Thursday, 30 April 2020

DARK QUEEN by Sarah McCartney and ÇaFleureBon

The fashion for bloggers, vloggers, and reviewers to release their own fragrance seems to be at an all-time high at the moment. It’s clear that the majority of these are just a blatant attempt to cash in on their already entrenched audience’s admiration and, as such, the results can often be overly emotive or decidedly underwhelming. That’s why it was with some trepidation that I approached the latest release from ÇaFleureBon. The third in her celebratory series, and once again created by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays, is Dark Queen a force to be reckoned with or a sibling to be ignored?

ÇaFleureBon is the nom de plume of Michelyn Carmen, and also the name of the hugely successful fragrance website that she has run for the past ten years. Starting from an interest of fragrance in all of its forms, Michelyn has gone on to become an influential voice in the perfume community with regular reviews and factual pieces about the industry as a whole. It’s this interesting mix of launches and after-hours gossip that has made ÇaFleureBon one of the top fragrance sites worldwide. So, her reporting credentials are five star but the question is whether that would translate into a fragrance.

The collaboration between Michelyn and Sarah McCartney originally began in 2018 with White Queen. Sarah says of that initial conversation, “We wanted to create a sense of wonder, and to celebrate the idea of disappearing down the rabbit hole and finding ourselves in a new world of aromatic delight.” Now fans of 4160 Tuesdays will already know that Sarah’s style of fragrance often leads the wearer into new worlds, and so the pairing was a match made in heaven. The collaboration continued in 2019 with Red Queen, the rosy antithesis to the original creamy gourmand, so what was left to be explored in 2020?

With the first two fragrances having been inspired by Alice In Wonderland, a book by Faith Hunter was chosen as the reference for number three. Also called Dark Queen, it features the central character of Jane Yellowrock and she is described as “Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans.” I’m going to admit that I haven’t read the book, but the final line of the jacket blurb seems to sum up the whole project, “Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.” This definitely feels like the perfect description of Dark Queen, and also of those that sink their teeth into it.

The fragrance opens with a note of brandy, as if the heroin has just taken a swig, before a wash of “forest fruits” appear. Colour doesn’t have a smell, but these definitely put you in mind of unripened dark berries. From this point the fragrance deepens considerably to reveal an edgy leather accord of labdanum, styrax, patchouli, and perhaps even a touch of earthy vetiver? There also seems to be a note of cumin in the background and this adds a sexual skin scent to the fragrance. That, in combination with the warming tonka bean, definitely means that Dark Queen lives up to its promise that “no one is safe.”

Dark Queen is available from the Perfumology website at perfumology.com price at $130 for 50ml or $180 for 100ml. [Sample provided by Sarah McCartney]

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