So, Andromeda's Curse went with a medieval bestiary theme for their fall collection. Which like, I was so on board with. Medieval bestiaries are just freaking amazing and I'm going to take a second her and be like if the idea of medieval bestiary perfumes excites you the following two links are uh, very, very good:
This website [ link] is a giant compilation of medieval bestiaries. There's so much good stuff here. Like, did you know that apparently lynxes pee turns into precious stones? Or that barnacle gooses come from trees? Or that scorpions apparently come from the dead bodies of crabs? So many medieval nuggets of wisdom!
From Vellum [ link ] is a store that sells lapel pins and stickers designed after the illustrations in medieval manuscripts.
I feel kind of weird linking other stuff in an Andromeda's Curse review but if I could I'd wallpaper my house with illustrations from medieval bestiaries. I see it as a full sensory experience: Medieval bestiary perfumes, paired with bestiary entries, paired with stickers of medieval manuscript illustrations/doodles. Gosh, those monks illuminating stuff in 1300 knew what was up.
The set also contains a Wyvern [store link] perfume that AC was kind enough not to send to me because it contains a small amount of black pepper absolute and I'm allergic. No one wants me getting hives and popping benadryls. Anyway, if you're not allergic to black pepper and have tried this perfume on your skin I'd love to hear your opinions on it.
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days ( about a week ) after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box if small enough. If too large for a box they generally sit on top of a bookcase or bedside table, or inside of a drawer. 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 Dove sensitive skin, honeysuckle Meyer's Clean Day or almond/citrus Doc Bronner’s.
Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off). I also am often wearing scented lotion on my feet and ankles (that I do not wash off). Sometimes I wear scented hair products simultaneously. Theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
For oils: Each sample was gently swirled before application. Then applied directly to skin - typically the top of my arm or the back of my hand.
Each review is written without looking at the notes in that moment. Frequently I will glance at a perfume’s notes beforehand. At the end of the review I will list what the official notes are and comment on how I think they interacted.
You can find my review of Andromeda's Curse 1ml samples [ here ].
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
In the bottle: Herbal greenery, a lemony scent (possibly a lemony floral), and what I suspect is a stone note due to the perfume’s theme. I could be wrong in that - but it’s a smooth atmospheric that’s kind of cold and tingly under the greenery and lemony note. Perhaps a touch of dirt or dust.
Wet on my skin: Dusty dirt, herbs, a vegetable, that lemony scent (could be citrus, could be a floral or could be a citrus and a floral) and that smooth atmospheric. The entire character of the scent is a contrast between fresh greenery and mildly sweet citrus/floral giving a ‘clean’, mildly ozonic vibe and then the dirt and stone. It honestly feels like a genuine garden scent to me bringing stone walls, floral/citrus sweetness, and then dirt and vegetation.
Drydown: I keep sniffing this and going ‘Ooo… I like this a lot more than I thought I would’ which with a white floral usually means a magnolia or an ylang ylang. Here I’m thinking ylang ylang (off chance of it being a jasmine - they can smell similar). So at the forefront you have that lemony scent and a white floral almost-honeyed sweetness. I can’t tell if the white floral and lemony scent are separate. There’s that almost-ozonic tang rounding out the topnotes.
Beneath that is something resinous - it could be a pure resin (e.g. an amber) or a woody-resin. It might also be where the ozonic-tang is coming from. At the base of the scent I get that ‘stone’ smell and a soft wreath of vegetable greenery.
A contrast of clean and dirty with both having a kind of ‘outdoor garden’ feel to them. It’s a tiny bit masculine of center. The drydown has strongly mellowed the scent and it wears more faintly than when it was first applied, but still definitely detectable with the scent cloud starting about 2 inches from the application point. Definitely wearing stronger on me than some of AC’s other scents did in past reviews. I’m not sure about the throw largely because I keep lifting up my hand and sniffing it.
After 30 mins: About like the drydown - still wearing relatively powerfully.
Official Notes: Wormwood, Fall Leaves, Moss, Salt, Oakmoss, Incense & Oud.
So! The wormwood is what I was reading as stone - but also part of the floral. I can definitely see it with the words in front of me. Think ‘the non-anise’ part of absinthe and you’ll have it. I think in the ‘fall leaves’ accord there’s a white floral for sure, and perhaps a touch of wax I wasn’t noticing before. With the words in front of me again I can definitely see it mimicking that sweet-waxy smell of dried leaves (wet it was far too lemony for that). The moss and oakmoss are the green notes - I think the oakmoss is also what reminded me of the smell of stone. I don’t get much in the way of salt - but I do get the incense and oud combining to create the resinous note I mentioned.
Verdict: I’m not sure! It’s a very cool garden scent that actually smells like a garden and I’m always impressed by green scents that I actually like. But at the same time I don’t know how much I’d wear it as a personal scent (even though I do like it). Going to keep my sample for now while I waffle on it. Definitely worth trying for people who like deep green garden scents but normally find ‘fresh’ green notes overwhelming.
In the bottle: Chocolate drenched fruit with caramel. What kind of fruit? Hard to make out wet. Very sweet, very chocolaty. It has that kind of toffee ‘snap’ to it that some gourmands do in the bottle before they get onto the skin.
Wet on my skin: Deep chocolate drenched fruit - smells kind of like cherry but not quite. I could see it being an apricot or something. There’s a wet, almost aquatic note in there - and at the base something bitter and earthy and a little woody. It’s very rich and very deep brown. It contrasts sugary sweetness with bitter earthiness.
Drydown: Chocolate and caramel coated fruit, a scent that strongly reminds me of clay, a woody smell, and then that bitter-earthy smell at the base. The chocolate/caramel coated fruit is the most forward part of the scent, but as you inhale it the bitter-earthy/woody parts of the scent come out. They’re very dark and organic smelling in a way that reminds me of fresh, dark soil and slightly decomposed greenery. And at the edges of the scent there’s just a small kiss of what smells kind of like cinnamon and a tiny bit of that wet note - I think that’s actually a floral, like a subtle touch of rose.
After 30 mins: Similar to the drydown but it’s mellowed some. Still those very sweet gourmand topnotes, the fruit is more subdued though. In the midnotes I’m getting the ‘clay’ smell and the wet-floral smell and rich woody base notes. Getting less of the bitter notes - but a bit of a sharp feeling when I sniff deeply lets me know they’re still there.
Also halfway through sniffing for this part of the write up I suddenly started smelling less of the notes - I don’t know if it’s abruptly wearing more faintly (unlikely) or if I’m going anosmic to it (more likely).
Yes on the chocolate - and I think the vanilla is what smelled kind of like caramel to me. The palo santo is the woody note and some of the bitterness in the scent - it’s a more herbal and less smoky palo santo to my nose. The violet must be what I was reading as a fruit and as that wet-floral. The cinnamon is the cinnamon I smelled at the edges. The patchouli must be part of what’s so earthy at the base. I wonder if the Egyptian musk is what smells like clay to me (or if it’s a combination of parts).
Verdict: Dark brown, sweet, and rich. For fans of rich, sugary-sweet gourmands (but who want a twist on the gourmand as opposed to a straight gourmand), particularly ones who like ‘earthy’ twists…this might be one you want to give a go. For me it’s a pass - just not my type of thing.
Okay so small note: as a kid I was obsessed with gryphons. You know how some kids get obsessed with wolves or dragons? I was into gryphons. They’re still one of my favorite fantasy creatures! (Also, while copy/pasting the notes for the previous scent I saw one of these scents had cardamom in it and I think it might have been Gryphon).
In the bottle: I open this up and my first though is ‘Oh, this reminds me of Indian desserts’, so, yes, cardamom. Very forward cardamom. Mildly green spice cardamom. It’s layered over a sweet fruity-dusty smell that reminds me of turkish delight. Sweet, creamy, almost floral and a tiny bit fruity and dominated by spices. Contrasting with the spiced scent of the cardamom is something cool and nose-tingly. It reminds me in some ways of Alkemia’s Haunted & Bewitched.
Wet on my skin: Lead by cardamom this scent is really curious. It’s got that cool nose-tingly dusty-fruity thing going on that Alkemia’s Haunted & Bewitched does, along with a soft nutty smell and a sweet-musky smell and just a tiny swish of floral in there. I really like this as a gourmand - it reminds me of Indian and Middle Eastern sweets.
Drydown: Smelling very similar with a tiny bit less cardamom (but still plenty of cardamom)... but tragically wearing fainter on me. I can still definitely smell if it I press my nose to my arm but the scent cloud starts maybe half an inch away from my skin.
I do love the rich fruity-floral-dusty-cool spiced topnotes. I love the dusty-musky midnotes, and the golden base (maybe there’s an amber in here?). It definitely seems to capture the nature of the gryphon - beast, bird, lion, sky and earth, guardian of the gold. I just wish this wore more strongly on me, with more of a throw.
After 30 mins: Wearing a bit stronger. It smells roughly the same as the drydown - I’ve started to wonder if this is a baklava themed scent and might have some honey in there adding those golden tones I noticed in the drydown.
Official Notes: Cardamom, Sandalwood, Cedarwood.
I’m gobsmacked because this smelled so much like a gourmand. I’m guessing the particular cedar in this and the way it interacted with the cardamom created the illusion. The sandalwood is probably adding those musky nuances and both the sandalwood and cedarwood are adding to the golden impression. It’s very sweet, very silky, a little nose-tickly and cool.
Verdict: Love it. If it wore more strongly on my I’d definitely upsize (I’d also freaking adore this as a candle). Dunno if I’ll upsize for now - but keeping my sample until I make up my mind. It blows me away that this scent has three listed notes but so much complexity!
Note: I wore this one past the 30 minute time and it slowly got stronger and stronger on me and started to have a really decent throw on it. I’ll probably be upsizing.
In the bottle: Resinous, floral-sweet and spicy! I’m going to guess there’s some dragon’s blood in here, maybe some incense (like a nag champa or something) and I’m getting an edge of lemony, sweet florals. Maybe an ylang ylang? It’s a little more green than I’m used to with ylang ylang.
Wet on my skin: Waves of sweet, honeyed, lemony florals in the foreground. Behind that is what smells like a musk - maybe a red musk? It’s sort of oddly glassy - almost ozonic. At the edges there’s this spicy smell - like red pepper and/or cloves. And the core of the scent is resin. Unapologetic resin. A lot of resin.
Drydown: The biggest change that happened as this dried down was the note came out that smelled ‘glassy’ or ‘metallic’ to me and moved towards the front of the scent. I originally interpreted it as a musk - but now I’m pretty sure it’s either a metal, or a glass note (possibly a very strong ozone note).
In the drydown the scent is a balance between the sweet resin, the spices, and the metallic scent. There’s maybe an edge of florals in the drydown, but nothing like it was when it was wet.
After 30 mins: Wearing fainter and more mild - but the balance is the same as the drydown with the metallic note perhaps being a tiny bit less prominent.
Official Notes: Bergamot, Black Tea, Labdanum, Frankincense, Myrrh.
So I’m guessing what smelled like honeyed white florals to me is the bergamot mixing with the myrrh. Myrrh goes sweet, bergamot goes citrus, is makes sense. I don’t get much in here that screams ‘black tea!’ to me except for a hint of darkness and perhaps some of the sharpness I was reading as ‘glass’. However I think the bulk glassy-metallic and incense notes in there are a combo of the labdanum and frankincense. I’m not sure what smelled like cloves/pepper to me in here - maybe some of the black tea is playing with the resins in such a way that it gives the scent a dark and spicy character?
Bit of a throw on it. I keep getting whiffs at arm’s length. The strong scent cloud starts about an inch and a half above the application site.
Verdict: Too dark-red-resinous for my tastes, but I know dark resins with atmospheric elements are often popular with the community. I’ll be passing but for people into traditional ‘goth’ scents this might fit the bill.
I remember this one having light, bright ingredients… but I don’t remember which ones apart from uh… white musk I think?
In the bottle: Musk - might be white, might not - and a slightly indolic floral that smells aquatic to me. Might be gardenia? A little bit of something like grass, or hay at the base. Less shining-bright and more soft and thick.
Wet on my skin: Ah, now the more piquant part of the floral is coming out. It’s still slightly indolic in that sweet, heavy way (I still think this might be gardenia) layered over a musky scent and earthy-grassy notes and something almost nutty. It kind of reminds me of walnut.
Drydown: So, definitely indolic white-floral topnotes. A little sharper and a touch more indolic than I like my white florals without a matching amount of sweetness to balance them. Beneath that is a soft haze of musk… and then that grass/hay note, which might be coumarin/tonka. It’s kind of got that half-dried hay thing going on.
After 40 mins: Some more sweetness with the white floral - but it’s still more on the indolic-sharp side. Musk beneath that, and then something like sweet drying hay. What’s interesting though is upon sniffing this with a clean pallet (I stopped to eat dinner) is I’m getting something herbal-piquant in here - like a mint or a lavender.
Official Notes: Powder, Lilies, Cashmere, Red Musk.
Ah, lilies. This is a little powdery - but not strongly so. This is another scent where I think the play between notes creates impressions that the note by itself wouldn’t have. For example: with the red musk I think the ‘red’ aspects to the musk draw out the sharper aspects of the lilies. The cashmere combines with the greener bits of the lilies and the powder to give that impression of grass/hay. The powder brings out the more herbal undertones to the lilies.
It’s a heavy, soft scent with sharp aspects. Appropriate for a unicorn. The lily is at the core of this scent with the other notes bringing out its various nuances.
Verdict: Not my thing - a little too indolic-sharp for my tastes - but a really interesting execution of a concept. I’ll be passing on it, but I do want to note that the soft-but-sharp was a really clever way of conveying ‘unicorn’.