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BPAL Madness!


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About Shadowdawn

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  1. Shadowdawn

    The Harlot's House

    First, I have to say the poem here is beautiful! And secondly, if not for a lovely frimp I probably would have never even tried this--first because it seems like it's going to be a heady, wet floral, (soap), and because it has a couple of my death notes in it. However, testing it and not knowing what was in it at first, it was a real surprise! Much more modern, bright, and classy than I would have guessed, with a much, much nicer drydown than I could have imagined. It actually smells quite unique, even amongst the BPAL lot. Sniffing the imp, I got straight up moist, green grass, and almost put it immediately back down. But breathing in deeper, I picked up on something behind that, something that made me think of mints and the old Undertow. Still not normally my thing, for being too 'wet' and fresh, but it suggested something deeper in there and I tried it. It is certainly one of the most crisp florals and clean smells I've ever scented... for a 'harlot's house', this is more of a pre-coitus scent for sure. A few minutes in and it smells just like clean, freshly washed skin and hair, maybe from a soak in a flower bath. It really does smell like very nice shampoo in a way and makes me think of 'bamboo' and other vaguely green (but not grassy) scent elements. Or just getting clean in general (springtime, perhaps). It's relaxing, brings to mind fluffy towels, and tea time, because the tea note starts to emerge powerfully over the initial floral/aquatic perfume feel of it, and dominates with a slight sharpness. The violet is also really pretty in this, and the oakmoss/balsam (death notes normally) must be barely there because I don't pick them out distinctly. It smells a bit like a citrusy/floral cup of white tea. But as it dries fully, all that white sandalwood (and something else; earthy, dry, woody, maybe a little resinous) comes to the forefront and lingers around gently, evocatively, like a memory of a good time. In the final stage, it actually seems to dry down into a clean, simple, light musk.
  2. Shadowdawn


    Good heavens, this was unexpected! As only the lab loves to pull off Lol! So, I probably would have never gone for this one to try, ordinarily... but I was generously frimped, and I'm grateful to have the experience. Reason being that I really dislike dragon's blood--normally. Because to me it is just a hot, damp, floral that smells almost like too-sweet ylang-ylang. Upon first sniff, this is actually beautiful, and light, and flowery enough that I honestly thought there was a heavy dose of actual (fresh) ylang-ylang in it... then checked the notes, and no, it's really the soapy, cloying, floral scent of dragon's blood. And dragon's blood goes to straight old timey soap almost 100% of the time, on me. However, I went for it anyway because it smelled warm, and sweet, and pretty, and incensey/spicy (and I love spices). And the minute I applied it, as soon as it hit my skin (up until about the half hour mark), it was... delicious. Like... incredibly delicious. Like gingerbread cookies BUT without being at all foody somehow (I think because of the floral backdrop)! Magic! I don't know how else to describe it at first, other than a grown-up, non foody ginger spice (maybe slightly woody) biscuit/cake. It's definitely a dry, resinous spice cookie all right, but I'd say most heavy on the cinnamon to my nose. Which, I love cinnamon. I think the pepper and clove are just uplifting it here. And then.... and then... dragon's blood. So, all the spices die completely and I'm left with a summery jasmine/ylang-ylang smelling soap. It is actually pretty light though.... not giving me a headache or anything, and also I dare say slightly more dry, deep, and grounded than a real floral would have been. It's like a floral without the somewhat menthol/aquatic element many florals have. If only it would stay in the fresh stage, it would be divine! It fades more quickly than I'd expect wrath, or even dragon's blood to, too. I might wear this despite the soapy drydown just because I love the fresh stage so much. I think a really deep, rich, dark, dry vanilla (or vanilla incense) could have maybe saved this actually. And a teensy bit more lasting spice.
  3. Shadowdawn


    This is truly stellar! What a delicious (but not at all foody, this is definitely inedible) blend! I will agree that it is very similar to Love's Philosophy... and LP did not work out on me at all, sadly. It has some of the same, grainy, gorgeous, dry vanilla... but the saffron in it was far, far too potent, and to me smelled like insulin or certain types of plastics. Whereas I find the saffron amped astringently in the simpler LP blend... in this one, there is just enough oomf and complexity (plus, perhaps a darker vanilla) that the saffron has managed to keep to the back just perfectly! Here it's more of a spiced/grounding/earthy element. Even better, it fades off completely within the hour, leaving nothing but a dry, musky vanilla. I do feel like there's some form of white crystal musk in this, tempered by a gentle downy puff of something... orris, probably, adding that dry element. I love this... it is soft, deep, grainy/woody, inviting, refined, classic, sultry, grownup. There is definitely a gossamer/airy quality to it. Just delicious! What's unexpected is a hint of maybe a slightly boozy aged oakwood element. I imagine the woody stalk of vanilla might smell a bit like this. ETA: I realize this is many, many years aged now-- and so, if some of these elements (being less sharp, amping more softly, quieting of the saffron, depth, dryness, etc.) are all due to the ageing, then I can say it's aged beautifully!
  4. Shadowdawn

    Black Pearl

    So, I must confess, upon first sniff years ago when I first got this blend, I initially ignored it for seeming way too foody/nutty on the surface. (Because WHAM buttered, roasted hazelnuts in your face upon first sniff of the imp). I am now finding that my personal tastes are going through a bit of an overhaul, and I gave it a second glance. Then I tried it again, and it's actually lovely. Ultimately, once it settles, it becomes a creamy, smoky, tropical floral. Sniffing the blend right out of the imp, the scent of buttery hazelnuts (yikes, for me) actually completely obfuscates anything else that might be in here, making it seem much, much foodier than it actually is. Thank the heavens, almost instantly (within a minute or two) of hitting my skin, all the hazelnut/butter vanishes, petrifying itself into hazelnut wood way in the back. There is no foodiness to behold, and I am cheering. Some of those sweet, warm floral blooms emerge, but the barest whisper of something like coconut husk, or incense, is making them seem like tropical blooms, even if they are not really tropical. Most coconut (Obatala, etc.) goes to plastic or soap (or both), on me, and this doesn't at all! It remains creamy and dry, grounded, and not too sweet either. I almost can't actually pick the coconut out once it settles, and it becomes beautiful, soft, and downy in the drydown (after the 'beach sand' phase-- because there are a few minutes where it is definitely the smell of a sunny beach through and through). Finally, almost no coconut remains, but leaves it the scent of clean incense. Woody, ethereal, fleeting. A real morpher. I would say this is an incensey, sweet base, with dry coconut husk. Creamy and not too sweet. Black Pearl is a wonderful beach and summer scent (for those of us who don't really like fruits), but at the same time it is grown up, grounded, and sophisticated. Just floral enough to not be foody, not so floral that it goes to soap or powder. It stays close to the skin with a mild throw, but fades fast sadly. I can see this being a great mermaid fragrance for those who are not fond of aquatics (like me), and it definitely has a sense of pearl-like or opalescent quality in the creamy element. It's almost a vanilla-like, or vanilla orchid like scent, without having any actual vanilla. I do not find anything about it menacing, however, and that's a good thing for me.
  5. Shadowdawn

    Somewhere or Other

    I was hoping that this would be a white rose (from the 'pale' descriptor), with a dewy backdrop going on, in the sense that it could be similar to Moon Rose (or at worse, Katrina Van Tassel without the creaminess). Alas, with time, I've come to realize that I think the reason I love Moon Rose so is not for the rose in it, but for the moonflower in it. I am also coming to find that regular roses aren't really my jam. That said, this is definitely one of the prettier roses; it's not dark or red in any way. It is closer to Katrina Van Tassel than Moon Rose, for sure, the rose is much creamier/sweeter (and it lacks any competing notes), maybe even a white rose (but without a 'cream' component it feels a bit stronger than some other white roses), and the aquatic mixed into it is definitely giving off a slightly soapy edge. Not a horribly plastic/dryer sheet soapiness, but a nice, pleasant, expensive soapiness. It is very fresh smelling. Sweet without being honeyed or sugary, and very nice for those who would be fond of an aquatic. I guess the trade off for the soap is avoiding the 'baby powder' that rose blends with musk or honey in them tend to do to me. Still, meh.
  6. Shadowdawn

    Honeyed Amber and Red Currant

    [No additional description provided.] Hmm... this is... interesting! Actually, it smells so, so very much like another BPAL perfume that I once had; almost exactly the same in the drydown (but of course I can't think of it now, though I think I ended up swapping it). If I think of it, I'll come back and pop it in here. But, alas, this didn't turn out as I would hope on me. I was really hoping for a strong golden amber, with a peppery dark fruit undertone, and a hint of smoky honey. However, it seems that the 'honey' note from the lab only works on me half of the time, perhaps less. Because this turns full on baby power/plastic/rancid on me. Disappointing drydown aside, upon first sniff (and first application), all I get is honey. Really, really, really powerful honey, along with a sharp fruity/fruit loop (the currant). I detect no amber at all, personally. It's devoured by the swell of a honey tidal-wave. It's not really very complex at all. The sharpness of the fruit dissolves into nothing pretty quickly and the whole thing goes to plastic dusted with baby powder, where it pretty much hangs out until it dies. Off to the swaps. *sigh* For what it's worth, my cat couldn't stop trying to lick it all off my arm though.
  7. Shadowdawn


    I was really, really looking forward to this one. However, for how powerful, and truly I cannot describe it as anything less than that, this is, it has a very sad, short lifespan on me. It's completely gone upon the first rinse with water, and fades to almost nothing on its own within an hour or two (even when I slather). On me, this blend is entirely myrrh resin and honey. I don't get any cardamom, vanilla, or cocoa, for which I am very sad (until the last, breathy stage of drydown). It smells like expensive, mature perfume, although in a way that is not too cloying--which is good. And it's absolutely not foody at all in any way (thank heavens). Bast also sticks as close to the skin as possible, with minimal throw. For some reason... I get the very, very mild hint of expensive Parisian soap (but only when it's fresh, before settling), and florals? I think it's the myrrh that's coming across as vaguely floral (or maybe it's just a very floral honey note, I'm not sure). That is a tad disappointing for me. Thankfully there is nothing here I completely dislike, but I'm not as over the moon about it as I'd hope to be. I was hoping for more spice, creaminess, and an incense like quality... and less straight up antique perfume. She's here one minute, swishing through the room in confidant silks with gold, gleaming skin, and gone the very next. Edit to Add: I can definitely see the similarities to Morocco that have been mentioned about Bast-- for me, I only pick up one or two strongly similar notes in the drydown, but Bast is definitely less creamy, and a bit less spicy, than Morocco.
  8. Shadowdawn

    Svarta Fönix Bókaflóð

    Books, fireplaces, wood, chai tea, and cozy, furry cats?! This sounds like it should be heaven. I was envisioning something creamy, spicy and a little incensey, rustic, leathery, comforting, all that good stuff. Alas... no. I don't know what happened here... but this is such a heavy, intense, old cloying perfume smell. First off, it smells purely like alcohol to me (or rather, like alcohol based perfume). As soon as I open the bottle, the first thing I smell is strong, astringent alcohol with an undertone of "classic" perfume. Actually, to me it smells exactly like a forgotten 30 year old bottle of Eau de perfume, Chanel No 5. Very heady, very musky/musty, and alcoholic. Somehow I am detecting heavy white florals and musk?? I will say, it does smell very expensive, like a premium classic/noxious perfume. I smell no chai, no cats, no books, and no fireplaces... but maybe a soapy, cologne-like kind of wood. Some time after my (very cautious) application, it simmers down into a... clean, fully soap and flowers cologne smell. I don't know how. The book I received was " The Wind is Not a River" (Brian Payton) about a married couple trying to reconcile and deal with loss in a hypothetical WW2 scenario in Alaska. Hmm.... not exactly my genre, but I was glad to participate all the same. In an odd way the perfume actually really, really goes with the book lol....
  9. Shadowdawn

    Exodus 22:21

    Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Myrrh, red currant, opoponax, and blackberry. Such a somber topic, but such a sexy, beautiful, sultry summer scent! I've always had a love for BPAL's activism scent lines, and I knew I absolutely had to have one out of this specific series. I picked the bottle quickly, almost on a whim, and have no regrets. It's gorgeous! 4/5 smelly stars! I think a drop of mint or spice would have totally made it, but it still pairs beautifully with mint heavy scents. For a "fruity" scent, 22:21 still manages to be very balanced in terms of not being too sweet, or foody in any way. It must be all the resinous myrrh keeping the ripe, dark fruits in check. There is a hint of tartness initially, but barely. It has an almost smoky or wood-like quality. Upon initial application, it's all bursting, ripe, crushed summer blackberries, with an effervescent (almost champagne-like) quality poured over. But as soon as I rub it into the warmth of my skin, it immediately mellows into something much deeper, darker, and creamier. A spicy element of some sort pops up, making me think of sex musk. This is truly how I imagine "dark fruits", or a gothic summer to smell. Within minutes, the fruit is no longer distinguishable in the least. It's all perfectly blended together into something like a bittersweet incense stick and the sun-warmed skin of someone you quite fancy. Barely sweet, deep, and dark. Mature, while still retaining a playful air somehow. Ancient but powerful, and (to me) deeply feminine, yet grown. The dry-down is one of my absolute favorites as well. It turns resinous, soft, and creamy after the blackberry has been gobbled up. Dry blackberry wine and deep kisses come to mind. No plastic or soap here! I have a feeling this one is highly dependent on skin chemistry though, because it morphs quite a lot.
  10. Shadowdawn


    I'm starting to get suspicious of peaches, I tell you. And I also can't believe I haven't reviewed this yet lol. With fall pretty much here, I started pulling my cozier scents out of their little retirement nooks, and went immediately to this one first. Which is actually the best move for this early in the season, as it turns out, because it has a strong lingering scent of summer (those peaches, man) to it. I have no idea why, but I amp the peaches like crazy. So, in the bottle, it's pure heaven. Perfectly balanced between peach, pumpkin, and just enough "sugary/foody/spicy/gourmand" element in the background to deepen it (but not to make me afraid it's going to go butter-cake-of-death, cloyingly-sugary-baked-goods), and evoke a sense of cooked pumpkin--not enough to make it a spice-heavy blend. I figured the spice (nutmeg, mostly...maybe something like allspice) would come out to develop and give it a dry, slightly smoky/incense quality. So, for some reason, it goes to "late summer" almost immediately on my skin, with fresh peach everything all over up in there, then fades to nothing within an hour (though I didn't slather this time). The pumpkin is overtaken in minutes and it becomes actually "fruity" to a degree. Somehow, the spices all evaporate (rather than stick around as 'final notes', as they usually do with me) into... cream. Cream and gauzy vanilla. It's so soft, and warm, and comforting, but not at all spicy, which is the saddest thing for me. Still completely love it though.
  11. Shadowdawn

    Zorya Polunochnaya

    Oh goodness... beautiful!! Filled with silvery, warming, intoxicating light. Perfumey and youthful in a good way. It is.. Organza, full moon peaking into sunrise edition. It is a translucent masquerade bride with honey-pink cheeks. Elegance and femininity personified. I could bathe in this-- it is my favorite in a long time. I am adoring the upfront crystalline amber in this one, softened and sweetened with an herbal, grain-like vanilla (that gives it a sense of timelessness and maturity), and rounded out with a fully unfurled moonflower--just tinged with nectar soaked blush at the tips. It is fleeting, like catching a snowy nymph darting across a sugar-web-spun grotto. The scent doesn't morph much on me, but dries down to focus a bit more on the floral as the amber calms into a golden shimmer in the background. There is also barely a hint of powdery lemon-creme somewhere there? It is somehow so mysterious I feel like people would try and inconspicuously inch closer to try and get a second whiff, unsure of what they has scented in the first place, but drawn nonetheless. You know... it actually smells a little bit like a more heady, exotic, and complex version of an Escada fragrance from many years ago... Magnetism I think. And without the headache. lol
  12. Shadowdawn

    Flickering Lantern

    Wha..what on earth.... . So, I was expecting a damp gothic rose blossoming in my face, enshrouded in breathy parchment-like smoke tendrils, with some evocative dripping wax softly in the background... but alas, I somehow get no rose?! What I do get is dry, powdery violets, like the pressed flower! Or maybe a skin dust made with flour and ancient violets gone slightly off. And then nothing but smoke. And not a pale, incensy, ethereal smoke.. but.. like a dank cupboard cigarette ash smoke. Somehow I also detect a musty musk in this one somewhere. Final drydown: I've seen people post about a scent going "cat-pee" sour on them all the time before, and never quite understood it until this one LOL. But here we have it.. cat pee, if it was in really old musty incense form. Or maybe the old incense is soaked in the cat pee :/ Somewhere way, way deep down when I huff with all might might I get the barest hint of a warm, dry, vanillin curio cabinet that might have stored cigars at one point. And absolutely no hint of rose, purple or otherwise, or any floral really. I guess smoke is another one for the no-fly list. *sigh*
  13. Shadowdawn

    Dana O'Shee

    I really like this blend a lot, and I find it true to its nature and description. It is light, and sort of fades the way the smell of the "outdoors" fades from your skin after coming back into a cozy home and sitting on the couch for a while. In a quiet and dignified way. I also don't get a lot of morphing from this one, so I always know what to expect from good ol' faithful. It is a simple, yet comforting blend, both creamy and refreshing in a way, understated and subtle, in the way such an offering to the fae might drift on the wind and be carried off into the ether. I cannot be grateful enough that it has never gone either linen or soap on me. It fits so close to the skin in fact, that after wearing it for the day, it becomes hard to separate my own own skin smell, from this, as the two become one. The milk (I find it to be more of a skim milk rather than a heavy, sticky cream) and light golden honey are obviously there, but balanced, and in no way sweet/cloying. The 'grains' portion of this (somehow) keeps it from becoming foody, and really brings out a quiet beauty after the drydown. I smell oats, for sure-- and the uncooked steel cut variety at that. Beyond that, I want to say whole sheaf's of golden wheat, and tall, swaying grasses, toasted by the sun work in. Finally, there might be a peekaboo of heather and amaranth in there somewhere. It smells arid, like sunset in early fall. And brings to mind spilling thin milk and clear honey on a field of just-harvested 'grains'.
  14. Shadowdawn


    How have I never reviewed my most favorite BPAL scent?! One that I have had and loved since 2008! In fact, it is one of the most comforting things I own-- a tiny, little, beat up imp from 2008. I just realized that this imp has almost been aged an entire decade! Woah. I don't know how to describe how much I love this one. It smells of a home that I can't place, that I've been without having gone to. Of summer sunsets in markets, baking, old gods, and familiarity. It is ephemeral and almost esoteric for me. It is sexy, spicy, comforting, and sweet. It is both exotic and homey somehow. It is a smell of a place, and a time, and the sunlight filtering through warm wood shutters, of shared laughter and exotic nibbles. Like the drapes pulled back on a fortune teller's tent to reveal a smoky crystal orb. At this point it is so well blended that there is not a single individual spice or floral note I can pick up-- not even cinnamon, but it smells like hot, fragrant desert breath just coming off of an oasis with many date trees, a few lush blooms, and a procession of old priests burning incense while they carry offertory cakes. It is a *toasted* vanilla/sandalwood//incense/dry petal blanket that I want to wrap up in. And yet there is something feminine and 'human' about it too. Hard to describe honestly. Edit to add that the final drydown for me comes the next day, after a shower (with unscented soap), and that it settled into a creamy toasted vanilla/lightest caramel, sun-baked dusty blooms of deliciousness. Ultra feminine and soft, yet alluring, with very toned down 'spice' quality. 2019 Edit: I've recently got a bottle fresh from the lab (as opposed to the very aged version I had previously reviewed)... and I have to say there are some subtle differences! Still delicious, for sure, and with a similar long-term dry down. However! The fresh version is a lot more floral... and creamy, and a little less spicy. I pick up a lot of the floral aspect more prominently, along with something that smells, to me, like rice milk. Or maybe very pure rice porridge. For some reason, I get a rice like scent from the fresh "creamy" component here.
  15. Shadowdawn


    Based on the note descriptions I thought that I would absolutely love this one... but it has made me sad. Upon initial application is reminds me *a lot* of Dana O'Shee, which I adore, but a bit stronger and with better throw. So far, so good. Very creamy, but with a slightly herbal/floral (but not cloying) background to keep it grounded. And not too sticky sweet either which is a relief. I was expecting just a little less milk and a little more floral (or even honey), but it's similar enough at this point to Dana that I'd go for it. *Spoken in a lifeless droning tone* .....One hour later.... Anything that might have called itself a floral, or even an herb, has long since died and powdered to dust in the back of an old spice cabinet, in a memory, from a decade ago. The milk has gone sour in the sun. And, somehow, miraculously... I get... linen. Like, white tablecloths. Why cruel world?! And finally, in a dramatic, final, death cough, as it expires, the linen melts bitterly into burned plastic and used dryer sheets. How did this blend turn into plastic and unclean laundry over here?!