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Tilia by Clandestine Laboratories (2021) is the second of two house-launching scents that are overtly feminine in design, with the first being Dharan by Clandestine Laboratories (2021). Whereas Dharan is prominently a light and fresh rose scent with a certain dry airiness about it, Tilia goes for more of a fruity-aquatic vibe that will remind Millennials heavily of what women loved to wear (or at least what mainstream brands liked to sell them) in the 1990's. For those still obsessed with the boomer glory years of the 1970's and 1980's, when perfume in the West was at its most decadent (and some may say unsustainably wasteful), exercises like Tilia will not feel nostalgic; and this is because anything after 1990 is effectively still "newfangled" in their time-frozen minds, but Tilia is unmistakably retro for the rest of us, and I feel it knows its audience like most from this artisanal brand anyway. Lovers of the moss-laden or animalic opulence of times long forgotten are not left out in the cold with Clandestine Laboratories to begin with, as perfumes from the house like Film Noir by Clandestine Laboratories (2021) or Certo by Clandestine Laboratories (2021) attest, so it's fair to let us have some things representing the best of the "beige age" too, when neon lights and cream-colored tiles adorned shopping malls across the US. This setting, not unlike a Dan Bell video on YouTube, is where Tilia lives, vaporwave soundtrack and VHS tracking blur sold separately. Seriously, I'm not sure this could be anymore 90's without being manufactured at Beverly Hills, 90210.

The opening of Tilia has a whole bunch-o-fruit that takes me square into the days of when plumeria and cherry blossom were popular smells for ladies, and that's because Tilia itself is the name of a linden blossom species. The perfumer says notes of white grape and green apple abound here, and I can see it, with whatever aromachemical magic he has used to achieve such things. The linden blossom subject itself is there in force too, bringing with it a sweet citrusy floral value not altogether unlike lime touched with jasmine, to my nose. Frangipani is here too, but not particularly strong or thick like it can sometimes be, and Tilia is much more of a transparent white floral smell in the heart than anything. The base is fresh and uplifting, with bits of fresh cedar and the 90's aquatic baseline the chemical names of which I am just tired of writing out at this point. Suffice it to say that if you've smelled any women's perfume made by Armani, Issey Miyake, Davidoff, or Tommy Hilfiger from this decade, you already know what's in store for you in Tilia's finish. The biggest difference between Tilia and many of those however, is strength and quality. Materials-wise not all synthetics are created equal as some nay-sayers about them may think, and the blending plus overall perception of being quality in Tilia is high, with nary a sharp or harsh edge to anything, like MFK-levels of quality synthetics. Performance is also considerably higher than most things actually from the 90's, so Tilia will last both in suggested summertime use and colder months without fail. Expect at least 10 hours out of this thing, and detectable projection for most of it.

When and where to use Tilia will be entirely up to you however, because some noses may read this as girly (intended) or immature (consequence of style); so for the Millennial ladies out there, you will feel like you're on your Quinceañera all over again; and for the dudes out there, you're going to have a really hard time with this unless you enjoy gender-bending or possibly cross-dressing. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those things mind you, I'm just saying that even for the "I see no gender in perfume" folks (among which I usually count myself), Tilia is going to give you a hard time seeing it as anything other than an overtly youthful and feminine perfume, albeit one ironically taking its cues from several decades ago. I am usually not the biggest fan of fruity florals, and they rank up there among "fruitchoulis" and candy-gourmands as some of the most baneful-to-my-existence fragrances known to mankind, but I can get behind this. I wouldn't necessarily wear a fragrance like Tilia myself, but if I were to wear a fragrance like Tilia at all, it would be Tilia, for what its worth. Therefore, I am going with my "better angels" here and recommending this as the "artisanal niche version of a 90's fruity aquatic mall freshie" that you never knew existed, or even knew needed to exist, and yet does. Not everything needs a niche version, let alone an artisanal one, but the least we can do when deciding to have one is make sure it fits the bill, and Tilia by Clandestine Laboratories does. Now let's hop in the Ford Probe and go play laser tag. Thumbs up
10th April 2022