November 22, 2006

Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs

I received my six sample "imps", and I must say I am a sadly disappointed. I had high hopes, because of the literacy and beauty of the website and the enthusiastic cult following they have.

Many collect the "imp's ears " which are what they call the small sample vials labeled with the distinctive names that connote many mysterious qualities dear to the gothic heart, such as Envy or Undertow or reference to imaginary literary and mythic characters and places such as Oberon or Kimiho or Kumari Kandam. They have special silver cases to contain a mini collection of your favorites.

The presentation and typeface and overall aesthetic is beautifully executed. See this link for the poetry and images that inspire their perfumes.

I would have loved to have found the one which truly translated into perfume this poem by Baudelaire:

I worship you like night's pavilion,
O vase of sadness, o great silent one,
And love you more since you escape from me,
And since you seem, my night's sublimity,
To mock me and increase the leagues that lie
Between my arms and blue immensity.

I move to attack, beseige, assail,
Like eager worms after a funeral.
I even love, o beast implacable,
The coldness which makes you more beautiful.
But their tremendous and admirable ambition to translate such words into perfume falls far short. Trying to maintain a connection between the poetic inspiration and images and the result of these blends of harsh chemical odors is like trying to mate two different species. O well. I hope I am not marked for assassination by many of the fans who are true devotees and cult worshipers of this brand.

Perhaps subtlety and quality is too much to expect for the very reasonable price they carry. On the other hand, the fantastic website is brimming with beautiful graphic images taken from Beardsley and old engravings, and I found it a pleasure to browse for its enthusiastic creativity. The six sample scents I received, Envy, Kumiho, Kumari Kandam, The Apothecary, Black Phoenix, Oberon and Undertow, were all harsh and came out of the vials like strong scented chewing gum, sweet and chemical, or with a high strong note of decay, such as a mushroom or of strong over brewed tea, or even reminiscent of cleaning or deodorizing products.

They are marketed as benignly vegan and not animal tested. Their incredible strength out of the gate dies fast. They emerge as an overpowering vapor that evaporates within less than half an hour, at least for me. Their devotees feel very differently, as you can see in this link to a forum of reviews which is a celebration of the many, many scents they have created.

You can read about specific scents and browse the website here. Above Beardsley illustration taken from the Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs website.


Zz said...

That's a shame about the perfumes. I have only visited the website once, but found the work that they put into it overwhelming, as well as enjoyable. Being an artist as well as perfumer, I enjoy the blending of the two. I have my artwork hanging in my Perfume Shop, and folks seem to like it all.

Lucy said...

You said it, Z, I love all that artwork and reference to great poetry, I could do with more of that from everyone, instead of many of the ads we do get...

insou2you said...

I had a huge comment, and blogger ate it. The upshoot is that i agree with everything and then some. If their perfumer had half the talent of their marketing deisgner, they could take over the world. As it is, most of their perfumes have a bizarre headshop note of strawberry incense and hippie, mixed with very bad vanilla. Blech Ptooey!

Lucy said...

Hi insou2you - your blog is hilarious, I wish you would post more often...
Yes, the marketing and graphic design is way way ahead of the perfume quality, which is too bad. I would really love to know who does their marketing/design...I wonder if I could find out...