Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sarawen Perfumes

I bought some perfumes from Sarawen way back at the beginning of the year after reading Suzanne's review, and after playing with them for a while I put them in the box with all my other fragrances and kind of forgot about them (that happens to me a lot). I was reminded of them recently when I happened across a review of Ambrosia (which I don't have but definitely want after reading that), so I pulled them out again.

I have three bottles and four samples. The bottles are 1 dram (just shy of 4ml) apothecary bottles, and these appear to have now been updated to 4.5ml roller ball bottles on the website. The samples I have are 1ml, but these also seem to have changed. The website now sells little screw top 1.5ml samples. I don't recall how much mine were individually, but now a full bottle is $12 and samples are $4 (or you can buy sets that work out a little cheaper). This is a Canadian store, so I'm guessing those prices are Canadian dollars...?

The packaging and themes are lovely - geeks get in there, because the big fandoms are well and truly covered. Whether you're a Harry Potter fan, a Sherlock Holmes fan, a Game of Thrones fan, a Supernatural fan, or many others, there's something there for you. The artwork on the labels is gorgeous, and it all looks very lush and a bit magical. From memory it was all wrapped very prettily in tissue paper and ribbon.

Although some of the fragrances lean more toward the masculine or the feminine, I'd say all the ones I have could be carried off by anyone who likes rich gourmand scents and darker florals, regardless of whether your buttons are on the left or the right of your shirt.

Cake or Death

When you -must- have your cake or die! Decadent buttercream frosting and vanilla cake with a touch of spice over a darkened amber base. A favorite amongst Sarawen perfumistas. Delicious but wicked. Beware!
This was the one I was most intrigued by, and I still cannot for the life of me decide whether or not I like it. It's definitely interesting, and more complex than your usual cake scents. There's something there that prevents me from instantly loving it, however I do find that when I wear it I sniff myself constantly, so.... I don't know. It could be that the amber is amping on me a touch too much. I can't seem to stop testing it out though, so it's definitely got something going for it.

A throne room, fragrant with the scent of blood-red roses strewn on the marble floors and the aroma of musk and spices. A dark, spicy blend of roses with hints of musk and amber. This scent is inspired by Livia Drusilla, the first Empress of Rome and wife of Augustus. She was said to have used poison to clear the way for her son to ascend the throne. Naughty woman. She would have made an excellent vampire.
Rose, rose and more rose. A couple of hours later I could smell the musk, but only very close to the skin. This is a pretty scent, but probably the least complex of all the ones I have. There really wasn't much more going on other than the rose.


A delicious blend of summer raspberries and decadent chocolate over incense and amber. Sultry, sweet, and indulgent! Beware, an innocent little nibble could quickly turn into love bites!
In the bottle and when first applied, this smells like a child's flavoured medicine - that cherry/berry scent you get in things like kiddie Panadol. After a few minutes that settles, and then it becomes... well, you know in Cadbury Roses those chocolates shaped like hearts that have the pink filling? This smells exactly like those. (I hate that you only ever get one or two of those in the box when there are always eleventy million of the boring milk chocolate and nut ones.) I normally detest fruit scents, but there's a dark chocolate note here that blends beautifully with the berry and it just works so well.

The Rose Knight
This sexy and romantic fragrance is a blend of dragon's blood, battle-worn leather, eastern musk, and a hit of cedarwood. Within lies a single red rose representing Alistair's love and friendship! Inspired by the character of Alistair from the Dragon Age: Origins game, this scent is a balanced unisex blend.
At first I get the dragon's blood, with something woody in the background. This is probably the most definitely masculine of the ones I have. The wood note comes out more after the drydown and just stays there. It's a bit too blokey for my personal taste, but I certainly wouldn't mind smelling it on a bloke.

Elf Queen
"... and they were grave and beautiful. They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep gold ... but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound, the wells of deep memory." ~ The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
A powerful yet sweet fragrance blend with notes of vanilla cream, honey, jasmine, and patchouli. Inspired by the character Galadriel, Lady of Light, Queen of the Golden Wood!
For a good half hour the only thing I could smell was bandaids. Eventually that faded to a light vanilla with a tiny hint of honey. I could still smell it up close after about 6 hours. Pretty enough, but not my favourite, and that bandaid thing was just weird.

Vampire Bride
"The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness." ~ Bram Stoker, Dracula 1897
Dried honeysuckle blossoms mingled with exotic musk and sweet honey. A touch of decayed figs rounds out the top note of this fragrance that only a true vampire bride could wear! This feminine but dangerous scent is inspired by the character of Lucy Westenra from Bram Stoker's novel.
This is a lovely honeysuckle scent - one of my favourite floral notes. It makes me wish I lived somewhere like Savannah, Georgia (in my head the US South all smells like white flowers just after the rain). This is a very sweet fragrance, but not lolly sweet - I think it's the honey in it.

Vampire Princess
Withered snow-white jasmine and ylang-ylang flowers layered over rich honey, a whiff of musk and darkness creeping beneath. A hypnotic and sweet floral scent perfect for a fanged princess!
At first this perfume is like being smashed in the face with a jasmine vine. After a short while it goes a bit dusty, but thankfully that doesn't last too long before the honey comes out. This one was probably the least lasting of them all, gone entirely by late morning after I applied it at about 7am. But that first hit of jasmine is lush and gorgeous.

Overall, these are beautifully blended, complex scents. They don't have a lot of lasting power so you need to reapply through the day. They also don't have much throw (with the possible exception of Cake or Death), and stay very close to the skin, so if you like something that is more interesting than your average floral or foodie perfume, but doesn't enter the room before you do, then these are definitely worth trying.

I have quite a long wish list of others I want to try, and I am thinking about splashing out on a Christmas present to myself.

Sarawen has two stores - Big Cartel and Etsy. I bought mine through Big Cartel.


  1. I am bookmarking this store right now!

    1. I am sending you the sample sizes with The Garden Bath ones, so don't buy anything just yet!

  2. I've been meaning to try Sarawen for such a long time! Now I have to! The band aid reference made me LOL! That would be interesting to smell in a perfume :)

    1. I don't know what that bandaid-smelling note is, but there are a couple of BPAL perfumes that have it too. I can't think what they are off the top of my head though. I want to say Danse Macabre might be one of them...

      Anyway, yes - Sarawen is definitely worth checking out. :-)

  3. Cake or death!! I'm really liking the rise of the small indie perfume store -and I love reading personal descriptions of the scents, as opposed to the more abstract 'notes' - my favourite recent discoveries have come from personal recommendations (I'm going to try your Speakeasy vanilla, I've got a great feeling about it!).

    1. Speakeasy Vanilla is one of my favourite vanillas, and the girl who owns Wiggle Perfume is so lovely. She's a burlesque performer and her perfumes are themed around that. So lush. :-)

  4. I always laugh when I come across Cake or Death in my Perfume Notebook (yes I have one... or rather I have two, one to pen down perfumers and their perfumes in, and one for my own blends *geek*)... Cake or Death makes me think about a sketch by Eddie Izzard that goes by the same name and that I guess is the inspiration... Check that sketch out on youtube, it´s hilarious!!

    1. I did know that - and it's one of the reasons I bought a full bottle of this one instead of just a sample. I'm a big fan of Eddie Izzard. :-)

    2. More scents should be named after classic sketches!!