Friday, December 7, 2012

Perfume Review - DarlingClandestine

Etsy is one of the places where you can find strange scents in great numbers, whether you like steampunk, sideshow, burlesque, gothic or any other alternative style of perfumery that you are not likely to find in the perfume store at the mall.

I got this generous package from Evonne of DarlingClandestine last week. She sells wonderfully complex and odd perfumes in her shop on Etsy! I ordered the two solids that you see in the picture but because I had to wait a bit she threw in all of these other wonderful goodies!! That´s customer service for you!!

Now, I really love reading perfume reviews! I think they are the most wonderful thing ever! And I do love analyzing scents, even though my sense of smell is quite... mediocre... So I´ll try my hand at it here!

The scent that really cought my attention and made me order from DarlingClandestine was Vardogr. In her description of the scent Evonne pointed out that this was a really weird scent, and I´m all for anything weird! evonne describes the scent as "dark, damp, herbal fragrance—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". I´m usually drawn more to spicy gourmand scents, so what exactly attracted me, beyond the "weird" is hard to say. I do have a fascination for anything underground, but that is my taste in horror movies, not perfumes.
Vardogr even looks weird, it´s a beautiful green color! The scent itself is indeed herbal! it is green in a softly dark kind of way, not clean at all but full of dirt and grime. I can´t smell any coffee or musk, but, as noted, my nose is sub par when it comes to these matters. I don´t find Vardogr very weird, it is unusual to be sure but not shockingly so. It is earthy and subtly haunting, unsettling like a walk in a graveyard or a damp dark crypt. I´ll admit to expecting a stronger, less subtle, concotion, but it works! It is stunningly beautiful, but perhaps a bit too subtle for my tastes... I don´t normally do subtle.

The other solid I ordered from DarlingClandestine is much more my usual cup of tea, lo and behold, a spicy gourmand! This scent, named Big Top Train (2010 formulation), is not subtle in the least! Evonne paints a picture of a sideshow Christmas, and that picture represents this scent well with its blend of normalcy and strangeness. Big Top Train is a seemingly simple holiday spice scent. But the reality is more complex, full of strange olfactory cues. It evokes memories, fleeting memories that I can´t quite grasp.  There are scents like this one where the individual notes refuse to blend, and the result is just chaos. But here there are no dominant notes that my nose can smell, just a stunningly overwhelming mass of creamy sweet spice. I have other gourmand spice scents that grow boring after a while, but this one, in it´s complexity will surely keep my interest far longer! To me this is hypnotic, a truly intoxicating brew!! It is like a great party, of the kind that you can´t quite remember but you just know that it had to have been good!

Thanks to Evonne's great generosity I also ended up with two full size perfume oils and two large samples. I always LOVE surpise samples when I order perfumes, and Evonne took that to a whole nother level!! I really enjoy getting samples that I have not chosen myself, that way I get to experience something new, I get to maybe fall in love with something that I thought I hated.
One of the samples I recieved was like this... The thing is, I HATE clean, fresh scents. I almost completely gave up on commercial scents because there were simply too many clean, fresh scents for me to smell before I found soemthing I liked... Bottom line, I can´t stand anything clean or fresh!
And then, along comes Gram Negative and changes everything! Evonne describes it as: "Gram-Negative is deep, damp, earthy essential moss; sticky green leaf resin; a whisper of black tea; and a rare, rich, mellow, buttery orchid essential oil that is just divine."  I can´t quite agree with her description, for to me, the green leaves dominate the scent in a way that I should hate, because they are fresh and green... However, this scent also,  is crazy complex! The freshness of the green leaves is dominant, but not a terrible spike straight into my brain, like so many commercial scents. There is also an earthyness to it, a hidden depth of damp soil and moss, and a beautifully sweet orchid grows here, a sultry dark flower among these green leaves! I´m still not in love with this scent, but I like it, which IS enough of a miracle, I assure you!

Ummm... it seems I use metaphors when talking about perfumes. This is very little about the technical aspects of the perfumes (staying power, sillage etc.) and very little about notes, drydown and the like... I guess I´m more interested in what kind of associations the scents give me, be it memories or leaps of imagination. Hope some of you enjoy my whimsical flights of fancy. I might give you more on the remaining three scents, Step Right Up, Fisticuffs and Aragon, another day. First I have to wear them a bit more and see if they are friends or enemies or somewhere in between...


  1. Oh my gosh, I really want vardogr! Lovely review! Now I just want to buy just about everything DarlingClandestine, all the things!

    1. Vardogr is fantastic! I think that I´m going to buy Vardogr as a perfume oil too, to see if it has more sillage in that form, because that was really my only complaint, it sits so close to the skin!