Recently I have been branching out and trying some new perfume oil companies. I had heard a ton of good things about Nocturne Alchemy and decided to finally give them a try. The first couple of samples I tried had me hooked and I’ve been knee deep in luscious smells ever since! One thing led to another and I was very fortunate to be able to informally interview Emerson from Nocturne Alchemy and Jacek from VApothecary. I have also included reviews of the latest FEx and Limited Edition oils as well as a couple of general catalog scents. And a contest! *ooooh, ahhhhhh!*
The Contest- NA/VA has generously donated a bottle of Plumeria Sapphire from Noctune Alchemy as well as a bottle of Jacek from VApothecary. From my personal collection I have donated a bottle of NA’s Egyptian Raspberry Delight as well as a bottle of Nokturne: Amethyst Resurrected. In order to be entered to win simply go to: http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/ and find a perfume oil that you would like to try. Post a comment in this blog with your choice and also tell me why it sounds like something you’d like and please include your email address. That’s it! I will draw four winners on 2/26/12 and winners will be emailed within forty eight hours.
The Interview- * First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to do this, I really appreciate it! My first question involves the recent merger of Nocturne Alchemy and VApothecary, about which I am super thrilled. What brought about this decision to merge the two formerly separate companies?
NA & VA were indeed separate perfume oil companies, both situated within the House of NA in San Francisco, CA. We were on the ground and bottom floors and we kept our entire stock of perfume’s completely separate. Jacek (owner of VA) had his own supplier and his own vision of an Immortal perfume house, whereas I (owner of NA) had a vision of Egyptian perfume oils. The only big difference between us was the rather steep Victorian staircase that separated us. It would soon become a chore to use that staircase. Somewhere in there we collaborated with each other on Exclusives and Limited Editions until we both needed more space. Near the end of 2011, we had a few walls broken down and extended our lab into the next office where VA has moved into. The bottom floor is now storage for both companies. Both Jacek and I agree; we can still be independent of each other but we can create some wonderful collaboration work; which we have and we continue to. It’s win/win. Plus everyone can order from both companies at one place and what you save on shipping alone can get you a few more viles or skarabs! ~Emerson
*How did the idea of Eqyptian and Gothic themed perfumes come about?
Nocturne Alchemy was conceived way back when I was in College (High School) in Australia. I simply fell in Love with Egyptian Musk which followed throughout the years with the Love of all things Egyptian. Eventually I designed a business card while at University entitled ‘Nocturne’. Who knew that years later that would reemerge into Nocturne Alchemy. That name came about because of the precise technique and spiritual attraction to the High Priests of Ancient Egypt and their blending perfumes for royalty during the lunar hours. NA is also dedicated to the my brother, that walks the Immortal realm now. ~Emerson
It was logical that I create scents for my Immortal friends as it was something I enjoyed rather much when exploring the world for oils to blend. VApothecary was my way of dealing with the exploration of the Gothic mythos of Immortality and all the things that come with it; art, music, legends and the great literature that imbeds itself in every culture even back to Egypt. There was a connection between NA and VA, it seems, beginning without even looking for it. When I approached Emerson about VA he asked me for some of my perfume work and we sat for hours discussing what I brought. There was never a hesitation. What comes from that is a great relationship in the perfume world and in the friendship world. It is something close to our hearts and much of the perfume we have created are based on truthful things. These truthful things needed a scent of their own. That was my goal and I continue to make it so. These perfumes are not only perfume; they are my friends in a way. Immortal friends. Quentin was created for Emerson’s brother. My way of dealing with how I felt about what Emerson goes through. ~Jacek
*When creating an update, is there an over reaching theme, scent wise, that ties the collection together? If so, how is that idea typically conceived?
I can only speak for NA, there are at times themes like creating perfumes for the NAlidays or NAlloween that help strive toward a feeling for those moments in our lives we celebrate. I find these special themes extremely fun to work on. I feel like it gives the theme a broader way to reach around Egypt and out toward all these beliefs that come from, ultimately, a way to feel Love in any way possible. Ultimately NA reaches for a theme of feeling connected. If a perfume speaks to you, either a memory in your mind or spirit or a memory within your blood, then we have achieved that subliminal sense of being. We Love our job and we want people to feel that and connect with that; allow it not simply to be a scent but to let it embrace you and let it be a way to achieve a moment that you may not have had without the perfume. For instance Meditation with the Gods was created to achieve a mental focus, OM NA created for Yoga and meditation, Bastet’s Garden for waking up the soul when the sun arrives. To feel, to connect, to know you are never alone. ~Emerson
VA speaks to the things we are not sure how to face or can find the words to say. Perfumes at VA are created months in advance, as I know some NA are worked on for years at times, I think the longer we work onto something the stronger it binds. VA binds our collections to the Immortal in all of us. ~Jacek
*I have read that to be a perfumer there can’t be any notes that are disliked. Do you find this to be true? Do you have any favorite notes?
Why limit yourself to what you do not like? Perhaps you simply don’t understand it. It requires great patience at times to blend things you do not like, but I like everything we create. When something turns out ‘bad’, we do not sell it. It’s that simple. As a purely vegan perfume oil company, I can say there are better ways to have a musk than having animals killed for it, so in a way, that would be the one thing I dislike and will never ever use in our blends. We are passionate about that. Favourite notes; I’d have to say Amber, all facades of Amber and the integrity that goes into creating it; because after all…Amber as a perfume does not exist. Not like lavender, which is what it is, amber is the combination of beautiful notes to evolve a beautiful perfume blend. That is what is beautiful about Amber to me…the facets of what it could be when the ratio changes when creating it from scratch. ~Emerson
No. I prefer darker scents like moss, dirt, sensual musks, dark incenses. I think you can find this greatly in our perfumes. ~Jacek
*I’m pretty sure you guys must put crack in the Nokturne Sapphire, it’s just *that* popular and addicting. To what do you attribute the popularity of this scent? And where can I get some?
No crack, only Love. I think the true Love of a popular blend is based on what goes into and I can honestly say when Bastet and I were creating it, there was great Love put into the binding of the Ambers and the Musks within it. Currently it has only ever been available as a Forum Exclusive (NAReviews.com) or it can be found in the Skarab Signature Collection, a box of 7 skarab sample vials that includes a Nokturne Sapphire skarab. That is a great place to begin your journey of NA. ~Emerson
*If someone is looking to try NA/VA for the first time, are there certain scents that you’d recommend they start with?
I recommend, going in trying samples (skarabs from NA, VILES from VA) and forget what you know from anyone else. Our perfumes are highly researched and sampled before we even begin the blend. For instance to find a ‘good’ single note, we go through hundreds before we even begin a blend. We continue to do this as we blend because the world is full of hidden treasures. I Love when an exporter in Egypt suggests a friend that has a small farm where he only grows a few pounds of vanilla or frangipani a year that by his house along the Nile and then sells that exclusively to us. It is even more beautiful to be invited to his house and see the small farm and feel this sense of family all the way across the world to Egypt, bring it back to our lab in San Francisco, blend with it and then read the reviews from the beautiful family in the Pyramid (NAReviews Forum). Go in knowing we Love what we do. Try out a few skarab samples but keep an open mind because even though you dislike patchouli…you may like ours. An open mind is the best way to explore something new all over again. ~Emerson
I agree. Try the Viles of VA and read the reviews. You will soon get a feel for our very different styles that NA and VA have. Even if you gravitate to the Gothic, Egypt is not soon far behind that gravity. ~Jacek
*It seems that NA/VA offer more forum only exclusive scents (FEx) than other companies. Can you tell us a little about why that is?
I do not know about any other companies, but our FEx is a way of putting out expensive blends and selling in the small batches we can create rather than sell them on the store site where we have bigger bottles of the blends. We also find it the home for our single Nokturne perfumes that are Forum Exclusives. We value the time of a blend and it would be a disrespect to blend 500 blends each month. I’m sure there are talented people out there that can do that, but we put time and effort and Love into this and it takes time to make a blend, sample it, change the ratio if something is not right, and give it a kiss when it is done. That is why we release a handful of Limited Editions and a smaller handful of Forum Exclusives every month. Another benefit of FEx at the Pyramid (NAReviews) is we choose Supreme Deities that we work with one on one and offer those perfumes during FEx updates. It is an honour to have people share time, stories and Love of NAVA at the Pyramid/Lair – so our way of giving back, is to create a blend with them personally. How to be chosen? Come by often in the forum, be a positive light, write reviews, post, just be you. We usually spot those that shine and honour them with a special SD blend. ~Emerson
*To finish, I’m going to put you on the spot a bit so if you don’t want to answer this one, you don’t have to! If you were going to create a perfume that embodied “Hottie McNaughty” what would it smell like?
When you become a Supreme Deity…we’ll discuss it, but I reckon it would be full of radiance!
There you have it folks! You have peeked behind the curtain and seen a little extra of Nocturne Alchemy and VApothecary. Wasn’t that fun? Now if you happen to be interested in some of my reviews please read along and don’t forget to enter the contest for extra good smelling fun!
Eternal Egypt Dark(NA)-Black Amber, White Amber, Red Egyptian Musk, Black Egyptian Musk, Egyptian Amber, Black Clove, Allspice, and the sands of Egypt. A dark enrapturing scent. Allow the shadowing spices to build and rebuild layered scent on your skin. Initial scent will never be the perfume it was intended.
In bottle: Spicy and something……lightly floral?
Wet on skin: Spicy and almost…..cinnamony. That must be the allspice. The musks are starting to appear. It’s getting good!
Dry on skin: Well, this is destined to be a new favorite. Possibly even a top 10. It’s settling down and the musks and amber have softened the spices. It’s definitely still got a spicy ‘bite’ to it but it’s all blending together wonderfully. The sand note will typically appear with a little bit of age.
Verdict: This is beautiful and you should buy it now. It’s like Eternal Egypt’s grown up slightly ‘fast’ older sister. I like her. I like her a lot. I predict this is going to age amazingly well. http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/netegdale.html
Plumeria Sapphire(NA)-Egyptian Plumeria, Hawaiian Spring Plumeria, White Jasmine amidst the gem of Amber and Musk (Nokturne:Sapphire). A scent to wear for that special moment alone or with another.
I feel that I should preface this by saying that most florals don’t work on me. I love the way they smell on other people (especially white florals) but something inevitably goes wrong with my chemistry. If I don’t like it, don’t let that dissuade you. I’m a huge fan of plumeria so I just had to give this a shot.
In bottle: Oooh, a soapy floral.
Wet on skin: Green, herby and floral….three of my ‘death notes’! Oh wait, is that the divine Sapphire trying to peek through?
Dry on skin: Hold the presses everyone, I think this is a floral that I can wear! *squee* It’s a lovely, soft and sophisticated scent. It’s almost got a little bit of a lemon pastry note to it but it’s right on the edges and I can’t quite grab it.
Verdict: It’s official, I love it. I image it will get even more pretty with a chance to settle a bit. http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/nplsa.html
Raspberry Kobalt(NA)-Aromatic Egyptian Raspberry, rich Egyptian Vanilla (Nokturne:Kobalt). Simplicity.
In bottle: Oh yum, raspberry preserves!
Wet on skin: It’s like a delicious fresh raspberry scone. After a few minutes you can really start to smell the Kobalt vanilla.
Dry on skin: A super delicious fruity scent without smelling like a little kid in the candy isle. This is really gorgeous and surprisingly sophisticated for a fruit blend.
Verdict: I’m going to have to get a bottle as it’s beautiful! I don’t normally like fruity stuff but this is amazing. http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/nrako.html
Under(VA)-Shadow Amber, Blue Galbanum, Black Pumpkin, Black Fig, Green Fig, Bruised Orange, Balsam Fir Extract, Rare Arabian Oud, Snow Musk and a very light breath of sweet resin Green Chypre.
This comes in a beautiful green bottle with a butterfly on the silver label.
In bottle: Very green and herbal with a touch of lemongrass? Must be the green cyphre, balsam fir and green fig?
Wet on skin: Still very ‘green’ to me which I don’t normally care for. It’s starting to soften just a little bit and I’m thinking I am smelling something slightly spicy and dark….maybe the Shadow Amber?
Dry on skin: Ok, this is starting to soften and morph into something really clean but still sexy and dark. I’m thinking the Snow Musk and black fig and black pumpkin are adding to the clean and dark feel.
Verdict: Pumpkin doesn’t normally work on me so this is great! I tested this directly out of the box so I’m anxious to let it settle and age a bit. My gut is telling me this will be even more gorgeous in a month or so. I’m glad I ordered a bottle! http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/newunderleva.html
Cherries In The Snow(VA)-Fragrant Snow Raspberry, Snow Cherry Pure, Ancient Limestone, Green Amber, Dirt Musk.
In bottle: Fruity and bright.
Wet on skin: Yum…..cherries, cherries and more cherries. It’s lovely.
Dry on skin: The raspberry has come out with the cherries a bit to play and there’s also a really soft and pretty vanilla wafting around in there. This mixed with the green amber and dirt musk has made for a drop dead sexy scent.
Verdict: This is gorgeous and I’m really glad I bought a bottle. I have a co-worker that’s been walking around and huffing my arm all day. http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/nchinsn.html
Eternal Underworld(NA)-Egyptian Essential Oil of Galbanum, Nokturne:Kobalt (Egyptian Vanilla Resin), Arabian Sandalwood, Black Cherry Skin, Egyptian White Musk, Egyptian White Amber, Nokturne: Kashmir (Red Musk) Resin and Green Pepper Essential Oil.
In bottle: Sandalwood with a hint of red musk.
Wet on skin: Oh, hello red musk! Will you be staying for a while? I can also smell a hint of the black cherry skin.
Dry on skin: This is lovely. The notes have softened and blended together beautifully. After about fifteen minutes the green pepper essential oil has emerged and it’s added a really pretty touch to this dark and mysterious scent.
Verdict: Bottle worthy for sure. http://www.nocturnealchemy.com/netun.html
Nocturne Alchemy and VApothecary have very fast shipping and wonderful customer service. If you have questions regarding perfume oils or and of the NA/VA scents you should consider joining the forum http://www.nareviews.com/index.php
Once you are signed up at NAReviews.com, email Support@NocturneAlchemy.com with your Forum chosen name and Thoth will unlock the Pyramid/Lair!