Before leaving on a vacation I usually research honey holes for perfume sniffing at the destination, and then during the trip I keep my nose to the wind, figuratively speaking, not to miss any perfume shop, counter or corner.
For my New Orleans visit I’ve read hajusuuri’s post (can you believe it – it was almost 4 years ago!) but for some reason I wasn’t really looking forward to visiting any of the perfume places she described. So I decided that I would be probably fine without planning anything and would see how it goes.
My vSO was the one who spotted that shop not too far from the hotel we stayed on our evening stroll. It was already closed but we decided to come back the next day.
We all know those new brands that resurrect some ancient history, buy it from heirs of defunct brands or even invent it? So when you come across a brand with a genuine almost 90 years and 4 generation history, you can’t help feeling some admiration.
Hove Parfumeur is an interesting small store in French Quarter (434 Chartres St.) that sells perfumes, jewelry, soaps and other bath products. They carry about 50 (fifty!) perfumes available in perfume and cologne concentration as well as solids.
Same as it was when hajusuuri visited the store, they still have pre-dipped paper strips with printed names laid out on glass trays. I went through sniffing all of them in several iterations, noting those that I liked. Either I looked like I knew what I was doing (which might be), or the girl who manned the store wasn’t really interested in perfumes, or she misread me as not a potential buyer, but I was left alone to sniff all I wanted for probably half an hour. I’m not complaining, I prefer it this way but it felt a little unusual for any store of that size where I was the only customer.
Testing perfumes the way this shop offers is quite the opposite to what we usually do at most other places: you get to smell perfumes in their drydown phase first, so instead of judging them on the opening 15 minutes burst, you get to decide what you want to test on skin from liking the base notes. None of the two seem sufficient to make a final judgement on perfumes. But at the same time I wasn’t about to put even 2-3 perfumes on my skin and walk out into the 32C/90F humid street not knowing when I’d get to the shower.
The store sells perfumes in multiple sizes starting from a dram (~3.6 ml), but for the price of 3 you can get a set of 6 dram bottles – and that was what I went with.
For my set I got Bayou D’Amour, Diverti, Fascinator, Grandee, Mantrap and Rue Royale. Neither the brand’s site nor Fragrantica provides a detailed list of notes for these perfumes, and I’ve never been too good picking notes out – even when listed – so I’ll share brand’s descriptions for these perfumes and my impressions.
After testing them for several times, I can see how that paper testing works for the brand: all of their perfumes smell very good in drydown.
Rue Royale was my last pick for the set. It smelled good but mostly I was influenced by the description: “A hint of musk pervades this basically dry and light fragrance, selected most often by fair brunettes who wish a quiet elegance.”
Testing proved that “quiet” isn’t a thing that this fair brunette wishes for. Rue Royale has a beautiful opening (I smell strong rose), and then it’s quite pleasant in the 4th hour of drydown. But in between I get something slightly dusty and dull. I might try it once or twice under different weather but I do not expect to fall in love with it enough to wear it.
Diverti (“Light and refreshing, this blend of sandalwood, cedar and a mixture of floral notes creates a divertissement of its own”), Fascinator (“The rich warm notes of Oak Moss, blended with a hint of musk, this fragrance is sure to fascinate both men and women”) and Grandee (“An elegant and grand blending of floral notes topped by a fruity note to add a bit of happiness. For those who are outgoing and who like bright colors”) are rather unisex perfumes that from time to time suddenly veer masculine. All three are worth trying but I’m a little wary about perfumes that do not perform consistently on my skin: I do not want to be stuck with something I’m not enjoying for the whole day in the office.
My most favorite of the six is the one with the name that doesn’t resonate with me – Mantrap. For my not native English ear it sounds like a contrivance to catch men (even though I know that it’s a gender-neutral term). But nevertheless, I liked this perfume.
Official description: “Made provocative by its high resinous notes, made alluring by its underlying spice notes, this is truly a heavy Oriental fragrance.”
Mantrap reminds me of Alahine and maybe a little of Coco though I wouldn’t go as far as calling it “heavy oriental,” at least not in the dab format. But it is definitely a floral oriental perfume that smells like a classic perfume – well blended floral bouquet and warm spices. It wears nicely in hot weather, and I look forward to trying it in winter as well.
Bayou D’Amour, “An exotic blend of floral notes dominated by notes of the luscious fruit, mango,” is my second favorite in the brand’s line-up. I tried hard but I cannot detect mango. For me it’s a big white floral perfume. If I were to guess, I would say that I smell plumeria but I’m not sure, it might be some other tropical flower. Bayou D’Amour smells great in hot weather.
While I do not think that any of these perfumes are worth paying for blind testing (almost no perfumes these days are), but if you happen to visit New Orleans, I think stopping by Hove Parfumeur is a worthwhile diversion from main activities (such as eating and listening to music).
Images: my own
I already know from your previous post that you had a nice trip to New Orleans but it also seems that you made a nice discovery, ‘guided’ through the city by your own nose. Wonder if those perfumes are made by hand
They do not smell “handmade,” and I doubt I would have liked that many had they been. But most of them have that vintage/classic smell (but sans spoiled top notes :) ).
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I see, so it’s not exactly an artisan brand.
When perfume has a vintage smell it’s a hit or miss for me – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
What about vintage-style colognes?
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I would have to smell to know. 😉
The most masculine one from the 6 will be waiting for the next package I’ll send your way later this year.
Well, if you ended up in only one, Hove Parfumeur had to be The One! I am tickled pink that we matched on Mantrap and Fascinator. Spring Fiesta was discontinued or I would be willing to bet you would like it too. I don’t know where I tucked my New Orleans perfumes…I’ll find them at some point!
I didn’t remember which ones you ended up buying so when I revisited your post and saw that we had two favorites in common I was very pleased.
You should find your perfumes: they are great in hot weather.
I am on holiday at the moment, excusively wearing perfumes in the heat – up to 37C so far – so I quite understand that you don’t want to commit to samples on a blind basis.
Of the ones you got, the last two – Mantrap (also despite the name!) and Bayou d’Amour – sound like my kind of the thing. I sense the latter in particular would be great where I am.
I keep watching your weather and cannot believe my eyes! Stay cool!
I think that your current temperatures are just perfect for Sognes (which I plan to wear tomorrow thinking of your summer while it’s comfortable 26C in our area).
I like this idea of getting to experience the drydown right away. From all the ones you mentioned Mantrap sounds really good. I hope in your multiple wearings the others will prove to be more enjoyable for you and that you get some consistency from them.
These are perfumes that I plan to either wear and finish or forward onto somebody else – not to hoard small bottles until they are gone due to evaporation or being off.
That sounds like a great plan :) You already know I am not hoarding or saving anything these days!
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New Orleans has been on my travel wishlist for ages now. I had plans to go this past May but it fell through. I will go one day and when I do I will make sure to swing in Hove. I love the deep history it has. Shopping for perfume while being left alone is my favorite. I like quiet time with my scents.
Hove Parfumeur sounds like an intriguing store to visit, Undina. Like the sound of Mantrap, even its name.
It smells even better than it sounds! :)
Thank you for reading, Richard.
How wonderful, I do love these hidden gems. I suppose they’re only really possible outside of EU, EU law/ IFRA legislations being too hard on small businesses like this one.
I like the look of the shop too, those old fashioned cupboards and display case remind me a little of the Farmazia SS Annunziata shop in Florence.
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I’m extremely sad because of all those regulations. I wish they changed their approach and allow companies to put warnings on the labels instead of butchering beautiful scents. I realize that big companies would still choose to remove whatever might scare away anybody rather than going for the more expensive ingredients AND putting warnings, but it could give smaller brands some room for creativity.
Meanwhile, I should try to support those who can still do that here, in the U.S.
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Yes, I think the advantage with that idea (supporting your locals), is that you get more honest integrity too. I know that Christophe Laudamiel has created perfumes which he call ‘garment fragrance’ (as opposed to the skin wearable ‘fine fragrance’), that’s one way of getting around the problem.