Every art lover has their complicated favorites. I recently played Pathologic 2, a downright brilliant videogame centered around curing a plague in a remote mystical Russian town. I will never forget my time wandering under the stars as I gathered herbs, or the awe I felt as I stood beneath the massive, iconic buildings in the town’s Bridge Square. But I’ll also never forget repeatedly dying of starvation, infection, or the game’s awful combat system until I had to tweak the difficulty settings in order to appreciate what the game had to offer.
My love of House of Matriarch is similar. Black No. 1, FKA Blackbird, was one of the very first fragrances that crossed my radar when I started exploring niche perfumery. For years, I put off sampling the fragrance due to the high prices. I finally broke down and ordered a sample spray of Black No. 1 three months ago. I was immediately spellbound by the gorgeous coniferous leather scent, and since then, I’ve ended up purchasing a whopping fourteen of their discovery sprays and two full bottles of their perfume. House of Matriarch’s perfumes consistently have jaw-droppingly beautiful openings. However, there are plenty of drawbacks that make me hesitant to recommend them.
Sex Magic Notes
Gandhi Root, Buddha wood, damiana, evergreens, amber, oud, leather, Mysore sandal, pinewood, moss, violets, cedar blend and choyas
Sex Magic opens with a gorgeous violet-and-woods melody that leans far more romantic than sexy. It’s soft, just a touch sweet, and smells undeniably natural. The violets add just the faintest hint of floral powderiness to a rich tapestry of woods, which to my nose, stars non-herbal evergreen notes with lovely cedar and clean, deep oud (the same that stars in the house’s oud-centric Eaglewood).
Perfumer Christi Meshell has posted pictures of her gathering ingredients in the forest of her home state, Washington, and when you smell Sex Magic, you feel transported to somewhere buzzing with life. Even more remarkable, Sex Magic is not an exception in House of Matriarch’s line – these miraculous openings are consistent across Meshell’s perfumes. There’s a reason that House of Matriarch picks up olfactory awards practically every year.
However, I can’t really talk too much about the heart or base notes of Sex Magic because this perfume vanishes faster than almost any fragrance I’ve experienced before. Sex Magic quickly dries down to a slightly woodier version of its opening which is still pleasant, but very, very quiet. The only fragrance I can think of that has this sort of performance is 4711 Original Eau de Cologne. Neither will last more than a half-hour before it becomes a faint skin scent. If you have twenty-five dollars, you can either buy three milliliters of Sex Magic or…three hundred milliliters of 4711.
I appreciate that indie houses often have to charge high prices to accommodate for lower resources and lower bulk pricing than larger houses, but House of Matriarch gets absolutely demolished in the value department by almost everyone else in the game, including other top-tier indie houses.
So why did I end up with a bottle of Sex Magic when its performance is so subdued? Simply said, there is something about House of Matriarch’s gorgeous woods and spice blends especially that just brings me a lot of joy. In my years of perfume exploration, I rarely come across something that not only takes my breath away but resonates deeply with my tastes. House of Matriarch’s deep, natural, beautiful creations strike at the peak of their respective genres. The price for quality is rarely steeper. If you have the income to spare and you’re content to let a perfume whisper, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to experience it again and again.
House of Matriarch offers a 3.3mL sample size as well as a range of bottle sizes through their online shop.
The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.
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