No perfumeries in London? or: Roses & Devils

(Originally posted on Reddit, but maybe some of you do look there & I am loving some of the responses… so crossposted to here)

Perhaps this will seem lame, but considering the ladies of Victorian times & the beauty regime some would subject themselves to (no, that won’t kill you AT ALL!), it got me thinking, what would the denizens of the Neath use as perfumery?

I mainly started getting obsessive about this last week as the forums for the perfume company of my preference began speculating about the &quotvalentines&quot collection this year (I say valentines, but it’s Lupercalia, valentines is boring & why limit yourself?) & what we’d like to see in the collection. especially with the way the past year has been & the current times are. It’s not like you can just go have a Lupercalian orgy or even a random date & get cozy. So, a lot of love letter discussions (which, wouldn’t the Bazaar love those), then a lot of honey notes (hey Hell, sup!), then of course a few standards chocolates, flowers, etc.) & a lot of talk about Victorian times & how people gave love at a distance.

Once my brain connected one to the other, I started thinking, &quotWell, what kind of perfumes would Fallen London have? What if my character had a perfumery akin to this one [which now, I would really like her to have]? Peligin Stormbird Transfiguration Lab. I could run it out of my ACTUAL LAB. Gather free labour students, let’s make weird perfume!&quot So, of course for Feast of the Rose, we’d need honey & brass. Honey & spice. Rose & wine.

So, I mean, you can down vote this & think it’s silly, but I am genuinely curious, what kind of perfume/scents/cologne would you wear? Nothing would be too weird, in theory. I mean, I’m wearing a REAL perfume right now with the notes listed as &quotblood soaked soil, burning cypress trees, & temple incense&quot so, I mean. :shrug: You think it would smell off, but it’s actually very nice.

Well, let’s see. In the real world, I don’t like florals (except for lavender, but that doesn’t exactly seem to count, somehow). Honey, parchment and wine are obvious choices, but I’d want some cinnamon in there too.

Few things are simple in Fallen London.

So perhaps that means perfume doesn’t need to be restricted to smells either? Maybe it could be feelings or emotions. Or a memory, bottled and shared by scent?

Considering we have things like “Romantic Notions” or gloves with the sun infused in them, I don’t think perfumes would be limited at all.

Make one with the warmth of a fire & the notion of love. It doesn’t stop the Bazaar. We have Red Science now, why stop there? Make one with the idea of time & the smell of the Balmoral moonlight, the scent of prisoner’s honey, with the resin of trees no one remembers anymore except in Parabola. Dream something, then go get it in the Waswood, I’ll make it a perfume for you. ;)

Sapho typically wears scents of sandalwood and/or roses. Particularly Neathy scents might be, alone or in combination:

Exile’s rose
Lily (not the Surface kind)
Amber (smells a bit lemony)
Attar (does it have smell?)
Dark-dewed cherry

[quote=Lady Sapho Byron]Sapho typically wears scents of sandalwood and/or roses. Particularly Neathy scents might be, alone or in combination:

Exile’s rose
Lily (not the Surface kind)
Amber (smells a bit lemony)
Attar (does it have smell?)
Dark-dewed cherry[/quote]

Attar from Arbor? It would be Attar of Roses, so it would smell like the roses of Arbor (attar is just a word for &quotperfume&quot though usually an essential oil. It’s from an Arabic word & was, most often used with rose petals because roses are not an easy scent to reproduce, so they just turned them into oils, though it takes a lot of roses to make it, so I assume that Arbor attar is not quite the same since it’s powdered… but you can make it from almost anything. I have perfumes in real life with rose attar, motia attar, oud attar, mitti attar…).

For exile’s rose, since it’s Neath, I’ve no guesses yet on the smell (though very dark roses can sometimes smell almost like oak bark & spanish moss, but since it’s from Hell, I’d imagine it has a slice of metal if it smells like anything at all). Same with the lilies, though I’ve often described them as &quotsmelling of blood&quot since the imported ones have fangs. The cherries, same [no scent ideas], though given the dark & dewed adjectives, I like to think of the very cold dew in the morning & the idea of the cold smell of a very dark night along with black cherry as the scent over all, so distilled, it’d be a very earthy cherry scent that was almost snow capped. For the amber, I assume pale? Not the purple, blue, or dark red versions? If you think &quota bit lemony&quot maybe it’s a bit verbena with the scent of Surface amber; a sort of warm, sweet smell that tapers into a sweet powdery smell (the base of a lot of higher end perfumes). Down in the Neath & given how it’s used though, I would think it would dry down with a bit of an aquatic scent underlying it. Like a sweet salt incense. Sweet myrrh & ocean salt, both ground up together into a resin.

Just a thought.

As a lover of bizarre or out there perfumes, this thread might be my new favorite thing. I imagine that poisonous flowers or plants are definitely more common as perfume notes in the Neath, whether for the smell or their properties. On one hand I’m imagining the infamous Aqua Tofana, but that didn’t have a smell so perhaps a Neath equivalent would have a bit more olfactory bite. In terms of more intoxicating notes, I feel like benzoin would make an excellent addition to a more hypnotic perfume.

Ah, but it is the 'Neath. We can bottle a whole love story, why not the idea of Aqua Tofana? After all, I know a lot of perfumeries claim the scent of vervain & mistletoe & those have no scent. Yet, they are real perfumes… so, why not the idea of a legendary poison? Due to the ingredients, why not a bit of a sweetened metallic scent, mixed with the sly perfume of hidden secrets. It covers poisonous plants as well, in that belladonna was thought to be an ingredients & the berries are like a sweet cherry (perhaps that’s a dew drop cherry… what are we feeding people on the train?). As for benzoin, it’s a gun resin that, alone, is a bit vanilla like in scent, but being a gum resin, is great at sticking to other scents & holding the whole thing together.

So, I would imagine that, with limited availability to actual musk in the Neath, a lot of vegetal musk would be used, so benzoin would be stuck in a lot of perfumed things: from perfume itself, to incense, to popurri, to moustache wax. Oh la la! Nagarmotha, elemi, & liquidamber are all interesting to stick in things as well.Though if you really want hypnotic, the Neath is covered in mushrooms… ;)

It would make sense for Neath parfumeries to have different species of mushrooms as their staple ingredients. I imagine they would have some secret suppliers who famously can reproduce any scent or emotional aura with just the right… errm… growing conditions. I imagine there could be a mushroom species able to give off the emotional aura similar to the last emotion of the person it grew on - which fuels another branch of the famous Victorian corpse market. There are also different types of amber that I assume would create a different base. And of course different sorts of powdered fossils could be in use too.

I can see (or rather - smell with my mind’s nose?) Bohemians prefering mix of dark-dewed cherries and prisoner’s honey. Ones who wanted to appear a little more dangerous while still elegant would go for solacefruit and warm amber. Some sure would have wanted to wear memories of their visits in Arbor even when they are awake, and I imagine that’s kind of a scent one could replicate by killing the right person in their sleep and letting the right mushrooms do their job.
edited by holaspis on 4/7/2022