Sunday, 6 July 2014

Darling Clandestine Strange and Skin Scents

This is the third and final part of my Darling Clandestine scent review series - just in time for the shop re-opening on the 8th!

All photos in this post (except the shark sketch) were taken by my extraordinarily talented friend and photographer Olivier, who as well as being a truly inspired artist, is easily the most exciting man to party with. Here's his official facebook page if you want to get lost in thousands of beautiful photos.



Neither Here nor There:


Supernova Sway
Black metallic, musk, mint and floral
Opens sharp with a whisper of fresh mint (but not that generic fake mint in toothpaste and gum) amongst a thousand other scents, then morphs to something imperceptibly sweet and finally a base of something beautifully dark pulls through. This is probably the most difficult scent to understand let alone describe as every sniff yields something different - it's like staring into an abyss of shadows; every new glance bring different shapes so that you're never sure whether or not you're imagining them. This is a scent to ponder the vastness of the universe to - and a glowing example of Evonne's genius. 


Obviously pondering the vastness of the universe


Aragon
Lavender, sea salt, wine, leather, caramel and chocolate
Another weird one - opens with bitter dark chocolate, leather and something I now call 'Darling Clandestine's "skin" scent.' The lavender is fighting for scent priority with the muskiness and only slightly loosing, but after a few seconds everything mellows out to a smooth dark-chocolate-lavender-leather-ness, it's what a biker's jacket would smell like after he'd visited his mother's for the weekend. I really can't make up my mind if I like this scent or even whether it leans more masculine or feminine, which is strange because unlike most of Darling Clandestine's scents I can pick out quite a few distinct scent notes. If I had to choose I'd say it's a cologne from a woman's point of view.


Secretly a mummy's boy


Circassian

Coffee, chocolate, resins and floral
Bitter, burnt and salty - Circassian is wholly unappealing to me, though I can see fans of bitterly black coffee, burnt steaks and chocolate so dark it is literally black would find something sexy in this pungent mix.


Pungent


Falchion
Sex, chocolate and cinnamon
Although I seem to have lost my sample of Falchion before I was able to sit down and write this review I remember thinking it was Circassian's sweetened, softened sister - although the heavy dark chocolate scent remained it had lost all the bitterness I dislike so much in Circassian. But don't take my word for it, I haven't smelt it in over a week.


I like this photo so we'll just assume it represents Falchion


Love & Sharks
Salty shark skin, pepper, cherries, apricots and clove
Gagging sweetness underlaid with that strange and "skin" scent again, after a few minutes the sickliness fades and you're left with weird, burnt, bitter, salty skin with a touch of artificial fruit. This is similar to Dewlap Valentine in the cloying sweetness mixed with something akin to decay, and I really, really hate it.

My Great White Shark sketch (I LOVE SHARKS)



Skinscence:


Inked
Skin, salt, leather and wine
Inked is the very definition of Darling Clandestine's "skin" scent - that deep, sweet and salty base note that is so evident in Love & Sharks, but with none of the artificial fruity sweetness. It's such a unique scent it defies my attempts to define it, but is a common element in Evonne's darker creations. Intriguing, original and with absolutely nothing 'perfumey' about it - although this wouldn't smell out of place on a woman to me this is scent smells so distinctly masculine, and is honestly most reminiscent of hot sex.


Stop thinking dirty thoughts


Rivet
Leather, beeswax and flowers
Opening with an not altogether appealing chemical sharpness it quickly fades to a strange and sharply musky sweetness. This is what a rock band after a drug fueled bender would smell like - strange but with an oddly sexy edge.


I'm questioning how I got here but... I'm OK with it


Fisticuffs
Honeyed wine, green, earth and concrete
Opening with a sharp greenness so fleeting you're left wondering if you imagined it, Fisticuffs settles comfortably in with a drink to watch that sports game and occasionally check on the barbecue. Fisticuffs smells exactly like a man-picnic, with the clash of grass, booze, earth and sweat.


My ideal man picnic


Aequitas

Smoke, blood, whiskey, leather, steel and gunpowder
Aequitas has a poisonous element, like that perfectly blended, deceptively strong cocktail the bartender promises will solve all your problems - at least for tonight. Ever so lightly green and whispering sweetness it is dangerous, intoxicating, a thousand temptations cloaked in virtues.

After reading and adding Evonne's scent notes I'm honestly surprised by how 'off' I was/am in Aequitas - and even after a second round of sniffing I stand by my above impression, strange as it is.


The ambiguous angel corrupting my shoulder


Pestanas
Cotton, tobacco leaf, rose, marigold, leather, machine oil, amber, lilac, pepper, copal, chocolate, wine and pimento
Pestanas smells like a mechanic - the metallic ring of engine oil roughly smeared on worn jeans and softened by the warmth of skin, sweat, sweet breath and a hint of dark chocolate; this scent defines fission. This is the most authentically masculine scent I've ever come across: it's intense, rugged and so deeply sexy. It's what that bad-boy no one approves of smells like - but oh the chemistry...

It's worth noting that although this fits my personal definition of warm masculine skin it has almost nothing in common with Darling Clandestine's traditional "skin"scent like in Inked and Love & Sharks.


Never having owned a car this is what I believe all mechanics look like



If the floral and sweet scents from my last post generally leaned more feminine these perfume tend to be more masculine, especially the heavier skin-like scents. Supernova Sway and Aequitas are my favourites as the other scents are just too heavy to personally wear, but Pistolas and Inked would be my favourite scents on a man.

As always, love,

Saskia X


Remember you can always email me at PrettyTrivialities@gmail.com and find my Instagram under @aiksasarual





Saturday, 28 June 2014

Darling Clandestine Floral and Sweet Perfume reviews

Darling Clandestine's floral and sweet scents are as original and unexpected as the rest of their line (except perhaps Tilt-A-Whirl), so if you prefer smelling typically feminine these scents will add more intriguing note than your standard perfume.



Floral:

Pistolas
Gardenia, lavender, city sidewalks, tobacco leaf
Gardenia, not a sterile, sweet petals-only white floral, but the whole living plant. The etherial fragrance of the flower against the backdrop of leaves and life. Beautifully feminine, innocent but not naive, a fragrance for a unicorn or fairy.


Sadly my local florists didn't have any gardenias in stock so...
Source: northernstarkidd on Photobucket


Bete Noire
Peppers, florals
This is what I'd call a dark floral - definitely feminine but in an adult and mysterious way. It's inspired; the essence a James Bond villainess would leave clinging to the pillowcase. 


Black and white iPhone photo from the florist's - so artsy


Blue Valentine
Hyacinth, violet, poppy, fig, whiskey, bitters, musk and mint
Blue Valentine is another scent I just can't place - it's halfway between a floral and something savoury, it's dark, slightly moody but with a crisp clean edge, tangy and maybe ever so faintly minty? This scent is one that's really grown on me as although it's pretty sweet it's very interesting, to be honest it's probably the blue note that I'm loving. 


Friday Night on Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Mad As Birds
Pear, mint, amber and marigolds
Opens the tiniest bit tart/green and blue but quickly dissipates to a soft clean sweetness like honeyed florals, I love this scent which holds solid for about 15 minutes - the lightness keeps the sweetness from being sickly or the florals overwhelming; this is a very girly yet adult scent. Especially straight from the bottle every whiff of this scent brings out different yet harmonious notes, however the glorious juxtaposition of a multitude of light and sweet scents is lost after the 15 minute mark and all I'm left with a a flat vanilla-like bland sweetness. If only the the 'original' scent stuck around on my skin this would be the first and only sweet floral perfume I've ever loved.

I wanted a bright picture of a gorgeous summer picnic for this scent, but it's equally appropriate to wear for girly cocktails on a roof terrace. Which, when you think about it is like the adult version of an afternoon picnic...


Tapadero
Sage, roses, smoke, leather
I wasn't sure where to categorise this scent - it's sexiest thing I've ever smelt, feminine yet strong. It's warm, sharp, deep, fresh, clean and comforting - it's everything, utterly unique and devastatingly beautiful. Hardly a floral but since Evonne rarely lists floral notes in her scents this seemed the most appropriate place for it.


 I wish I knew what type of flower this is: I probably should've asked





Sweet:


Pyrotechnik
Spiced cantaloupe, bold black sky, sweet woods, earth
Opens initially with cantaloupe - so distinct huge orange melon slices were dancing before my eyes. However a myriad of spices break though within seconds giving the candy sweetness depth and distinction. It appears to be a contradiction: the almost sickly sweetness with the smoke and the spices. However it really works, and almost feels like an instant classic pairing - like oranges and cloves or lemon and honey. Against all odds I actually really like this perfume, despite the fact I don't particularly want to - it smells too delicious for my taste.


Source: legendproduce.com/fruit/cantaloupe/


Tilt-A-Whirl
Citrus, passionfruit, sage
Opens sweet but tart, fading after a few seconds to tart but sweet and finally settling to equal amounts of sweet and tart. Really, that's all this fragrance is - it has a distinct candy-and-candle thing going on, and is probably DC's least interesting and complex fragrance. This is definitely a little girl scent - sickly sweet with a bit of sass. It's really just nice - nothing more and nothing less.


I had a pretty adorable duckling phase with shark teeth


Dewlap Valentine
Strawberry, banana, greens, reptile
After the initial gagging sweetness of artificial fruit it fades to an almost tolerable sweetness, overpowering something earthy, damp and ever so slightly green.  It's sickly sweet, cloying, and heavy with an air of decomposition. Although this is hands down my least favourite DC scent to date, I have to admire the fact that Evonne really has captured a little fruit and veg loving reptile's terrarium odour.


Source: flickr.com/photos/62438660@N03/5911538750/


Hellbender
Ginger, amber, vanilla
Initially Hellbender is all gorgeous warm ginger (not the nose-burning tingly kind) with beautiful deep sweetness conjuring a warm kitchen and baked goods. However the sweetness overpowers the ginger a few seconds out of the bottle and settles to a rather boring sweet scent. It's a lovely scent, but sadly not particularly exciting or interesting, and the final dry down smells almost identical to Mad As Birds' and Carny Wedding's without the smoke.


Source: hidethecheese.com/hide_the_cheese/2009/05/candied-ginger-scones.html


Carny Wedding
Butter, sugar, wood, smoke
What makes Carny Wedding interesting is the fact the creamy sweetness and the potent smoke intermingle with every sniff - it's not just sweet smoke or smokey sweetness, the two scent elements dance over and around each other with every inhalation like two separate scents carried on the same wind. However after a few seconds the opposing forces settle into something intriguing, unique, reminiscent perhaps of a 1930s circus, the air heavy with the push and pull of life. A strange scent, and not altogether appealing to me.


A fantastic book and entertaining movie
Source: latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2010/12/preview-review-water-for-elephants-pattinson-witherspoon-trailer.html



These scents were particularly interesting to review as I don't have a particularly sweet tooth nor like gourmand perfumes, and find most generic and commercial floral scents distinctly boring  - thus it was more of a challenge. However I love all of Darling Clandestine's florals as they are infinitely more original and alive than the usual flat floral, and Tapadero is one of my all time favourite scents. Of the sweet scents Pyrotechnik is definitely my favourite, and Hellbender would be vying for that place if only the warm ginger scent lasted longer than a few minutes out of the bottle. I'm not sure if it's my skin chemistry that transforms a lot of Evonne's carefully blended intoxicating sweet scents to something akin to a flat vanilla after 15 minutes, but it definitely prevents me really falling in love with Mad As Birds.


Love,


Saskia X


Friday, 27 June 2014

Darling Clandestine Green and Blue Scent Reviews

Pacific Crest/John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park, California


Patrick Suskind's novel 'Perfume' is one of my all time favourite books, however when reading it I can't help but lament the fact that I will never smell perfumes as complex and alive as the protagonist created, until now. Since my last post I've fallen head over heels in love with Darling Clandestine - trying to decipher their enigmatic scents is so entertaining and satisfying as, unlike other perfumes, it's incredibly difficult to pick out individual notes or even general ingredients. Moreover scent notes cannot even begin to describe DC's perfumes, and frequently do them a huge injustice as they're often irrelevant to the unique harmony they create - it's like trying to describe a work of art purely by the Pantone numbers used to paint it.

Instead of photographing almost identical looking samples and bitsy vials for each review, and to add a personal touch, I've tried to find photos I've taken that express the essence of each scent - I hope it's helpful or at least entertaining!

And finally, as always, I sniff and write my reviews before I look up the perfume descriptions and scent notes so they don't influence me too much, although of course I do remember vaguely what each should smell like from when I bought them. So without further adieu, here is Part 1 of my mega scent review series:



Green:

Gram Negative
Orchid, soil, moss, lichens, tea
This scent smells exactly like a greenhouse: musty earth, fresh soil and damp greenery. As a scent I love it, but as a perfume it's pretty weird so I mostly just sniff the jar and smile.

This gorgeous snake's colouring perfectly fits the mood of the perfume, just imagine he's basking on damp earth.
Anyway, terrariums are sort of like greenhouses right?


Maudlin & Bedlam
Honey, herbals, wood, green leaves
Gram Negative's fresher sister - the greenery is brighter, lighter with an edge that isn't sweet like florals but... alive maybe. There's definitely fresh soil but without the mustiness that indicates damp and warmth. If Gram Negative is the ground in autumn/winter Maudlin & Bedlam is the same ground filled with news plants in spring.

A swamp just outside New Orleans, Louisiana


Limerence
Lilies, succulents, herbs, mitti attar
The "floral for those who don't like florals" - this was the scent I've been most eager to try as I both love and hate florals. It smells like a florist's when you first step in - green, alive, and bright with the sharpness of freshly cut stems without the sweetness of flowers: a pervading sense of bright, clean, green, light, fresh.

Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada, California, about half way through the John Muir Trail


Serpentina
Green tea, opium
Sepentina is a darker, warm green - it doesn't smell like living plants and is a much more comforting scent. It has an incense like backdrop which adds both warmth and depth but smells nothing like actual incense or smoke, this is what Mother Nature would smell like.

Aerial shot of the Okavango Delta, Botswana, from a light aircraft


La La La All Right
Breeze, fields, river and road
Intense fresh cut greenery - the smell of fort building amongst the bushes of your garden during the summers of childhood. Initially very sharp like a shot of wheatgrass but mellows to something warmer before settling to a softly sharp green, warm air and sun baked... something. Evonne is a genius - it's a sumer road-trip in a convertible driving on sunbaked tarmac surrounded by fields and blue skies!


Yosemite National Park, California



Green-ish:


Cloudswing
Lemongrass, vanilla, wood, marigolds
Lemongrass is one of the most distinctive scents for me having practically bathed in it as a mosquito repellant, Cloudswing however adds a whole new dimension (lemongrass is aptly named - it's citrus-y sharp and green) bringing a golden warmth and depth with what feels like the muted fire of ginger and hay. Imagine you're in a barn warm in your sleeping bag and covered in bugspray - essentailly, Cloudswing = summer camp.


Everyone loves summer camp! Blue Ridge Mountains North Carolina


Step Right Up
Blue-green, spicy, oceanic
The sharp freshness of greens mixed with the moodiness of blues give you a living but not earthy outdoors scent. I can't smell any pine in here but it has the same feeling as pines - green, but cold and sharp too. To me this is a mountain lake surrounded by trees. Cold air and chopping wood in the winter, very sexy.


Kings Canyon National Park, California



Blue:

Monstre Delicat
Fig, rain, spiced wood, storms
I had no idea a scent could be moody until I smelt this perfume - at first it's aloof and cold, but with a strange underlying comfort that is not warm or sweet but... solid. Almost like despite its indifference to you this scent will always be there for you. Really though this scent is beautiful - it's a rainy day in a bottle, at first cold rain on the window leads to melancholy, but opens up to the possibility of a day spent with an old book and a blanket.

Denali State Park, Alaska


Mishigami
Lakes, sand
Watery, without a shadow of a doubt. For the first second it smells almost green but that disappears almost instantly giving way to the melancholy of Monstre Delicat, but without the solid base. This perfume is in every sense of the word all liquid. Every sniff brings to mind something to do with water - the air before a rain, a breeze across a lake, damp skin on the dock, rain on the road, rain on the grass, rain in your hair. I honestly have no idea how a scent can be 'watery' but this one is - not 'watered down' or damp or moist, but huge and wet and deep. (I'm not sure how to edit that sentence to make it less... anyway). This is one of DC's lightest and subtlest perfumes, I can't sense anything solid to it like earth, leather, smoke or skin, but it's deep. It's a deep lake of blue.

Chobe River, Botswana


Vortex
Cold, blue, white
Mountain air - empty mountain air - when you've climbed so high every breath is deep due to its thinness. It's snow, it's cold, it's the biting wind. Brutally beautiful. Cold, clean, expansive. White but not sterile, with the clear blue sky beating down on you. I honestly have no idea how Evonnne creates scents like these - I can't pick out a single note of anything, but can understand exactly what the scent is trying to convey. If Mishigami is the blue of water, this is the blue of the air.

Goat Rocks Mountains, Washington



Overall, I adore every single one of these perfumes which is 
completely unsurprising as I love anything and everything outdoorsy, my favourites for myself to wear are Limerence and Serpentina, but I also particularly love the scents of Step Right Up, Monstre Delicat, Mishigami and Vortex. Moreover all of these scents are unisex as they contain no stereotypical gendered notes (like florals or 'Old Spice'-ness) and personally I'd be incredibly impressed to catch a whiff of a man smelling like mountain air instead of A&F's Fierce, unfortunately most of the time I'm in mountain air with men none of us have showered in at least a week...


On that delicious note, love,


Saskia X

Monday, 2 June 2014

Darling Clandestine Perfume Overview and Review

Scent is probably the most underrated sense and is almost always an afterthought, from everyday toiletries to the quintessential Christmas gift of perfume - chosen by the bottle's aesthetics, the brand, and what the sales assistant was pushing that day.

Having both an overactive sense of smell and a distaste for most things generic has left me with a great disinterest in commercial perfumes - who wants to smell like millions of other people when scent is so intimate? Moreover commercial perfume inevitably follows the same recipe: something floral, something sweet, and maybe - if they're really pushing the boundary - something woody or a musk. Commercial perfume is also stupidly expensive, especially considering most are 'eau de toilet's and thus only contain around 10% fragrance: 90% of what you're paying is alcohol, the bottle and the brand. 

The Limbic System
Source: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/limbicsystem.html

I could wax poetic about the importance of scent on the subconscious mind as it can induce powerful memories and emotions due to the olfactory bulb being part of the brain's limbic system ('emotional brain') along with the amygdala ('lizard brain') and the hippocampus ('memory brain'). Essentially smells can make you remember, feel and react to things without knowing why, or even being conscious of doing so - scent is literally subconscious mind control.

What I'm trying to say is for something so important scent is disproportionately overlooked, and that is why I've fallen in love with indie perfume: amongst the typical florals you can also decide you want to smell like a damp forest floor, a cold rainy day or the metallic ring of ozone. You know what my favourite smells are? Fresh cut grass, mountain air, clean laundry and that warm masculine smell that indicates safety and love. Aside from a 'fresh linen' scented candle, a few laundry detergents and a handful of men's deodorants I've yet to find any commercial scent that smells remotely like any of these things, let alone coming close to actually activating my limbic system and making me happy rather than just "oh, that smells nice."

Source: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/darlingclandestine

Although I've only just begun to venture into indie perfumes Darling Clandestine have become a firm favourite - they produce not only unusual scents but scents that are so complex, multifaceted, layered and deep that they're more akin to bottled memories and emotions than perfumes. These perfumes not only activate my limbic system as well as my amygdala and hippocampus - they're the emotional, lizard and memory brain whisperers - most of them also smell so damn good and are all insanely unique. Evonne, the sole owner and creator of Darling Clandestine, even states that some of her perfumes are "downright odd, unsettling, like the stories behind them" - I love this mentality as there is such a narrow range of appropriate or 'good' scents to use in perfumes, and I admire her pushing the boundary of what is acceptable and normal.

As with most indie perfumeries Evonne offers her scents in oil form - a little goes a long way and the scent on your skin will last longer, as well as making the perfume infinitely more portable, which also keeps shipping cost down. Moreover DC's fragrance oils are suspended in sweet almond oil and jojoba oil (amongst others) which are some of the nicest and my favourite skincare oils, as well as being much more expensive than coconut oil which some other brands use.

Scale representation of a bitsy, a solid and a sample vial on my huge hands and scrawny wrists

Unfortunately - unlike other indie perfumeries - you can only purchase three sample vials per order, this can initially be somewhat off putting as it requires a either making multiple small orders or investing heavily. However as each sample vial is less than half the price of other brands, coupled with Darling Clandestine also offering 'bitsy' 4ml/1 dram sized perfumes (which are almost the same size as other brand's full sized 5ml perfumes and are less than a third of their price) alongside her full sized 8-15ml bottles (which again are 50-200% larger than other brand's for the same price or less) means that Darling Clandestine's perfumes are actually much more cost effective. You can also buy solid perfumes from Darling Clandestine which I adore - they're more portable and, due to their beeswax content, tend to last even longer on the skin than oils.

Just two more caveats before I commence actually reviewing the perfumes: figuring out what each perfume is supposed to smell like and differentiating between them on Darling Clandestine's Etsy shop is both frustrating and confusing - I'd recommend using the 'Dicography' on their facebook page for an overview of scents and their seasons (when you can roughly expect them to be sold). Moreover Evonne tends not to list, or at least focus on, specific scent notes, and chooses instead to write wordy prose about what the perfume is inspired by or should evoke. I like this in theory as it shows her priority is to conjure memories and emotions, but in execution it's extremely confusing when shopping, so I created a spreadsheet that simply lists the name and main scent notes of each perfume alongside its season, as well as if I have or want the perfume and how I feel about it - but you can ignore that or copy&pasta everything to a clean document to personalise it for yourself.


Tapadero

Love the lid's artwork - notice how full the jar is


Tapederos are a hooded stirrups for riding - obviously a nod to the leather notes in this perfume.

Main notes: sage, roses, smoke and leather.

This was my first ever DC fragrance and is one of my favourite perfumes of all time - a friend sent me a vial of this in a random grab bag of perfume samples when I expressed an interest in getting into indie perfumes. When I first smelt it I was instantly transported back to a rural Buddhist temple in Chang Mai, Thailand when I was about 5 years old - it smells old, slightly musty like damp wood, with an incense like warmth of something living and perfumed. Of course reading back on the notes the mustiness is leather, the incense is smoke and the 'living' ruralness is the sage and the perfumed air is roses. There's depth, warmth and a slight sweetness, overall it's not a soft or subtle scent but in its boldness there is warmth and comfort. I could bathe in this scent and love applying it after a shower so it's the last thing I smell as I fall asleep.


Serpentina

Love the naked lady - though out of all my solids this was noticeably much less filled

Serpentina is part of the latin name for the plant Indian Snakeroot, and is obviously evokative of serpent, or snake.

Main notes: green tea and opium.

Another all time favourite! Serpentina is clean, green, fresh and cool, like laundry blowing in the wind on a spring morning. I'd like to think I've tasted my fair share of green tea, and have smelt opium resin on the antiques my father likes to collect, but I honestly am not recognising either of those scents in Serpentina. I wish I could naturally smell like Serpentina all day everyday - if I had three wishes one of them would be that my sweat smelt like Serpentina, it's the perfect scent - subtle yet distinct, an extension of clean skin and fresh air without ever smelling perfumed or cloying.


Pistolas

Unfortunately I only bought a sample of this, but isn't that cinema ticket label adorable?

Pistola is spanish for pistol, or gun. Pistolas was inspired by Evonne's grandmother who when young lived in Mexico City and whose hip bones were prominent like "pistolas".

Main notes: Gardenia, lavender, city sidewalks and tobacco leaf

Pistolas is a surprising favourite of mine (ok, you caught me, I'm only reviewing my favourites here) as it seems to be a typical floral, but it's the stunningly accurate gardenia that has stolen my heart. Gardenias grew outside my bedroom in Thailand where I spent a significant portion of my childhood and adolescence, their scent is green and light and fresh as well as being floral - hence why they are one of my favourite flowers. However I've never found a gardenia scent that smelt even remotely like the living plant - all were too sweet, too floral, too flat. Perhaps it's the tobacco leaf that adds depth, or the sidewalk that acts as a backdrop - my theory is I smelt the gardenias as a whole plant - the damp earth, the sun baked concrete and the green leaves - rather than the flower detached from its element, and that's what Darling Clandestine has captured: a living floral rather than the clinically sweet and boring scent of purely petals. I honestly can't smell any lavender but perhaps it ties everything together or amps up the gardenia - either way this scent is perfect. This is a scent I'd wear on a summer day with a sun dress and flip flops, and if I ever have a daughter this will be what her bedroom would smell like.


Source: http://www.kurtshafferphotographs.com/images/Gardenia-Perfecta.jpg

Those are the three Darling Clandestine scents I am utterly in love with, however there are more that I just love, a few that I like a lot, and many that I like but simply can't make my mind up about - interesting, not what you'd expect from a perfume - so exactly what I love about Darling Clandestine! I hope to get around to reviewing all my DC stash at some point, even including the three perfumes that I have a visceral reaction against!

Darling Clandestine also has the most amazing customer service - I must've changed my order and added to it about half a dozen times, including changing my address which meant I was massively undercharged for shipping (even when I offered to send her the difference Evonne refused) and she also including a bunch of extra samples!


Source: https://www.facebook.com/DarlingClandestine/photos/a.683208261698064.1073741827.115114501840779/756054037746819/?type=1&relevant_count=1

And finally, a completely trivial reason why Darling Clandestine has stolen my heart: Evonne loves sharks as much as I do!

Love,

Saskia X

PS "Come closer, I smell amazing" - Darling Clandestine

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Fyrinnae company overview

Before I start reviewing my sizeable stash of Fyrinnae products I feel compelled to write a company overview - or rather a disclaimer - first.

Fyrinnae are owned by and/or employ a number of staff who are highly unprofessional, juvenile or downright rude and extremely unpleasant depending on your perspective.

The pros of Fyrinnae will be discussed in my reviews - namely their products are awesome. The cons however are more complicated as Fyrinnae have never done anything outright immoral or illegal, so I wont actively recommend against purchasing from them, but felt it was important to inform you of their many issues so you can decide for yourself if they are a company you want to support.

Fyrinnae has four main issues which I will outline below:

Screen shot taken from their website: fyrinnae.com


 No interaction or information given to customers

At first I really respected the fact that Fyrinnae didn't try to drum up business, exposure and customers by sending out their products to v/bloggers (cough Sigma cough) or have a fan page of any sort - their seemingly reclusive nature and shun for limelight was something I originally admired as it lead me to believe they are confident enough in their product to not need to advertise it.

However as their website has a number of issues including extremely frequent and random 'closings' (they shut down the entire website with no warning, explanation or re-opening time given multiple times within a 24 hour period), automatic cart-emptying when the site is up (the cart with randomly dump all your products out so you can't purchase anything) or products removed without notice (often the entire eyeshadow section will just disappear). It's a mad scramble to get your order picked, decided and paid for before Fyrinnae decides to lock you out - on top of the fact their website is crappy (see point 4).

The message I'm currently being greeted with on their closed website

All of these issues are obviously confusing if you're not used to Fyrinnae's shenanigans and extremely annoying even if you are. This probably leads to a lot of emails questioning "why isn't the website working" and/or complaints and this is how Fyrinnae responds:


Highly unprofessional and passive aggressive tweets

Here're screencaps of a Fyrinnae's employee Teir starting rumours about the company on his personal twitter (which is publicly affiliated with Fyrinnae) - he then promptly deleted them.


Twitter screencap - Mushi seems pretty cool

Here're sceencaps of Fyrinnae calling their customers "rude and demanding" as well as having an "entitled attitude". While I don't doubt anyone working in customer service does have to deal with rude, demanding and entitled customers bitching about them on the official company twitter is beyond unprofessional. It also appears that perhaps two different Fyrinnae employees are posting to the twitter at the same time - a unnamed person and Marco/M who appears to be justifying the mystery poster's rants - again, this is incredibly juvenile and utterly idiotic.


Another Twitter screencap


Another major issue with this series of tweets is that Fyrinnae is accusing customers of prioritising makeup over (their) health. This is completely unjustified as, while I don't doubt Fyrinnae do receive complaints about their website's extremely frequent and random closings, they do not give any warning, explanation or re-opening information. Indie companies go on hiatus frequently due to illness, being overloaded with orders, needing to re-stock items or other significant issues. All of these posts linked - including Fyrinnae's - have been made in the last six months to give you some context and highlight that Fyrinnae's behaviour is not normal, nor in my opinion acceptable.


Poor, inconsistent customer service

I have placed three orders with Fyrinnae over the past year. Each one has had varying degrees of customer service issues. Remember below are my own personal experiences - these may hold less weight than the above points and tweets, and you can of course skip these anecdotes.

1) During my first order with them I asked if I could order more than their 20 eyeshadow mini max as they do not offer samples and I wanted to justify spending ~$9 on international postage - they said no. While this was somewhat annoying it didn't phase me, except for the paradoxical fact that they didn't seem to want my money. Odd behaviour for a store right? But I placed my first order anyway and was very happy with it.

2a) I emailed them asking what information their customs declaration forms contain (as England charges you £9 if you don't declare the package properly) - I had to send three separate emails over the course of 10 days before I got a response. They gave me approximately half of the information I'd requested and when I replied asking another question the email was ignored - it's been four months so it's safe to say I've given up hope of a response.

2b) As I placed my order I asked if I could request a specific eyeshadow as my complimentary sample - I even gave about half a dozen options just in case any were out of stock etc. Their response was a solid no. By this time I'd ordered from other indies and was aware this wasn't normal - but I'm not going to complain about freebies so wasn't really phased.

2c) They forgot to include a product I'd ordered (as well, somewhat ironically, as a freebie sample) - I contacted them explaining this and four days later received an email saying they'd sent a replacement. The only problem was they'd sent it to my grandmother's house in Hong Kong (who I was visiting when I placed the order) - I was and am currently living in England. Again, not a huge deal but somewhat inconvenient. I wasn't even asked if I'd prefer a refund, store credit, a discount or what address to ship it to - again, communication could really be improved.

A final Twitter screen cap (hint: I am not txteva)


2d) When I finally received the missing item from my order that's all I received - no note, no missing freebie (despite me mentioning that they forget it in my original order) or apology freebie. Now I know complaining about not getting free stuff is really bratty but when it's standard with an order (like samples from Sephora) and they didn't include it, and they've screwed up my order making made me wait for the replacement item for over a month I'd think that a placating eyeshadow sample would be a nice gesture. This is not at all standard for indie companies (or in my experience any cosmetic company) and leaves me feeling a bit bitter towards the ever arrogant Fyrinnae.

3) I placed my most recent Fyrinnae order last month and three days later emailed them asking if they could swap two products of equal size and value as they hadn't shipped my parcel yet. The response was similar to their official twitter thread above - either two different people were emailing me or one person was having a major mood swing. It's prudent to note these following messages were received between midnight and 8am my time so I obviously had neither read nor replied to any of them - first I was informed that no, it was not possible to change my order. Three hours later I received another email explaining that as everything had been packed and printed they could only cancel and refund my order so I could correct and replace it in another separate order. Six hours later I received a final email saying that as I hadn't responded they'd shipped the package anyway but would include the requested mini in my next order. Maybe I spend too much of my academic life analysing literature but the tone between the first and the following emails was markedly different.

Overall my personal experiences of course haven't been horrible (they haven't run off with my money and not delivered my order) but the buying experience from Fyrinnae is significantly less pleasant than buying from every single other indie I've tried.


Crappy website

I'm separating this from the above website issues (closings, cart emptying, missing products) because having a distinctly retro website isn't that bad.


fyrinnae.com - straight from the 90s 

However it's their lack of accurate swatches, or even just swatches that clearly illustrate their "we could care less" attitude. It's not difficult to dab some product of your arm and snap a photo in daylight with your camera or phone. And even if that's beyond Fyrinnae for whatever reason sending a few samples to bloggers or just asking if they could use their photos is an easy alternative - not having swatches on an indie site is extremely frustrating for the consumer as trying to find accurate swatches on google is an extensive and boring task, and doesn't always yield results. Above I commended Fyrinnae for their independence in not advertising themselves, but again, I believe that would be mistaking their arrogance for mere confidence.

At every step of the way Fyrinnae are showing you how little you mean as a customer to them: they'll close their website and empty your cart without warning or explanation, not letting you buy from them. They'll not bother to take accurate photos of their products, and even if you decide you want something they'll limit how many you're allowed to order. If you email them with questions you'll wait over a week for a curt response unless you're lucky enough to get through to their one pleasant employee (or perhaps their regular employees when they're in a good mood). They're running their business like a spoilt, moody teenager - and I doubt if they hadn't been one of the original indies they'd be as popular as they are now irregardless of product quality.

My Fyrinnae collection - I can assure you that none of these products are unique or irreplaceable

In conclusion:

There is no denying that Fyrinnae make excellent cosmetics - though I certainly question whether they run the cosmetic formulation and packaging as carelessly as they run their PR. Although no fingerprints or hairs have been found in any Fyrinnae cosmetics they have had issues with both texture and colour (different colour link), though both can be somewhat explained by their recent eyeshadow reformulation.

As indie consumers often like to support small businesses, enjoy personal interaction as well as an extra level of care (and prefer to shop vegan or ‘cruelty free') - it’s worth noting if you want the ‘indie experience’ Fyrinnae are not the way to go. Expect to be treated exactly the same as if you bought from a corporate brand, but without the ease of purchase.

There are also many other indies out there that make almost identical products in quality, complexity and cost who are run by pleasant people who actually want your business, and I am planning on doing a Fyrinnae dupe thread in the coming months for anyone enticed by beautiful swatches but repulsed by the company.



Basically Fyrinnae are like that friend who never calls or responds to any texts, but when they do show up at a party they're great fun until they bitch someone out and puke in the sink.




Love, Saskia X

(who promises to never puke in your sink)



@aiksasarual on instagram

PrettyTrivialities@gmail.com



Saturday, 3 May 2014

Inglot matte eyeshadows swatches and review

Not going to lie - all the messages about how you miss my blog make me feel both equal parts loved and guilty! I've been travelling solidly for the past 6 weeks (spending no longer than 5 days in any one country) which was obviously not conducive to either makeup or blogging.

As an inadequate apology here are a few holiday snaps:

In one of these photos I've filled my eyebrows in so this collage is vaguely relevant to makeup!

Now, without further adu here're my swatches and review of Inglot's matte eyeshadows:

Inglot package each eyeshadow, blush and I assume concealer, lipstick etc pan individually as I've shown below. Although this large amount of packaging wastage makes my environmentally conscious cricket cringe I can't argue it's extremely effective, hygienic and aesthetically pleasing.


I purchased eleven Inglot eyeshadows - nine metallic and two matte - around Christmas last year and while I adore them all I found myself reaching for the two matte taupes for almost every look I created as they were the perfect crease colours, blended effortlessly and flawlessly, and wore impeccably through all of the sweaty club dancing I am so fond of.

I'd been looking for a matte cool-toned neutral palette for a couple of months now; the Tarte Be Mattenificent palette was a strong contender and although the purple agate packaging won my heart instantly the eyeshadow quality was pretty meh. The Saucebox Etude palette was another option I liked - but they're been out of stock for about six months now (which is frankly ridiculous), and have absolutely awful customer service so I'd rather not support them.

Photo credit:
http://www.temptalia.com/
http://sauceboxcosmetics.com/

Thus, with the help of the amazing Beautylish Inglot palette builder I began building my own neutral palette which was equal parts fun and frustrating. I obviously highly recommend actually swatching the shadows yourself at an Inglot store, but if that's not possible Temptalia and other google source's swatches are actually very accurate. I ordered my palette from the UK Inglot website (as Beautylish only accepts US credit cards and ships to US addresses) and although postage was £5 regardless of how much you spend (free shipping is a weakness of mine) my package arrived less than a week later all bubble wrapped and lovely.

Top row: 360 / 363 (not new)
Second row: 391 / 329 / 326 / 378 / 358
Blush: AMC 55
Third row: 344 / 390 / 353 / 375 / 325/ 338 / 317 / 385

Aside from their phenomenal product quality and unparalleled colour and texture range my favourite thing about Inglot is the ability to mix and match their palettes as the mood strikes you - all their pans are magnetic and they offer multiple sizes of empty palettes so you can arrange and re-arrange all your eyeshadows (and brow powders/concealers/lip sticks etc) endlessly.

Since I don't know how to overlay text on my photos (sorry) I'm going to list the shade colours and names here (obviously all of them are matte):

Top Row:

  • Neutral Taupe - 360
  • Cool Taupe - 363

Middle Row:

  • Black - 391
  • Neutral dark brown - 329
  • Cool burgundy tinged dark brown - 326
  • Cool dark brown taupe - 378
  • Mid grey mauve taupe - 358

Blush:

  • Mid plummy beige pink - AMC 55

Third row:

  • Mid beige pink mauve - 344
  • Light beige pink - 390
  • Very light neutral cream - 353
  • Mid purple - 375
  • Dark purple - 325
  • Mid bright blue teal - 338
  • Mid bright green teal - 317
  • Bright mid green - 385


Top row: 360 / 363 (not new)
Second row: 391 / 329 / 326 / 378 / 358
Blush: AMC 55
Third row: 344 / 390 / 353 / 375 / 325/ 338 / 317 / 385

I cannot reinforce how amazing the quality of these mattes are - most of these took literally one swipe (with a clean finger over bare skin) to show full opacity, and all of them were incredibly soft and oh so buttery. All photos were taken with a flash.

I then pulled out some other mattes in my collection to compare the colours and texture - needless to say Inglot made it into no competition, my previous favourite mattes (Suagarpill, Laura Mercier, Urban Decay) were left biting Inglot's dust.


Top row: 360 / 363 (LM Plum Smoke / UD Tease)
Second row: 391 / 329 / 326 / 378 / 358
Blush: AMC 55
Third row: 344 / 390 / 353 / 375 / 325/ 338 / 317 / 385
(Fourth row: LM Morning Dew / Sugarpill Poison Plum / Midori)

The third and fourth shadows on the top row are Laura Mercier's Plum Smoke and Urban Deacy's Tease (from the Naked2 palette). The three swatches added as a fourth row are Laura Mercier's Morning Dew, Sugarpill's Poison Plum and Midori.


Top row: 360 / 363 (LM Plum Smoke / UD Tease)
Second row: 391 / 329 / 326 / 378 / 358
Blush: AMC 55
Third row: 344 / 390 / 353 / 375 / 325/ 338 / 317 / 385
(Fourth row: LM Morning Dew / Sugarpill Poison Plum / Midori)

Here you can see Laura Merier's Morning Dew (light neutral) is significantly less pigmented than Inglot's 353, as is Sugarpill's Poison Plum (purple) and Midori (green). Honestly I wasn't too surprised Inglot's mattes were more pigmented than Laura Mercier's as LM's are so incredibly soft they're hard to pack pigment on, and while this does make them slightly quicker to blend it's at the cost of seriously sheering out the eyeshadow.

However, Inglot out performing Sugarpill's matte brights was definitely a shock to me - I used to swear that Sugarpill's were the most pigmented, soft and blend-able mattes out there, obviously I was wrong. In comparison to Inglot's shades Sugarpill's felt grainy and applied sheer! Also, Sugarpill's mattes are not 100% matte like Inglot's are.


Top row: 360 / 363 (LM Plum Smoke / UD Tease)
Second row: 391 / 329 / 326 / 378 / 358
Blush: AMC 55
Third row: 344 / 390 / 353 / 375 / 325/ 338 / 317 / 385
(Fourth row: LM Morning Dew / Sugarpill Poison Plum / Midori)

Here you can see Laura Mercier's Plum Smoke (third shade on the top row) is a close match to Inglot's 358, but as with Morning Dew Laura Mericer's shadows were soft to their own detriment and thus required much more building than Inglot's. The last shade on the top row is Urban Decay's Tease from their Naked2 palette, when I first swatched it I couldn't believe how hard and unpigmented it was!

The Naked2 was my first ever pressed eyeshadow and palette so maybe I still think of it the way I did when I bought it a year ago ("Look at all these colours! They're so pretty and pigmented! Think of all the makeup I can do with these! Oh I'm so overwhelmed and have no idea what I'm doing..."). Tease applied patchy and I couldn't even build the swatch to full opacity, honestly I was beyond underwhelmed. Urban Decay's shadows are being notorious for under performing without a primer and being pretty awesome with one though, so that could be the issue - but it doesn't detract from the fact Inglot whipped them in making a exponentially better matte. 


Metallic colours top row: 409 / 43 / 404 / 07
Metallic colours bottom row: 452 / 446 / 445 / 399 / 154
AMC gel eyeliner: 77 (black)

This is everything I own by Inglot (with the mattes laid out in the same shape as the swatches above) in a Muji clear acrylic drawer, as the astute reader may notice I am not a smart girl and forgot to pick up an empty 20 pan palette to store my new shadows in. I'll hopefully get around to reviewing my metallic Inglot shadows at some point but just in case I don't here are some spoilers: they are the same quality as the Inglot mattes and outstrip Laura Mercier, Sugarpill and Urban Decay metallic shadows in every category I'd care to name.

Inglot's blush is also very nice, incredibly soft (softer than the shadows), creamy, pigmented and blends better than any pressed blush I've ever tried. I haven't opened the eyeliner yet but based on the reviews (and previous personal experience with Inglot products) it'll leave my current gel eyeliner (MAC's Blacktrack) wallowing in an inky pool of self pity.


391 / 329 / 326 / 378 / 358
363 / 360 / 344 / 390 / 353

Finally, here's my complete matte neutral palette - I played around with the order to find the most aesthetically pleasing and practical arrangement and honestly couldn't be happier with it! I'm somewhat skeptical about how the neural dark brown 329 will look when applied as even cool browns tend to look carroty on me, but if that's the case it couldn't be easier to swap it out for a pop of colour, or even a new matte neutral (I'm thinking slate grey).




One final word on Inglot - they're incredibly cheap! I'll do the calculations both in GB pounds and US dollars:

  • A single Inglot eyeshadow is £4.50 for 2.7g = £1.67 per gram
  • A single Laura Mercier eyeshadow is £19 for 2.6g = £7.31 per gram
  • A single Sugarpill eyeshadow is £8.50 (prices vary) for 3.5g = £2.43 per gram
  • A single Urban Decay eyeshadow is £14 for 1g = £14 per gram (or £9.33 per gram or £7.12 per gram depending on where you get your information)
I found a price discrepancy between Sugarpill eyeshadows being sold in the UK as they are being sold by licensed third party online retailers, however the fluctuation was only by about £1 per eyeshadow.

However, Urban Decay are only officially sold in the UK by Debenhams and House of Fraiser (department stores), on the Debenhams website they are priced £14 stating that it is £140.00 per 10g, whereas on the House of Fraiser website they're priced at £14 stating that it's £93.33 per 10g, and neither websites state how much eyeshadow a single pan contains. On the official Urban Decay US page the shadows are listed as $18 per 1.5g, so I guess I could go by that (£10.67 per 1.5g or £7.12 per gram by today's exchange rate) but I'm really not liking the lack of info for British UD stock lists.


And now in USD because google blogger tells me my main audience is stateside:

  • A single Inglot eyeshadow is $7 for 2.7g = $2.59 per gram
  • A single Laura Mercier eyeshadow is $23 for 2.6g = $8.85 per gram
  • A single Sugarpill eyeshadow is $12 for 3.5g = $3.43 per gram
  • A single Urban Decay eyeshadow is $18 for 1.5g = $10.67 per gram

Thus, irregardless of where you buy your makeup Inglot are by far the cheapest option, which is amazing considering they're also the best quality!

However it is worth mentioning that you need to buy a palette for your Inglot pans which will bump up your overall cost - the larger the palette the less this cost will be per pan or per gram. Alternatively you could just not buy a palette like I've accidentally done, or store your Inglot pans in a Z-palette type thing.


Needed to break up the block of text and calculations so here's a look I did with Inglot 363 and Sugarpill Bulletproof

Another caveat I'd like to add is Inglot eyeshadows are also cheaper than most indie eyeshadows:


  • A single Inglot eyeshadow is $7 for 2.7g = $2.59 per gram
  • Shiro's full size eyeshadow is $6 for 2g = $3 per gram
  • Fyrinnae's full size eyeshadow is $7.50 for 2g = $3.75 per gram
  • Notoriously Morbid's full size eyeshadow is $5.50 for "about 3g" = $1.83 per gram

All of these eyeshadows are loose except for Fyrinnae as they offer pan only pressed eyeshadows (which I thought would make a great comparison). I wanted to include more indies but a lot of them (Darling Girl, Femme Fatal etc) list their quantities by volume.



As always, love,

Saskia X


PS Don't expect another post for about a month as that's when I finish all my university exams! Sorry :(