The Art of Memory-Making with the Darling Clandestine Halloween Suite

Oversized sweaters, drapey scarves, leather jackets, pumpkin-spiced everything–these are just a few of my favourite things about Fall. When October hits, I can count on cheesy horror movies every night, spicy lattes, and going flat broke on spooky clothing, dark makeup, and limited seasonal perfumes. When I look back on Autumns past, I remember flashes of orange and red beneath my Docs, the scent of pumpkins and pie spice wafting through the sleeves of my faux jacket as I lug my portfolio out of my car. I remember thick, ambered chocolate and sticky-sweet Halloween candies drifting up as I fill pages in my sketchbook at the cafe.


But this Autumn has been different. It’s been mossy forest trails and dusky rose gardens, cold darkroom chemistry and silver emulsions. This autumn needed a new olfactory soundtrack. Enter the Darling Clandestine Halloween Four-Scent Suite. There’s a reason DarlingClandestine is one of my favourite perfumeries: nothing can be expected, except quality and creativity. Presented in dropper-topped glass bottles, they appear every bit the mad alchemical product that perfume really is. The sleek, clean lines add an elegance to them, and they have an air of quack medical serums and elixirs when displayed together with my other DarlingClandestine bottles. But rather than claiming to soothe a colicky child or cure a woman’s ills, the labels are a series of breathtaking, beautifully-composed photographs by Leif Johnson. Each image depicts an almost eerily-calm landscape inhabited by a lone figure, like a snapshot from a long-ago memory, or a glimpse into a dream where the beach is our rational mind and the water is our emotional state. From the outside, it seems these were made for a season of darkroom sorcery and adventures behind the lens.

Like any scent, though, the real magic comes out on the skin. I was immediately drawn to Squander, with its crisp apple and creamy sandalwood, the ghost of cloves and spices like trails of exotic cigarillo smoke in brisk evening air. It’s everything I ever really look for in a Fall scent, replete with memories but hungry for more. Wither, too, pulled me in at first sniff: immediately leather boots and cool mists, it springs to life as a juicy berry and foliage scent when it hits my skin. It’s blue and green, purple and black, algid and zoetic. Spurn, by contrast, is a warm, tart red, like pomegranate wine aged in sweet oak barrels. It has a distinctly dry, leafy quality underneath the initial spike of fruit that makes it a distinctly cold-weather scent, to be paired with fire-lit gatherings and brisk evening excursions. It was Falter that shocked me, totally unlike anything I would have expected from a Fall seasonal perfume. All sweet grasses and green herbs, it’s a swirling, misty haze of a scent. It’s the foggy Reservation trails I’ve followed, the small, tender greens that spring up between layers of leaves fallen years before. There’s something rich and buttery like squash or smashed white pumpkin beneath it all, giving it a hint of not-unpleasant decay–life returning to its base elements in order to feed the new generation.


When I wear a Darling Clandestine perfume, I’m not just wearing a series of notes, I’m wearing a mood. It sets the pace for the moments I will live and the memories I will create that day, it helps to set my frame of mind. Safe to say, these are not saccharine moods set by sweet, hard candies or pumpkin pie–there’s a time and a place for those things, but this Fall hasn’t seen many of them. My Fall has been rich with adventure, the intoxicating burn of creativity, and I need moods that will turn my days into works of art. There is no doubt in my mind that these perfumes will be a unique part of the memories I create this season, tinging them with a sweetness all their own.

Reviews, Vapours

Vapours: Darling Clandestine Limerence Perfume Oil, a Review


Limerence: that obsessive, all-consuming infatuation that drives us towards another human being. Some call it love, come call it a crush, but chances are good that you know the exact feeling. At this time of year especially, limerence pervades. Whether you have your Valentine’s Dream Date with your new Mr. Wonderful or will find yourself pining for a person who seems not to know you exist, you’ll probably find yourself in its throws.


…but if you feel like your romance has gone stale or you’ve simply fallen out of love with love, you’re in luck! Indie perfumer Darling Clandestine has bottled this beautiful affliction. Part of the brand’s signature Calliope Crash line, it’s everything you would expect from one of their scents: complex, rich, and layered. You simply can’t sniff this straight from the bottle–it needs time to develop on your skin, blossoming with your own heat and chemistry into its true beauty. I think it’s particularly appropriate considering its namesake. That pressing, obsessive love conjures up images of exotic bouquets in oriental vases, displayed on crisp, almost snowy lace doilies. The wanting, needing pervades your every thought like the delicate fragrance wafting off those white petals.


It makes perfect sense that at the forefront of this compulsive love story is the Casablanca lily. One of my favourite notes, this lily is an unblemished white both in the colour of its ruffled petals and its distinctive scent. It’s warm and wet, cooled by a bundle of green herbs. Sea salt and earth-derived mitti attar ground the blend, giving the whole thing an incredibly organic feeling, as if it could have grown from the earth in this exact way. This is not a delicate, airy floral but not an oppressive, heavy one either. Limerence reminds me of the scent of a greenhouse, herbaceous and slightly steamy, beginning as a strong new presence in your consciousness and fading slowly to a whisper in the back of your mind. Much like the beautiful obsession that is falling in love.

If this is the sort of love story that speaks to your soul (or if you simply love a lily perfume), Limerence might be the perfect olfactory backdrop for your infatuation. It’s available as a skin-loving oil and a long-lasting solid, as is most of Darling Clandestine‘s olfactive poetry.

Reviews, Vapours

Vapours: Lollia In Love Shea Butter Handcreme, a Review


For years, I thought the sexiest fragrances were dark, smoldering concoctions of oriental woods and resins, the kind I imagined wafting off the collar of a 1940’s Femme Fatale. While I love the idea of smelling like incense and lust, I’ve come to find that wearing such heavy, deep fragrances leave me feeling less dangerous and desirable and more nauseated and dizzy. Now, I’ve traded spices and smoke for petals and buds. These days, I’m perpetually on the hunt for the ultimate ethereal, feminine floral.


It was pure serendipity when I first discovered Lollia‘s whimsical fragrances. Their delicate packaging caught my eye instantly, but I fell head-over-heels for their names: each Lollia fragrance is named not after a person, or a dominating note, or a kitschy “hook,” but a mood. It’s not necessarily aromatherapy, but Lollia links each of their scent blends to a particular human condition, like an olfactory soundtrack to life, which I absolutely adore. No one can guarantee, of course, that spritzing on some Wish will have stars shooting across the sky and deepest desires coming true, but it certainly can’t hurt.


Lollia’s “In Love” is a little different from the rest of the line: while it is, at its heart, a lush floral, there’s a distinctly fruity quality that rises above the other notes. According to Lollia, In Love consists of “Classic petals…delicate infusions of Apple Blossom kissed sweetly by Jasmine, floating upon the breath of truest Living Rose.” The tartness of apples is the first thing that hits me upon applying. Not juicy, ripe apples, nothing to suggest the wetness of fresh fruit, but a clean tartness like green apple skin. Beneath that is the bright rose, every bit as lively and vivacious as the description suggests. It’s not the deep, musky rose used in a lot of perfumes–this rose is fresh, light, crisp. In fact, if not for the mellow sweetness of the jasmine at the base of this blend, the whole blend might be too crisp. I love jasmine and like for it to be the star of any particular fragrance, but in this scent it rightfully takes Best Supporting Role.


Whenever possible, I buy fragrances in lotion form–it’s usually more affordable and the scent lasts much longer for me when it’s absorbed by my skin. Each Lollia fragrance is available in their Shea Butter Handcreme, a formula that boasts macadamia and avocado oils as well as aloe and shea. It’s rich enough to moisturize my notoriously dry skin but absorbs quickly without leaving any greasy residue. However, it packs a fragrant punch–the scent lingers for a very long time, which I’m not particularly fond of in a hand cream. I tend to use this on my arms and décolletage, where I’d traditionally wear a perfume.

If you’re looking for a delicate floral with slightly fruity leanings, I would suggest looking into In Love. It’s every bit as classically romantic as the name would suggest–maybe a dab this Valentine’s Day is just what it takes to send you into the sweet, swirling mists of falling In Love.