There was a moment there during which I thought, in our recent move, that I had lost the bottles from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lupercalia collection that I’d received back at the beginning of March. I had not! They were in a box with our espresso machine manual and some tv remotes. Sure, that makes perfect sense.

See below for my reviews of these fragrant expressions of lust and aromatic interpretations of the wisdom that come with winters. And chocolate!

The Houses At The Back – Frosty Morning (a haze of misted ambers, orris root, and dappled lilac) I am a sucker for landscape art–especially that of the eerie, melancholic variety– and in this scent I really do smell the dull light of the wintry morning as the sun rises above the trees, the frost-topped roof and the backlit branches and chimneys, where you could almost see the marshes if not for the houses in between. A cool, subtle scent of iris and sweet violet, both sweetly airy and damp at once, velvety and diaphonous.

Cameo Chaperone (tulips scattered over silvery musk, ambrette seed, black orchid, and red benzoin) I don’t think you could possibly trust any chaperone more than this paragon of virtue. She’s all gorgeous madonna lilies, soft white musk, and delicate clouds of chantilly cream, and you almost want to give her a chaperone herself because she’s maybe too pure for this world.

Honeyed Mushroom and Incense is the ripe reek of sweet, earthy fungi, which when reducing in a pan, nearly have a simmering mycelial incense of their own that reminds me of the musty jasmine and the warm balsamic woodsiness of nag champa. The honey accord reveals itself as summery, honeysuckle bright and grassy but becomes richer and stickier and more full-bodied with time, all autumnal burnt sugar musk and pungent dried fruits. This is a fragrance that immediately makes me think of the sweet woodland adventurers rendered in watercolors by contemporary artist Lily Seika Jones.

Sweet Hypsithilla (pulsating red musk, thick golden honey, a slap of leather, filthy patchouli, pious frankincense, frothy ambergris, sweet vanilla, gritty cacao, and fiery red tobacco) A roasty, earthy, unsweetened cocoa shadow enveloping amber honeycomb and dried plum-studded fruitcake.

Under The Silvery Moonbeams (rain-spattered, shimmering soft green mosses, mints, matcha, jasmine, cardamom, chestnut, pine needle, and sweet labdanum). This is a beautiful lemon made deeply, profoundly more lemony by the addition of gentle mints and loamy, leathery labdanum. It seems like I’ve been sampling a lot of minty-scents lately, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, mint is one of those notes that ruins all fragrances for me. I wrote this elsewhere, but I will share it here as well: It’s a sort of false freshness that I paradoxically associate with really gross smells as well as the attitudes of people who pretend they never get crusty or farty and think their shit, as they say, don’t stink. Listen, all shit stinks, it’s okay, it’s supposed to. While I wouldn’t call Under the Silvery Moonbeams “mint-forward,” you can definitely tell it’s in there and for me, at least, it’s one of the rare instances of mint done right. It’s refreshing in a mental or emotional way, as opposed to a surface level, “gotta chomp on my gum if I don’t want to smell like the ham sandwich I just ate for lunch” way. It’s the “escape into the cool, wintry midnight and linger alone under a street lamp and breathe in the frosty starlight after being suffocated by small talk and excruciating awkwardness at the new year’s eve party that you didn’t even want to go to in the first place” kind of refreshing. That’s the stuff. That’s a breath of fresh air for your soul and that’s exactly what this fragrance conjures.

Stainless Steel Dildo (gleaming polished steel and a buzzy floral aldehyde) This is a complex floral composition of dazzling brightness, woodsiness, and animalic waxiness, alongside a luxurious triad of  something like rose, jasmine, and lily of the valley floral. It feels “retro” and “perfumey” in all the best ways, and despite its space-age Hajime Sorayama porny implications (nothing wrong with that!) it’s actually a softly classy scent.

Olisbokollike (a shockingly stiff and lightly oiled symmikto proto-baguette with a dribble of sweet cream) hardened breadsticks generously seeded and salted, made with a base of ancient pounded grains, lubed up with sweet, soft unsalted butter and crowned with lightly sweetened, freshly whipped cream baked by and shaped by the perviest of Athenian artisans.

White Chocolate, Strawberry Pulp, and Calvados Strawberry milkshake vibes! Or maybe strawberry Nesquick? A chilled, foamy frappé of vine-ripened strawberries and zingy rhubarb nectar, blended with fresh milk, sugar, and cream.

White Chocolate, Pink Carnation, Coconut Cream, and Clove A white chocolate scone with sugar-crisped edges and a drizzle of coconut cream glaze. There’s a bit of spice that comes across as gooey cinnamon chips studded throughout the mild vanilla-floral scented crumb. If these aren’t served at the next high tea that I am invited to, I shall be most put out! Also, please host that specific tea party and add me to your high-priority invite list.

The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab 2022 Lupercalia collection is currently live and available for purchase. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available

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