weirder than most. DC’s scent discography gives it a “boss level” of 9, which means that Evonne considers it pretty damn strange. It’s definitely not a scent with blanket mass appeal (The Dude didn’t like it). But I’m quite fond of it – obviously, since I already upgraded to a full bottle. It feels very much like a fall scent to me, too.

Overall Thoughts: This was a mixed bag – I like Vardogr, Don’tGoPleaseStay, and Tiny Ice Bees (probably in that order), am on the fence about The Moon is Leaving for The Wheels and What Mandy Makes, and straight-up dislike Electricity So Fine.

Stay tuned for part 2 soon, which will feature the 5-scent Halloween suite of Squander, Wither, Falter, Spurn, and the new-for-2014 Smother.

Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy here.

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