So I am skidding in during the last hours of Stereoplasm's anniversary sale to offer up reviews of seven of their more recent scents. Typically I like to review six or fewer perfumes per post (I uh... run long). But this time I wanted to get out reviews on both collections while the sale was still ongoing and I didn't want to split collections. I didn't get a sample of Water from the elements collection so that review will be missing - but otherwise here's reviews of the Elements and the Inked Club collections.
I also gotta note, for the sake of fairness, my last Stereoplasm order (which contained these) took a bit longer to get here than usual (I ordered at the end of May and my order took until late June to get here). Some of that was so press samples could be included (heyo!), and some of that is due to the hiccups with Canada post. Meghan was super sweet about it though and upgraded my shipping for free since it took a while to get the order out. Now that they've resolved the issue hopefully orders will sail through customs and that TAT will return to ordinary.
The scents covered in today's review are
- Air [store link]
- Fire [ store link ]
- Earth [ store link ]
- Two Sparrows [ store link ]
- Red Dagger [store link ]
- O Captain My Captain [ store link ]
- Flora and Fauna [ store link ]
Here are also links to the bundles for the Elements [ link ] and Inked Club [ link ] while they are available.
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
I’m doing a half-hour skin test with each perfume. They are always applied to skin that has either been washed or hasn’t had perfume on it that day. Sometimes I will run one scent on one wrist/hand/arm and the other on the other wrist/hand/arm. When I wash my hands for review purposes I wash with a scented soap (it’s all I have available - shea butter Dove soap or almond Doc Bronner's). Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off), so theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
Each sample was gently swirled before application. Each review is written without looking at the notes (in that moment… I obviously looked at them when I bought). At the end of the review I will list what the notes listed in the shop are and comment on how I think they interacted
For my most recent review of Stereoplasm's 1mls see here [ link ]. As a note, the new labels are holding up very well (as y'all can see in the photo). My only commentary is that on 1mls the kerning used on the elements labels renders them a bit hard to read. However, since the elements are LEs and aside from free samples/press samples are only really available in 3ml and 6ml form this isn't a huge issue. Basically, if you buy it the kerning should look great on a flat surface.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
In the bottle: Breezy aquatic. Smells a lot like mist. I’m getting ozone in there - and I think some petrichor. Tiny bit of an almost-soapy edge (but not overwhelmingly so). This is what I wanted Alkemia’s Mist-Becoming-Rain to smell like.
Wet on my skin: Cloud. Since getting back into indie perfumes I’ve tried a few mountain air accords. Most of them go ultra ‘fresh’ or ‘clean’ - I suppose because people like to describe mountain air as fresh. This is what mountain air (at least where I live) actually smells like. Ozone, clouds, and sky and an edge of distant trees. The edge of mist. I often comment ‘we live in the sky’. This is what the sky smells like. I was really ‘eh’ on this in the bottle but I’m pumped over what it smells like on my skin.
Drydown: Kind of a smell that reminds me of a chlorinated swimming pool coming out. I think that’s probably from the ozone. It’s smelling less like mountain air now. T r a g e d y. There is still a strong misty vibe, and it isn’t unpleasant. If you’re one of those people who likes the faint chlorine smell when you’re in a hotel that has a pool near the pool then I have good news for you.
After 30 mins: Still pretty, misty, ozonic, subtle swimming pool.
Official Notes: clean, fresh, dappled light. A deep inhale, a cold nose, a white curtain dancing with the wind. (Non Soapy).
Wet this is dead on for a kind of broad description. In the drydown it morphed a bit into that kind of swimming pool realm.
Verdict: A pass for me, but I know there are folks out there for whom this will be a long-awaited holy grail scent.
In the bottle: Creamy golden citrus/citrus blossom (can’t tell which), something nutty, soft smoke, something that reminds me of charcoal or ashes.
Wet on my skin: Definitely something floral in there at the top (and actually pretty sure not some variety of citrus blossom - it reminds me a lot of their eidelweiss note. Kind of a blown-out-birthday-candles vibe), under that is that creamy citrus that might actually be a citus blossom (it reminds me a lot of their neroli note) - also reminds me a touch of their chai note or perhaps a musk note (like, a golden musk). I might be getting wax but it’s hard to tell since the floral smells waxy. Touch of smoke and ashes still.
Drydown: Pretty stable to how it is wet - little less citrus, and that waxy floral is running the show. Personally, *adjusts monocle* this reminds me more of sunlight than ‘fire’. It’s creamy as opposed to the kind of acridness I associate with fire. It also has a certain sweetness to it that I associate more with sunlight. (I also feel like I’m getting a hint of salt in here?)
After 30 mins: So I’m sitting here like ‘Some of this… is so familiar… where have I…’ and it hit me like a ton of bricks: This smells a lot like cozy starling. Which means that the note dominating here is either Stereoplasm’s ylang ylang or their dragon's blood. I suspect (from my custom which had an ylang centered sample) that it might be their ylang as that kinda nutty/chai/musky note. So, my final kind of note round up for this is ylang ylang, wax, warmth, touch of smoke, touch of ashes, and a little salt.
Official Notes: heat, wide-eyes, smoke, power. Stars above, flames around, smoke like grey ink in the hot, black air of a summer night
This smells a lot like Cozy Starling to me. If you liked Cozy Starling? Then this is your jam. As I mentioned earlier this does smell more like sunlight - or even a single candle.
Verdict: On its own I wasn’t that hot on this. It was gonna go in my ‘pass’ pile to be swapped or given away. But when layered with Earth it’s… divine and approximates one of my favorite BPAL scents of all time. On its own I wouldn’t get this. But I will be getting it specifically to layer with Earth. (And after smelling it layered with Earth I would bet money on this having ylang ylang in it.)
In the bottle: Moss on an old tree stump surrounded by purple flowers. I don’t know what they are - they don’t ping as violets. They’re somewhere between indolic and alcoholic in their tang.
Wet on my skin: Quite sweet. I think I’m getting some dirt in there. And something green in that crushed-stems way (reminds me of The Sky Is Falling a little). A little peppery (it might be one of the pepper accords they’re using now?). Maybe some patchouli? And I take it back: these might be violets. (These Might Be Violets is the name of my new band)
Drydown: So whatever is green has died back and those flowers are definitely violets. I was laying here really loving this perfume, like, a surprising amount and then I realized what it reminds me of: BPAL’s now retired I Died For Beauty. It’s the dirt plus the violets. Plus I had this on the same arm (some distance away from) as Fire and lemme tell you the throws of these two mixed together are just… amazing. I was very ‘eh’ on Fire until I smelled it layered with Earth
After 30 mins: Dirt, violets, old wood, and pepper - tiny edge of moss and maybe a touch of ultra-smooth patchouli. Similar to how it is in the drydown only even less of the kind of boozy/indolic greenery.
Official Notes: Comfort, rustling, dusk: green things that spring back at your touch, dew in your hair, dirt on your hands, green light that surrounds.
I get the comfort/rustling/dusk vibe. The green things were there for me in the drydown. Nothing really aquatic about the scent for me (but I can see some of the sweetness in there meant to represent dew). Mostly it’s very dirt-and-violet forward for me.
Verdict: Upsize. Along with Fire this blends into something I just… adore and never thought I’d get to sniff again.
In the bottle: I recall this having white pepper (it’s an accord so I can wear it!), honeysuckle, and uh… ivy? Anyway - on first bottle sniff the thing I get is that white pepper. It’s followed by a smell that reminds me kind of soy sauce or terriyaki. It reminds me of the hibachi restaurants around here. I’m getting an edge of honeysuckle and there might be a touch of dark greenery.
Wet on my skin: Fruit of some sort (I think it was reminding me of terriyaki. Maybe yuzu?), white pepper, edge of honeysuckle and a breath of muskiness. Base of ivy on stone. This is quite feminine - probably going to end up being too feminine for me. It smells like sitting at a vanity in a white dress curling your hair in the sunlight. It also still smells, a smidge, like a Japanese restaurant.
Drydown: Less white pepper here. Combo of a tart fruit (pretty sure it’s yuzu) with honeysuckle over ivy-and-stone base notes. I do feel like there’s something musky here too but it might be part of the fruit-I-think-is-yuzu. Still very feminine, but a little less so than it was while it was wet.
After 30 mins: Gone rather faint on me. About the only thing that has lasted is that edge of honeysuckle, some of the ivy-on-stone and maybe a trace of the fruit-I-think-is-yuzu.
Official Notes: Wild honeysuckle, chamomile tea, sprawling stone ivy, white pepper, peace lily, soft rain, elderberry, quill and ink.
So, I get the honeysuckle, and the white pepper. The fruit is elderberry! Huh! The chamomile tea is what I think is adding musky sweetness to the scent. The ivy is not ivy on stone but -stone- ivy. The peace lily is subtly there - it isn’t powdery at all, it’s the floral that was making me read this as feminine. I didn’t get much of the rain, or quill. I think what I was reading as a stone scent is the ink in it.
Verdict: Pass. It’s too fem for me - and on top of that my skin ate most of it during the half hour test period.
In the bottle: So, I remember this one having a cannabis note and… that’s about it. I think there’s some sort of weird conceptual amber or musk? Let’s see! Anyway: Red fruit. It could be pomegranate or it could be apple. I honestly can’t tell. There’s kind of a glassy ‘edge’ to the scent. I guess it could also conceptually be metal but it smells more like glass to me. Not getting much cannabis except for a little there like… well… a leaf on an apple. Some sort of silvery musky or amber swirling in there. Though it’s not overwhelmingly green something in this screams ‘Garden!’ to me.
Wet on my skin: Welp, now I’m getting the cannabis. It is spicy and herbal. It blends well with what I am almost certain is a rich, silvery musk. The fruit is under this musk and it smells pretty much like apple to me. I can also see this having tomato leaf in it (or that might just be the marijuana) - but it’s intensely Leafy. In some ways this reminds me of the Grieve In Stereo scent they’ll be bringing out for Summer. It’s kinda eerie. Tiny bit of glassiness under all the cannabis, musk, and fruit.
Drydown: Leafy, cannabis forward still - and I gotta admit this: Because the Stereoplasm sale is going on I was eyeballing the site and saw dogwood flowers in the art for Red Dagger. Whoops. But yeah - I can see dogwood in this. But it’s an edge floral I’d chalked up to being part of the eerie musk part.
After 30 mins: Getting some nuttiness now but this is still a very leafy scent. Less musk to it now and only a trace of fruit. Tiny wisps of that floral the picture revealed to be dogwood. For the ingredients involved it’s a surprisingly feminine scent.
Official Notes: Tomato leaf, crab apple blossom, adrenaline, rich soil, pimento, honeycrisp apple, moonlit metal, northern lights cannabis
So I got the tomato leaf, the crab apple blossom must be what was in the picture that I thought was dogwood. WHOOPS. It is still, in fact, a white floral. I think the pimento was what I was reading as musky and then later as kind of nutty (there’s a kind of nuttiness red peppers). The creative, abstract note was the metal one that smelled like pale glass to me moreso than metal. The apple was, er, apple. If there’s dirt in this it’s a subtle edge - perhaps contributing some to the kind of nutty muskiness in the deep drydown.
Verdict: Not my thing. Not really into leafy scents, and compared to what I go nuts over it is on the more elegantly feminine side.
O Captain My Captain
In the bottle: Do you like pina coladas? … … Getting caught in the rain (dammit, I had to). This smells like a pina colada with sea spray in the bottle. Perhaps an edge of old rain. It’s like sitting at the beach at an old picnic table with a big, rich pina colada in front of you as you listen to the waves crash in.
Wet on my skin: Pina colada moves back. Some other smell moves strongly forward. It’s a sweet, brown smell. Like, really sweet (though part of that could be the smell I’m flagging as coconut). Familiar in a way I’m having trouble putting my finger on. It’s creamy - almost marshmallowy - but also a little floral. Edges of salt and old wood.
Drydown: Dangit, regardless of how much I want to shop I ought to not even skim Stereoplasm’s site while reviewing. I’ve learned my lesson. Anyway, the art for O Captain My Captain has a cigar on it and yes - I can get just that little … smidge of cigar smoke as a kind of bitterness that grounds the scent. Besides that I mostly get coconut - like a very sweet, musky coconut. A little bit of pineapple. Old wood, edge of salt, and that Mysterious Brown Scent. What is that? I am into that brown scent. I almost wanna say it’s ‘leather’ but it’s not strongly leathery or at all acrid. Just rich, and soft, and sweet.
After 30 mins: Wearing fainter but still creamy, salted pina-colada goodness with edges of smoke and old wood. Not getting as much of that brown scent (there’s still a touch of it).
Official Notes: Navy rum, leather scabbard, coconut hair, sliced pineapple, ocean, cigar smoke and morning fog.
Okay, so, yes - got the rum, coconut, and pineapple. Your standard pina colada. It’s not a strongly boozy one though - I would wear this out without fearing people had been thinking I was drinking. That brown scent was, in fact, leather. But a really sweet, soft leather. The ocean was probably that salty touch I was getting. And yes, there’s a tiny touch of cigar smoke. I didn’t get anything strongly ‘foggy’ but I figure that could blend well with the ocean.
Verdict: This one is my favorite of the Inked smells so far! A very gender neutral beachy pina colada gourmand (or fruity atmospheric depending on how you look at it). I’ll be upsizing this one! My only complaint is that I wish this one had a little more lasting power. Also I wanna note: This would be an utterly killer lotion/moisturizer.
Flora and Fauna
In the bottle: Cake with orange blossom petals and shea butter based icing - eaten in a garden with big flowers blooming in the background.
Wet on my skin: Shea butter, musk (skin musk?), cake … wax? Eidelweiss? I don’t know - it smells like freshly blown out candles to me. Something a little sharply feminine over the top in terms of floral. Maybe lilies? It kinda reminds me of the floral that gave a strong feminine vibe in Two Sparrows. So, a musky fruity floral with gourmand nuances. Girly tea cakes on a bright day.
Drydown: A lot less gourmand. I think for a lot of people this is going to be a nice, femme, ‘your skin but better’ scent. Creamy skin musk swirled with a sugared citrus, bright florals and a tiny touch of cakiness. Still a touch of that waxiness. (I think the citrus might be some of Stereoplasm’s really unique tangerine note). I could see there being some vanilla or tonka in with the musk. ( I also am catching whiffs at a distance of something that reminds me of Dr. Pepper or cola - could there be a dragon’s blood note?)
After 30 mins: Musky, edges of cake, wax, florals and I think vanilla or tonka (I’m leaning towards tonka). I’m debating if there’s a dragon’s blood or not. Of the stuff I’ve tried from Stereoplasm this one smells the most like ‘Traditional Perfumery’ to me - not in a mainstream sense, but it reminds me of retro scent profiles I’ve sniffed. But like… one of those on skin.
Official Notes: Golden amber, vanilla bean, pink grapefruit, orange jessamine, victoria rhubarb, flowering peony, smoked sandalwood.
So the golden amber I think is what’s broadly musky in this. It reminds me a ton of skin musk. The grapefruit is the citrus - but contributing to that is the orange jessamine (which google tells me is the same as mock orange). I don’t really get the rhubarb except as maybe part of that initial gourmand sweetness. The vanilla bean is the bit I was getting as vanilla. I think the smoked sandalwood is what was reminding me of the kind of Dr.Pepper-resinous quality I normally associate with dragon’s blood. The peony is the floral. What smelled waxy to me? Not sure! Could be part of the golden amber (and heck, that might have been what I was initially reading as shea butter), could be part of the mock orange.
Verdict: Not really my thing - the whole vibe is kind of ‘classically femme’ in a way I’m not deeply into. Plus, since I’m about to put in a sale order I’ll be grabbing their The Cake scent and I think it’ll scratch my itch for the kinda citrus-cake-gourmand this perfume gave me when it was wet.
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