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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/18/2005 Archived Entry: "Perfume review: Selected Wonderland Scents"

Wonderland Scents
By Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

A perfume review by Kathryn Ramage (with some assistance from Kay Ramage)

According to their Web site, the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab specializes "in formulating intriguing, compelling body and household blends with a dark, romantic Gothic tone." Their featured products "run the aesthetic gamut of magickal [sic], pagan and mythological blends, Renaissance, Medieval and Victorian formulas, and horror/Gothic-themed scents."

Among the esoteric potions produced by these modern-day alchemists are perfumes inspired by literary allusions. Browsing through the Web site's pages, which are decorated by grisly medieval woodcuts and Aubrey Beardsley illustrations, one can find perfumes with names like "Grand Guignol" and "Penny Dreadful," the recent line of Lovecraftian "Springtime in Arkham" scents (I was extremely amused and very much tempted by the Gibbering Madness gift pack), and the Alice in Wonderland-themed set titled "Mad Tea Party" that I chose to sample for this review.

Since my mother was visiting when the "Mad Tea Party" perfume samples arrived, she had to give them a try, and occasionally offer an opinion; I've included her comments with my own. The descriptions of the perfumes quoted below are taken from the Black Phoenix Web site at

Alice. This is a pleasant, girlishly delicate scent of "milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot" that seems appropriately named. Mom and I agreed that my young nieces, who range in age from 5 to 10, would probably like it and, of the sample set, it's one of my favorites. I've worn it on several occasions since its arrival, particularly with pink.

The Caterpillar. "Heavy incense notes waft lazily through a mix of carnation, jasmine, bergamot, and neroli over a lush bed of dark mosses, iris blossom, deep patchouli and indolent vetiver." Heavy, indeed! This scent was a bit too pungently powerful for my tastes; I think it's the patchouli that overwhelms.

The Dormouse. This perfume is composed of "four teas brushed with light herbs and a breath of peony." I'm not certain what teas and herbs are involved in its making, but I found the scent of this to be oddly reminiscent of dish-washing soap.

Mad Hatter. This is a "gentlemen's lavender-citron cologne unhinged by the feral pungence of black musk and a paroxysm of pennyroyal." Gentlemanly, yes, but I like it too. I've gotten comments on it the couple of times I've worn it but no one, not even Mom, thought it was too butch for a woman to use in small doses.

The Queen of Hearts. This is a sweet and old-fashioned, ladylike perfume, made of "Lily of the Valley, Calla Lily, [and] stephanotis" with "a drop of cherry." It's very nice if you like lilies. Mom, however, thought it was "too sweet."

The Unicorn is made of "linden blossoms, white flowers, and a touch of sweet herbs." It's another favorite of mine -- strong, but sweet, warm, and comfortingly familiar with a sort of minty tang to it. ("Like toothpaste," said Mom; I suspect she didn't like it as much as I did.)

White Rabbit. This perfume of "black tea and milk with white pepper, ginger, honey and vanilla, spilled over the crisp scent of clean linen" has a scent similar to "Alice," if a bit stronger and more complex. Mom didn't like it as much as "Alice," but she doesn't share my fondness for the scent of vanilla.

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