Vapours

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.

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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.

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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.

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Reviews, Vapours

Vapours: Darling Clandestine Limerence Perfume Oil, a Review

wingsvapours

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.

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…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.

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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.

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Impressions

Dewlap Valentine: a Reptilian Love Story

I was raised by animals. Don’t get me wrong, I had great parents, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by animals of all kinds: cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, hamsters, frogs, turtles… My family and I have worked in rescue for years and opened our hearts and home to countless animal companions, some of whom have left for forever homes and some of whom have made their forever homes within our walls. I’ve learned something from each of them and loved every one.

Bob hugs in the hospital

Bob hugs in the hospital

Bob came to me as a baby barely longer than my little finger. His eyes were eager, his feet quick, and his scales impossibly green. He had a calcium deficiency that required a sweet-smelling syrup spoon-fed to him with each leafy meal for the first two years of his life and left him a little more sluggish than most iguanas his age, but it gave us even more quality time together. As he grew, he would sit on my shoulder while I watched television or surfed the internet; we sat together on the back porch in the hot summers; he even maintained a live journal in his younger days–many of the entries read “alkjdskllllllllllllll,” but he still acquired more friends than he had long, spindly toes.

Bob loves dinner

Bob with a favourite meal

We knew each other well: Bob knew when I got home from school or work, crawling off his Throne of Rocks to wait by the food bowl while I chopped up leafy greens–collard, mustard, dandelions–along with a finely-chopped strawberry or melon, all sprinkled with vitamin and mineral powders. His golden eyes would go wide, ringed pupils dilating as he stared down the bowl before his sticky pink tongue would dart out to taste the day’s offering. His preferences were red and yellow foods: berries, yams, squash, but above all bananas. Simply seeing a banana on the counter beyond his enclosure could send him into a fit, shaking his head, paddling at the tank, trying to lunge open-mouthed on it despite the glass between them. Yellow shopping bags, purses, flowers, and knick-knacks had the same effect.

Bob's insides and a bladder stone

Bob’s x-ray and removed bladder stone

It was the day before Easter when I noticed something was wrong. He was drinking excessively, moving as little as possible, drooling. My family vet had never seen anything like the x-ray image we took and we were referred to an emergency specialist who instantly identified it as the largest bladder stone he had ever seen. He went into surgery the next morning and had the stone successfully removed. A few weeks later, however, he suffered some complications of his condition and passed away at the emergency vet. I was fortunate enough to visit with him the night before he passed away, and I know he received nothing but love and care from the wonderful staff. I was heartbroken. He had fought so hard and come so far and even the doctor had expected him to fully recover. At that time, I was working towards my state board exams and graduation and I felt as if Bob had set the ultimate example for me: he just kept going.

Bob makes a swan friend

Bob makes a swan friend in the hospital

I wanted to hang on Bob and his determined survival instinct desperately. While he will forever live on in my heart, I needed a physical memento. Enter Darling Clandestine. Owner Evonne knows what it means to love a lizard or two, and she worked tirelessly with me to create a blend I know Bob would have loved, appropriately named Dewlap Valentine. In its glimmering green bottle, it smells like ripe, fresh strawberries and yellow banana tossed with dark leafy greens. It’s bright, it’s fresh, it’s delicious. But applied to the skin, Dewlap Valentine comes to life. The greens grow darker, the fruit goes riper, and something beautifully animal comes through. It becomes musky, salty, organic-smelling, like bright green noses and spiny toes and stripy bellies, all smeared with fresh fruits and leaves. It is one of the most complex scents I’ve ever smelled.

Dewlap Valentine by Darling Clandestine

photo from Darling Clandestine

They say scent is one of the most powerful triggers of memory, and Dewlap Valentine is all of Bob’s scent-memories bottled. I know he would be proud to have inspired this scent–he’s even smiling on the bottle. I can’t thank Evonne enough for creating this wonderful scent and making it available to her customers. It touches my heart to think that people might wear this perfume and look at the little green bottle bearing Bob’s grin and smile themselves, imagining all the love and warmth that this cold-blooded companion contributed during his lifetime. I know I do every time I put it on.

 

(originally published on Bella Cantarella)

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