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BPAL Madness!


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About starbrow

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  1. starbrow

    The Perfumed Garden

    A garden that could make me love florals. The jasmine is (thankfully) swallowed up by all the apple and some lovely thyme and fuzzy citrus. I no longer wonder that I hung onto this bottle for three years, because it's a wonderfully fruity blend with some muskiness and a bit of night-blooming indoles. I'm not mad at it. I really do love this for spring, the apple and thyme combination is especially lovely.
  2. starbrow

    The Book

    I ended up with this one by mistake, as The Book (Paranorman) is one of my favorite book scents and I was aiming for a bottle of it. Oops! Well, Fleurette's Purple Snails' The Book is much different! I will say this is a very different one and hard to describe. The notes are muddled for me. It smells like a musty attic to me, like stuffy and dusty and a little sweet but hasn't been aired out in 20 years so some things are definitely rife with must. Nothing is sharp, everything is very rounded and dust-covered. The leather is dusty, the roses are faded and dusty, the tar is dusty. (What the heck is vanilla bourbon tar? It's a little boozy, a little resinous, but muted as heck.) Now that I have a trio with tonka in it (Tonka Bean, Black Tea, and Vetiver), I'm able to identify the tonka as a note in The Book too. It is a warm, comforting, gentle blanket of a scent, less foodie than vanilla, also just a little woodier perhaps? I enjoy finding it here. But this blend is definitely not as sweet or as overtly bookish as I was expecting it to be. And also I'm trying to think of a time where I would reach for The Book instead of the Tonka Trio. Can't think of it. I just want to wear that trio all the time when I'm home and reading! I am unsure if The Book is here to stay. I might let my bottle go to another home where it will get more use and more love.
  3. starbrow

    Saint Foutin de Varailles

    2010: Truly, eleven years later, this baby is ALL wine. That's no dribble, that's a whole bottle. I am not sure it's behaving nicely on my skin anymore. The wine goes sour, almost like vinegar - and I see I'm not the only one who has this experience. It does die down, but it leaves a grapey note behind that swallows up the beautiful beeswax and frankincense that I was hoping to smell peeking out after the wine calmed down. Spoiler: the wine doesn't calm down on me! I wouldn't have guessed there was rose in here, but I can see it lending a little aromatic spicy quality to the wine. Where does the grape end and the rose begin? Hard to tell. Strangely, upon drydown the waft IS rosy, a deep dark red rose, but only when one is smelling it from a foot or two away; up close, the wine note is still strong and dominant and not very pleasant on my skin, but I'm strangely enjoying the rosy waft! I am not sure about this bottle. It's so very odd on me, and I'd definitely like to see the beeswax and frank make more of an appearance, but the rose halo is really cool, and I don't even like rose much? Will continue to experiment.
  4. starbrow

    Some Heraldry

    This is possibly the best leather in my collection, and I finally cracked the code, three years later. That incense ash is totally frankincense, and it is the Lab's beeeeautiful frankincense, all churchy-smooth and a little sweet and dreamy. It curls around the warm leather in a heady swirl of incense. It is such a powerful presence that the leather doesn't really stand a chance against it, and that's exactly the way I like it. The sandalwood is very quiet beneath it, and I know the ambrette is lending a little sweetness and earthiness to the leather and the blend as a whole, but I wouldn't have been able to blindly tell it was in here. I can't even smell the tobacco, it's blending in so well with everything else, so no need to worry that it will dominate if it usually does for you. So if a swoony frankincense church-incense kind of blend will make leather wearable for you, I absolutely think Some Heraldry is worth a shot. I love my bottle and will keep it forever. (I'm excited to try We Believe That Death is Not the End of Man again from the same collection, because in my mind these two are sister scents, but Some Heraldry has definitely taken its leather-clad self to church and I am here for it!)
  5. starbrow

    Snake's Tongue

    This, so far, is the only oak I've been able to keep in my collection. It is like a vanillic oak cream snake oil, a little chewy and resiny from the tobacco and black amber, but otherwise no specific notes standing out. Aging has developed the Snake Oil in all these dark notes like a bourbon oak barrel brew. Delicious but hard to isolate any one note from it. The overall effect is woozy and rich, truly almost boozy. I am amazed that neither the caramelization (problematic) nor the oak (also problematic) nor oakmoss (EEK!) have slowed me down from enjoying this one. It is chocolatey without being actual chocolate. Sweet and thick but not syrupy. Dark and brooding without being heavy. Now in 2021, Snake's Tongue has gotten so much stronger than the first days of it. This and Snake's Kiss have both taught me to hold onto Snake Oil blends if they show promise but are quite weak upon arrival. This is one that people across the room comment on when I put it in. It has both powerful throw and a long wear, slowly melding down onto the skin but sticking around for hours and hours. Surprisingly unisex, this one is just sexy for anybody.
  6. starbrow

    Night Thoughts

    Blue musk is a win for me! It helps temper the florals of Night Thoughts into something wearable, even keepable for me. The first few hours of this blend has that sultry cool funk that is not indoles but is something both breezy and animalic that turns sweet florals into something really sexy, almost salty or aquatic. Once that dies down, I'm left with pure florals that are honestly kind of stinky on my skin and not in a good way. I don't like what Night Thoughts turns into, but the lead-off is really shockingly fun. The bottle survives another year, I think.
  7. This one has survived multiple purges of the chocolate BPALs, thanks to a few things. The main one is how it truly does smell like a rich mexican hot chocolate flavored coffee. Like I can barely pick out the individual bitterness of the coffee, but without it, this chocolate would have been long gone from my collection. The coffee and cinnamon add balancing notes of warmth, spice, and acidity to the sweetness of the chocolate, cacao and cream. This is thick and mellow and warming and beautifully rounded. While similar to El Dia de Los Reyes, this box o' chocolates is creamier and thicker on the spices, with the sultry heat of ceylon cinnamon more prevalent than ever, and I adore it. The bottle survives another purge to live on with my 'delicious hot beverages' collection.
  8. starbrow

    I Too Beneath Your Moon

    This was a surprise half-frottle at some point (thank you, mysterious gifter!) and each time I've worn it, I've enjoyed it. I keep smelling it blindly to see if I can tell the notes. This time, I absolutely picked up "creamy vanilla floral but not punch-of-flowers" with something vaguely fruity or rosy, then went to look at the actual notes. Vanilla cream, bam! That is very much the dominant vibe, with just a hint of the off-ness for me that cream can sometimes have, but not enough to spoil anything. Smells like the French Vanilla SN, absolutely! Now that I know the apple is in there, that is what my nose was picking up as vaguely fruity-rose. Apple lands somewhere between fruit and rose to my nose, not sure why, but it's there! The soft wisp of florals is the lavender, but I didn't recognize it as such because it is so gentle and non-herby. The white patchouli also is not sharp like it is in Dalliances by Candlelight. I wouldn't have known it was in here from a blind test. I think this would be a beautiful spring or summer apple-vanilla cream fragrance and I've worn this as such throughout the years. Very pretty!
  9. starbrow

    I Married a Vampire from Planet X

    Looking at all those notes, it's hard to predict what this one will smell like. Well, I can tell you exactly what it smells like. Mulled wine, clary sage, and something as decadent as chocolate without actually being chocolate. Like it stops just short of being a 13-type of blend with that whole wine and chocolate and herbs vibe, but where those have always been rather muddled and unsettled to me, I Married a Vampire knows what it is. Sex sex sex. This is insolently musky with Epicurean vibes, languishing on a chaise lounge somewhere with a teddy half-falling off one shoulder. It's one sexy blend, with a bit of hypnotic effect from the clary sage. All the fruits really aren't playing into anything except a mulled-spice wine effect. Like I swear there is a wine note in here, but of course there's not. I think people who tend to like those dark amber/dark musk/wine kind of blends will adore this. And if you are a clary sage fan like I am, this is a must have. Adore my bottle, probably don't need a backup but DAMN it's sexy.
  10. starbrow


    This is in the "delicious drink" territory that Shungas do so well in. Here, it's a cool, frothy beverage whipped up with rice milk, toasted almond (yes, I really do smell the toastiness of them!), and a drop of red currant, all in kind of a sweet tea type of blend. The 'red currantness' of it is apparent but not very strong to me. I usually hate almond but the creamy blossom base of this almond makes it quite livable. Altogether, it's pretty, snuggly, and, yes, delicious. When I first got it, Hojojutsu was so soft, it poofed immediately on my skin. Three years later, it's still a quiet blend but it hangs around a little longer than before. It is a great one to wear at work (or working from home) because it doesn't demand attention but you will turn your head and be quietly enchanted and also a little thirsty. I love my bottle and will be hanging on to it, no doubt! If you are a fan of this category of Shungas, I highly recommend this addition to it.
  11. starbrow

    Caressing the Wild Rabbit

    This is a beautiful sweetened white tea kind of blend, with something wonderfully fresh and floral in it. I am not a floral kind of gal. And yet I had to backup-bottle this one, and wasn't quite sure why for a long long time. Until today, actually. Yo. This smells like a REAL garden rose. Like a white-yellow rose flecked with pink. Sweet and spicy and verdant and leafy and a little woozy, the way you feel when you stick your nose in a really great rose in the garden and inhale and it's just all SO MUCH in a good way. I was amazed to realize this, because I've never felt that way about any BPAL rose. It has to be the vanilla orchid. It's a total stunner. The honey is definitely the sweet part, with kind of a whatever-the-bees-have-been-sucking-on kind of clover-honey quality. I don't smell any sandalwood, really. I *do* smell lots of crisp white tea (like Tweedledee) and plenty of authentic-rose spicy-sweetness. I am a rose-avoider, even a rose-perfume-hater. This is the one I will keep, even my backup bottle. It is so wonderful for spring!
  12. starbrow

    Aristocratic Prostitutes in Languid Repose

    An aristocratic prostitute's perfume, for sure. No baby prostitutes here (TM Janice). This one is elegant and snooty, rich with opium smoke and a creamy jasmine, grounded by the smooth woodiness of aged patchouli, refined to the core. The plum is very different than A Savage Veil's, though the two blends share black plum and aged patchouli. Three years after its release, Aristocratic Prostitutes leads with florals the whole time, just a drop of bright plum to make the jasmine extremely purply. This is neither a juicy plum nor a dark gothy plum (which is where A Savage Veil lands). I'd put it more in the realm of plum blossom thanks to the context. This is the only jasmine I've been able to keep in my collection. Don't get me wrong, it is very perfumey, and insanely strong. A drop lasts hours; I slathered my wrists and it stayed strong for 12 hours, never ever dying down. But if I'm in the mood to wear something this floral, the smokiness of the opium swirling around plum and patch are what makes the jasmine tolerable and even workable. The bottle is a keeper in 2021!
  13. starbrow

    Calligraphy Practise

    A dreamy, non-floral Shunga that is gorgeous for writing. There is something that conjures paper and pencils and stony towers for writing in, lit with beeswax candles and incense. The beeswax is silky smooth and creamy (that's probably the oudh!), but I kept smelling something both bright and soothing - duh, it's the clary sage! I *love* how strongly I can smell its presence here, twined with olibanum (frankincense) for even more dreamlike intoxication of the senses. I get almost a cedar-esque whiff of woods - perhaps violet leaf combined with the opoponax and oudh? Those notes might be playing cedar tricks on my nose. In any case, it's a bookish cedar like old chests around a writing desk in the attic. There is no poudh in sight. I would not have guessed there were any florals in here either. The beeswax and clary sage are certainly the stars, and I adore both of those notes, so it's no wonder that Calligraphy Practice is a huge winner in my book. I'm not saying this one smells like books per se, but it smells like an atmosphere made for reading or writing, and that's my jam. In spite of all the thick resiny notes, it is light and uplifting, hugging the skin but curling around you for hours. If you can get your hands on a bottle, count yourself fortunate!
  14. starbrow

    A Silhouette

    Three years later, this is one of the best bookish BPALs out there, to my nose. It reminds me of crackling stacks of dusty paper and thick black ink at an attic writing desk, a lilac sachet somewhere nearby. You could almost imagine Jo March scribbling away at her stories, author's hat perched on her head. It's an old-fashioned scent, something from another era, without being too mature or decade-specific for a modern wearer. I love wearing a few drops of it while I'm writing. The ink note is really wonderful, not pickly. The parchment is one of the best scent representations of paper I've smelled so far, and the lilac doesn't take over, ever, rather lending a softly feminine touch of sweetness without blasting florals all over the place. I'm so happy I have a bottle, and will need to wear this more as one of my favorite bookish blends!
  15. starbrow

    Cock Stamen

    Very much a floral, with lily dominating as it usually does on my skin, although I'm enjoying the creaminess of the orchid, if not the dankness of the dragon's blood. I can smell the cacao in the bottle, faint but present; however, it is nowhere to be found once applied! Amber doesn't have a shot at peeking through all these bossy florals, and surprisingly, neither does the blood orange. I get something like orange blossom, though, from the combination of the mild citrus whiffs with the humid flowers. Honey is really not an issue at all. I think I will be passing my bottle on to another home!