Saturday, October 22, 2016

Darling Clandestine Early Fall Release Haul - Dewlap Valentine, Fire Eater, Dulcinea, Hotel Clandestine Set - Review!

Like most people, I like to smell good. But smelling 'good' just isn't enough...I need to smell magical. Smell is a very important sense to me, and I love exploring new and interesting fragrances; there are some really great mainstream perfumes out there, but generally, they all tend to blur together and nothing ever really stands out to me. Which is why I prefer to purchase indie fragrances!
Out of all the indie fragrances I've tried, my favorites by far come from Darling Clandestine! There's just something about them; they're complex and interesting, and they invoke a lot of memory and emotion. Evonne, the owner/creator of Darling Clandestine (DC) is master at her craft, and she and creates some very impressive blends!

I discovered DC many moons ago from the Evolution Of A Foodie blog (which unfortunately appears to be on hiatus), and I've been amassed quite a large collection of their fragrances. One thing I love about indie brands is that they're more likely to offer smaller sizes, which makes it easier to try more scents without worrying about not being able to go through a full size; part of me feels bad that I never purchase a full size because I really want to support what DC does (I only have one, the Don Gato solid perfume), but I also want to collect as many scents as possible.
Another aspect I love about indie brands is that you really get a feel for the love and care that the creators put into their products. All DC orders ship in a manila padded mailer (unless they're super massive; I'm only assuming since I've never seen them ship in anything different), with a stamp of Devon (the shark) and Jason (the rooster) and a short blurb. I don't know how Evonne comes up with a different saying for every package, but I've never seen a duplicate. You also get candy with every order, which is always awesome; I especially love the candy this month since some of them are completely new to me! All my fragrance oils, which come in glass vials, are wrapped safely up in paper, and my products came organized in clear plastic baggies (the fragrances in one, the Hotel Clandestine set in the other). All of the products I got are still available from DC, except for the Hotel Clandestine set (you can still get the fragrance oil, just not the conditioner nor body lotion).
That seems like a good enough segue to start talking about the Hotel Clandestine set! When this set was first announced, I was actually kind of surprised; I've always associated DC fragrances with being unique and different and hotel/spa products just seem to smell so...benign to me, so I was taken aback when Evonne said that that she really liked the scent of spa/hotel products and wanted to create her own version. I shouldn't have doubted her, though, since these products smell just as interesting and amazing as all my other DC products.
When this set first released, you could purchase the Hotel Clandestine fragrance oil bitsy by itself, or you could have gotten it in a set as I did. The set was $16 for travel sizes of body lotion and hair conditioner and a bitsy vial of the oil and, while you can't purchase the set anymore, you can get a bitsy vial of the fragrance oil for $8. Evonne describes Hotel Clandestine as 'my own version of spa-fresh invigorating, with highlights of ruby red grapefruit and currant and bright garden herbs, with just enough can’t-put-my-finger on it dark nostalgia to make it DarlingClandestine.' It's so bright and clean and definitely something you'd smell in a luxury hotel or spa, but it's not artificial or soapy like some 'clean' fragrances are. There's a bit of warmth to it, too, which makes it smell very comforting.
The body lotion and hair conditioner are a bit of a departure for me; this isn't the first time DC has sold a non-fragrance product, but it's the first time I've purchased one. Evonne has clearly stated that she did not make the bases for these products (it can be very tricky to make a product stable enough to use/store in a damp environment like your shower or bathroom, so I appreciate her concern for product safety), but the fragrance blend is all hers. In the bottle, the Hotel Clandestine scent comes across a lot more green, but you do get a hint of the warmth as well. You can't judge a DC scent by how it smells in the bottle, though, so I'm curious to see how the scent develops when I use these products.
On to the bitsies! I got three this time, though there are a few more in the store now that I'm thinking about placing another order for... Two of these scents are still available for purchase, along with a bunch of other fall scents. Evonne also included a cute little sugar skull shaped earser.
I'll start with the scent you can't get anymore: Dulcinea. According to the DC Discography (a comprehensive list of nearly all DC scents), this is a discontinued, limited edition fragrance, so she must have brought it back for a very limited time. This scent is described as a 'heady cordial cherry-frosted sugar skully brew, splashed with red wine and dark chocolate and roasted coffee and leather. Its label was a tiny sticker featuring Pilar Acevedo’s artwork “Lollipop”', which explains the special label (most of my other bitsies have hand lettered labels with a little stamp of a random design). In the bottle, you get a strong whiff of coffee with a cherry undertone, but on the skin, the notes blend beautifully and it feels more well-rounded. It's sweet, but not in a sugary way; the cherry shines through but you get a base of leather and chocolate which makes it smell more adult. It kind of reminds me of a candle you'd find in a fall/holiday release from Bath and Body Works (but again, in a good way).
Next up is Dewlap Valentine! I've been waiting for this scent to come back for a long time now, (ever since I first discovered DC and read through the Discography to see what scents I'd be interested in trying) so I was super excited when it finally did! Dewlap Valentine is described as being 'created in memory of L Ghost Valentine's beloved iguana Bob, with his favorite things like strawberry and banana and fresh greens, with an undertone that's rather . . . reptilian', and who doesn't want to smell like an iguana? In the bottle you get a lot of the green notes with an undertone of...something. On the skin, you start to get more of the fruity notes, but the greens are definitely still the strongest. After a bit of a dry down, the fruits come out more, and you start to smell something earthy and metallic. When I think of how a reptile smells, I think dry, cold, and earthy, so I think the reptilian description is quite fitting. Admittedly, it's not as out there as I was hoping it would be (I was hoping for a full-on 'I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN' reptile note), but maybe that's a good thing.
Lastly, I got a bitsie vial of Fire Eater. This bitsie has the standard hand stamped and lettered label; I'm not sure what prompts Evonne to create the special labels, but I think she does it when she creates a fragrance that is particularly special to her, for various reasons. Fire Eater is described as an 'odd, hot and spicy. The kind of fragrance you might dig if you're a fan of the smell of burning leaves and gasoline puddles. Not that it smells like those things specifically, but that's the sort of sensibility Fire Eater might jive with. The very first DC scent, it’s undergone a couple of revolutions, and I’m toying with the idea of re-releasing a unique version each year.' I'm pretty excited to have an iteration of the very first DC scent and according to the Etsy listing, this version is supposed to be a blend of the original and a more 'fizzy grape' version from two years ago. In the bottle, you get a lot of grape and a lot of effervesence; it's almost like a grape version of another DC scent, Pyrotechnik. On the skin, however, the depth of this fragrance really comes out. The grape is still there, but it's tempered by heat and spice. There's something very heady and...vaporous, which is what I think Evonne was getting at with the comparison to gasoline puddles and burning leaves. This is a very unique scent, and I'm happy I was able to get such a nuanced version of it!

Overall, I am supremely happy with my DC purchases! Evonne truly is a master of scent and I highly, highly recommend checking out her Etsy shop if you're looking for a new and intriguing fragrance.

Thanks for reading! <3

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