The Devilscent Project is a collaboration between Sheila of The Alembicated Genie and the following perfumers: Ellen Covey (Olympic Orchids) Neil Morris (Neil Morris Fragrances), Amanda Feeley (Esscentual Alchemy) Monica Miller (Perfume Pharmer) Kedra Hart (Opus Oils), and Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl (Aroma M/Cherry Bomb Killer Perfumes/Scents by Alexis). Inspired by Sheila’s novel Quantum Demonology, the project explores the scents of key characters in the novel, as well as a host of other themes. A complete list of posts by participating bloggers can be found here.
Maria McElroy (Aroma M) and Alexis Karl (Cherry Bomb Killer Perfumes/Scent by Alexis) created Lil and Dev for The Devilscent Project. Lil is Lilith, the Devil’s disappointed wife, and Dev is the Devil himself.
Most of the perfumers participating in this project have not presented their Lilith and Devil fragrances as a pair, which frankly makes sense, given the plot of the novel. (Spoiler alert! There’s trouble in
paradise hell.) But Maria and Alexis did, which caught me by surprise and highlighted the very human and flawed relationship between these two characters—one of the things I liked best about Quantum Demonology.
Lil is a dream for everyone who likes a modern take on a classic white floral. It’s big in the tradition of Fracas or Quelques Fleurs, but not as blow-the-door-down big as either of those. I don’t have a note list, but I think I smell jasmine, orchid, a little tuberose, maybe frangipani. I don’t find it very earthy or green. It’s grounded instead by something more urban: on my skin (as opposed to paper), the florals seem to sit on a note of wet concrete. Instead of a hothouse of blousy white florals, Lil delivers a fully blooming bouquet that is also strangely cold. Tempestuous, but controlled.
In contrast, Dev announces himself with a playful exclamation of chocolate. This is not dark, serious chocolate. It’s chocolate with an overdose of malt. Maria and Alexis’s Dev is the boyish side of the Devil that Sheila introduced so believably and so well in Quantum Demonology, and I’m glad the perfumers showed this side of the character. Over time, something more corporeal (as opposed to inanimate but edible) starts to infuse the chocolate a bit, but the top notes are so resolutely chocolatey that I have to really concentrate to smell anything else.
After wearing Lil and Dev side-by-side, I quickly saw them as a pair. The impression of open playfulness in Dev highlights the restrained feeling of Lil, and Lil’s ennui and frustration add some much-needed tension to the Dev mix. I think the perfumes would actually wear well layered, but I haven’t tried it. And from the standpoint of a collaboration with the novel, the pairing highlights Sheila’s portrayal of Dev and Lil’s relationship as flawed and tragic, and threatening to the protagonist not just because of how its breakdown impacts her, but because of what it could indicate about her future with Dev.
Big thanks to Sheila, Maria, and Alexis for including me in this project. The image above is by John Grant, found via the Kew Gardens.