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a unique scent for men and women from an equally unique fragrance house
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Spider perfume oil by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

"His brother looked like Fat Charlie wished he looked in his mind…Spider was taller, and leaner, and cooler. He was wearing a black-and-scarlet leather jacket, and black leather leggings, and he looked at home in them…"

Unique is more often grammatically misused than not. "It's very unique" or "it's the most unique," many people like to say, and it drives me batty. Unique is a powerful word all by itself – it means one of a kind. And it pings around in my head when I think about Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (aka BPAL), an interesting fragrance outfit in Los Angeles and the creator of Spider, the scent I've been wearing for the last week or so.

Yep, that's right. I've been wearing a fragrance named Spider. A perfume oil, it's composed of some of my favourite fresh and zippy notes – vetiver, bergamot and lime – along with white ginger, artemesia, nutmeg and King mandarin. 

Spider springs from the imagination of Black Phoenix perfumer Beth Barrial on the wings of inspiration via Anansi Boys, a best-selling fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. (Gaiman is well known for his book Coraline -- and perhaps slightly less well known for being the son of a press agent for the Church of Scientology.) 

Anansi Boys inspired Black Alchemy Fragrance Labs Spider perfume oil

"There was something larger-than-life about him: simply being on the other side of the table to this man made Fat Charlie feel awkward and badly consructed, and slightly foolish. It wasn’t the clothes Spider wore, but the knowledge that if Fat Charlie put them on he would look as if he were wearing some kind of unconvincing drag."

Clean and slightly masculine, Spider is exactly the citrus-with-a-hint-of-spice scent I'd hoped for when I read its notes description on the Black Phoenix website. As I wear it, the composition softens and warms up the tiniest bit. And, according to a Jón, a young Icelandic photographer I put on the spot by abruptly shoving my wrist under his nose, yes, he likes it, and no, it doesn't make me smell like a dude.

The image cutlines in this post are excerpts from an Anansi Boys passage that serves as the perfume's backstory. Or maybe you know the book? Either way, are ya pickin' up what I'm puttin' down when I associate "unique" with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab? The line's creator Beth Barrial takes an unlike-any-other approach to fragrance, drawing inspiration from the dark romance of the bizarre, the macabre, and the fantastical. Her huge range of hand-crafted perfume oils includes Fraggle Rock (as in Jim Henson), Alice (as in Wonderland), Dorian (as in Grey, Portrait of), and O (as in The Story of). Seriously, settle in with a glass of wine and a snack when you visit the site.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab_Spider

"It wasn’t the way Spider smiled–casually, delightedly–but Fat Charlies’s cold, incontrovertible certainty that he himself could practice smiling in front of a mirror from now until the end of time and never manage a single smile one half so charming, so cocky, or so twinklingly debonair."

Unique, right? Makes you want to know more, doesn't it? The Lipstick League can help with that. Each of the ladies has selected one Black Phoenix -- or BPAL -- scent to showcase in order to help folks get to know the indie brand. Beside each perfume oil name is a link to the related write-up:

Lady Amalthea: My Newest Addiction
51: Gouldylox
Wolf's Heart : My Beauty Bunny
Eat Me: Love for Lacquer
Josie: Glitter. Gloss. Garbage
Jezebel: we heart this
Shoggoth: Nouveau Cheap
Dirty: Beauty Junkies Unite
Jack: Phyrra
Phantasam: Prime Beauty
Les Fleurs du Mal: EauMG

Spider comes in the little essential-oils bottle you see in the above photos and retails for $26US. BPAL ships to Canada.

What do you think about this indie-fragrance concept? Do you already know Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab? Have any BPAL scents?