Sunday, December 16, 2012

Alkemia Perfumes

After a lull of a year or so where I moved away from perfume oils and general buying of perfumes, I'm back with a vengeance, scouring Etsy and other corners of the wide wide world of web for interesting, complex, delicious smells. You can expect upcoming thoughts about a number of samples I have in transit (come onnnnn, Aus Post!), such as:

Twyla Perfumes & Apothecary
Solstice Scents
Delightful Rot
Midnight Gypsy
Alchemic Muse

Hmm. I feel like I might have forgotten one... Anyway, in the early new year I'm also planning another Sarawen order, and a few other Etsy stores, so there will be plenty to keep me busy.

So, on to Alkemia. I found this store when I was tooling around on Etsy, and there were quite a few perfumes that sounded up my alley. I bought one full size, 5 samples, and received 2 free samples (woo!).

Full size - $12US
Samples x 5 - $10US
Shipping total - $4.95US

Super reasonable prices, so a big tick right there. I ordered on 20 November and it was shipped on 21 November. Super quick shipping, another big tick. Of course, everything is getting backed up in either customs or Australia Post at the moment so I didn't receive it until 11 December, but that's not their fault.

County Fair
The nostalgic scent of an old-fashioned American carnival midway - pink cotton candy, hot kettle corn, freshly fried dough, candied apples, and saltwater taffy.
 This is a limited edition seasonal coming down on December 31st, which is why I took a chance and bought a full size. I am such a sucker for these carnival scents, even though I'm eleventy million years too old to wear them, and in fact, I don't generally wear them. I just love to smell them. And it's just occurred to me now that I should try it out in an oil burner. Why have I never thought of that before?

In the bottle it smells like something sweet and toasty, and when first applied that note really dominates. It settles down fairly quickly and although I still primarily get the kettle corn, it becomes sweeter (cotton candy?) and I can definitely pick up the candy apple (or toffee apple as we Oztrayans would say). It's very warm, sweet and foody and really does a great job of evoking those carnival/show atmospheres. I love it, and now I just need to find a use for it.

In the 1920s, a new woman was created. Unlike her Victorian sisters, she smoked, drank, danced, drove, and voted. She cut her hair, wore make-up, and (horrors!) went to petting parties. She was giddy, independent, and in charge of her sexuality. She was a flapper.
This perfume is an homage to the steamier side of the Roaring Twenties - a darkly erotic blend of opium, labdanum, Tonka, balsam, sueded leather, and black musk.
I loved the sound of this one, but it wasn't at all what I expected. Both in the bottle and on me it's a laundry smell - soapy, lemony, not at all unpleasant, but definitely like some kind of cleaning product. Half an hour later it hadn't changed much, though I could pick up a vague sweet note, which may have been the Tonka.

Midnight Garden
 A lunar intoxication of night-flowering white flowers – tuberose (flower of dangerous pleasures), lily (flower of majestic beauty), honeysuckle (flower of binding love), gardenia (flower of secret passions) and moonflower (flower that inspires dreams of love). Hauntingly beautiful.
This is a very girly white floral. In the bottle all I smell is lily, and applied that lily just explodes. It probably had the least staying power of all of them, disappearing almost entirely within a couple of hours. It is really beautiful, but being a white floral fan from way back, I already have a bunch of similar perfumes, so I probably wouldn't buy this in a full size.

Trick or Treat
A grownup confection of black licorice, mandarin orange peel, caramelized brown sugar, bourbon vanilla, candied ginger, tonka bean, blonde patchouli, cedar tips, oakmoss, and sandalwood. Utterly sexy on both men and women... While this perfume smells like a sumptuous treat, it's got a secret trick...

Dr. Alan Hirsch (Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation) did several studies on the effect of black licorice on the responses of men and women. He found that black licorice increased blood flow to *ahem* certain parts of both the male and female anatomy simulating sexual arousal.
My tweet the day I was testing this:

This is like nothing I've ever smelled before and it is AH-MAAHZING. In the bottle all I really get is the anise/liquorice (a note I do love), but on my skin it smells like liquorice and orange bourbon. Ugh, I can't even describe how much I love this perfume. Straight to the top of the full bottle list. If you like liquorice scents, you MUST try this out.

L'Encens a'la Vanille
Madagascar Vanilla, golden amber, and resinous incense swirled together with a selection of beautifully aged incense woods and a dusting of aphrodisiac Silk Road spices. Intensely sexy in a mysterious kind of way... PS - We particularly love layering this one with Smoke and Mirrors... *swoon*

This was one of the free samples, and I'd actually thought about buying it so I'm glad I had a chance to try it out. In the bottle I just get spices, and I can't put my finger on what it is - cinnamon? cloves? could actually be resin. When I apply it the vanilla is definitely there, but the spice (what is that?) still dominates. This is quite masculine and strong. When it mellows it reminds me very strongly of something else - I want to say Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, but I don't currently have any so I can't compare. It's definitely something I've used frequently in the past, though. I like this, but not enough to buy a full size. I think it would smell amazing on a man.

Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls)
Hauntingly sweet sugar skulls nestled against a backdrop of sugared white ambers.

Again, I'm pleased to have a chance to try this as it was one I lingered over when I was making a decision about what to buy, but I decided that being sugary it would probably be too young for me. And it is. It's very sweet and pretty, with an almost fruit or melon note in the background. It goes a bit dusty for a while but then it comes back and starts to smell like something a bit spicy and very familiar - pepper or cinnamon, maybe? It mellows to a sweet amber-vanilla after a couple of hours. I wouldn't wear this personally, but it's really lovely and I'll probably buy Noodles a full bottle and just sniff her like the creep that I am.

Belle Époque
A complex floriental homage to the opulent elegance of Gilded Age femininity. A glorious blend of precious florals including Jasmine Sambac, Tuberose, Iris, Rose, and Lily of the Valley blended with Plum, Apricot, Tahitian Vanilla, Blonde Amber, Bitter Almond, and Oakmoss on a soft bed of delightfully powdery musks. Outrageously Romantic.

In the shop this is called Belle Époque, but on the lablel, it's La Belle Époque. I don't know whether that means anything. Anyway, it's a pretty common phrase, but I never knew what it meant so I thought I'd look it up just out of interest (I did know what 'belle' meant - I'm not an animal).

Google Translate, being super helpful. 

I did find it eventually. If you don't know, it means 'The Beautiful Era'. This is a heady floriental, and I can't distinguish any particular floral notes. There's a powdery back note that went a bit dusty on me too. This was probably the least interesting and most 'perfumy' of all the samples. It's nice, but it's 'walking through Myer perfume department' nice. 

Smoke & Mirrors
An elusive, smokey blend of burning wood, Madagascar Vanilla, and Tonka. We find this one to be elementally simple, but unusually mercurial and highly responsive to different skin chemistries… the vanilla and the smoke dance with each other almost continuously… sometimes the foreground is smoky, then sweet, then returns with sweetly smoky, then smoky.
WOW. In the bottle this is straight up smoke - you know that smell when there are brush fires (or bushfires) nearby and it's in the air? That. It's the same when I first apply it, but as it dries down I get more of a bonfire smell with a tiny hint of some sweet resin. I don't really get the vanilla at all. This reminds me so much of my inner bogan, when I was young and we would have big family parties (Catholics, there are millions of us) and have bonfires or barbeques going for hours. It's one of those 'memory' smells that just brings up loads of flashbacks. This one was one of the longest lasting also - I was still getting wafts of smoke hours later. Love it, buying a full size ASAP. It's definitely more of a winter scent, though. 

Overall thoughts

The full size bottle is one of those brown apothecary types with a dropper. I prefer roller balls personally, because I'm a slatherer, but I have empty ones around and I can easily decant so it's not a big issue. And the apothecary ones do look nicer. 

Longevity and sillage varies - I'd say Smoke & Mirrors and Trick or Treat were both the longest lasting and had the most throw. Midnight Garden had a decent amount of throw but didn't last very long. The blends are complex and most of them morph over time, and at least one of them (Trick or Treat) was like nothing I'd ever smelled before. 

The prices - including shipping - are very reasonable, and I thought the inclusion of 2 free samples was very generous. I also received a shipping notice to let me know it was on its way, which I appreciated. I hate it when I don't know if something's been sent or not and I have to sit there wondering whether I should chase it down.

In conclusion, if you're a fan of perfume oils, this is a store definitely worth trying. I was really happy with my choices and I'm definitely going back for at least 2 full sizes and a bunch more samples in the very early new year.  


  1. Damn you! Now I NEED Trick or Treat, it sounds like just my kind of thing.

    1. If you like liquorice scents, it's definitely one to try!

  2. I heart Smoke & Mirrors! Gosh, soooo good! It is on my full bottle list. Love the sound of the vanilla one, trick or treat and country fair too. If you like tobacco scents, try a sample of Miel de Sauvage et Tabac next time, it is smells like honey and tobacco :)

    1. Ooh, okay - that one's going on my list! I have an order planned for sometime in January. I kind of want one of everything!

  3. OK. This review makes me regret that a sample of Trick or Treat is not among the samples I´m waiting for from Alkemia... *sigh* I´ll have to buy another round of samples for sure!

    1. Well, I can't wait to read about the ones you did buy, because I'm already compiling a second shopping list of samples to get when I buy some full bottles.

    2. I have my samples now, walking around stinking of four different oils at any given time... So, reviews coming soon! ;)

    3. Awesome, Nadja - can't wait to hear what you think of them!