darling clandestine falloween pt. 2


Itsy bitsy… bitsies.

Part 2 of my extremely belated Darling Clandestine Falloween review is upon us! Considering that DC’s winter collection and Shark Friday will be upon us in a mere couple of weeks, I’m way behind the 8 ball on this. But here it is nonetheless – if it’s not useful now, perhaps it will be next year.

I picked up the itsy bitsy set of DC’s Halloween Suite, which used to consist of four scents, but a fifth (Smother) was added to the lineup this year. I don’t actually love the itsy bitsy format – they’re half the size of regular bitsy vials (half a dram, or 1.9 ml, vs a whole dram, 3.8 ml) but more expensive – so I wouldn’t normally order them, but I wanted to try out the whole suite and I didn’t need or want the full-size set of 8 ml bottles. I do appreciate a smaller, more affordable set being offered, despite my general feelings on the itsy bitsies.

Anyway – on to the reviews. As usual, they were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.

Falter: Startling, misty, herbal, with notes including avocado and ozone and clary sage.

In the vial I get something sort of like cucumber, but not cucumber… green and ozoney, but not as watery or sweet as cucumber. On skin it’s a little more mellow, less sharply ozone-y, with an herbal dustiness to it. Probably sage? That’s as far as I can get with picking out individual notes in this one. DC is like that, magically and frustratingly. As it dries the sage gets much more prominent, and it ends up being mostly an herbal scent over a light, misty background. It almost of reminds me of a brighter, fresher companion to What Mandy Makes.

This is an interesting scent, and I like the dry down, but it’s not one I would wear super often – I think an itsy bitsy is enough.

Side note: Avocado! That was the green not-cucumbery note. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen avocado in a scent. Interesting. It gives it a creamy green smell that’s really unusual.

Wither: Unsettling, ethereal, with notes including ozone and blueberry and trampled leaves, soaked in black rum.

In the vial, this is sort of an astringent blueberry with lots of ozone. I get much less ozone on skin – it’s deeper and lacking that astringent edge. Darker and a bit musty, but not in a bad way – like dry leaves, “withered” up and crunching underfoot. The blueberry is still there, but it’s not as bright or fruity, and reminds me more of blueberry black tea than blueberries themselves. The base gets a bit muskier as it wears.

This one is, again, interesting – I feel like I say that a lot about DC scents – but I like it better than Falter. I wouldn’t mind having more than an itsy bitsy of this one (though if I’m being honest, 1.9 ml is all I ever really need of anything), so when it comes back next year I may grab a larger size.

Squander: Deep and decadent, with rich fruitful notes including clove and nutmeg and sandalwood and ripe red apple.

In the vial, Squander is warm and fruity, lightly spicy. This is the apple one. On skin it’s crisp apple and something a little green over a warm, musky base. It’s a very “hot” scent, not in the sense that it’s overly spicy or burns my skin (cinnamon oil! *shakes fist at sky*), but it just feels… hot. If it were a color, it would be a saturated goldenrod yellow. It is a little spicy, though – no cinnamon, but combined with the apple it got a bit of a mulled cider thing going on. The base of the scent has a soft, incense-y vibe. (Note: There’s the sandalwood!)

I really like this one. My favorite of the Halloween suite, hands down, and the one I’ll definitely be grabbing a full-size of next year. It is the apple one, so no surprise there, I’m sure.

Funny story: Squander just wants to escape from me. Months ago, when Evonne put last year’s Halloween suite stock up for sale, I got an order from DC that had a bottle of Squander tucked into it as an extra. A full size bottle! Or at least… it had been, before it was shattered into a million pieces by the industrial car crusher that masquerades as my mailman. The package smelled amazing. The bathroom trash can where the package full of broken glass and Squander oil was deposited also smelled amazing for several weeks afterward. Fast forward to now, testing out my itsy bitsy. Falter and Wither go off without a hitch, but as soon as I open Squander, my clumsy sausage fingers fumble the tiny lid and it goes bouncing off my desk, spraying oil all over the desk, the laptop, and my shirt. I retrieve the lid, wipe up the oil, and try again. And I drop the lid again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Thank god it was just the lid and not the bottle, but goddamn Squander, just let me love you.

Spurn: Fierce and passionate, with bright bursts of pomegranate, tempered with aged wood and haunted by marigolds.

Side note: My itsy bitsy bottle of Spurn has a hairline crack in it. Boo-urns. It kept expanding, so I decanted the oil into two sample vials. I have really terrible luck with DC’s bottles breaking in transit, for some reason. It’s happened no less than 3 times in the span of about 6 months.

In the vial, Spurn smells warm and a little fruity. On skin it’s similar, but with a more woody base. The fruitiness is less prominent on my skin, but still enough to provide a bit of brightness and sweetness to what is mostly a warm, woody scent. After it dries down a bit more, I can smell what I gather from looking at the notes is marigold – it’s smooth and fresh, but not floral in the typical way. It’s really nice.

I always feel dumb trying to describe DC scents, because it’s often less about picking out notes and more about trying to describe a feeling that it evokes, or an overall vibe.

Oh well. I like this one. I’ll grab a larger bottle next year for sure.

Smother: Green, woody natural pistachio (no pudding here), rich moss-covered oak, and a shy bloom of a gloriously superior essence of jasmine grandiflorum.

Smooth and a little sweet, with a deep, creamy floral – kind of reminds me of the orchid in Gram Negative? On skin I get more of the floral – white floral, a bit headier. There’s something very smooth about this scent, almost buttery, but not buttery-smelling, if that makes sense. A creaminess, I guess, but it’s not milky. I’m not describing this well. Unfortunately for me, the longer it’s on my skin, the stronger the floral element gets. Jasmine, I assume, from its strength and my visceral NOPE reaction.

If you like jasmine, you’ll like Smother. I do not like jasmine, so I am not really into it. I will say that it’s one of the more tolerable jasmine-heavy scents I’ve tried, but at the end of the day it’s just not for me. Looking at the notes, I wish I got more of the pistachio and mossy oak – I think I did a bit at the beginning, and in the bottle – the pistachio was the creamy/buttery thing I was trying to describe – but ultimately my skin was only interested in the jasmine. Boo.

Overall Thoughts: More positive than not on these. I like Squander, Spurn, and Wither (in that order), am indifferent to Falter, and don’t really dig Smother.

Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy here.

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