I checked my mailbox and saw that my package was here today (omg! squeeeee!), and I immediately had to come home and tear it open. Before I opened any of the samples, I decided that I needed to make this a test day and share the spoils with you all. You'll get my take on them--good or bad.
Here's the breakdown of the
Vixen: "A captivatingly shapeshifting blend of sexy white amber and luminous late summer night blooming florals awakened by warm caresses of autumnal spice, golden musk, varietal apple peel, sugar pumpkin, jasmine tea, and a whisper of woodland mosses." Link to Vixen
Devil's Dandy: "A diabolically seductive blend of elegant dark leathers, wild black currants and forest blackberries soaked in blood-red merlot wine, mahogany wood, and brooding musk with a whiff of carnal patchouli and the faintest whisper of brimstone." Link to Devil's Dandy
Magus: "Rare black Ethiopian frankincense and High John the Conqueror root blended with the sensual musk of ambrette seed and the evocative mystery of labdanum and opoponax swirled with a smokey touch of vetivert root, Cambodian oud, and Somalian incense." Link to Magus
Hellcat: "A dark and ferociously sexy blend of Black Oud, Black Musk, Labdanum, and spiced Pipe Tobacco blended with a seductive purr of Black Opium." Link to Hellcat
Moss Maiden: "A delicately feral blend of luxuriant mosses, crushed wet ferns, earthy calamus root, piquant cedar tips, galbanum, balsam pine, lichen, disturbed autumnal leaves, and aromatic incense woods." Link to Moss Maiden
Mesnée d'Hellequin: "The breath of the wild northern forest on a full moon night. An uncivilized tangle of balsam pine, cypress needles, cedar bark, teakwood, vetiver root, galbanum, lichen, moss, dried leaves, damp earth, and forest fungi." Link to Mesnee d'Hellequin
First of all, don't those all look scrumptious?! If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know I whimpered at the leather in Devil's Dandy and drooled my way through the rest of them (even if some of them didn't first strike me as "me").
Now to the fun (I'll take them in the above order):
Vixen: In the vial, I get cinnamon, soft sweet flowers, a faint hint of fall (perhaps that's the pumpkin), and something that comes across as almost mossy green. On my skin: sweet cinnamon, almost like an atomic fireball that fades almost immediately down to flowers (at first almost air-freshenerish, but that drops down quickly to become softer), some dry leaves, sweet moss/green, the faint faint hint of fruit (I'm thinking both the apple and pumpkin have a hand in that), and oh here comes the jasmine tea. Nice. This is an interesting blend for me. It's not something I would gravitate toward wearing (I tend to shy away from cinnamony fragrances for my skin because I'm more delicate than I want to be), but as it dries down, it's lifting some and creating a delicate airiness that I was not expecting--with something slightly powdered lurking on the bottom. This comes across as an Indian Summer kind of day: the sun is out, but you know the chill is lurking around the corner. It's a scent of contrasts that begin to resolve into something rather pretty. This strikes me as much more femme and smooth than I was expecting from a Vixen label, but she definitely has some bite--as all good Vixens do.
Devil's Dandy: (Oh, please, oh please be amazing!) In the vial, oh yeah! Leather, tobacco, dark wood, and a hint of something sinister. This is making me think of a very clean but old library at the stroke of midnight, flowers dying in the corner, and something sly tapping up the stairs toward you. In a word: getitonmenow! On my skin: Mmmmmm that leather is rough and jagged. Nothing smooth or saddle worn. Those dying flowers are purple, or come across to me as purple. I'm not getting any grape from this, but I'm definitely getting purple when I sniff. It's dark, it's rich, and it's slightly sweet. I just scrolled up to check the notes again, and yes I can totally see the black currants and blackberries soaked in Merlot. It gives a smooth sweetness, without candy or sugar. As it dries, the leather begins to soften and age, but the wood stays pretty solid--giving this a delicious bite. I am enjoying the sweetness the currants and blackberry give this, although I think I would also really like this without those notes. This smells like a very expensive store catering to vampires and bibliophiles. I think part of me wants this a little bit more untamed, a bit more rough, but that may come in time as the patchouli opens up (which I get little of here). This scent would be absolutely perfect in the fall or winter. It's deep, rich, cozy, and just a bit on the outside of expected.
Magus: In the vial, oh my, what is this? Impressions: fresh, holy, rich, golden, incense. On my skin: Oooooh! Wow. I normally don't go for incense perfumes, but this is pretty. I get the edge of frankincense, the soft rounding of oud, an incense that isn't too harsh or headshoppy (or even smoky), something that's a bit soapy (but clean soapy not powdered), and a touch of soft sweetness rounding out the bottom. This almost comes across as a very clean tea to me--not in flavor, but in tone. It has a golden quality to it that is very clear and unmuddied. It feels clean and lifting. Happy and bright while being serene. Yes, serene is the word I'm looking for. It has a peacefulness to it, and comfort. Although this isn't something I would typically wear, it draws me and makes me think it would be perfect to calm down the stress of the Holidays ahead. This makes me think of looking out of frosted windows on a cold night, seeing the bright stars, the reflection of the flicker of fire from the fireplace, and feeling the warmth of being snug inside while the world grows quiet outside. If you are an incense fan, you want this. Oh, yes, you do.
Hellcat: Hmmm. Time to go sniff some coffee to clear my nose. Be right back. Ahhhh, much better. In the vial, I get a velvety vibe. I also get a bit of tobacco that can sometimes come across as incense, and something almost medicinally sweet. On my skin: Sweet tobacco that almost comes across as cola-ish (oh yummm!), something a bit fizzy (still thinking dark cola), and ooooh is that a dark oud I smell? It's oudish, but more soft and deep. This is a very velvety fragrance. It has an almost fuzzy vibe, but it's a soft fuzz. It's layered, rounded, cola-ish without being too sweet. It does have an almost medicinal quality to it, and I'm thinking that it's a bitterness that may be creating that, but it's a bitter that resolves into giving this just the right edge. I keep thinking of a dark cola: sweet and bitter and totally satisfying. To be fair, it comes across to me as a bit more hellkittenish, but it's a kitty with some claws it will grow into--and I am aware my perfume tastes are a bit out there, so to those who aren't used to dark fragrances, this may seem more cattish than kitteny. When I close my eyes and sniff, the image that comes to mind is a midnight dark cat with golden eyes. And she may or may not be on the prowl. Meow!
This is where I'm starting to feel a little sad. My pile-to-try is getting slim. I love the unexplored adventure ahead--the possibilities of something new to experience--and it makes me feel a bit wistful for more new things to discover. However, I DO still have two more to try, so, with a big sigh and a bit of delight, it's onward to Moss Maiden.
Moss Maiden: In the vial, I get green--green, green, very green. It's a sweet green like the sweetness of grass or even the sweetness of cucumber, without coming across as grass or cucumber. It has a faint herbal tinge, and something that feels like fresh leaves poking out from under a bush in the forest. On my skin: This stays very green, lush, ripe, almost beyond dewy to wet green. It's making me think of cloud forests in Costa Rica--the damp, the lush, the deep green--but this is much sweeter and more light in feel. It has a prettiness to it that is softening it and turning it into perfume. It also brings in a touch of trees--damp trees, with water making the trunks darker than they normally would be. It feels like a soft forest, a wet forest, soaked in a warm rain, with little animals scurrying around in the underbrush, and eyes that may or may not be of this world peeping out between fronds. This actually may be my surprise favorite. It's sweeter than I expected, and a bit more lush than I normally gravitate toward, but there's something compelling about it. The whole time I've been sniffing it, it has been reminding me of something, and I just got it: pear skin. Down at the very bottom of this, I'm getting a faint hint of bitter green pear skin. It adds a nice touch to the sweetness, gives this some depth, and makes this more complex than I expected. This would be perfect on a blah winter day to remind us that spring is ahead. It would also be perfect in spring as a way to celebrate the season. I think it would also be lovely in summer since it feels fresh and cooling. And, it would probably give a gray rainy autumn day the perfect little lift. What a surprise delight!
Mesnée d'Hellequin: In the vial, mmmm! Fresh, a bit of menthol/pine, a teensy touch of the pitch of green needles (pine or other pokey trees), brisk, serene. If Moss Maiden is a cloud forest, this is back country in the pines of the Rocky Mountains. Oh lovely! On my skin: Hmmm, not sure about this. It better resolve quickly. It's pine air-freshener and floor cleaner. Whew, there it goes. This is strong on pine and the sticky sap that comes from those types of trees and needles. Under that, the cool brisk mountain air rides, bringing in the faint hint of dying grasses and approaching night in the pine forest. I also get a faint whiff of cedar rounding this out some. This is a very cool fragrance. Cool and almost brisk, with a touch of the wild in it. It makes me think of times I spent camping in the Rockies: the cold and dry, the big sky, the way the stars seems so bright. Everything was sharper, more clear, up there. This is a very unisex scent. On the right man, it would be bracing and downright dangerous. On me, it's chilly, and a bit lonely--but those can be very good things on a hot and gross summer day.
All in all, I'm absolutely delighted with my package. One reason I love perfume oils is because so often the oils--even if very different from each other--seem to connect or have a cohesive quality that tie them together from the same maker. Each company is unique and has a totally different vibe. Even though these are not the typical "foody" type scents that come out around Autumn, they all have the same Alkemia thread running through them, making them unique, fun, very wearable, and call to mind the joys of nature in its many forms. I call that a win!