It’s a long shot, but maybe you’ve heard about a little film released recently by that guy – you know. He does the scary stuff… Guillermo …what’s his name? Yeah, it wasn’t very big, not a lot of hype. Really flew under the radar, you know? Scarlet Summit? No, hm. Ruby Pinnacle? This is gonna drive me nuts.
Ha! Just kidding, you weirdos. I reckon Crimson Peak has been on our collective horror-nerd radar for the last three years, and we’ve anxiously been counting down the days until its release earlier this month whilst working ourselves into a feverish delirium awaiting its myriad charms.
A lush, lavish gothic romance in high, bloody style – and a dizzying exercise in glorious excess – Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak delivered on a grand scale. A tale to delight the senses on every level, brimming with terrible, tragic beauty and darkly dreamy imagery, both elegant and savage – the only thing missing from this gorgeous experience is the fragrance of those dark secrets and monstrous revelations.
The mad geniuses over at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab anticipated this, and October 31, 2015, marks the release of their Crimson Peak-inspired line of fragrances, nail polish, jewelry, and statuary.
As to the scents themselves, the lab has outdone themselves. I’ve been wearing their fragrances for years and although they consistently provide marvelous olfactory experiences, never had they made as strong a showing as they have with this singular collection. Among the oils I sampled, each was beautifully nuanced, deliciously complex and perfectly – uncannily – captured the essence of the character or the theme conveyed.
In short, I think I loved them all. My wallet weeps at this pronouncement.
Some standouts include:
Edith Cushing (Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind: pearlescent vanilla musk with white sandalwood, grey amber, white patchouli, ambrette seed and oudh. ) smells of wholesome beauty, youthful innocence and somehow…of butterflies and ruffled nightgowns. The airy warmth of delicate musk and sweetly powdered limbs.
Both Sir Thomas Sharpe (Give in to temptation: black amber darkens a pale fougere.) and Lady Lucille Sharpe (Love makes monsters of us all; faded red roses and a glimmer of garnet with black lily, yang slang, smoky plum musk and black amber. ) share the same melancholy amber base. Sir Thomas is a close to the skin scent – slightly sweet, with a hint of light musk and tinge of tears – it is a somewhat sad smelling thing. Lady Lucille, on the other hand, is plummy with dark roses and the tang of something deliciously unhinged. “Love makes monsters of us all,” she mused, and you can smell that cruel, desperate sentiment in this bottle.
Dr. Alan McMichael (My deeper concern has always been for you. If you are happy, I am happy.
Bay rum and sandalwood) is a deceptively simple, comfortable scent. A feeling of safety, of familiarity, of leaning into a warm neck and breathing in skin and a hint of luxurious aftershave. Also…of horses. I have never actually seen a horse in real life, mind you -I only know them from books, but I am fairly certain that story-horses share this smell.
Crimson Peak [EPONYMOUS] (A house that breathes, that bleeds, and remembers. A house like this, in time can become a living thing with timber for bones and windows for eyes: snow marbled with blood-red clay frozen over the scent of decayed wood) conjures a bleak, chilled incense. Not an entirely welcoming fragrance at first, but as it sinks into the skin, becomes a part of you, you detect a very slight woody warmth and its peculiar charms become a thing to crave.
The Manuscript (A ghost story – Your father didn’t tell me it was a ghost story.
It’s not, Sir, it’s – more like a story…with a ghost in it.
A leather-bound manuscript, ink barely dry. A Gothic ghost tale, personified. The pages are permeated with a preternatural otherworldly quality – but only slightly, as the ghost is a counterpoint; leather and paper and splotches of ink, with a hint of ghostly chill.) Rich, buttery leather, parchment dried with age and subtle, acrid scent of something you can’t quite place -something from the corner of your eye or a mostly forgotten childhood memory. This smells of déjà-vu to me; a book I’ve not yet read and yet have somehow have committed the tale to heart.
Black Moths (Back home we only have black moths. Formidable creatures. They thrive on the dark and cold.
What do they feed on?
Butterflies, I’m afraid.
A flutter in the darkness: wild plum and black currant with aged black patchouli, vetiver, red rose petal, tonka absolute, and opoponax) Brittle, papery, musty darkness that becomes lighter in the wearing never but quite loses that tinge of unease, of quiet menace.
Perhaps you’d rather scent your rooms than your person?
Young Edith’s Bedroom (beeswax, leather-bound paper, white gardenias) hints at porcelain and wood, lace and shadow but becomes the most incredible, bombastic honey scent I have ever encountered.
Lucille’s Room (lilac water, fossilized black amber, lily of the valley, violet leaf, oakmoss) is a lighter, more subdued fragrance, recalling the play of shadow and light and the flutter of moth wings in between.
The Workshop (sawdust and gear lubricant, metal rods shining in golden afternoon light) –is it possible to smell the imagery of dust particles floating lazily in a patch of dim afternoon sunlight on a cold, clear afternoon in late winter ? I believe have.
Allerdale Hall (A grand house brooding against the horizon, a silhouette of jutting chimneys and sharp angles silhouetted against the grey sky) Allerdale Hall is a challenging scent to pin down. Dark oiled woods and the scent of the sky before a snow.
A sensory masterwork, these 30 individual, original scents expand upon the vivid world of the film’s characters and story points and are available in 5ml apothecary bottles exclusively via the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website.