Part 1 of my Alkemia sample review was way back
in mid-December at the end of November(!), before I got all ennui-ed up with writing about perfume (thank goodness that’s over, at least for now). Sorry to make you wait for Part 2, but here it is. To recap, in case you don’t feel like clicking back for Part 1, Alkemia is a fragrance shop on Etsy, specializing in perfume oils. I’d gone looking for “frankincense perfume” over there, and Alkemia is where I fetched up, spending some time digging the lovely illustrations and nicely-written descriptions for these interesting fragrances. Sharra is the owner/perfumer, and I’m impressed by how well she was able to recommend additional samples based on my other choices.
Arcanum is one I dithered over when ordering my 5 samples for $10, eventually deciding on something else. It showed up as a freebie anyway, which tells me that Miz Sharra knows how to recommend! Alkemia’s description: An enigmatic yet compelling blend of seductive eastern spices, aged patchouli and sandalwood. Frankincense, nag champa, and dragons blood deepen the mystery.
I don’t know what dragons blood smells like; I only know that it’s some kind of herbal thingy that seems to show up in a lot of places you can buy essential oils, and that it sounds all spooky and stuff. (Draaaaagons blooood, ooooooh. The part of me that reads fantasy novels is delighted.) I also don’t know that I have smelled nag champa on its own.
All the same, this fragrance is very interesting. A little dark, a little threatening maybe… it is too incense-focused to be witchy, but the word “ritual” keeps coming to my mind, and it’s not a comforting thought. I’m too Baptist to find “ritual” comforting.
Ardorem XXI was another that caught my attention, but I was worried by the combination of notes, which sounded like the fragrance could turn out a kitchen-sinky mishmash, so I put it on my second-tier list. Sharra sent me a sample anyway. (See? She’s good.) Alkemia’s description: In numerology, twenty-one is the number of perfection by excellence. Ardorem 21 is a complex elixir of 21 precious essences including: coriander, mandarin, amber, nutmeg, saffron, bourbon geranium, blue lotus, tobacco, musk, clove, sandalwood, vetiver, Kashmiri tea, cardamom, black pepper, and Japanese incense.
Sniffed from the vial, it mostly smells of lotus, which is a pretty, clean, watery floral smell that doesn’t seem like it would dominate. Having smelled it in other compositions, though (notably, some of DSH Perfumes’s high-concept and lovely Egypt perfumes), I can say that it does tend to take over. It’s not an offensively high-pitched floral note like lily of the valley can be, and you’re probably not going to call it icepick-to-the-eye-socket because it doesn’t have that relentless, industrial-strength cleaner vibe. But it dominates – sort of like when you look at pictures of the Supreme Court in the late 1980s, your gaze goes straight to Sandra Day O’Connor and only slowly do you note the rest of the justices. (I love me some SDO. She always looked sort of queenly, like she was accepting her due, and she always seemed so wise. But I digress again.)
Tronada is not at all my usual thing, but I wondered if it might suit my novel character, who discovers a fragrance that doesn’t smell like department store perfume and falls in love with it. I’m trying to find that one thing. (At this point, I still think it’s Donna Karan Black Cashmere, but I have a few more things to test.) Alkemia’s description: An homage to the Gods of Thunder – the scent of crackling ozone and wildly lashing rain tearing across a summer night.
Awesome, succinct description, I must say. And pretty darn accurate. I mean, people tend to know what a summer storm smells like. Don’t you? You get that lovely ozone smell, the petrichor smell of rain hitting dry dirt, some leaves, some excitement, some wet. And that’s Tronada. Perfect. I could wish it to be a little stronger, but that might make it less accurate. You will not think of Cool Water or Acqua di Gio or New West, those classic ozonic-aquatic fragrances. This one smells like a – well, like a summer storm. Duh.
Wing of Bat is the last sample I have, and I chose it because it was described as a gentle green chypre. I often have trouble with green chypres, which like to rise up suddenly and stiletto me. (Seriously. I hate Bandit and Aromatics Elixir and Givenchy III, which smell like diesel fuel, stale urine, and dirt – dirty dirt, not nice potting soil – to me, respectively. I don’t mind dirt if it’s supposed to be there, as in Soivohle Violets & Rainwater.) Love the gentler floral green chypres, though, like No. 19 and Jolie Madame, so I thought I’d try this. Alkemia’s description: A damp mossy cave redolent with moonlight reflected in a chypre of oakmoss, green patchouli, crushed ferns, dirt, ambergris and a bit of leather.
Wing of Bat does smell like dirt. But in a good way, dirt with green things growing out of it. Rocks, moss, green stuff… it’s all here, along with a slight wet dankness that you wouldn’t want in your house but which seems perfectly natural in, say, a cave. The county I live is is honeycombed with them, which I only found out about a couple of years ago, when my daughter took a summer PE class that did some fun stuff like white-water rafting and spelunking. They visited two of the many caves in the area. I should have known, really – our farm boasts no fewer than three sinkholes, and I knew that the surrounding area was composed geologically of karst (rock bearing large amounts of calcium carbonate, which is easily eaten away by water). I like caves.
And I like bats. They don’t seem spooky or vampiry to me, though, there’s just a sort of homely magic to them. I mean, they fly in the dark! They eat bugs! Bats are cool! I mean, I don’t want them making nests in my attic and filling it up with guano, which is toxic to the human respiratory system, but I really like bats.
So. Wing of Bat is for all you Katniss-and-Peeta-in-a-cave wannabes. It’s earthy, green, alive (there are none so alive as teenagers on the verge of violent death, right?), and I enjoyed it very much.