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starbrow

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About starbrow

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  1. starbrow

    Tarantula Fascinator

    This is a huge comfort scent for me. Old-school BPAL black plum is what made me buy this and it's delightfully what I get the most of. Here it smells almost like plum oudh with its lushly purple musky velvet, but it's given such cuddly friends in Tarantula Fascinator. Cacao is the other prominent note upfront, but it reminds me of a sweet patchouli more than a chocolate. It's resinously sweet. Gorgeous. The fuzziness comes out deliciously in the hay, always a favorite of mine when twirled around a gourmand, and the nutmeg. Plum and nutmeg together takes me immediately to A Savage Veil, but here it's bb goth rather than club goth. It's interesting, because while Tarantula is truly fantastically blended and even more fantastically aged into a mature and many-layered experience, it has an innocence and childlikeness that keeps it from leaning too serious, where the perfume nature of hay and sandalwood could potentially go. This is fun and cozy and yes, furry. Hazelnut in perfume seems to lean scratchy for me, but not here. It's so smooth, like a hazelnut coffee. The black pepper is truly just a pinch. It keeps things cheeky and bright, somehow part of the playfulness without standing out in the blend. If you're wondering how such disparate notes play together, I can only just marvel at how Beth's mind works and say that this gives me sort of indie coffeehouse vibes. There's spices, there's sweets in the air, there's hazelnut coffee brewing, and plenty of plush couches and throws to cuddle up with. Buy this if you can't get enough of the plum from A Savage Veil and want something sweet, brown, musky, and very lovable.
  2. starbrow

    Shadow Lace

    Plum Lace glory! The old-school BPAL plum that is so gothy and Victorian and sensual is back, with her co-star Oudh Tease. (They have previously starred in A Savage Veil, Cassiopeia, Euterpe's Eukelele, Vampire Princess, Voluptuous Wantonness, and I hope a LOT MORE blends because I love it.) These two, Goth Plum and Oudh, twine and twist into a dark purple veil that envelopes the skin in magic. Old-school BPAL plum has a uniquely gothy vibe that I don't know quite how to describe - some have said it's perfumey, some clovey, some grapey. But you'll know it when you smell it. I LOVE IT. And I keep loving it, as it lingers for hours in distinguishable waves, with no dulling of the senses, it just keeps giving on my flat skin! The lace element is subtle but also present very early. It is a soft cognac cloud, like sheers behind the curtains of plum, so old-fashioned in the best of ways. It has a faint whiff of tobacco flower, but it is beautifully delicate. I think this element presents best with A Savage Veil, which hits a little sharper but dries down to a similar tobacco-threaded cloud. If you love that one, Shadow Lace is a MUST! Similarly, if you love Euterpe's Eukelele, this gives the similar plum oudh but with more sensuality thanks to the tobacco lace/cognac vibe. I think it is very much a cousin and needed if you love anything in this line of notes. Essentially, if you are just a BPAL Lace fan, I don't know that this is needed. If you are a PLUM OUDH fan, this is NEEDED. It billows in spades. It is from a truly artisanal time period of BPAL. I just need one, because I use it at the gothiest of times and then stow it away for safe-keeping. My favorite Lace!
  3. starbrow

    Smoky Moon 2009: Tristesses de la Lune

    This scent is always a bait and switch for me. I keep it in my spring/summer box but everytime I see the name, I assume it's going to be a heavy smoky fall/winter scent and so I don't even try it. It got randomly selected today for wear, and I was kind of shook to realize it's a spring-garden-at-night kind of scent. It has rained that afternoon, and drops still cling to stems and petals. Fresh greenery weaves through pale flowers and cool woods, no smoke to be found anywhere. Even the nicotiana is the softest, sneakiest tobacco flower I have ever smelled. It curls around what smells like shy violets to me - hello orris. The sandalwood lends an interesting dry quality that contrasts with the watery florals. I would have expected from the description that this would be kind of a sharp cologney scent - sandalwood, pale musks, all that greenery - but that is not the case. Smoky Moon is poofy, floaty, and diaphanous. If you told me, in a blind scent test, that this was a Last Unicorn scent, I would believe you. It's soft but still has enough throw that I can smell it on my skin without being right up in it. I don't think that the musk is white musk; at least, it's not laundry white musk. It's amazingly wearable. Fragrant garden, without smacking you in the face with any one single flower. This is more floral and floaty than I usually wear, but I think I like it. It is indeed a very spring scent. I think I will rename it Springy Moon on my cap label.
  4. starbrow

    Ejaculate of Serpents

    I think this is going to be a slippery one to noses. I was scared this would be really harsh and acrid. It's surprisingly not, especially on skin. The bottle smell is a concentrated wet stone/metallic that totally makes sense for serpent scale. It reads as very herbal to me, bitter herbs; spikenard, is that you? This is arugula and spring mix; crisp, challenging, and mature in taste. On skin, it turns more mellow, and the wet stone effect comes out way more. This reminds me of the wet concrete/stone walls at a water park, with that weirdly appealing smell of water hanging around turning a bit mildewed. The metallic twinge continues to hang around, and so does the spikier hit of herbs. I say wet stone, but this is not aquatic to me. I wouldn't say this was a resinous one right now either. Frankincense and myrrh makes me think church incense, and this really is not that. It is truly dank stone walls, almost like an underground oubliette. This would make a great Halloween atmospheric kind of scent. It's quietly scary. The berries haven't come out yet to appease the masses. If they have, they are belladonna, poisonous and glittering. I already have Dungeon Crawl, so I don't need a scent like this, but if you do, this is a really unique and classically-weird BPAL to try out.
  5. starbrow

    Inkfeather

    Ink Feather is an unabashed morpher. Full disclaimer, I am usually not a huge lover of strong licorice or anise scents - a drop of it suits me better than a blast - but once I realized this one stars licorice ROOT, that was a game changer. I've used Throat Coat tea for many years, and Ink Feather is basically that tea in perfume form. The bottle whiff is that distinctive poofy-herbal root that is somehow sweet in a "it's GOOD for you" way; earthy, rooty, witchy. On skin, it does much the same thing for the first few minutes. Swiftly as a raven deciding to take flight, the licorice root spreads out - I don't know a better way to put it - into a dispersed, oily-black sheen that floats on the surface like the waterproof coating on a feather. That's such a cool effect! Things continue to get poofier. Thanks, black amber. I described it in first impressions as "dark and girly; girly and dark." Not that I think only girls/fems can wear it, it just brings a feminine energy to darkness, whereas a lot of dark scents have masculine energy to me. This is yin darkness. Mysterious, sleek, sinuous. It stays in the herbal-tea realm for me, wildly similar to Throat Coat, for a very long time. This feels like a young blend right now. I think next year at this time, the patch and incense will be much more intense. It takes several hours for things to simmer down into an inky resin, but I can absolutely see glimmers of the ink that inspired the name. Late drydown has a smooth, silken dark brown quality to it like Snake's Tongue. This is a quietly gorgeous stage. You have to get close up to it to smell it, but it's well worth a wrist nuzzle. I am thinking of holding onto this for a year, even though I'm not 100% devoted to it yet. I think it will evolve into something I will love.
  6. starbrow

    Cloven

    Beth, did you make Cloven for me? This scent is immaculate. I couldn't have asked for a more Me blend. A bottle sniff is all of the things I love. Satyr and Sin and Old Demons and Streets of Detroit and Dark Lace, plus fur and vetiver. Are you kidding me? This smells so rich and complex STRAIGHT FROM THE MAIL. Get. On. My. Skin. A gritty, hypnotic vetiver makes a surprising and delightful top note. It's reminding me of The Great He-Goat vetiver from 2006. I call it gritty, but it's also thick and a little peanut-buttery. It's neither perfumey vetiver nor lemony. Nor, to my vetiver-loving heart, does it come across as too sharp or acrid. It's baby-bear-just-right. It weaves itself into what smells to me like both red musk and black musk. The red musk is seductive and sparkling; the black musk is spicy and motor-oily. I was so worried the "animalic" quality would be 💩. It's not! No barnyard either! I get a delightful fur that is really hard to explain, but it's what I would want a brown wolf to smell like. Foresty, musky, fuzzy. I believe there's some Ceylon cinnamon in here that's adding to that impression; don't quote me on that, but if you like Sin, you might love it here too (is it hiding in the red labdanum), and the black amber is strengthening the Sin connection. I think the rosemary might be responsible for the slight forest vibe. It's perfect; a delicate trace of plant, not a smack of pine. I can't smell the charred sandalwood. IDK but it's not a problem at all. This acts like a well-aged BPAL classic on my skin. It is only going to get better with time. Tempted to back up, am restraining myself FOR NOW but dat vetiver and black musk. Love at first huff.
  7. starbrow

    Snooty Bat

    I GOT MY FIRST BPAL COMMENT IN YEARS FROM THE GENERAL PUBLIC. But more on that later! Snooty Bat has big leather and nag champa energy when wet. I recognize the leather from Artist's Entrance, it's what I call "fancy" leather. Your really nice leather coat, stored at the back of the wardrobe. It's wrapped in an aura of nag champa incense, bright and a little poofy, a little floral almost. Dark Lace is a good cousin, but she's darker than Snooty. So is Streets of Detroit, but if you like that kind of nag champa, maybe you'll go batty for this blend. Those two notes are such tops that even clove gets nearly buried for a while. But as the leather and champa's intensity burns off, a smoky spice swirls, almost like clove incense. Grounding it is a patch that reads part fancy to me and part musky, maybe even a little musty. This is a real gothy stage. Give it a couple hours. The sugared patch and spices that we know and love from aged Snake Oil peeks its head out to say hello. Why, hi, little snek. Fancy seeing you here. I haven't smelled this kind of Snake Oil from a new blend in a long time. It's so good. SO GOOD. The waft continues for hours. I can only imagine its staying power will continue to improve with age. The throw is...powerful. I never get compliments or comments from other people about what I'm wearing. I am a scent vacuum. They disappear into my skin and never come back. But immediately upon putting Snooty Bat on, I got a comment at the gym from someone I was at least six feet away from that..."Something smells like MOTHBALLS." So my first BPAL commentary since before the Covid times is that this scent can smell like mothballs to some people. Pretty sure it's the indoles of the nag champa! Plus the slight mustiness of the fresh patch, combined with the suggestive power of the leather which is often associated with coat closets and mothballs. Meanwhile at home, the hubs thought it smelled very strong and incensey. So save this one for times where you don't mind smelling a little like you just pulled your fiercest leather jacket out of storage where it's been soaking up your incense smells, your patch, your clove cigs, and yes, maybe even your mothballs. But you are ready to rock all those wild and raucous notes like your badass self.
  8. starbrow

    Neglected Calligraphy

    Neglected Calligraphy is a roller coaster ride of a scent. Every phase is SO different. Wet, it's damp and mineralic; I specifically imagined "waterpark!" Like an old local waterpark set in a forest, because I get lots of fresh trees and fir-needle-breeze swirling around chlorinated water and dripping stone. I didn't expect this to be so watery, but it's not a turn-off aquatic the way most are for me. The minerals are almost limestone? This is a really cool but also weirdly atmospheric phase. Me: "will I reach for a perfume that makes me smell like Adventure Park?" Early drydown, the green tea peeks out more, crisp and spa-like, and the waterpark effect slinks away. There is still plenty of lingering dark pine/resin, deep and a little sinister. I love how terebinth is such a blackened pine already, and it really comes out that way here too. I was worried the "burnt" pine would be too campfire, but the scorch just makes it darker and a little...brimstoney, rather than the aggressive smolder of campfire. "Sinister forest, okay I'm here for this." Late in the game, the ink transforms into the ghost of old-school BPAL plum. Witchcraft! This is a delicious stage and to be honest my favorite. I could imagine layering this with some of my favorite plums for some truly stunning combinations. It is quiet and understated, maybe more than you'd expect from a perfume boasting notes like burnt pinewood ink and terebinth resin. Kind of a bookish vibe, which is really what I was hoping for from ink. (No cucumbers, whew!) "Plummy ink, SIGN ME UP!" Huge contender to upgrade my decant into a bottle. I am going to wait and see how this one ages, because I suspect it will continue morphing over the weeks and months, but I have high hopes!
  9. starbrow

    High School Hair

    Love at first sniff. High School Hair is a gorgeous, sophisticated wine-inspired spiced musk that somehow also conjures the innocence of youth. I think there is something from my childhood that has sweet clove and chestnut scent memories for me, because everytime they come together like this, it is a huge wave of nostalgia and childhood happiness. Cat Event Exorcist is another example of that, but it is given a churchier twist with the incense and anointing olive oil. High School Hair is all first-week-of-school jubilance with juicy dark cherry squeezed into an eager reddish musk and poured over nutty spice with eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head effect. It's taken so long for me to review High School Hair because words just don't seem to do it justice. Older BPAL wines can be sour and unripened (alas!) but don't let that stop you from trying this stunning merlot! This is more akin to the Harvest Moon wine of 2020/2021. Rich and indulgent and ripened, so very fall. They started mulling this wine at least two years ago, from the smell of it. You don't even realize it's alcoholic, because it's so smooth and sweet, but also doesn't even smell like wine, it's dark and meady, without the honey. High School Hair flirts with autumn vibes because of its scent color, a vibrant and luxurious burgundy. Clove and something a little cinnamon-y but deeper serve up some generous but also playful spice. Meanwhile, chestnut is this autumnal gift right in the center of the scent. Sweet and deep and creamy and even a bit of shell, but no sweaty vibes as roasted chestnut can sometimes go. It's all just beautiful, all rich and snuggly. So warm. But this doesn't seem like a fall-only scent to me; it's working perfectly well in the spring, and I plan to rock it in the summer too. My favorite scent of 2022. I now have three bottles, which are quickly being decimated because I'm OBSESSED. Somehow, this is teenage bright cherry-red hair crossed with adult mulled-wine spicey musk, the perfect intersection of young and mature. I just want to wear it all the time. If you haven't tried, and you like Harvest Moon or any of the more recent wine type of blends from BPAL, you NEED to sniff. Clearly, the hit of the Liliths for me, and a huge bright spot in 2022 and beyond.
  10. starbrow

    Ehon Tsuhi No Hinagata

    Thai sweet tea minus the ginger; what witchcraft is that? I recognize the oakmoss from Vivid Enjoyment of the Memory of Rupture (2018 Shunga that smells like Thai sweet tea WITH ginger), and also perhaps the same snuggly blend of tea and tonka bean, warm and cozy, from Black Ted (proper name Tonka Bean, Black Tea, & Vetiver). Oakmoss and hinoki wood could easily get really masculine really fast, or at least aggressive, yet Ehon Tsuhi stays calm, gently spiced, and richly sweet. A sensitive soul. Thank you, black amber. Mandarin and plum are currently hiding. I'll be curious if they peek out with that twist of brighter/juicier fruit to give a different dimension to this blend. It is also possible that the mandarin peel is helping to give the illusion of ginger without being actual ginger. But to me, it's not a recognizably citrus note, not yet at least! Even without any listed cream notes, Ehon Tsuhi is a really creamy (non-dairy) blend. A bit like a spiced tea, hot and steaming, with a rice milk creamer perhaps. Personally, I think the two blends I compared it to are enough to keep me happy, and Ehon does lean a little more unisex/masculine than them because of its prominent earthy oakmoss. But if you missed out on either of those or just love Black Ted a whole lot and want a variation on a theme, this would be a great one to try.
  11. starbrow

    Dalliance with a Comedian on Stage

    This is a perfume that doesn't smell anything like the given notes right now. Smelling blindly, I guessed lilac and dusty parchment and ink in a bubbly champagne. So I guess the sawdust does come through as dust! But not in like a, Home Depot lumber aisle kind of way. It lends to the bookish atmosphere of parchment and ink, a bit like A Silhouette. Lilac is really speaking to me too for some reason, which might be the cross between rose petals and plum blossom. It doesn't smell to me LIKE rose or plum, however. The fizz is definitely the sake, and it's pretty inescapable. The black currant is probably what lends an inky quality to the blend, and perhaps the frankincense is giving parchment? No red musk or blueberries so far, and if you're used to rose being ROSE, she hasn't shown up to this party yet. This is quite a strange and unusual one, because my brain would love this to be a bookish scent, but the fizzy bubbly sake takes it in a different direction and for me those two moods don't fit neatly together. I'll keep an eye on this one but I don't expect the champagney note to ever go away, it seems to be at the core of this Dalliance, so good news for those who love the fizz.
  12. starbrow

    The Tea House

    I can smell plum wine in the bottle! Pretty! The green tea and bamboo reeds give a sleek spa-like calmness right away. It's the sandalwood and cypress bringing this to sexy man place for me. They are classic muted notes of wood and almost-aquatic-but-not-actually that conjure up a masculine vibe. Fortunately, it's a really sensual and subtle vibe, not loud and bombastic, not even cologney. But still. Masculine. (YMMV.) The lemon petals are so soft, they kind of just melt into the green tea and bamboo. A fresh and vibrant airiness, the antithesis of floor cleaner. Whew! But where's my plum wine? It has almost totally vanished on skin. There's the faraway suggestion of dark purple fruit, lost completely in the rest of the manly aura. Come back, come back! I recommend this for, clearly, a rugged yet immaculate offering, like a sexy man at a spa. I think many could wear this, but I think I need more plum wine and/or femininity to make it a good match for me.
  13. starbrow

    U Strip

    This is one FUNKY coconut. To the point where this just smells like oudh and coconut to me. It's the foot-funk kind of oudh to my nose, and not the 💩 kind. The coconut is potent and meaty, it's got beef, and a little rough too. I don't know that I smell the actual BPAL lace note, which has vanilla and cognac and a drop of tobacco in it. In U Strip, the lacy element smells like sweet powdery orris to my nostrils. I'm a huge vetiver fan, and unfortunately, the vetiver here is so voyeuristic, you can't even see (smell) it. It makes me sad. But that's good news for those who might be afraid of vetiver. There's a slight smokiness in U Strip, but that is the only sign of anything vetiver-adjacent so far. This has huge throw and last on me, which is typical of coconut scents. I think I was expecting something different than what I got here. Instead of a delicate lace threaded with coconut and shrouded in the shimmery vetiver from Vetiver Patchouli and Apple Peel, U Strip is a coconut shell bra on sweaty skin, dancing on the beach on a hot summer night. There's nothing delicate about it, but this IS a whole lot of fun for any coconut fans.
  14. starbrow

    The Serpent in the Roses

    Testing fresh, so I will continue to update this review as it ages. Newly arrived, this is a big rose mood. It has so much garden in it, when I'm outside I'm looking around for the roses but it's me. Spicy and indolic, big throw. I can confirm that this rose is similar to the one from The Elephant is Slow to Mate (2021 Luper), but without as much to "corrupt" it so it is totally stealing the show here rather than playing nicely in a gothy ensemble cast like it did in Elephant. The rose continues to dance front and center for hours, only allowing glimmers of the 2022 variety of Snake Oil to pop through. 2022's SO has a musk in it that is especially chewy and strong, so I expected it to compete a bit better with the rose here, but it is inconsistent right now. That should balance out with time. The vanilla and spices are beautiful but muted, total skin-level components in the blend. The amber is on that same mellow playing field, almost drowned out by the rose and the chewy musk of this SO. The Serpent in the Roses will absolutely develop with even just a few weeks of aging, so I'm giving it some time, mostly for that rose to chill tf out
  15. starbrow

    Dried Cherry Incense and Spun Sugar

    This is going to be a fan favorite, calling it now. The bottle whiff and first five minutes of skin application is all TART cherry. If you are adverse to the sharp almond smell from some of the GC cherries, this stage might be overpowering. With drydown, the tartness simmers down into a semi-sweet state, while still keeping a nice bite in the background. The incense part starts to sing. This is a classic almost red-musky incense (frankincense?) with a beautiful woody grain, almost like incense + wooden incense box. I can't tell what wood exactly, but there's a very slight rubberiness to it, which makes me think opoponax. I'm reminded a bit of High School Hair for some reason, too, which was my favorite of 2022! The spun sugar is the faintest component to my nose, I really have to shove my nose against my wrist to get it, but it's a little crystally-sweet with just the tiniest bit of floof. I wouldn't call this a true gourmand, or out of the realm of possibilities for those who don't wear cotton candy or sweet scents. It's there to balance the sexiness of the incense and the tartness of the cherry, and it's perfect for that. (Reminds me a bit of the Gingerbread & Candyfloss effect.) This is so old-school BPAL to me, sultry and sensual. My favorite by far of the Lupers I got, and I can tell I'll be keeping my bottle forever and a day. It's only going to get better with age. For fans of Blood, Hollywood Babylon, even Anne Bonny.
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