Darling Clandestine – An Introduction

When mystery packages appear in my mailbox, which they don’t do very often, I will carry them around and stare at them for a while before I open them.  This is mostly because I sometimes pick up the mail while I’m heading out and partly because there is nothing like a surprise!  The latest surprise I got arrived last week in the form of a nondescript little mailer neatly printed with my address coming from a company with the most amazing name, Darling Clandestine.  Clandestine is a favorite theme of mine and I also apologize in advance for admitting that one of my favorite hoodies is from Clandestine Industries and I innately have a love for all boys dark and inked.  But I digress.

When I opened this little package there was a little note “Thanks a million for the 3000! Love, Lysa”.  I awwed, Lysa is our very own Ms. Merry Morbid the mixtress behind The Morbid the Merrier.

It’s important for me to support the Indie companies that I love and that make the things I use the most.  I admit freely that I sometimes keep an eye out on their sales because it makes me happy and maybe a little proud to see then as successful as I know they should be.  Sometimes on accident, but a lot of times on purpose, I’ll make purchases when they are close to a ‘benchmark’, in this case The Morbid the Merrier’s 3000th sale.  Lysa had mentioned on Twitter that it was her goal for her birthday so I was happy to help her see it.

It was a surprise to receive such a thoughtful thank you, her amazing stuff was all the thanks I needed to make the purchase, but she also introduced me to an amazing new perfumier that I had to write about.

Darling Clandestine is a dark and beautiful shop on Etsy that sells handmade jewelry and a line of perfume called Calliope Crash.  The perfumes come in roll on glass bottles holding 1/3 an ounce of oil based scent.  Each bottle is labeled with the company name, the scent, and the ingredients which include ‘a thrilling melange of your curiosity and fascination‘.  I copied and posted the full scent descriptions so you don’t have to go back and forth to read them since they are darling little circus tales.


Odd and wondrous, these trinkets the suitors bring—astonishing flowers that look like paper birds, jasmine tea and black coffee, a costly box of chocolates with a red silk ribbon. You once saw a tiger in Bangkok, a riot in Paris, a machine at Coney Island that they said could really fly. The exotic butters in your fantastic hair, the livelihood you’ve adopted and the orchards you left behind. Your love is not a curiosity—it’s a marvel. Make them earn it.

Carefully blended and infused by me in small batches in vintage green glass wine bottles, this is a warm chocolaty fragrance with intriguing notes of amber and blossoms. A dozen different scent elements and several days of methodical alchemy make Circassian no ordinary scented oil mix—it’s a truly inimitable fragrance.

This smells like walking into Godiva.  I don’t usually buy anything (it’s soooo not vegan) but that doesn’t stop me from peeking my nose in for a scent.  It’s a mix of chocolate and elegance and very soft.

Step Right Up

It’s the eyes that tell you. When you shout into the crowd, daring them to enter a world of marvels, the likes of which they’ve never seen before. Some smile, some scoff, some draw back in what appears, uproariously, to be real horror. But there are a few—a select and wonderful few—whose eyes glimmer with a bright, palpable something, an untamed curiosity, an earnest desire to see and hear and touch and understand. These are the ones who linger in your memories, green and gray, gorgeous shadows of evenings by the sea, the glimmer and creak of wooden skiffs on the warm black water after the Big Top has tumbled and the throngs have dispersed. These are the ones who enter unblinking, meeting your outstretched hand with theirs, without fear, without scorn, without a word.

Carefully blended and infused by me in small batches in vintage green glass wine bottles, this is a clean, oceanic, very unisex fragrance with notes of wood and spice. More than a dozen different scent elements and several days of methodical alchemy make Step Right Up no ordinary scented oil mix—it’s a truly inimitable fragrance.

It’s so hard to describe this scent, it smells like being someplace rather then any one thing.  It’s ozoney and woody and a little spicy.  It’s different then anything I’ve tried before (I typically don’t like those ‘blue’ sort of perfumes with ocean and clean scents) but this has such a different twist to it with the spice that it’s very beautiful.  It reminds me of the Washington coast, like standing on the beach in Puget Sound and just inhaling.

Big Top Train

At last, the throngs have headed home. To their families, across the vast valleys, bridle bells jingling softly over the snow.

Your brothers and sisters are here, in the sideshow’s kitchen car, where you press your cheek to the windowpane, grinning as the barker’s shouts still ring in your ears.

“Little Johnny Atom, a Mere Twenty Inches High!”—whose name is really Joshua and stands at a full 37 inches—leans toward the stove, roasting chestnuts he bought from a woman on a donkey-drawn cart. “The Prussian Giant!”, born Henry Nickels in Dayton, Ohio, scrapes sweet, eerie notes from the strings of an old fiddle. Elizabeth, “The Armless Wonder Girl!”, demurely stirs her tea, a silver spoon pinched delicately between her pretty painted toes. Sanjiv (“Only a Torso and Head, Ladies and Gentlemen—The Human Worm!”), expecting the birth of his fourth child any day now, puffs thick rings from his cigar. “What Is It—He or She?!”—you can vouch that her name is Rose and she is most definitely a she—sits writing a very long letter in a very tiny script.

Here, smoke curls from the little stove and tattered tinsel glitters on a spindly cut tree, as the train lurches on, rocking you through canyons and pine woods, miniature thatched roofs dotting the hillsides. Here, in this car, you’ve found a love like you never imagined. Here, you’ve found home.

Carefully blended and infused by me in small batches in vintage green glass wine bottles, this is a powerful, very sweet, very rich, nutty fragrance with deep notes of molasses and candied fruit and smoked cedar and spice. It contains trace amounts of cinnamon. Not for the timid!

Big Top Train 2010 is extremely complex, involving more than two dozen different scent elements and weeks of methodical alchemy, and currently I’ve no plans to duplicate it. Big Top Train 2011 (already in the works!) will be a different fragrance altogether. When the 2010 batch is gone, it’s gone forever!

Smokey, maybe a little woody and sweet, this is just ridiculous.  It’s bold and rich and doesn’t waft around you so much as stomp.  It’s unique and emotional.

I was never a fan of perfume before.  If you’ve read back far enough I used to always say I didn’t ‘like’ perfume and that was mostly because my experience was limited to what I could buy at the counter and it was full of nothing but alcohol and chemical smells.  Nothing smelled like anything really.  Since I’ve been discovering handcrafted perfumes I’ve come to learn that the scents I like most don’t smell like anything either, not really.  What they smell like is a memory.  What they elicit is emotion.  A good perfume is one that makes me want to cry because it’s so familiar and wonderful.

While looking at the shop just now the scent Tapadero caught my eye.  Roses and leather?  I was just looking for something like that.  Needless to say I ordered it.

Carefully blended and infused by me in small batches in vintage green glass wine bottles, this is a sharp, clean fragrance bright with roses and sage, with a sweet leather and earth finish. More than a dozen different scent elements and weeks of methodical alchemy make Tapadero no ordinary scented oil mix—it’s a truly inimitable fragrance.


24 Responses to “Darling Clandestine – An Introduction”

  1. What a wonderfully thoughtful gift! My cat is named Calliope so now I have to go check this out.

  2. Thanks for the introduction! I’ll definitely need to take a look. Thanks to your post about scentsbythesea (I believe it was) I bought a sampler pack from them, and just recently bought another. These really don’t compare in any way, shape, or form to anything behind a counter. So thanks once again for sharing this lovely site!!!

    I love inked boys too!

  3. Great review, Step Right Up sounds like it’s straight up my alley. I love “blue” scented perfumes to which usually leads me to wear mens cologne. (Plus my skin turns most girlie perfume sickly since it turns most things vanilla.)

  4. Step Right Up is awesome, I agree completely that it smells like being somewhere, and it’s nearly impossible to pick out more than a couple notes in that scent. It’s odd, but in a delightful way 🙂 I still haven’t managed to work my way through all of the scents, but my first impression was a very favorable one.

    I got my order of all 5 scents from her shop a couple weeks ago (posted a pic on Tweeter) and I was blown away with the presentation. She also makes wire-wrapped jewelry which is absolutely amazing, and she uses some of her jewelry wire to attach her scent labels to each individual vial. It was an unexpected touch which tied even her samples in to the rest of her shop’s theme and branding. It’s little touches like that that keep me going back for more. So glad you got to try them out!

  5. I immediately bought a sample set–very reasonably priced for 3! Can’t wait to try them out. Thanks for the intro, Grey!

  6. Inked boys are cute ~ too bad mine isn’t into ink. At least he’s pierced. 😉
    This is such a thoughtful gift and really makes me want to go back, re-read all of your Morbid the Merrier posts and shop ’til I drop.

    I, too was not a big fan of perfume; most big name commercial brands give me allergic reactions but ever since I bought Ten Digit Creations I’ve been perfume crazy!

    • I love my dirty punk boys and even though my favorite cleaned himself up a little, he’s still the epitome of gorgeous.

  7. I love perfume, especially artisan perfume oils at the moment and am glad to read about Darling Clandestine here. I ordered samples of Circassian, Tapadero, and Fire Eater about 2 weeks ago and am eagerly anticipating their arrival. Circassian sounds good…I love chocolate!

  8. Ida! You’re in the Philippines, yes? You’re the first customer I’ve had in that region, so let me know when you get your shipment! My local orders (continental U.S.) usually arrive super fast, 4 days or less. I’ll be interested to know when the little guys reach you. Thanks so much for your order! And thanks to everyone else who’s supported my shop!

    Grey, THANK YOU for this. So much love. You are made of rock awesome.


    • You are very welcome!

    • Evonne- yes! I’ll let you know soon as I receive my order, which should be any day now. You’re welcome!

      To everyone- sorry, forgot to say in my previous comment that I’m an international customer, hence my mail taking longer to reach me. My order was shipped out the day after I placed it. 🙂

  9. Cool new store! I’m looking forward to checking them out 🙂

  10. You keep enabling me! I ordered three samples to see what I like.

  11. I’m not much of a scent person, as you know, but her EARRINGS! Ahh! They’re gorgeous!

    Unfortunately I’ve exhausted my frivolous-spending money on Fyrinnae and light bulbs, so stop making me want things, you.

    • Considering I cannot wear the earrings, I have to stick with the smellies.


      I got my YSL stuff today, and I like it.

  12. NOOOO. Why did you post this?? Within a few minutes of reading this post I had already bought some perfume samples. I was trying to overcome that particular addiction….

  13. It’s the least I could do, chica. You’ve been so good to me, and Evonne is a doll-face. I so have a girl crush on her. 🙂