Come, all ye goths, and get a whiff of the darkest of scents
The moon rose high above Burbank on Friday and, like obedient werewolves, devotees of esoteric perfume house Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab came out to play.
Costumed as sinister witches or swashbuckling pirates, customers from all over Los Angeles gathered at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, or BPAL, to indulge and sample the hundreds of scents that are available only online except on nights of the full moon.
Once a month, BPAL's chief alchemist, Elizabeth Barrial, and her fellow potion peddlers offer their hand-crafted blends and brews at the horror shop Dark Delicacies. At this month's event, the store swelled with darkly-clad BPAL customers stirring with Halloween-season excitement and ready for the olfactory experience before them.
Amy Ratcliffe, 29, was first drawn to BPAL for its Shakespeare line and has been coming to the full moon will-calls for four years.
"I'm addicted," Ratcliffe said. "I've seen people quadrant off their arms and write all the scents they've tried. It gets very serious."
But there's plenty of whimsy. A long-locked Frankenstein shoved scented bath powder in front of noses.
"Doesn't this smell like feet?" he laughed. The Frankenstein was Ted Barrial, Elizabeth's husband and head of BPAL's Trading Post, which has a collection of items that pay homage to the lab.
"I kind of like it," said the assaulted customer, Bailey Dukes, 26.
The general sentiment of BPAL's creators and followers is that it's less about smelling divine than it is about a sniff of perfume transforming who you are. Experimentation reigns. Several full moon event-goers searched the steel-crafted showcase stacked with hundreds of vials for a scent to match their Halloween characters.
The black-lipsticked Elizabeth Barrial was up to the task, bobbing up and down the store and pulling out scented products grotesque or lovely. Her own Halloween memories are bottled and named after the cities where she spent them. As she sends customers away with a signature Halloween scent, they're also leaving with memories that can be conjured up again and again.
-- Sophia Kercher
Photo: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's chief potion-maker Elizabeth Barrial helps find a possibly magical scent for a customer. Credit: Sophia Kercher