Love–or a reasonable facsimile thereof–is in the air, and Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lupercalia collection of fragrances is back for 2016!

Inviting us to celebrate the warmth of passion in the dead of winter, the smut peddlers at BPAL again deliver narcotic, necrotic scents for the lovelorn and lustful, the depraved and the intemerate. Naturally, it is as filthy as we have come to expect from these artfully perverse indie perfumers.

Another Lupercalia blooms, and suddenly the old ways are new again. Drawing inspiration from erotic poetry by salty bards of yore, the voluptuous delights to be enjoyed via salacious works of art, and the hedonistic pleasures of chocolate-covered delicacies, this collection offers a sybaritic selection of new loves and old flames (Signior Dildo is back!) Whether you’re in the mood to “scrutinize shadowy, aberrant passions or bask in the rose-tinted warmth of new love”, there is something here to arouse and amuse both revelers and lustful onlookers alike.

(A warning to the over-enthusiastically lecherous and libidinous! The fiery loin-stoking described within is intended to be figurative, not literal–do not apply these products to your naughty bits!)

First up, a few favorites from the Shunga line, a limited edition Salon series celebrating the joy, humor, playfulness, and thrill of sexual intercourse through scent interpretations of Edo-era Japanese erotic art.

Beanman and Beanwoman Climb Genital Mountain (hazelnut smoke and leather with dark musk, white cognac, caramelized vetiver, and a drop of honeyed whiskey) is depicted by two intrepid explorers–Mr. and Mrs. Bean, one would presume–who appear to be both spelunkers and mountaineers, and are hiking their way through a carnal landscape. My first thought is that this is an aggressively nutty scent, although perhaps I’m being overly influenced by the hairy, bulbous nutsack upon which Mrs. Bean is precariously perched. It effortlessly morphs into creamy booze and soft leather, and I like to think that the Beans took a moment to toast each other with snifters of Drambuie while settling back in well-worn leather armchairs to enjoy the show.

Blossoming Vulva (golden amber and bourbon vanilla with sweet oak, blue lotus, and tea blossom) is a soft, tender scent, with a disarmingly plastic tinge to it–but somehow it works. Like, if you walked in on your friend making sweet, sweet love to a beautiful blow-up sheep (who also happened to be wearing your favorite vanilla lip gloss)…and found yourself alarmingly horned up by the whole thing. You know, like that.

Those who revel in refreshing, invigorating scents will enjoy Rendezvouz at the Bath (minted green tea and cucumber), a simple scent that at its core calls to mind the revitalizing aroma of a bracing swipe from a super-posh moist towelette. Which you probably needed after the sheep incident. In a similar vein, Geisha in a Green Kimono (gunpowder tea, yellow bergamot, white thyme, blackcurrant, red mandarin, wormwood, neroli, and green musk) evokes a fortifying restorative; a citrusy, herbal draught for flagging spirits (or, you know, your limp, spent junk.) Not quite medicinal, but with a sinister undercurrent of “is this stuff legal?” It’s probably not.

Next in this orgiastic sniff-a-thon are a handful of scents inspired by Fleurette’s Purple Snails, an amorous tale containing a fabulous assortment of gracefully lascivious illustrations from the pen of gentleman pornographer Franz Von Bayros. (As an aside, has anyone ever seen that bizarre cashmere sweater scene with Tuesday Weld in Lord Love A Duck? I am starting to feel what I imagine to be that same sense of sensual ekstasis right now, but with perfumes instead of knitwear.)

Fleurette’s Purple Snails (white sandalwood, orris root, wood violet, sugared violet blossom, and violet leaf) is all candied violet pastilles, powdered dressing tables, frothy petticoats and curious feelings/fondlings involving your roommate at parochial school. On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Initiation (red wine and vanilla pod infused with caramel, peach, tobacco flower, and coconut) is a decidedly wicked scent: a honey-spiked crystal goblet of claret and soft nibbles of ripe stone fruit from the end of a jeweled-encrusted dagger. Madame traces its cool, sharp point down the skin of your neck as the wine burns a delicate fire in your throat…

The Two Old Men (sweet brown leather, cacao absolute, coffee bean absolute, and teakwood) is the peculiar scent amongst the bunch wherein I cannot make out a single one of the notes listed. And yet–it is utterly perfect. It’s less a specific smell and more a certain person it calls to mind. A rich weirdo with strange desires. It’s a rather…Grey scent. Oh, god no. Not that Grey, don’t look at me like that. I’m talking the creepy, conflicted E. Edward Grey, James Spader’s character in the 2002 film Secretary. This is the smell of a handsome lawyer calling his girlfriend on the phone and instructing her to eat just a scoop of creamed potatoes, one slice of butter, four peas. Then he probably goes home and sobs uncontrollably.
It’s sexy as hell. I need help.

And finally in this sexual smorgasbord of tantalizing treats are the Bonbons: sweetly indulgent scents for chocolate fetishists and bacchantes who thrill in luxurious, aphrodisiac confections. The two standouts amongst this exquisite array are Dark Chocolate, Black Tobacco, and Vetiver which conjures the dreamiest leather-daddy sex demon from the nether realm and Milk Chocolate, Myrrh, and Gunpowder which smells of the unmistakable tang of post-coital musk alongside warm, cocoa-infused fondue. Sort of like a raunchy porno filmed in an overflowing chocolate fountain. Like all the best things in life are.

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