Monday, July 15, 2019

Little and Grim Spectres Collection Review: Bachelor's Grove + Greenbriar Ghost + Pointe Aux Barques + Ectoplasm + Footfalls

So it's the middle of July. Which means we're hitting that time where the Halloween spirit might be starting to fade for many of us. Even walpurgisnacht seems a long time ago. And yet, we're only a couple of weeks away from August's pre-Halloween festivities! A month and a half away from September 1st where basically no one will look at you weird for humming This Is Halloween and hanging up your Halloween wreath!
So, it was a relief for Little and Grim to send these press samples. This collection does not pretend it is fall - but acknowledges summer as that pre-Halloween season where the ghosts that give us year round hauntings are putting in the hard work to creep us out when it's 90f/32c and 100% humidity. Thank you for your service, summer ghosts.
The perfumes covered in today's review are
  • Bachelor's Grove
  • Greenbriar Ghost
  • Pointe Aux Barques
  • Ectoplasm
  • Footfalls
L&G doesn't do individual perfume listings so [ here ] is a link to their scent list and [ here ] is a link to their store front.

All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for 2-3 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 often look at the notes beforehand). 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
Bottle Review
So! L&G sent me their 1ml sample bottles. They're wand bottles. These wands are easy to open and not leaky. I also had no issues with splashing with them. The interior wand has a rounded tip - so no rough edges.
I wanna take a second to sing the praises of L&G's labels here. The design on them is so charming - it reminds me of 1700s woodcuts - which of course plays well with their ghostly branding. All of the labels were hand written and easy to read, and didn't smudge from standard handling. And best of all... they have only a tiny portion of the tags that stick out. This makes 1mls so, so much easier to store and I am always thankful when a perfume house makes the call to have the 'shorter' labels on wands.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
Bachelor’s Grove
In the bottle: Very earthy, a little green (reminds me of freshly dug or tilled earth with bits of grass in it). Bit of brightness to it on the edges - I can’t tell if it’s a floral, a resin, or a musk. It’s not foody and it is kind of luminous. It’s hard to tell individual notes right now because the dirt is the most prominent thing in the bottle.
Wet on my skin: Sweetness in the throw - smells like a sweet botanical smell but could be a sugar-based smell as well. Whatever it is it’s the ‘luminous’ note. Near the skin I get dirt, black tea, and something green. There might be some dark musk in this. Something in this set my greyhound sniffing excitedly - he's done this before when I've worn stuff with a dirt note. Must be a dog thing.
Drydown: Still dominantly earthy-mixed-with-green. Very dark scent, a little on the masculine side but it’s hard to imagine how something that smells so natural-world could be strongly gendered. Almost a little.. Spicy? Makes me wonder if there’s a resin in here somewhere. I do think there’s black tea - there’s a kind of bitterness to this I associate with tea. Getting more of that sweet smell and still not sure what it is besides ‘sweet’ ‘luminous’ and ‘creamy’. It has a kind of subtlety I don’t normally get with earthy scents. I’d say this smells like a greenhouse family scent but it smells more of the outdoors to me.
After 30 mins: Similar to the drydown - still quite strong - but more of the sweetness coming through.
Official Notes: soil, moss, forest floor, myrrh, and white musk.
Well, the soil is the freshly dug dirt. The moss and ‘forest floor’ must be where the green is coming from - and I think what I’m reading as black tea leaves. The kind of musky element is the white musk (not a black musk - the darkness must be from the soil). The sweetness is from the myrrh (and probably some from the white musk). I’m betting the myrrh is what’s adding the element to this I find myself enjoying.
Verdict: I’m not huge on green-dominant scents (even when they don't give me a headache), and I prefer my soil more ‘dry’ or ‘clay’ smelling - but that’s personal preference. For people who like the smell of freshly dug dark dirt and greenery this one is a unique and novel take on that family. In my opinion the myrrh is what elevates this but well… I really like myrrh.
Note: As this wears the dirt dies back more and the myrrh comes forward more. As the dirt dies back it smells more and more like dry dirt and this moves from ‘not really my thing’ to ‘firmly in my wheelhouse’. If the perfume was like this from the start I’d be upsizing - but wearing it for an hour to get to my ideal keeps this from being an upsize for me.
Greenbriar Ghost
This one I am particularly excited for - I’ve been to the Greenbriar! It’s a few hours from where I live.
In the bottle: Incensey resinousness - might be some frankincense. Smokiness. Sweetness that might be floral, might be gourmand. Woodsiness. It’s a very creamy, smooth, soft resinous scent. This scent smells like the caress of an owl’s wing would feel. This stage of the scent dazzles me - an excellent balance between smokey resinousness, creamy wood, and sweetness.
Wet on my skin: The sweetness kind of reminds me of a dragon’s blood. I’m gonna guess polished woods, dragon’s blood, musk, and a trail of smoke. Maybe some candlewax. It’s spooky, warm, and sensual at the same time. Wears androgynously.
Drydown: Freshly snuffed candles, incense-like resin (still reminds me of dragon’s blood - but could have clove involved as well), polished wood, and something sweetly floral at the edges. Perhaps a swirl of musk. Still about the same, basically - but the candle smell has moved forward.
After 30 mins: Smokey, sweet, a little waxy. Missing some of the incense vibes that were there initially. Got some musk going on - and a little of the polished wood smell remains. Something kind of eerie about the scent I struggle to put my finger on.
Official Notes: black amber, patchouli, spanish moss, bergamot, oak, and frankincense.
So. The sweetness must be from the black amber and maybe from the patchouli. I think what came off kinda floral was the begamot. The kinda dusty, eerie bit I think is the spanish moss. It’s not deeply dusty - just a tad. Might be adding some sweetness and where the wax-like smell is coming from too. The polished wood is the oak, and the frankincense is the frankincense (and probably where the smokey vibe are coming from).
Verdict: This was exquisite out of the bottle, but how it morphed when I wore it was less to my personal tastes . It’s still good - it just lacks some of the shimmering, dragon’s blood feeling spice that’s there in the opening. If this had been stable it would have been an instant upsize. This is one that I might get from L&G as a soap. I’ll be keeping my sample for scent locket and layering experimentation. For spooky, soft-resin lovers this will probably hit it out of the park at all stages.
Pointe Aux Barques
In the bottle: Citrusy, pale floral. Possibly a lily, possible a pale rose. Something sweet beyond what you’d just get from a floral. Little hint of something herbal (like, a mint family herb).
Wet on my skin: Floral is more pink than white at this point - is this frangipani? It’s flagging ‘tropical’ in my head. Creamy note coming forward, reminds me of sunscreen a little. Still a hint of something citrusy - bergamot? Scent is sweet, kind of tropical, creamy, and above all floral. Quite feminine. Might be a touch of honeysuckle coming out - or wait… is that banana?
Drydown: Florals - rounded, heady, sweet florals. Right now mostly smells like honeysuckle but cold have some frangipani or something in there. Fruit that smells like bananas. Soft creamy notes. Touch of that citrus. Tiny, tiny edges of that kinda herbal vibe. The whole thing puts me in mind of a banana daiquiri surrounded by flowers. As it wears it gets more rounded and the midnotes come out. In the early stages I kinda wanted more complexity with the perfume but as it dries down I get my wish.
After 30 mins: Wearing more faintly and the banana is more dominant. Far less citrus. It’s fairly close to the skin - but the cloud is detectable an inch or two away (so not as close to the skin as others). All the ingredients are still present.
Official Notes: lily of the valley, rose, cyclamen, sandalwood, sea kelp, ocean breeze, bergamot, citrus zest, clove, and pepper.
Hahaha. My initial guess of lily and rose were correct - as the scent goes on they develop into heady florals of the sort I really like. The lily in this gets particularly high praise. Most lilies go to powder on me but this one is extremely realistic and really creamy and intoxicating. As the smell wears the flowers do blend with it a bit The bergamot and citrus are both apparent, and both detected - though some time after the drydown they do fade. Some of the herbal component is from clove and pepper - though they’re very, very subtle. I think the kelp is adding both to the impression of mint and to the impression of banana. The other part of what I think I’m getting as banana is the cyclamen. I haven’t smelled real cyclamen - but I know sandalwood alone doesn’t smell like this. The sandalwood is either part of what I’m reading as ‘banana’ or is providing part of the creamy vibe with a very, very subtle touch of resinousness.
Verdict: When I put together an order from L&G this one might be an upsize for me or might be a soap purchase - not sure. Florals bordering on fruity are one of my favorite things. I feel like this scent went straight floral -> complex floral bordering on fruity floral -> faint fruity floral that’s lost the citrus and some of the headiness. Those middle parts were my favorite. I don’t know if this is one that could benefit from stabilizers or if I just didn’t apply enough to my skin. It layers really well with Greenbriar Ghost.
I do want to make a special mention again of that lily note. White florals are hard to get right and it's a dead on lily. I hope to run into it in other L&G scents.
In the bottle: Sugar cookies with lemon frosting. I have very mixed feelings on the idea of ghost-goo smelling edible. On the one hand, smells fantastic, would eat something that smelled like this bottle scent. On the other hand the questions start to rise. Would it actually taste good? Would there be side effects upon consumption? Would we start using it like ambergris in perfumes? Would ghost hunters (in this theoretical world where ectoplasm smells like this perfume) be doing it for the fat cash of getting a rare ingredient? Is this world where ghost hunters are actually just harvesting perfume ingredients the setting for my next D&D campaign?
Wet on my skin: Warm sugar cookies with lemon-vanilla frosting. The vanilla is warm and nutty - kind of reminds me of vanilla bean noel. The lemon is more of an edge. Tiny bit of an aquatic tang to it. Great throw on this. With how this smells wet it’d make a good lotion. The citrus smell might be coming from a floral, and the warmth might be added by an amber.
Drydown: Topnotes of fruit and citrus. I have a sneaking suspicion that this scent might have been inspired by a tall glass of Ecto-cooler so I’m gonna take a stab at this having tangerine as one of the fruit notes. Midnotes of whipped cream, VBN, and sugar cookies. Edges in the middle of something a little floral and tangy - almost aquatic. Base notes of a bright resin of some sort - maybe a silver amber or a really pale sandalwood. Think a big plate of sugar cookies with a bowl of fruit and whipped cream and a tall glass of Ecto-cooler.
After 30 mins: A little less sugar cookie, a little more Ecto-cooler. It kinda smells like the sugar cookies on the plate have cooled down, you’ve eaten some of the whipped cream and fruit, and are sniffing the glass of Ecto-cooler.
Official Notes: pineapple, lemon, and key lime pies, made with buttery dough and topped with coconut vanilla meringue.
So, the fruit/citrus component is pineapple, lemon and key lime. I’m betting the key lime is what smelled kind of floral and aquatic to me.The baked portion smelled more like a sugar cookie than pie dough to me - but that’s just nitpicking. The coconut vanilla meringue was the creamy smell I ID’d as whipped cream and VBN. I swear there’s some amber in here too in one of the accords.
Verdict: If L&G ever has lotions available this’ll be on my Lotion List. As it stands I will be using my sample to experiment with how it balances in my homemade whipped shea butter (it has two ingredients: shea butter and olive oil. It adds a strong shea note to any perfume that goes in it so I have to pick ones I think will balance well). If it goes over well I’ll be upsizing it and using it as a lotion scent at home. I can see one day picking this up in a soap bar as well. I think of the Spectres line this one will have the broadest appeal and wear the most consistently. I liked it at every stage.
In the bottle: Sweet, pale florals. Something citrus-like. Marshmallow sweetness. Pale musk. Edge of dust (that I taste in the back of my mouth). Tiny bit of a resinous base.
Wet on my skin: This smells like a sweet, southern ghost. ‘Oh my STAHS’ she declares before raising a delicate hand to her forehead and collapsing onto a fainting couch that she then passes through because she forgot she’s incorporeal now. Anyway, these smell like white florals. I dunno which ones, but they scream s o u t h e r n to me. Might be some honeysuckle? Or a magnolia accord? Little bit of a clean cloth smell but like… not laundry detergent. It just smells like a dress in someone femme’s closet. Swirls of sweetness that remind me of marshmallow which might be marshmallow or could be a white musk or, hell, it could be both. Dust at the edges - not powdery, but reminds me of the smell of an old book when you crack it open. (heck, there could be an ‘old books’ note in this - I get a weird taste in the back of my mouth when I huff it deeply that reminded me of paper. I had chalked that up to the textile note but… now I’m wondering if it’s books)
Drydown: It smells like opening a wooden trunk in the attic and finding it full of old books and a couple of antique dresses.You are drinking a sweet tea with lemon that’s more sugar than tea. The Extremely Southern Ghost was here recently but got bored when she couldn’t open the trunk and traces of her sweet florals swirl through the room. The biggest thing in this for me though, is that old book note. It’s like pressing my nose into a 15 year old paperback.
After 30 mins: So, this floral might be an ylang-ylang I’ve decided. It reminds me a lot of BPAL’s ylang note. Still getting that old books smell, dust, and lemon-with-maybe-a-hint-of-tea. There’s some earthiness in the scent now that might be coming from the resin. The composition of this scent and how it wears remind me strongly of BPAL’s catalog - so if you like BPAL give this one a spin.
Official Notes: Patchouli, Cherry Pipe Tobacco, Cinnamon leaf, clove bud, black pepper, white cedar, amber, tea leaf, bergamot and just a bit of marshmallow
All right, so, the patchouli is that earthy note I got at the end that I read as part of the resin. The citrus and floral I got must be coming partially from the bergamot - probably combining with the amber. The textile/paper note I was getting was probably the pipe tobacco - it's a dry, dusty tobacco not a sticky one. I think the black pepper is also adding to the dusty character of the scent and might be part of what I was reading as 'old book smell'.
The cinnamon leaf is just an edge. The tea is the tea leaf. The cedar is the woody scent - and is probably also adding some piquancy to what I was reading as citrus and white florals. The marshmallow is the sweet part that smelled like marshmallow. I didn’t really get much clove bud but I could see some tiny edges of it mingling with the pipe tobacco and cedar.
The described notes for this scent fit the best in the drydown where the patchouli, and spices come out. Wet the amber, bergamot, cedar and marshmallow dominate.
Verdict: If you enjoy clean-dusty scents (like… a clean old dress put away in a dusty trunk) or old books I think this one would be a big hit. It’s slightly feminine and very wistful. The objects its invoking my mind are not things that I, personally, care to smell like so I’ll be passing on this one. But I do think it’ll be a big hit in the I-Like-To-Sniff-Old-Books crowd.

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