“ Brand: Black Phoenix / Type: Fragrance / Concentration: Eau de Parfum „
I discovered Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (usually known as BPAL) in 2007, thanks to a friend who sent me some small vials (called imps) to test. She explained that each scent was unique in that it reacted with your own skin chemistry, so it would be different than the scent in the vial.
This, in theory, is a lovely idea but let's start with the negative. Sometimes the scent in the vial is horrible and not at all what you were expecting, and sometimes it is but it smells horrible on you! I vividly remember buying one that sounded like my kind of thing, loving the vial and it turning to soap on me. So disappointing. There is an active community you can swap scents with, so if you do get something that doesn't work for you, you can swap it for something that does, so all is not lost.
On a more positive note I've found that when a scent works, it REALLY works. I've been complemented by strangers about how nice I smell. My husband constantly spends his time sniffing the air and asking what I'm wearing. Depending on the scent I'm using it can make me feel sexy, girly, hungry (with food scents like cakes!) and they always make me feel confident. The downfall is finding perfumes from their range that work for you.
I came across this independent perfume company a few years ago, after wondering why everyone on the Lush forum was raving about something called "BPAL." After reading the description - dark, romantic, gothic? I was sure the fragrances would not be my cup of tea - at the time I was obsessed with the scented products at Lush, and if I wore perfume, it was the ubiquitous "Angel" by Thierry Mugler. However, I started browsing Black Phoenix's website in idle moments and somehow, along the way, I became intrigued by the scent descriptions.
Some seemed creepy to me - why would anyone want a perfume called "Embalming fluid?" What on earth would "Dance of Death" smell like? But then, there were also the scents based on Alice in Wonderland, and characters from Shakespeare, and orgasms. (Yes, really.) It was no good, I was going to have to make an order. And after that first order of twelve "imps" (the sample size you normally get under the counter at fragrance departments), I was hooked.
I am so hooked, it's embarrassing. BPAL's general catalogue grows a little more each year, and there is a constant supply of Limited edition scents. If you have ever wondered how far women will go for what they want, hoard a couple of bottles of Snake Charmer and try selling them on Ebay. You should start receiving right arms and first borns any time after that.)
Oh, the scents. Can I talk about the scents? They are sublime, divine, unbelievable. Well, some of them are. Others have been likened to cat pee, rutting dogs, baby sick. The whole fun of it is, you can fall in love with the description of a scent, read lots of glowing reviews and then find that your body chemistry turns it rancid. Ordering perfume unsniffed from the internet is a gamble, but when it pays off? Hooo mama. I have perfumes that are so intoxicating, they should not be allowed out of the house. Be prepared for strangers to sniff you and then begin moaning and snuffling uncontrollably.
Apart from smelling different to anyone else I know (and better, ha ha) I have also increased my knowledge of ancient Egyptian gods, literature, and er, Japanese pornography, all thanks to the lady behind the creation and selling of these scents. Incidentally, I have never had any problems with any of the (many) orders I have made, and they usually send you a generous bunch of free samples with your order.
The scents range from musky to fruity to sweet, to metallic, floral, and everything in between. Many of the scents are unisex, there will be something to please even the most conservative grandmother (maybe don't mention the name of the scent though, especially if it's Sacred Whore of Babylon). If you'd like to try some of the biggest crowd pleasers, I'd try Snake Oil, O, Scherezade, Dorian, Bathsheba, Les Bijoux, Alice, or Eden.
The only disadvantage is that you will probably need to enter a 12 step program at some point.