Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nocturne Alchemy Seth's Dinosaur Collection - PART ONE

Hello, everyone! I've been wanting to write some reviews for a while now, but we moved, and then I promptly came down with a really bad case of bronchitis, that did not seem to want to go away. I ended up with two different antibiotics and almost went to the hospital at one point, but it's mostly dissipated finally. Well, then I had to put my house together and get everything situated here, and I'm sure anyone that has moved understands how much effort that takes. I haven't moved in over four years, and I felt really bad about not getting my house organized! And here I am, going on and on. Anyway, I had intentions of reviewing Seth's Dinosaur Collection for quite a while, but I think it's particularly relevant now. Nocturne Alchemy is reopening in 4 days, on June 30th! *squeeing and flailing* I'm so excited to see the site redesign. Also, they've been working on new label art, and from what I understand, they'll be adding new scents to the various Permanent Collections. So much fun. I'm sure it's going to be beautiful. If you'd like to keep up with them in the meantime, they have been posting fun things on their Facebook Business page, including a sneak peek video of the new logo, which is absolutely elegant. 
Well, I started this last night, and ended up having things to do that needed my immediate intention - so I had to put it down and come back to it in the morning! It seems like that's the way things have been going lately, so now this review is even more timely. Before I delve into it, I want to make mention that I had an email conversation with the NAVA crew, because I wanted to address some of the rumors I'd seen going around since they'd been closed. I saw that folks were concerned that they wouldn't be reopening, because they've been gone so long, and I also saw that many were worried that the catalogue as it was known might not be returning, so I wrote to see if they'd give me something to share with people - and they did! Such lovely, kindhearted people, and that is the reason I am such a huge "fangirl". I mean, don't get me wrong - they make the most exquisite perfume oils, and of course that drew me in, but once I began to see how much heart they pour into their company, and how much they care about their customers, that really made me fall head over heels. Honestly, in the world of indie perfumes, NAVA is a pretty good sized company. They've been making perfumes for 10 years now - actually, as it's June, they're into their 11th year, and they have a pretty extensive catalogue! So in their own words, I'll use a direct quote here from Nocturne Alchemy.

NA will return June 30th. We asked our customers last year what they thought of the old NA site. Constructive criticism concluded that it was dated. The truth is, we knew this and had been looking for the right host site for the past two years. We knew it would take time to migrate and create a new site but we'd have to be 100% involved and the focus of a new site would mean we'd have to shut down the old site. In the process, we decided to recreate the art for the labels of the Permanent Collection (we call it the PC because we view perfume as you would at an art gallery, where there is a Permanent Collection and a Limited Collection or the temporary exhibit if you will). In the past six months we've taken some much needed time off after a decade of perfume making, perfume soul-searching, travel for more unique perfume, and also back in the Studio for months now working on new PC, new art for new labels and a new look for NA. It took two years prior to opening NA in 2006 creating a small collection of PC and Limited perfumes, designing labels, the site...the fact that we can do this in six months, means we are at the top of our game. We know what we want to create but you can't rush art. NA will return June 30th. Find us on Facebook to stay up with current information. The PC and Studio Limited will return, as well as the beloved VApothecary line that has been rebranded under Nocturne Alchemy to facilitate cohesiveness at the new site.

So, there you have it!  In addition to completely redesigning the site from the ground up, including a different type of "shopping cart", they've been working on all kinds of wonderful things. I am not sure I will even know where to start on Friday! I'm certainly looking forward to digging through the new site - bad pun intended? And now, I have to apologize. As I said, I'd meant to get this posted a few weeks ago, but life sort of threw me under the bus, and I just couldn't give it the proper time it deserved, as the Dinosaur collection, and the eNVie review, both deserve a bit more depth than just reviewing a single perfume. I'll be working on the latter today, to get it posted up hopefully by tomorrow. 
So, roughly two summers ago, Nocturne Alchemy released the original Dinosaur collection, which was Seth's baby, as his other passion, from his early childhood, was dinosaurs, and he wanted to do a collection with that theme. I must tell you, it's been one of my very favorite collections, and I'm only missing a few of them. Last summer, they released a Resurgence, and added some new perfumes to the collection. It's alternatively been called the Prehistoric collection, but the name "Seth's Dinosaurs" has kind of become the popular name among the fans, and often gets shortened to "the Dinos". A little note about this collection: "These dinosaur perfumes are created with the beauty of resin in mind for each of them. The concept to this perfume, the label and the respect of the dinosaur is built on imagination. If you look at the label, there is an egg to the left. It is the same color as the Dinosaur. Apply the perfume on wrist and inner elbow and allow the scent to bind with your chemistry. Once this has occurred, inhale. This conceptually, is the egg. To allow the dinosaur to hatch, we wanted you to go to your Studio Limited Library and pull as many as you want, especially your favorites. The magic in layering the dino's with your Studio Limited Library will give your library a new NAVAlchemy aspect of layering and creating your own personal Dino scent. The fun in NAVAlchemy and hatching the dino eggs is all up to you!" - note from Seth. So, I've seen a few comments floating around the internet that say these oils seem to be rather linear, or flat - and I hope that people will read this, because if they don't realize that these were created specifically to be layered, then they'll miss the beauty of these. I do like them on their own, but I find that when they are layered with other perfumes, the beauty and versatility really shines through. I was never adventurous about layering until I was introduced to these beauties, and they really taught me to branch out, because the possibilities are quite endless. What's interesting is that a lot of the SL (Studio Line) is also fantastic for layering, so I'll make some suggestions for these together for you to try. I believe, from the hints that they've been dropping on the Facebook page, that we'll once again be graced with new Dinos this summer. I don't know if it will be happening with the grand reopening, or at some later time in the summer, but it seems that we'll be getting new Dinosaurs to play with! I cannot wait. 
So, let's get started! I'll go with the first round of Dinosaurs that I have, and then the second round will be in a separate post. All of the Dinosaurs also make this mention: "*tiny bits of resin may occur in the Dino blends, these will only enrich the blend even more with aging!"
Cryolophosaurus:  Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, Aged Organic Studio created Patchouli, Black Patchouli, SL Crimson and only a drop of fine aged Egyptian White peppercorn eo.  So, this was my first love of the Dinosaurs. I was pretty new to NAVA at the time the first collection came out, so I was still trying everything via decants before I sprung for full bottles, because I hadn't learned what worked on me and what didn't yet. I think I ordered decants of everything but Spinosaurus, because I had learned at that point that black honey and I don't get on. Still salty about that! Anyway. The decants arrived, and I tried them all out - and fell madly in love with Cryolophosaurus, and promptly ordered a full bottle. It's....what are words! I feel as though I'm going to be repeating myself here with this collection, but I'll do my best for y'all. The patchoulis in this blend are bright and sort of herbal, almost minty? I don't know if that's a proper patchouli trait, but as a bit of a hippie, I've been a lifelong fan of patchouli (thanks, mom!) and was exposed to the dark and dirty hippie type patchouli early on in life. This was the first time I was exposed to patchouli as a more herbal note, and I was absolutely blown away. I often find NAVA ambers to have a "fresh" sort of quality, and the two ambers used in the Dinosaur collection definitely seem to have that, so it keeps any of these blends from being overly dark. There's definitely a depth and a sort of stoney feel to each one of these, but as I've mentioned, that seems to come out more once you layer them with another perfume, and Cryolophosaurus is no exception. I can wear this happily alone, it's quite different than say Hessonite, which can be a little overwhelming if you're new to patchouli, the ambers lift this up and seem to give the patchoulis a different nuance. You don't get the red musk (Crimson) or pepper aspect very much until you wear this one layered, but those aspects come out and shine once you pair this with another oil.  Also, this oil is red! As I've had my bottle for 2 years, there's definitely some resinous bits forming now, but I couldn't seem to capture a picture of it. 
I could rave and rave about this one. Goals: If they bring this back as a Resurrection again this year, GET A BACKUP BOTTLE. Hah! 
TL;DR A fresh, sort of bright, herbal patchouli. The nuances of the ambers, red musk, and pepper come out to play when you layer this, but you probably won't notice them while wearing it solo. 
Layering suggestions: Try this with Kashmir, Crystalline, Amethyst, Santalum, Crystal, White Ambre Ombre. If you have Labyrinth Oudh, this pairs beautifully with that. If you are a patchouli fiend, you might try hatching it with Patchouli Ombre or Hessonite. I like it with Sekhmet Amber and Black Raven, also.
Diplodocus:  Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, a drop of Cacao, Boswellia carterii Frankincense from United Arab Emirates and a drop of steam distilled Oman Frankincense tears we picked from the actual Frankincense tree.
Believe it or not, although I tried all of my decants the summer that the Dinosaur Collection came out, I did not really pursue full bottles of any except Cryolophosaurus. When I heard that the collection was to be resurrected last summer, I decided I needed to try my decants again, and came to the conclusion that I would have to acquire full sizes of all the originals that I had decants of - oh boy! And then there were new ones joining them. I was in trouble. So, I was trying to decide which of these I absolutely had to have, and at first, I had decided since I had Holiday Egyptian Frankincense, I probably didn't need Diplodocus. Well, I fell pretty hard for HEF last summer and found myself layering it with everything, and before I knew it, I had gone through a half a bottle. Panic set in, and I decided I was probably going to need an alternative frankincense, as it was a note I was falling more and more in love with. Diplodocus became a must have, and I am glad I was able to sneak it in my last order before the collection came down. As a stand alone perfume, this is pretty much a linear frankincense - albeit a lovely one. Beautifully woody, you could wear this alone if you were in the mood to wear a sort of single note frankincense, but this lends a wonderful aspect with so many perfumes, I prefer to layer it. Once I layer it with another perfume, the bright, resinous, stony amber comes out to play with the woodiness of the frankincense, and it's heavenly. The cacao is not a starring note, I can find it with my nose only if I keep sniffing, but it plays a lovely supporting role.
TL;DR A perfect frankincense layering note, it does well with adding a sort of grounding to perfumes that might ordinarily be too bright or feminine for my particular tastes, and is lovely paired with the SLs as well to create a duality. 
Layering suggestions: Kobalt Dark, Santal Ombre, Egyptian Musk, Crystal, Diamond, or even to add a tad more frankincense to Ember. I've also paired this and love it with Gabriel, Eternal Egypt, and Ozymandias. I love it with several LC perfumes as well; Black Velvet, Black Crystalline Black Fig, Vamp, Anticipation, Blue Lotus, Snow Amber. 
Pteranodon:  Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, a drop of Cacao, Pure Sandalwood left to age in the perfume, Santalum Gold, Santalum and a drop of Blue Santalum.
GODS. Gods. This was the one that made me sit up and take notice, why had I missed out on ordering a full bottle, and I need to rectify this immediately! All of the Dinosaurs are fantastic, versatile little workhorses when playing with layering, but Pteranodon became a quick favorite of mine, and dare I say? Yes, I dare, it became my favorite sandalwood thus far. Don't get me wrong, you'll be prying my gloriously aged bottle of SL Santalum out of my cold, dead hands, I absolutely adore Santalum White, especially when spring and summer roll around, but really I can see using it all year...but this, this is special. Samantha tells me that's because it has the most precious of precious, Santalum Gold. Since she sent me a little sample of her precious bottle, I can understand the obsession - there's something pretty amazing about Santalum Gold. It's a little more woody and resinous, more fully sandalwood than the new version Santalum. I love mine, don't get me wrong, but I can see why Santalum Gold is so popular that if one pops up in the secondary market, it is gone within minutes. Ah well, one day I will be quick enough! Until then - Pteranodon. Yes, I can and have worn this alone, and I absolutely adore it. I like it in my hair, it's one of my favorite layering components when I pair it with something and add a few drops of unscented hair oil and run my fingers through my hair. Hnnnnggg. It's hauntingly familiar, it reminds me of when I lived briefly in Minneapolis in the early nineties and I hung out in the head shops and the kitschy little knicknack shops of uptown and the fantastic thrift stores....ahhhh the nineties, it brings me a feeling of nostalgia, for that's when I discovered how glorious sandalwood was. Oddly enough, my mother is a darker creature, and I don't remember her wearing sandalwood during her hippie days, mostly patchouli and musk and especially dragon's blood. She was missing out, I tell you. This. This really evokes some strong emotions in me. So, once layered, again the ambers come out to play, and the cacao is there as a supporting note, but the star is the variety of sandalwoods. You really get a sense of the four once this is layered. I don't know what to say other than IF THIS COMES BACK AND YOU DON'T HAVE IT YOU'D BETTER GET ONE. I'll be picking up a backup. I might not be able to get my hands on Santalum Gold, but this will do.
Layering suggestions: Gods, it goes with everything. Seriously. One of my favorite things is to hatch this with a combination of Diamond, Crystalline, and Tibetan Crystalline. Alternately, I'll do Bloodstone, Egyptian Musk, and this (maybe some Amethyst too). It's fantastic with Ember Vanilla or from the LC, Phantasm Kiss. I love it with Egyptian Temple Oudh. Umm, Eternal Egypt, Bastet Amber, Raphael, Black Raven. Ambre Ombre, or even Santal Ombre. I love it with the OPs, Baba, Tawaret, Pakhet, Hathor. I've got a smidgen of my sample of Egyptian Peach Blossom left and it's lovely with that. Polichenelle. Cecilia, Adele, Music, Snow Amber, Patchouli Ombre. There hasn't been a layering combination with this one I haven't loved, so be adventurous. If a perfume seems a bit too sweet or floral, this makes a nice "grounding" effect. Just do yourself a favor and nab this if it comes back!
Tyrannosaurus:  Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, a drop of Cacao, Dracaena Draco of Morocco (Dragon's Blood resin) and Sangre de Grado Dragon's Blood.
One of the things I don't think I've talked about a lot is exactly how much I love NAVA's dragon's blood. I seem to like dark, red, resinous things quite a bit, I mean, Kashmir is practically my signature, followed closely by Bloodstone. So, what is their dragon's blood like? It's that perfect mixture of spicy and fruity. It's so, so well balanced. I don't really like it when a db note veers too much into either territory, leaving the other territory well behind. I want that combination, just a little spicy, just a little fruity, almost delicious. This is another workhorse. Alone, it's a beautifully resinous, juicy dragon's blood with a little kick of spice. It might be too dark alone if you're not into db, but layer this big boy - did Seth name this one well or WHAT? Layer Tyrannosaurus, and it becomes bright and lifted with the amber, and it's possibly even more beautiful than Bloodstone. Wait, what? Blasphemy. Okay, maybe not my bottle of aged, thick, glorious Bloodstone, but it's pretty amazing. Worn alone, T-Rex is a hint of the amber, and the two dragon's bloods. Layered, and he comes into his full glory, the amber comes out to really play, and that lovely supporting cacao becoes just a little bit evident, to give it a little more depth. 
TL;DR: T-Rex is a big boy, and this perfume more than lives up to its name. I find it apropos that his scent is dragon's blood. Layered, he is just the right amount of resinous, spicy, juicy dragon's blood and glorious, fresh stony amber. Mmmm. Mm. It makes me hum with happiness.
Layering suggestions: Ember Vanilla, Ambre Ombre, Patchouli Ombre, Santalum, Ember, Black Raven, Mists of Arcacia, OP Anubis, OP Pakhet. From the LC, try it with Phantasm Kiss, Blood Moon, Egyptian Temple Oudh, Copal Oudh, or Pandora.
Utahraptor:  Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, hungry chomps of Kashmir and Black Musk Absolutes, Egyptian Musk and a drop of Crimson and Sri Lankan Black Peppercorn eo.
Oh, Utahraptor. I've listed this last, but not because I love it least. In fact, I adore it, and it's quite versatile - different layering options bring out different facets of this one. I'm sure I've made mention of the fact that I really, really love NAVA musks. Kashmir is probably one of my favorite perfumes. So naturally, I had to have this. Worn alone, this comes across as mostly Kashmir, with a breath of Black Musk underneath, and the amber lifts it up - it might seem like a heavy blend, but it's saved from that by the beautifully clean Egyptian Musk and ambers. Start playing with layering, and while Kashmir, a bold red musk, remains the star, Black Musk and Egyptian Musk come out to play a bit more vocally, and I love that little kick of spiciness in the background of peppercorn. I'm a big fan of pepper in perfumes - Music is a great example of this, I feel, and it's kind of a surprising note, I think that many people would envision it from a cooking spice standpoint, but it's a bit different when added as a component of perfume. It adds a little kick, and it's quite fun. If you've never had the experience, I highly recommend giving it a chance. Anyway, enough about pepper, it's a supporting note here, and gives this "egg" a bit of pizzazz when you hatch it with another perfume. 
TL;DR: Kashmir, a bold red musk, is the star here but plays beautifully with the other two musks, Black and Egyptian, when layered. Don't be afraid of the pepper. Despite the musk heavy blend, it's not nearly as heavy as you might think, the ambers lift and brighten this perfectly, and it's quite fun with a variety of different types.
Layering suggestions: Crystalline, Tibetan Crystalline, Santalum White, Egyptian Musk, Ozymandias, Pharaoh Anniversary, OP Baba, OP Set. For LC options, I absolutely am nuts over hatching this with California Redwood Crystal Musk. Also, Underlord Akhenaten, Pyewacket Cat, Pumpkin #2, Copal Oudh, Enigma, and it's amazing with the Byzantium Amber from their 9th Anniversary perfumes.
Okay, whew! That was pretty extensive, I am sorry for the wall of text, but I do hope you'll find my "hatching" suggestions helpful. This really did provide me with the courage to really branch out and become a layering fiend, and now I will layer various perfumes in with my unscented hair oils too, and I get a lot of compliments about how amazing my hair smells. Tomorrow, I'll get the second half of this posted for you, with last year's additions. From the first year, I do not have Spinosaurus, Stegasaurus, or Styracosaurus. Feel free to offer up your own layering combinations with these amazing perfumes! I want to mention one more thing in closing, these are another collection that do even better with age, they become richer and seem to come into their own even more. Have a wonderful evening!

Editing to add a note, and a link to part two! I forgot to mention previously, is that these are lovely when you pair them together! And I've done this several times with different combinations. Pteranodon with Protoceratops or Deinonychus, Velociraptor with Utahraptor, Diplodocus with Giganotosaurus, Protoceratops with almost anything! Hah.
Another thing to mention, if you have eNVie Saphir, many of these are stunning when hatched with Saphir. Definitely worth experimenting with - I have Saphir, Ambre Saphir, and Encens Saphir, and they all do well with the Dinosaurs.

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