Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Black Rose by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, from the Rappaccini's Garden Collection (for CosmeHaul Fragrance Freaks)

By Randi Reed

FTC Disclosure: I received a bottle of Black Rose for review, and was a Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab customer for several years prior to that. The BPAL link does not earn commission.

For our Cosme-Haul Fragrance Freaks, Black Rose perfume oil (from the Rappaccini's Garden collection by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is our first-ever  first-ever fragrance review, just in time for Halloween.

I love Halloween season in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s the hope of being soon rid of the hottest temperatures of the year, or maybe it’s the fun of seeing what my neighbors, who work in set design and have access to movie industry prop houses, dream up for their elaborate Halloween displays. Or maybe it’s just the candy. Regardless, my love of Halloween season made me choose Black Rose by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab to review here on Cosme-Haul.

Black Rose, from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Rappaccini’s Garden collection, is described on the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website as “Exquisitely melancholy. The background scent to an ancient exequies. Heavy, dark and floral: a blend of roses, with a touch of amber and musk.”

Yeah, I’d agree with that.

On me, the top notes are syrupy, with lots of rose. Am I also detecting frangipani?

Then a different rose comes in—specifically, the scent of dead roses. This rose isn’t funereal, it’s downright cemetery, with a touch of rotting leaves. (I mean that in a good way.) I smell musk in there, too, but it’s not like other musk. Combined with the amber, this is more must than musk. In a fun, Halloween horror movie way, it smells of death. You can practically smell the graveyard dirt clinging to something out of Night of the Living Dead. This is a very dark scent, perfect for hauntings and Halloween.

After drydown Black Rose starts to get slightly more pretty and sweet, as if other people at the funeral placed small bouquets of other types of flowers atop the casket. This slightly gives way from appropriate wear to a haunted house cemetery to something you’d wear to your wedding with a vampire. (Louis, is that you?) I can’t identify the flower that blossoms in these middle notes, but it adds a slightly lighter touch to what remains a very heavy perfume.

Here, the character of the musk changes a bit, too, becoming less dark. At this point, Black Rose takes on the character of a vintage perfume and gets a little “bigger”.

Have no fear, though: the darkness comes back, and the original character returns, like a Universal horror flick haunter that refuses to die. This, to me, is what makes Black Rose such a fascinating fragrance. A reviewer on the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website calls Black Rose “dark and beautiful”. I wholeheartedly agree.

Did it trigger my fragrance sensitivity issues? Not at all. Due to this fragrance’s heaviness, on days when I’m having trouble I’d probably wear this lower on the body, such as the back of a knee or on an ankle, though.

Sillage (how far a fragrance trails away from the person wearing it), Score 1-4, 4 being strongest: Between 3 and 4, closer to 4 when it blossoms in the middle.

Best season and time of day for wear: Too heavy for daytime, unless you’re wearing it for a brisk outdoor walk in autumn. Definitely not for the office or other close spaces! Best for Night in autumn and winter.

Long lasting? Score 1-5, 5 being extremely long lasting: 4.

Misc. Pros, Cons, and Tips: Black Rose’s packaging--an amber apothecary bottle with an old-fashioned label with hand drawn artwork--couldn’t be more perfect.

I like that Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's products are hand blended, and that the company doesn't test on animals or use components derived from animals or endangered plants. As a company, BPAL is extremely environmentally conscious and creates fragrance compounds to stand in for notes that are usually animal-derived.

Properly stored in a dark place (how appropriate), Black Rose perfume oil ages extremely well. One bottle I’ve had of it for a few years still smells as good as or better than when I bought it.

More often than not, I wear this together with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Blood Rose, applying a small drop of each on each wrist and rubbing them together.

Being a perfume oil, a couple of drops of Black Rose with some water in an oil warmer or mixed into a room spray formulation would create a fantastic atmosphere for a Halloween event.

Notes about the reviewer’s chemistry: My chemistry that hates Chanel no. 5 or overly green fragrances. (On me, Chanel no. 5 turns into Eau de Catbox.) Sweet, spicy oriental fragrances with vanilla or tonka work well with my chemistry.

Would I buy it again? Maybe. It’s nothing like what I’d usually go for, but for the time around Halloween, it’s fantastic. At $17.50US for 5 ml, it’s an excellent deal for a unique fragrance experience.


Black Rose's label. (Image: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab)

Score 1-10: 7

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