The Art of Darkness

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

April 19th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Obsidian WidowBlack Phoenix is a purveyor of unique fragrances specifically designed to appeal to the fantasy/horror geek.

They take inspiration from their perfume blends from a wide variety of literature, mythology, historical figures, and folklore, which results in blends like “Jersey Devil” (pitch pine with blackberry leaf, cranberry, cedar wood and tomato leaf) and collections like “Steamworks” (“Aelopile,” “Galvanic Goggles,” “No. 93 Engine,” “Phoenix Steamworks,” “Smokestack,” “The Antikythera Mechanism,” “The Obsidian Widow,” and “The Robotic Scarab”). They also occasionally do limited-edition scent collections based on authors’ works, with proceeds going to charity: One of their current offerings is inspired by Neil Gaiman, with fragrances like “The Macabray” and “Fairy Market.”

Since they’re definitely aiming for “ambiance” over “mass appeal,” their blends don’t work with every skin chemistry, so a thriving community has risen up around trading scents with other fans. The BPAL Swaps LiveJournal page and The Unofficial BPAL Forum are two sources for trading and/or finding discontinued blends, and searching “Black Phoenix Swaps” will turn up plenty of others.

One criticism I’ve seen of their products is that, although the fragrance blends are “logical,” they’re not necessarily what one would expect a particular scent to be. For instance, their “Dracul” is a mixture of black musk, tobacco, fir, balsam of peru, cumin, bitter clove, crushed mint, and orange blossom. That fits right in with the literary description, from the pine forests in Transylvania to the scents beloved of Victorians. What it doesn’t do is smell much like Dracula.

Nevertheless, if you’re wearing a fragrance called “Wings of Azrael” or “Grand Guignol” you can’t help but feel a little spookier than usual. They’ve got dozens of perfumes to choose from, so you’re bound to find something that appeals.

Bonus Link: BPAL also has a sister site called Twilight Alchemy Labs which produces oils for ritual purposes.

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