HELLO BLOG. It’s been a while. How have you been? I’ve been busy. We move this weekend. Work is good but crazy. My schedule is totally out of whack. Nothing is packed. One of our cats is sick, and things are generally really stressful around these parts. It’ll be worth it, of course, but right now I’m pretty much just like D: D: D: 24/7. Actually, is there an emoticon of the kid from Home Alone screaming? Because that would be more accurate.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. But for this exact moment, I am here, with new smells! The above is what I picked up from Darling Clandestine’s Shark Friday release in November. It was quite a frenzy, and as you can see I ended up just grabbing everything, which I don’t regret but wasn’t really necessary.
As ever, reviews were done as blindly as possible, with notes and descriptions added after the fact.
Grace: Eleven different botanical essentials and extracts are featured in this year’s Christmas exclusive, Grace. Elements include sharp, bright spikenard, the oil used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Jesus Christ, as well as lively gingergrass, moody Haitian Sandalwood, piquant blue lotus, sweet Melissa, mellow myrrh, and that precious oud.
This is much tinier than I was expecting. Smaller than the regular 5 ml amber bottles that I’m used to from Arcana or Haus of Gloi. In the little bottle it smells herbal, sharp at first, then a little sweet, and kind of churchy. On skin it’s bright and warm, very zingy. Still herbal and churchy. It’s very strong and in your face at first, gingery but also a bit savory. I’m assuming that’s the oud, because I tried Tyto before this in my testing, and there’s definitely a similar thread running through them – but I like it more here. The gingery citrusy herbal-ness balances it out nicely, so that it smells deep and fragrant instead of like curry. It smells like an anointing oil.
The strong gingery bite settles down a bit as it wears, but otherwise it remains pretty constant. It wears close to the skin and sillage and longevity are low. It’s nice – not something I’d usually wear, but since it was a Christmas LE I’m glad I picked it up to try. Given the disappearing act it pulls on my skin, though, I probably won’t keep it around.
Note: Grace was supposed to come with a silk ribbon and a wax seal, but since neither silk nor beeswax is vegan, I requested that Evonne leave those off of my bottle – which she did, because she is a sweetie.
Tyto: For Bridget’s owl companion; his story is to come. Bright, tart pomegranate, blinks of green undergrowth and a tangled suite of woods, including a divinely excellent oud from Sumbawa, courtesy of an Indonesian friend.
In the bottle it’s unusually sweet for DC, a blast of fruit (citrus?), but then there’s something almost savory underneath. Like pepper, but more… unctuous. It almost reminds me of curry powder? Weird.
On skin it smells very similar, starting out bright and fruity and giving way to a savory, peppery base. There’s a bit of green as well – deep green and trampled, not crisp spring greens. On skin the balance of sweet and savory is better – it doesn’t quite veer into curry powder territory, but it’s still a bit of an odd bird. (No pun intended, believe it or not.)
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. It was my favorite on cold sniff, but the deep savory base is something I’m not super into. A few more trials are in order before Tyto’s fate is decided.
My Lady Ser: Muddy roads, dinted iron, horses and stables and miles in the saddle, whispering woods, misty fields, a cup of watered cider in a dark tavern, a flash of steel, a breath of wildflowers. But not roses. Never roses.
In the bottle it smells metallic, dankly mossy, and maybe a little floral. On skin it’s more mellow – green and mossy, deep but not so dank, with a breath of small, soft flowers. Nothing heady. The green-ness reminds me a a bit of some other DC scents – La La La, All Right (but softer), Gram-Negative (but brighter), and Maudlin & Bedlam (but less herbal).
There are other smells underneath the soft green mossy-ness – that metallic tang, something cool and watery, a touch of leather, maybe, and a little dirt. But mostly it reads as a mellow green scent, like a carpet of lush, damp moss deep in the forest, with little wildflowers growing up in spots where the sun shines through. Further into wear, the metal and leather becomes a bit more pronounced, but thankfully not overwhelming.
This one is really lovely. I expected it to be my favorite, and it is. No regrets on the full bottle blind buy.
Halochrome: Tanika showed me a really pretty fluorescent germ-cell stain. It made me want to create something deep but bright. She told me she’s fond of the term “halochromism”—color changes that happen in certain substances and tissues because of a change in pH. I suddenly decided I wanted a fragrance with a “color shift,” one that would run the gamut of ROYGBIV. Thus was born a synaesthetic adventure for your skin. She’s a rainbow.
Evonne is known for her long, somewhat cryptic scent descriptions, but this one might take the cake. I don’t think anyone who ordered Halochrome had any remote inkling of what it was actually supposed to smell like. Smells like a rainbow? Okay then! So this is really and truly a blind review, and would be even if I’d had the description right in front of me the whole time.
In the bottle it smells… bright and clean. A little fruity, a little soapy? A little cold. Not bad.
On skin it starts out clean and a bit soapy, like one of those “clean laundry” scents. A faint whiff of fruitiness, and something cold and almost metallic. A little ozone-y. This is a weird one. I’m not sure what I think of it. I don’t know what I expected a rainbow to smell like, but this isn’t it. Is it? I don’t know!
It’s a subtle morpher – it smells a little different with every sniff, sometimes a little sweeter, sometimes a little more metallic, sometimes deeper or brighter, sometimes a little green (at which point it reminds me a touch of La La La), always over a clean, musky white base. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. It confuses me.
Love & Sharks Blue: In the tin I smell blueberry, chocolate, and the same sort of musky, salty-sweet base of the OG Love & Sharks. On skin it’s a deep, musky berry scent with a dark cocoa sweetness, much less salty and strange-smelling than the original. It’s not entirely dissimilar, of course, but if you tried L&S and found it a bit too strange, peppery, salty, or murky for your taste, you might just like Love & Sharks Blue. Not that it helps you anymore. SAD FACE.
As it wears the fruitiness gets a little sharper, the cocoa a little dustier, the overall scent a little bit “sharkier” and less sweet. It’s like huffing blueberry hot chocolate mix while a salty, slightly briney wind blows in from the ocean. I like it – a bit more than the original, actually, which I appreciate conceptually but isn’t something I reach for. I feel like L&S Blue is a bit more wearable for the masses. It’s not your run of the mill gourmand or anything, but if Love & Sharks has a Boss Level of 9, L&S Blue probably falls somewhere around a 7.
Note: The little cocoa “shark bites” are just on the surface and were swirled away with the first application. Also, and this just made me feel special – I always request vegan solids, and usually they just arrive with a little sticker on the back proclaiming them as vegan, but this one’s little sticker just says my name. Aww.
Overall Thoughts: A bit of a mixed bag. I really like My Lady Ser, I like Love & Sharks Blue, Halochrome sends me down a spiral of existential confusion, I’m on the fence about Tyto, and Grace is nice but short-lived and not really my jam regardless. I could’ve gotten bitsies of everything but My Lady Ser and been just fine, but hey, live and learn, or don’t, if you’re me and have serious emotional problems that express themselves through the compulsive collection of enough perfume oil to drown a man.
Darling Clandestine can be found on Etsy, although the shop is currently closed.