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BPAL x Pretty Indulgent review: Hochelaga, Black Silk, Une Folle Entreprise, Ville-Marie, and Halloween in Montreal

Black Pheonix Alchemy Lab Pretty Indulgent review collection

If you haven’t heard of them before, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is one of those alt/hippie companies with a crazy-wonderful following (think Fyrinnae and LUSH) — and I mean this in the most amazing way possible. They’re a small company with an enormous library of super-concentrated fragrance oils that seems to produce one cult hit after another, and after seven years of beauty blogging, I have finally had the chance to try a few of their scents.

Today, I’m covering five fragrances exclusive to Pretty Indulgent, an online store run by Maggie of Maggie’s Makeup (who I have the biggest girlcrush on, but shhh.) These tiny–but potent, seriously–little bottles retail for a mere $23 each, and each scent in this limited run celebrates the rich culture and history of Quebec and Montreal. 

BPAL Black Silk Hochelaga review Pretty Indulgent

The first scent I tried on was Hochelaga, which features dry, warm woods and musk alongside elegant threads of buttery old herbs, spices and wildflowers. It smells like walking into an antiques/thrift store in the winter, surrounded by knitted blankets and knick-knacks in old wooden cabinets that once held metal pots for stew.

Next, I tried Black Silkwhich seems to have been the big hit of the collection — it sold out in less than a day! Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be a second run (one of its ingredients is very difficult to source), but it smells absolutely incredible. While sharp in the bottle, it rounds itself out beautifully on the skin and the tobacco absolute/bourbon vanilla cream notes blend together to create a boozy, almost nutty animalic sweetness unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before. Think smokey, smooooth benzoin-tobacco overtones with just a whisper of patchouli for this one.

BPAL Ville-Marie Une Folle Entreprise review Pretty Indulgent

Then came Une Folle Entreprise, which I wasn’t crazy about — but WOW does it ever last. I got a drop (and I mean a literal drop) of this on my sweater, and the base notes stuck around for a week. Thanks to the violet note, it’s sweet like a chocolate martini; sharp but cloying with patchouli, licorice root, and tonka bean.

Next is Ville-Mariewhich was just a treat to experience. It’s bright and sugary (there are so many different kinds of sweetness in this post!), and yet again, I’ve smelled nothing like it before. The cream soda opening lifts within minutes, and the scent blooms on the skin to reveal a lemony bouquet of orchids, lilies, and a whopping five different varieties of lilac, ending in a creamy vanilla-musk.

And, finally, we end with Halloween in Montreal, which covers the final corner of the sweetness spectrum. This one really does smell like Halloween, as promised — it’s bottled-up leaves, snowflakes, chimney smoke, and candy, and you can smell it all by simply closing your eyes. (Weirdly, it also smells like walking into a Pier 1 Imports or something, open-top candles everywhere).

BPAL Halloween in Montreal review Pretty Indulgent

Buying guide

This is a lot to take in, so here’s your SparkNotes version!

If you love smelling things but you’ve never tried a BPAL creation before… you owe it to yourself to experience these beauties. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you like any of them; they’re an olfactory experience like no other, and that makes them fascinating. Unlike mainstream scents, which tend to be identifiably “perfumey”, these fragrances smell like Things — places, times, memories. Order yourself a few Imps (samples) to get started, and go from there.

And to pick your perfect Pretty Indulgent exclusive ($23 CAD each, and yes, the site takes Paypal), here they are in order of must-haveability!

  1. Try Ville-Marie if you like happy summer days and evenings on the pier. It’s a complete chameleon, starting out so bright and uplifting that it makes me want to giggle, and transforming completely into a musk so soft and vanilla-tinged that I can’t help but go “mmmm.”
  2. Try Black Silk if there is any way you could possibly get your hands on it, because it’s amazing.
  3. Try Hochelaga if you’re secretly a super-cool hippie/alt girl/vegan, but you daylight as the Regular Girl at the office.
  4. Try Halloween in Montreal if you like the way home-store candle aisles smell, because I swear to god, this smells EXACTLY like that. I feel like I’m picking out throw pillows in my office right now; it’s uncanny.
  5. Try Une Folle Entreprise to pair with your flavoured martini and slit-back dress. I both envy and fear your ability to wear four-inch heels.

Happy sniffing, scoundrels!

BPAL fragrance review intro for beginners

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  • beautyreflections2013

    I want them all! CRAP.
    My recent post Nisim F.A.S.T. Shampoo and Conditioner Giveaway!

    • They're soooo good. And so interesting, too — I was really impressed!

  • Huge BPAL fan, with a slowly growing collection of mainly LE scents. Just so unique compared to most main stream fragrances, and I love how concentrated they are!
    My recent post Julep Boho Glam Maven Box for January

    • Can I ask what your favourite scents/scent families are? I would love to try more in the future, but I never know where to begin!

      • Christina

        I'm not the person you asked, but I've been buying from BPAL since 2004. In general, I tend to like the fruity-florals, the floriental scents, and the woodsy ones. Many of my loves have been LEs or discontinued, but I would say must-tries for newbies (in the general catalogue, no LEs) are:

        1.Snake Oil (it's their most popular scent, and a very love-it-or-hate-it one, I gather),
        2. Alice (a lovely creamy carnation and tea rose scent)
        3. Spellbound (a sexy floriental with a lush dark rose feel)
        4. Sed Non Satiata (a honeyed floriental)
        5. Fae (a light, springy peach floral)
        6. Lampades (a personal fave of mine– deep, dark cranberry and smoke)
        7. Aizen Myoo (a yuzu-citrus scent. So bright and happy!)
        8. Shub-Niggurath (evil ginger snaps, perfect for winter)
        9. 51 (a totally odd duck of a scent– it smells neon green, and that's the best way to describe it)
        10. Hoggle (a pumpkin/spice/leather scent that is just the cosiest in fall)

        Hope that helps!

        • Oh my god. Amazing; thank you so much!! I am bookmarking this comment to come back to at a later date — I think I *need* Fae and 51. <3 <3 <3

  • Annabelle

    I've heard so much about BPAL on this /r/indiemakeupandmore subreddit, but I've never pulled the plug on them – there's just too many scents to choose from! Love your descriptions of them though!

    • Thanks, lovely :) Imo, starting off with retailer exclusives is a big help — it really narrows down the selection, and it's a lot easier to tuck in when you're not faced with hundreds of options right off the bat!

  • sylirael

    I seem to recall some Simpsons episode or other where Homer was running around and around the walls going 'WOOOPwoopwoopwoopwoopwoopWOOOOP" nonstop. I feel I should let you know that this was pretty much my exact response to seeing 'BPAL' in the title of your post. I am *desperate* to try their stuff! I need, like ALL of the D&D themed oils (how can I be a rogue and not smell like oiled leather, hinge grease and hempen rope?), plus most of the other ones I read about. I keep filling up a cart on their site, and then remembering that I have something else I am duty bound to spend the $100 on, hah! Like power bills, or something equally lame.

    GAH! I need a cup of tea, a biscuit, a lie down and some time spent browsing through their website while making low, keening sounds of longing.
    My recent post The Beauty Spotlight Team Delves Into Marcia’s Adventuring Kitbag!

    • Hahahaha!! That paints a GREAT metal picture, my dear adventurer. I want so badly for you to be able to try some BPALs; they scream Rogue to me!!

      Have I ever bugged you about the Bottega Veneta EdP? It's one of my favourites, and I have no idea if it would be up your alley at all, but it sounds a surprising amount like what you're describing. Lots of herbs (patchouli), wisps of leather, and just the most gorgeous overall feeling…