Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Odorous Steampunk Barrage of Lamplight Penance

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In 1988, Dior shocked the perfume world with a radical idea: a fragrance that smelled of gasoline. Three decades later, Fahrenheit is still among the most daring options you’ll find on a department store shelf. Self-quarantining has made it more apparent than ever that the industrial smells of the city have an appeal of their own, and now you can find a wide range of industrial-leaning scents from niche brands around the world. However, obtaining a balance between artificiality and aesthetic appeal remains difficult, and many of these scents are either unappealing or bland.

Lamplight Penance from Chatillon Lux perfumes is anything but bland. As for hints to this fragrance’s holistic effect, the note pyramid below is quite telling.

Lamplight Penance Notes

Top: Peach, Wild Berries, Narcissus, Orange Blossom

Heart: Smoke, Ambergris, Rum, Red Cedar

Base: Mahogany, Liquor, Musk

Many subpar perfumes open with an unintentional blast of alcohol, but Lamplight Penance (created by Shawn Maher) opens with a deliberate, massive booziness. My brain instantly jumped to the smell of whisky in a shot glass the moment before a poor decision is made. The fruits and florals at the top of the pyramid, rather than forming a coherent statement of their own, scan as the brighter aspects of this liquor accord. It’s that kind of bracing opening that might drive away several noses before they journey into the fragrance’s intriguing heart.

After the initial gag-inducing blast, Lamplight Penance begins to venture toward steampunk territory. The industrial fumes of lamp oil, smoke, and alcohol conjure a setting not of the city, but of an isolated industrial area. There’s also an unmistakable marine element conjured by a strong dose of ambergris within the fragrance. In essence, Lamplight Penance recalls first and foremost a lighthouse with all its accompanying machinery and fuel.

The perfume’s heart also contains visceral wood notes. These are the aged and sea-lashed woods of an aging coastal shack. One of the most engaging elements of Lamplight Penance is its ability to balance the industrial and the natural. Even in its most brutal stages, the fragrance smells more like a real place than a mere idea of one.

Even after the fragrance dries down to a lamp oil and woods base, Lamplight Penance is strong, tenacious, and convincing. If you wear it, others will probably think you’ve arrived straight from a backbreaking day of manual labor beside the ocean. It’s the perfect accompaniment for steampunk cosplay, but harder to imagine in a more casual context. It exudes a wild strength and sense of time that many will fall in love with. However, you’ll only know whether its journey is worth taking when you get there.

Please for the love of all things smelly, wait for samples of this fragrance to come back in stock before trying and / or buying here.

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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  • Jade

    Jade is the Lifestyle Editor at the Fandomentals, where they obsess over perfume and underground music. Their wacky poetry is floating around the internet - beware! Follow them for fragrance and poetry content @johndarrextreme on Instagram.

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