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So, hypothetical scenario—you have the opportunity to remain perma-gorgeous and forever young, unblemished by the ravages of time. You look like you’ve bathed in Crème de la Mer EVERYDAY. The key to your perfection lies within a magical self-portrait hidden away in the attic, as well as a Faustian-type relationship with a lord quite fond of debauchery.
Naturally, your outer perfection masks an increasingly black heart, seeded with sin and pure hedonism; this inner darkness slowly and steadily corrupts that once lovely portrait until the contrast is too painful to bear, leaving you to destroy the painting and thus, yourself. By the way, your corpse is positively hideous.
This scenario, of course, comes from the quicksilver mind of Oscar Wilde in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” The novel is deliciously dark, pondering our relationship with vanity, hubris and the value we place upon aesthetics and pleasure.
Gray’s character is oft referenced in various art forms—Morrissey is an Oscar Wilde acolyte, and in the Showtime series Penny Dreadful (a campy but enthralling mash up of characters from The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula and Frankenstein, so far) you can feast your eyes upon Dorian himself, as played by Reeve Carney.
Let me just point out that in Season 1, Dorian Gray trysts with characters played by Eva Green AND Josh Hartnett. You’re welcome.
Even more deliciously dark, however, is Dorian, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s imagining of the titular character. This perfume oil, part of the Sin and Salvation collection, is described as “…an artful deception: a sweet gilded blossom lying over a twisted and corrupted core.” A surprisingly wearable combination of delectation and decay, in other words.
With primary notes of “three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea,” Dorian is intoxicating at first sniff; the vanilla is icing-sweet but sharpened with a squeeze of bright, bracing citrus—shaded by those soft yet assertive musks.
There’s a duplicitous note in there too, the aforementioned scent of decay; think of flowers past their prime, all blowsy and drooping. It’s not a strident or aggressive note, but rather voluptuous and overly ripe—an orange that looks perfect, but is fuzzed with mold upon closer inspection.
At first application on the skin, however, the decay scent vanishes rapidly, and Dorian blooms into more of a foodie scent—it reminds me of steeping vanilla pods in sugar. The citrus dies down a bit as well, though I can still detect wisps of dark tea. After a few hours of wear, I’m left with a sweetly mysterious scent; the musks deepen into something smoky and intriguing, while the vanilla sugar notes intensify deliciously.
I have a handful of BPAL scents, but Dorian is becoming a fast favorite among them. It’s quite wearable, and yet there’s just a hint of depravity, of strangeness, within the sweetness and musk.
Wear it when you want to feel as lovely and fearless as Dorian—just keep a lid on the hubris and hedonism, please.
we heartsters – what’s your favorite BPAL scent?
Amity writes and teaches in Central PA. Her obsessions include: Rodarte (she can’t afford any Rodarte, mind you, but a girl can dream), espresso, books, vintage/thrift fashion and fountain pens. She thinks you should dress like a weirdo once in a while, just to shake things up.
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