In May 2014 I wrote a review for a few products that I had purchased from Poison Apple Apothecary, which at the time was an Etsy store that specialized in whimsical fragrances such as White Rabbit and Hatter’s Tea Party from an Alice in Wonderland-inspired range. Before the review even went live the store announced that they were closing, and sold their remaining stock within a few weeks. It made me sad that I would not be able to try more of the scents that they offered and that my readers wouldn’t get to order what I wrote so positively about.
Fast forward to December of the same year and you’ll find Jessica Vittorio at the helm of the newly reopened and rebranded shop. With a passion for products that do and smell good, Jessica reintroduced some of the old favorites that PAA was known for as well as a few new exclusives that she came up with. The shop presently carries 9 original fragrances that they offer in perfume oils, embalming creams, and sugar scrubs. They also have a philanthropic side with the Team Harley Embalming Cream, a product that benefits the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation1. They are proudly made in the USA and never tested on animals.
I was sent the two newest fragrances from the range, Temptation and Secret Garden, to try and report back on in time for their release. I also received a tub of the signature embalming cream in the scent Black Ring Mafia, a classic that the old PAA was known for.
Let’s start with the packaging. Where before the appearance of the brand had a somewhat generic vibe, now Poison Apple looks like a professional collection that you might find at a nice hotel. This is especially true for the embalming cream; the new dark brown label is striking with its white accents, but the samples still don’t have a nozzle to spray with. As usual, that’s just a tiny pet peeve of mine, but I always prefer to spray rather than dab; call it personal preference. The perfumes are also quite oily this time around, which makes for really great longevity.
Secret Garden is described as a “refined yet inexplicably simple fragrance,” and soft, green and fresh are adjectives used on the website to advertise it2. I disagree wholeheartedly, because I found it to be complex at a level that the old PAA scents never were. Secret Garden starts off half fresh sweet grass and half sour grapefruit. Skip ahead a few minutes and an acidic lemon replaces the grapefruit with the addition of a buttery cookie smell. For comparison I pulled out my sample of Hatter’s Tea Party, and the note was just about the same only not as prominent. In the dry down there is a hint of clean musk and fresh air. Overall it is equivalent to an afternoon snack in a pretty garden, with a sort of bizarre cheerfulness that I found endearing. This would make a good springtime perfume for a young lady.
Temptation is not all that different from SC, and I can tell that they are related. This one also has a grassy springiness to it, only it’s less feminine than Secret Garden is. It may sound strange, but what it brings to mind for me is some sort of rose salve on clean skin, which is really quite sweet. It reminds me that in the BBC’s documentary “Bottling the Memory” alternative perfumer Christopher Brosius says that “Smelling around the human body, there are certain parts that smell very, very sweet; this odd kind of like sweet-spicy kind of mix.” I can definitely see that in Temptation. It is a very clean smell but not quite fresh. An interesting one that I’m having a hard time placing under masculine or feminine. I wouldn’t discount it; it’s got a complexity that customers are sure to appreciate.
When it came to the Black Ring Mafia embalming cream I was in for a treat. This lightweight moisturizer feels like dipping your fingers into marshmallow fluff or whipped cream, it’s so delicate. The scent is odd yet wonderful; a base of vanilla with some kind of notes combo that I cannot for the life of me pinpoint but reminds me of LUSH Cosmetics You Snap the Whip body butter, which is heavy on black currant. Whatever it is, it’s kind of sweet yet dark – a truly delightful product.
Verdict: the springtime releases from Poison Apple Apothecary for this year are sure to be a hit with the niche crowd, and as a perfume lover I’m going to keep an eye out for Vittorio – she definitely has a good nose and healthy imagination. If you’re the type to steer clear from the hoards of drugstore-smell-alikes then Jessica may have something special for you. Want a perfume that people around you will enjoy but may not understand entirely? Temptation’s your guy. Wanna have a delicious grassy perfume and wear it, too? Secret Garden beckons you. And of course, if you shed a tear when you couldn’t buy any more Black Ring Magia, now’s your chance. Whatever you’re after, PAA’s got you. And don’t forget to try their sugar scrub – those are incredible. (Might I recommend Pirate Anne, a boozy vanilla that’ll have you swinging from the tallest masts.)
1Poison Apple Apothecary: Team Harley Embalming Cream
2Poison Apple Apothecary: Scent Descriptions