Hey there! My name’s Rachel Rose Mitchell, and I’m a simple musician who likes nice smells. I’ve always been curious about indie perfumes, but it wasn’t until early last year that I first dipped my toes into those fragrant waters and ordered just shy of a dozen of them. I fell in love, ordered more, and chucked a review up onto my blog. Since then, my collection has ballooned. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.
Recently, Femme Fatale was kind enough to send me a whole bundle of goodies to review! I’m so excited to be here. So excited.
A quick note for anyone who doesn’t already know: skin chemistry affects how a perfume smells quite a bit! While I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible about how these perfumes smell on my own skin, they might be wildly different for you. Some scents that smell nice on me smell off on my sister, and some scents that are wonderful on her are horrid on me. It’s a good idea to try out quite a few different samples and figure out what notes work for you, and which ones (if any) are no-goes.
Anyway, I’m not an expert by any means, just an enthusiast with a bunch of opinions. Without any further ado (I’m good at further ado), here they are!
When I open the sample vial I’m hit with a tangy, juicy lime. On first application it’s still the strongest note, but I can smell the tobacco and vanilla too. I like the way the lime mingles with the Artemisia. It’s almost like it’s caught somewhere between absinthe and laundry detergent, but I promise it’s far more appealing than it sounds. I think Venom achieves what it’s going for, which is a really nice smelling poison.
The oak, jasmine sambac and vetiver seem to be more like background notes. They’re there to set the scene for the poison at the forefront. And they do that really well. Without them, I suspect Venom might be too sharp, but they offset the more intense notes nicely.
Venom’s throw is in that sweet spot where it’s noticeable but not overpowering. It lasts for a good couple of hours before fading on me. As it does fade, the sharpness of the lime and Artemisia disappears quickly enough that it becomes sweeter on the whole, with notes like vanilla and jasmine taking the spotlight.
Gingered pears, green tea, and powdery violets, with hints of white grapefruit, hay, amber and an almost ethereal musk.
The pears and grapefruit are the strongest notes in Memento on me. It reminds me of a balmy spring afternoon, one where the fruits have been sitting in the sun for a few minutes longer than planned. The violets and hay help reinforce the image of laying outside on a sunny day.
A lot of fruity floral scents can be light and airy, but this isn’t one of them. It’s warm and heavy and almost feels humid. The hay is crisp and bright, but in amongst the other notes it doesn’t really influence the overall character beyond being a nice touch. Memento has a similar warmth to Homecoming by the same brand, though Memento is juicier.
Memento doesn’t change character much as it wears on my skin. Each note seems to fade pretty evenly. I’m not really sure about it as a companion to Mori (which I actually wear fairly regularly), but it’s a nice scent as a standalone.
Samovar smells strongly of tea – you’d expect it to, with three of them in there – but it’s not bitter. I can’t tell exactly what teas they are, but they smell black. It smells warm, and despite leaning heavily on the herbs, it’s not as green as I thought it would be. It reminds me of chilling out for morning tea at a creaky wooden table with a little potted plant in the middle. You know, for aesthetics.
I admit I was worried about how the honey would pull on my skin, as it can often turn cloying on me, but it sits quietly underneath the other components to add just a touch of background sweetness.
Apart from the teas receding a tad, the scent stays pretty much consistent for the first hour. It slowly becomes a more even spread between all of the notes, but doesn’t dramatically change character. As it starts to grow faint around hour three, Samovar gets slightly sweeter. From then, it stays pretty stable as it fades into nothing.
Salty air, bay rum, lime, and driftwood.
First thoughts on sniffing the clamshell: huh, it’s a pirate shipwrecked on a tropical island, except the pirate is clean-cut and nonthreatening and the island is mysteriously tidy and landscaped. Check out all that squeaky clean sand. Wow.
On my skin, the lime pulls really strongly to start with. Like, so strong that I can’t catch anything else. It’s a shame, because I really liked what it smelled like in the packaging and despite being the furthest thing from a pirate (even a nonthreatening one), it’s a scent I could see myself rocking. Alas, skin chemistry is a fickle mistress.
It calms down after a couple of minutes and I can start catching hints of the bay rum and the driftwood. After an hour, the saltiness comes back out to play. By this point, the lime isn’t so sharp and overpowering. It’s definitely much nicer once the edge gets taken off that lime!
Supernova’s got a pretty decent throw for a solid scent. It sticks around for a decent while, too. Once it’s gone through that first hour, the strong lime note has cooled its jets and everything has balanced out, it doesn’t seem to change much on my skin as it fades.
(These products are also available in the 2016 Halloween Sampler)
In the vial, The Bell Witch is heavy and sweet, like pumpkin pie. On the skin, however, it’s quite different. I can’t seem to smell the tobacco leaf on me, but the moss, dry leaves and earth are much more noticeable than they are in the bottle. They tell a very different story to ‘pumpkin pie’. That said, there’s a note that reminds me of caramel, and I can’t put my finger on what it is.
The wood sits quietly below all of the other notes, and I almost missed it at first. But it’s definitely there, helping to tie the rest of them together. The cider adds a slight sharpness that’s both almost tangy and almost medicinal but at the same time not truly either one.
The pumpkin becomes more prominent again as The Bell Witch wears on. It does change character a bit, turning into something closer to a gourmand as time goes by. It stays heavy, too. It’s a little overwhelming for my personal tastes, but I think that comes down more to my own smell sensitivities than anything wrong with the perfume.
Italian bergamot, cocao pod, smoked black tea, decayed woods, faded parchment, shadowy musk.
Upon first application, the smoky tea and the wood are at the forefront of Borley Rectory. Oftentimes smoky notes can turn unpleasantly bitter on me, but this one doesn’t! The bergamot is prominent but not overpowering. It’s not long before the cocao pod, parchment and musk all appear.
As it wears, I find the parchment comes to the forefront. I can’t help but imagine scribbling on old scrolls with quills and ink by candlelight. I guess that’s partially the parchment, partially the smoked black tea. Whatever it is, it evokes an atmosphere, and that’s something I’m always a fan of.
The cocao pod sticks around, adding smoothness to the background. Meanwhile, the bergamot hovers over the top, not quite sharp but certainly not soft.
After three hours of wear it’s all but gone on me.
In the bottle the vanilla’s stronger than any other note, but once applied to the skin, all the rest come out to play. The dark chocolate, plum and vanilla blend beautifully together. The plum smells sweet and juicy and the musk and woods sit in the background to give it an atmospheric grounding.
Upon application, it’s a dark, luxurious scent, but there’s something that keeps it from being too heavy. I think it’s the bergamot, given it’s got a kind of choc-orange vibe. It morphs lighter in about fifteen minutes for me, with the bergamot becoming far more prominent. In fact, as it wears, it almost starts to lean medicinal. Again, I think it’s the bergamot doing that. Who would’ve thought bergamot could do so much?
On me, it doesn’t have that far a throw. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Island Of The Dolls is an intense scent, so it’s not one that needs to be announcing itself at all times. If it had the kind of throw that could travel a room, I don’t think it’d be very public-friendly.
After two hours it gets hard to pick out the chocolate or the woodiness. I’ve mostly just got the bergamot and vanilla left. The vanilla lingers the longest.
Oleander leaf and bloom, labdanum, white sage, fig leaf, blood orange, suede musk.
In the vial: fresh and green!
On the skin, Myrtles Plantation smells like wandering through a greenhouse, which I suppose is pretty appropriate. The fig and oleander leaves float to the forefront supported by the sage. After a few minutes of dry down the blood orange starts to shine through, and I can pick out the musk in the background, but it’s still primarily leafy and herbal.
The throw is far enough that I can smell it while I’m just sitting there, minding my own business. No wrist-sniffing required! It’s the right kind of scent for that kind of throw in my opinion.
After an hour, Myrtles Plantation transforms into something somewhat sharper, even as it weakens. The fig leaves, blood orange and labdanum seem stronger, whereas the herbal notes seem to fade away.
I’m a bigger fan of what Myrtles Plantation smells like first applied than what it’s like after an hour or so of wear. But that’s down to personal preference and it doesn’t turn unpleasant by any means. I’m just a big fan of green scents! I still like it either way.
Right out of the bottle, Waverly Hills is strong. It’s fresh and green and actually almost minty, which is a bit weird considering there’s no mint notes, but I’ll go with it.
Despite the very different notes, it actually reminds me of Myrtles Plantation. Where Myrtles Plantation is like a greenhouse, Waverly Hills is a wild and wintry overgrown garden on the edge of a forest. The frost brings a cool lightness to what feels like it’d otherwise be quite a heavy scent. The honey is unobtrusive and quietly sweet.
Something cool happens as Waverly Hills transforms. To start with, it’s like a wintry overgrown garden, but as it wears on, the frost and the moss and vines become less prominent while the flowers, honey and propolis take more of a front-seat. It literally smells like the sun is coming out.
The sun coming out is a bit like Waverly Hills’ own swan song, because once that change happens, it doesn’t hang around for very long. But given it takes a good couple of hours to get to that point, I don’t feel there’s much to complain about.
I think Waverly Hills is my favourite of the bunch!
Amber, frankincense, sweet incense smoke, dried rose petals, sandalwood, vetiver, woods, oud, vanilla.
I don’t have anything else like Conjure Dark. From the vial, I get vanilla so strong it smells like alcohol (imagine sniffing straight up vanilla essence), rose, and a floaty incense. It’s intense, and I can’t smell it for very long before it makes me woozy.
The vial, however, is deceptive.
The slight acridity of the incense smoke on first application almost put me off, but the description is right, it’s sweet. It goes nicely with the vanilla and the rose petals. It just needed a moment or two to settle on my skin. I think the surprise of it took me aback and played a part in my immediate reaction, because there wasn’t a hint of it in the vial. All part of the fun!
The combination of the various woods and incenses adds up to Conjure Dark smelling like an altar. The amber is a heady, dark base and the vetiver is a quiet grassy whisper in the background. All in all, it smells like somebody’s getting up to some spellcraft. I can support that.
I find Conjure Dark to be on the strong side, so if you’re sensitive to incense at all, perhaps give this one a pass. However, if that’s not an issue for you, and you’re looking for something dark and fancy, I recommend it.
After a few hours, all that’s left on me are hints of rose and vanilla. It’s surprisingly soft by this point, completely different to how it started out.
In a city west of Melbourne called Ballarat, there’s a historical park called Sovereign Hill, built around an 1850’s gold rush era town. That’s where Flintlock takes me.
The leather and various woods are the key notes. The woods in particular bring back memories of those old weathered buildings along Sovereign Hill’s main street. I can’t pick out the bayberry on me, but I can smell the leafy evergreens, which help to set the scene of a frontier surrounded by wilderness.
The tobacco and (to a lesser extent) the pepper have the effect of taking Flintlock from ‘pioneer town’ to ‘person living in a pioneer town’, if that makes sense. It takes it from an atmosphere to a character. I think it adds a cool dimension!
Flintlock was such a pleasant surprise, because leather, tobacco and pepper can all go really bad on me, but they turned out so nicely. I wouldn’t have thought to buy a perfume so masculine for myself, but now that I’ve tried it, I can see myself wearing Flintlock pretty regularly.
And that’s the lot of them! Thanks again to Femme Fatale for this opportunity.
The Femme Fatale team want to thank Rachel so much for her time, she really has a gift for deciphering scents and taking you on a journey with her descriptions!
You can read Rachel’s first perfume review which caught our eye on her blog, and if you like pretty sounds and Rachel’s way with words you can find her music on Bandcamp, YouTube, as well as platforms like iTunes and Spotify.