Saturday Question: How Did You Meet Undina?

Undina: I’m not sure if anyone has noticed that, but the last week’s Saturday Question marked exactly a year since ULG picked up the baton of running (no pun intended) this weekly series from Portia (APJ). And since I was always curious as to the various ways that led all of you to this place, I took hajusuuri upon her offer to tell her story of our virtual “meet” and be the host to this week’s Saturday Question episode that opens the second year season.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #53:

How Did You Meet Undina?

The word “meet” is of Germanic origin, meaning, “come upon.” For this question, meeting Undina means any one or all of the following: met her in person, spoke with / texted her, corresponded over email, left a comment here, replied to her comments in another social media platform (e.g. another blog, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) or saw her on some platform and decided to follow her. Tell us how you “came upon” Undina and approximately when?

My Answer

I fell into the perfume rabbit hole around 2010, no thanks to all the perfume blogs that permeated the Internet even before “social media” became a popular term. I mostly lurked and noted some of the names that appeared in multiple blogs. Among the many names, I noticed someone named “Undina” whose comments in Scents of Self (Arielle Shoshana’s currently inactive blog) were always proper, smart, knowledgeable, and humorous. One day in 2012, I happened to accidentally click on her name and voila, the world of Undina’s Looking Glass opened up to me!

While I cannot swear to have read all the posts, I most certainly looked through not only the current posts but also her very helpful tips posts. It was so timely that I learned about Parafilm on her Know-How Post on Decanting, Labeling, Packing and Shipping. Soon after, on August 22, 2012, I left my first comment on the subject of Ineke Sample Sets. Looking back, I did not introduce myself and, instead, just smoothly eased into the conversation. Since then, we’ve corresponded over email, swapped, participated in each other’s splits. Undina also paid me the best compliment by making me her first guest poster in February 2014, in time to debut the new look of her blog! My only regret is I have not met Undina in person but I am confident that once we can travel safely again, we will meet in person.

Art Card Edition

Art Card Edition Original artwork from hajusuuri’s collection

How Did You Meet Undina?


Saturday Question: Does Longevity Matter?

Today’s Saturday Question is brought to you by the letters h, a, j, u, s, u, u, r and i, and the number 8. (Undina)


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #30:

Does Longevity Matter?

When I use “longevity” as it relates to perfume, I am referring to how long the perfume lasts on your skin with normal wear.  To be more specific, if you typically wear 2 or 4 or X sprays, when do you stop being able to smell it without pressing your nose to wherever you applied it? Good luck if you only applied behind your ears.  Does longevity matter when you’re considering a perfume purchase?

My Answer

Unlike Undina who takes her time to test and notate her sampling experiences, I am not that disciplined.  Wait, “not that disciplined” gives me too much credit!  I am NOT disciplined at all.  As a result, most of the time, not being inclined to diligently test perfumes, I end up reading reviews and making a decision based on the reviews.  Most of the reviews cover what a perfume smells like, how the perfume makes the reviewer feel and which other perfumes it is similar to.  Occasionally, the review also includes longevity; however, I don’t pay attention to this knowing that it all depends on how many sprays you use, where you apply, your skin’s moisture levels, the temperature where you live/work and whether or not perfume got on your clothes.  Therefore, as long as the notes and scent descriptions sound good, I end up buying it.

What if I actually tested a perfume and found its longevity to be lacking?  Would I still buy it?  Yes, because it is how it smells that matters more than how long it lasts.  The best example of this is COMME des GARCONS Series 2: Red Carnation.  I first tried this at Barneys (R.I.P.), one of a few times that I actually sprayed it on skin versus just smelling it on a tester strip while perfume shopping. After a few minutes, I couldn’t smell it anymore; I sprayed more, and the same thing happened – POOF!  I left the store without buying it.  Over the following weeks, I kept thinking back to how much I really enjoyed the perfume, so I went back and bought a bottle!  If you really must know how long Red Carnation lasts on me – 4 sprays last 20 minutes, with detectable minute traces for up to an hour.


How about you?


Does Longevity Matter?

Sniffapalooza: Samples, Glorious Samples

For this month’s Second Sunday Samples episode hajusuuri shares a short recap of the event she attended and gives you an opportunity to win your own mini-swag bag of fragrant goodies.


* * *

Before reading on, click on the link below, close your eyes, and listen to the beat of this 80s commercial:



What does cheese have to do with perfume? Nothing! The point is the joyful nature of the commercial jingle is how I feel about receiving scented product samples, perfume samples in particular. Imagine getting over 60 samples in one day! This is how I will always remember Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2018.

This spring’s Sniffapalooza, held April 27-29, 2018, was quite the low-key affair, as compared with my first Sniffapalooza in 2014 (read all about it here); however, this did not diminish the delight of discovering new perfumes, revisiting old ones and meeting friends both new and old. Since my new iPhone 8 did not take very good pictures, you can see event photos at

Here are some highlights of the event…and a few asides:

Sniffing at Bergdorf Goodman (BG) – While I can visit BG any day, sniffing during Sniffapalooza day feels special because the SAs seem to be more welcoming and generous. Among others, Ex-Nihilo (3 travel sprays and 8 atomizer samples) and Armani Prive (custom selected by me) were over-the-top generous. I ended up getting two shower gels from Kilian and I received the new Miami Vice sample set (Love the Way You Feel and Love the Way You Taste) and a travel spray of Gold Knight. I actually liked Woman in Gold better but they ran out of it. What’s a girl to do? I got one from eBay (thanks to the Unseen Censer’s sharp eyes) AND took advantage of a coupon and ebates special at Saks and got myself a travel spray set.


SniffaMay2018 By Kilian


Lunch at Mangia – Not quite up to the standards of Brasserie 8 1/2 across the street, but with the low attendance, the organizers could not justify booking the private dining room. In any case, the food at Mangia was good and the portions generous. My only complaint was the wait staff ran out of steam at the end and only took coffee/tea orders from a third of the group. Speaker highlights included:

  • Barbara Herman / Eris Parfums – she highlighted the gender neutral Mx., a sample of which was included in the goodie bag. No flowers were harmed in the making of Mx. It is office-friendly and, on first sniff, is likely to rise up to my FB list. I will wear my sample to see how it goes. For a review of Mx., visit Megan In Sainte Maxime.
  • Jon Bresler / Lafco New York – How closely do you read the ingredients list of your body products? If you are like me, probably not often enough. He practiced what he preached by including a 15 oz. “sample” of Lafco olive oil based liquid soap in the goodie bag. As you can see from the picture, I have already started to use it (I filled another soap dispenser with the soap). The scent I got was Mint Tisane and it has a pleasant minty smell. I am going to try the Champagne scent next.
  • Mary Ellen Lapsansky / The Perfume Plume Awards – She acknowledged the winners of the 2018 Perfumed Plume Awards announced on April 11, 2018. I encourage you to read the winners and finalists’ work and perhaps it will inspire you to write something perfume-related and/or nominate a well-written work.


Sniffa May 2018 BG Samples


Visiting the Diptyque Boutique – Located at 971 Madison Avenue, the Diptyque boutique is way uptown, between 75th and 76th Street. We were greeted with mimosas and mini cupcakes. After indulging in the refreshments, I got down to business with sniffing. I liked the newest fragrance (Tempo) enough to buy a bottle on the spot! Then I spotted 34 Boulevard Saint Germain soap and a tote bag and I bought those as well. With these purchases, I received a travel-sized spray of Fleur de Peau, 2 candles and a bunch of samples. I’m eyeing 34 Boulevard Saint Germain in Black for FB purchase but I will test the perfume on skin first before making a decision.


Sniffa May 2018 Diptyque


Cocktail Party / Antica Farmacista at Bergdorf Goodman – As often as I’ve been to BG, I have never gone beyond entering from the street level and heading down to the beauty floor at the lower level. The Decorative Home Décor 7th Floor is a visual and olfactory delight; I will spend more time there in the future, as there are many nooks and crannies to explore! As to the Cocktail Party, it was held in a nice alcove with home scents galore. The featured home fragrance was Daphne Flower, delicately scented. A special Daphne Flower cocktail1 was concocted for the occasion. I would have bought the newest product, a car diffuser, but my 4 year old car still has a new car smell, which is the best smell a car could have, in my opinion. My favorite from this line is what I am currently using at home year-round – Vanilla Bourbon Mandarin.


Sniffa May 2018 Samples


Shopping at Hermes – This was not on the itinerary but I wanted to smell the new Hermessence. There were only two available for sniffing: Agar Ebene and Cedre Sambac. The SA was uncharacteristically stingy even though I bought a bracelet, but nevertheless, I came home with said bracelet, a sample each of the two Hermessence and two each of Eau de Citron Noir and Twilly.


Sniffa May 2018 Hermes


That’s it for this edition of Sniffapalooza! To thank you for your readership, I am giving away 2 packs that include: manufacturers’ samples I received from the event, extras from other sniffing adventures AND a 5mL decant of the newest addition to my collection – Diptyque Tempo. All you have to do is leave a comment with the perfume that is on top of your To Buy List and the country where you live. Anyone in the world can enter. There will be one winner from the U.S. and one winner from the rest of the world. You have until 11:59 PM PST on May 20, 2018 to enter the draw. Neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for lost packages.


1 Daphne Flower Cocktail: Stoli Orange Vodka, Grapefruit Liqueur and Raspberry Lime juice


Images: my own (hajusuuri)

Guess When and Win

Have you noticed an increasing frequency of people vlogging about buying and finishing products, from nail polish, to body lotion, to make-up and even perfumes? Googling videos with “YouTube beauty product empties” yielded thousands of results. A quick perusal showed that the most relevant videos ranged from 5 minutes to an average of 20 or so minutes each. The earliest video was from May 2013 and the most recent one was from a few minutes ago.

In Perfumeland, finishing a full bottle of perfume is like finding a unicorn, unless you have perfume-eating skin, in which case, you WISH said unicorn magically replenishes the bottle you are about to finish. I am close to seeing my next1 perfume unicorn. Can you guess for which perfume?

Chanel No 19 EdP

If you guessed Chanel No. 19 EDP, you are absolutely right!

According to Fragrantica, Chanel No. 19 was launched in 1970. The Number 19 in the name refers to the August 192, birth date of Coco Chanel. While there are various formulations of Chanel No. 19 (EDT, EDP, Parfum and even a flanker – Poudre), the one I like best is the EDP. It has a bracing combination of bergamot, iris, vetiver and a hint of leather. It is easy to wear, office-friendly and lasts all day with my usual 5 sprays. Chanel No. 19 EDP gives me backbone for anticipated stress-filled days; and there had been plenty of those since I bought this 100mL bottle in March 2015.

I still have a few wearings left and I am determined to finish it before the end of the year. To celebrate this milestone, I am offering a miniature L’Air du Desert Marocain3. To be entered, leave a comment and include the following:

  1. Date when you think I will finish the bottle.
  2. The last perfume bottle you finished – when and which one. If you have not finished one, which one will you use up within the next 6 months?
  3. Your country (there is no restrictions but we need to know).

The contest is open until 11:59PM PST on December 23, 2017. The winner will be chosen via from the commenters who guessed the date correctly. If not one guesses the date correctly, everyone will be included in the random drawing. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the mini if it were to get lost or damaged.

Tauer LDDM Mini

1 Burberry Britt Sheer, Hermes Kelly Caleche EDP and Shu Uemura Fleur de Source

2 Coco Chanel was born on August 19. I started working full time after college on August 19. Coincidence, or not?

3 The L’Air du Desert Marocain mini is courtesy of Andy Tauer. He sent me 2 extra minis, one of which I sent to a dear perfumista friend and the second one is for this contest.


Images: hajusuuri’s own

In the Search for the Perfect Scented Shower Gel

Have you ever worn a perfume that was so good that you just want to bathe in it? Fortunately, for those of us who answered Yes, there ARE bath & body products to satisfy that desire. My obsession with scented shower gels began during my pre-perfumista days with the now sadly discontinued L’Occitane Thé Vert Green Tea. While I wisely bought a back-up of the eau de toilette, I used the last of the shower gel 2 years ago.

In this post, I have summarized my experience using shower gels of some of my favorite perfumes. These are all easily accessible although most are in the spendy category ($25++). I am not affiliated with any of these companies and my recommendations are based on my experience.

Shower Gels

Starting from the worst…and ending with the best shower gel:


How’s the Shower Gel?


Prada Candy o  Sticky laundry musk chemical mess. Failed
Philosophy Fresh Cream o  Gel had good consistency.

o  Fragrance was too light and reminded me of dishwater with leftover milk.

Hermes Voyage d’ Hermes o  Reminded me of the perfume.

o  Product was too watery and not the right consistency for a shower gel.

o  Ended up being the most expensive per mL.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay o  Product is labeled as body and hand wash.

o  Great as a hand wash but meh for showers.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine o  Smelled just like the cologne!

o  Gel was very thick and required patience to get product out. A squeeze tube may be a better container.

Will buy again
Chanel No. 19 EDP o  Reminded me of a mix between the EDP and Poudre.

o  Feels luxurious with packaging to match.

Will buy again
Le Labo Iris 39 o  Smelled like a saltier version of the perfume.

o  Fragranced the body lightly and the bathroom nicely.

Will buy again
Lush Rose Jam o  Smelled like rose jam and filled the bathroom with a heady rose scent!

o  Actually better than the perfume.

Will buy again
Frederic Malle Carnal Flower o  Smelled true to the BWF aesthetic and felt super-luxurious.

o  I kept huffing the empty sample container, need I say more?

Will buy again

Carnal Flower Shower Gel

Many of these also have matching body lotion but since I don’t use scented body lotions, I don’t have an opinion as to their quality. I understand that a similar scented body lotion effect can be achieved by adding a drop or two of perfume mixed in with unscented body lotion.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will report on making my own small batch shower gels, as soon as I find a source for fragrance-free shower gel. Given a choice, I would like to see the following in shower gel format: Atelier Cologne Sous le toit de Paris, Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Le Labo Vanille 44 and Puredistance Opardu.

How about you? What scented shower gel do you enjoy using? What’s on your scented bath & body products wish list?


From Undina:

I know that you all take part in the conversation because of the conversation. But a draw from hajusuuri is already a tradition. So everybody who answers her question(s) will be entered to win:  4 ml shower gel (choose between Carnal Flower, Iris 39 or Rose Jam) + 4 ml of unscented Diana Vreeland body cream + Perfume Sample Travel Kit (compact box, 2 atomizers, 2 dab vials and labels). No DNEMs, please! If you win and do not want the prize, hajusuuri will let you nominate another winner (she’s that kind).

This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. The giveaway is open until 11:59PM PST on December 12, 2015. The winner will be chosen via  Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the samples and decants if they were to get lost or damaged.

Images: hajusuuri

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee: Caron Boutique – New York City

When I was nine, dad took my brother and I out of school to attend a pre-heavyweight boxing championship sparring match featuring Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, boxer in history. I don’t know if my mom knew we played hooky that day and since she does not read this blog, we’ll continue to keep it a secret. Although I don’t remember much about the sparring session itself, I knew that it was a privilege for me to have seen Muhammad Ali and whenever his name or the sport of boxing comes up, I think of dad and that day.

As unusual as it sounds, boxing and perfumery have some things in common: Undina wore Serge Lutens Boxeuses (female boxers in French) to fortify her before meetings and won Round One (and I bet, all rounds thereafter). Lucas over at Chemist in the Bottle wrote a review of Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin, and described the bright red boxing gloves in the ad visual as a metaphor of fighting for his dreams. Coincidentally, I happen to enjoy these two perfumes and have full bottles in my collection!

What does this have to do with Caron? For me, the classic quote by Muhammad Ali “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” describes the textures of Caron, from the softness and barely there lightness of the down puff to the sharp spiciness of Bellodgia.

My fascination with House of Caron started a little over a year ago. My visit to the Caron boutique in New York City was prompted by reviews of Caron perfumes by Steve, blogger extraordinaire of The Scented Hound. I have never explored the brand and its perfumes; I did not even know there was a Caron boutique, the only one outside of Paris, in my own backyard! And so it was with eager anticipation that I arranged to meet a perfumista friend at the Caron boutique (715 Lexington Avenue @ 58th St. New York, NY 10022; 212-308-0270). To my surprise, my friend was waiting outside the building and she told me that the boutique closed early because of a private event at the Phyto Universe Spa, where the boutique was co-located. Determined to get the Caron experience, I went back the next day and have been back several times since then.

Hidden Caron Boutique

The boutique is on the 3rd floor of 715 Lexington, entrance on 58th Street (see an updated address in the end of the post). You will not see a Caron sign anywhere. You know you are at the right place when you see Phyto Universe. Go through the street level double door entrance; let the receptionist know you are going to the Caron boutique and head straight to the elevator to the 3rd floor. The elevator doors open to a waiting area and – TA-DA – the boutique is on the right.

If you can imagine angels heralding visually with crystals instead of blowing trumpets, it was exactly the feeling I got upon entering the boutique. The chandelier is perfectly centered between spotless right-angled mirrors and brightens the boudoir-like space. Six lion-head claw foot legs support a display counter filled with all sorts of accessories – Caron Picot travel sprays (colored glass, gold covered, Swarovski Crystal-studded in a myriad of colors), Limoges Egg perfume bottle holders, and weightless goose-down powder puffs.

Caron Boutique

Along one wall are a series of curio cabinets filled with more of the travel sprays, unusual perfume bottles and a scale model of the Baccarat Crystal urn that you can own if you have about $4,000 to spare. There are two tables with tester bottles of the Caron perfumes. Of the fragrances that are not dispensed through the urns, my favorites are: Aimez-Moi, Parfum Sacre and Montaigne. Some of the perfumes come in unusual bottles, such as the one for Lady Caron that has a cutout of the head of the Statue of Liberty on the face of the bottle and a pointed cap to represent the crown. The Caron website has several more limited editions that are worth a look.

The iconic Baccarat crystal urns are presented on top of marble pedestals at various heights, and, together with their reflection on the mirrors, makes it look like there’s double the number of urns than in reality. Take a guess at how many urns are displayed!

Caron Boutique

To satisfy my curiosity as to how the urns dispense perfume into a flacon, I decided to purchase a Caron Picot travel spray in my favorite green color. I chose N’aimez-que Moi for this experience. If you look at the gold band on the lower third of the urn, you’ll see a spigot and a swan’s head/neck. With the opening of the flacon directly beneath the center of the swan’s head, a turn of the spigot opens the tap, filling the container. Seeing my travel spray filled with haute couture perfume gave me a thrill. If I have an unlimited budget, I would probably want one of each of the urn perfumes but I want to be there when they’re filled to experience the thrill over and over again.

Caron N'aimez-que Moi

The Caron boutique is a must-see when you’re in New York City. Caron perfumes are not widely distributed and you’ll be glad you visited. For an in-depth write-up on the House of Caron, see The House of Caron: Love, War and Perfume in Fragrantica written by Michelyn Camen.


To continue her enabling ways, hajusuuri offers a giveaway. There will be two winners; each will get one of two sets. Set 1: samples of Caron perfumes; Set 2: a sample of vintage Caron Bellodgia extrait, a sample of Serge Lutens Boxeuses AND a 4 mL decant of Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin. This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. The giveaway is open until 11:59PM PST on May 2, 2015. The winners will be chosen via separately for each set and announced in the next statistics post. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the samples and decants if they were to get lost or damaged.

To be entered answer the question below AND tell in what country you live.

If you do not want to participate in the draws, there’s no need mentioning the country where you live but please answer the question below for Undina’s statistics post.

We’re polling only your perception, there is no right or wrong answer so no need to run any research, do a real count or see what others have answered:

How many perfumes do you think Caron has currently in production (in all lines)?

Caron Boutique


Images: hajusuuri

UPDATE: (4/9/16) New address for the boutique:

One Grand Central Place
60 E 42 St  54fl
New York, New York 10165


Beyond Mardi Gras – Perfume Shopping in New Orleans

For those who prefer quiet to over-the-top Mardi Gras celebrations, fall is the perfect time to visit New Orleans: the worst of the heat is over, restaurant reservations are fairly easy to get and the streets are passable, perhaps with the exception of Bourbon Street at night.

Mardi Gras Countdown

I recently spent 5 days in New Orleans. My home away from home was Hotel Mazarin, a lovely French Quarter boutique hotel on Bienville Street, half a block away from Bourbon Street. I highly recommend it for its central location, well-appointed and spacious rooms and common spaces, friendly staff and extensive breakfast spread.

As with most of my vacations since falling into the perfume rabbit hole, I keep my eyes and nose open for perfumes. Two perfumeries stand out as quintessential perfumeries and worth a visit (or two, or three…):

Hove Parfumeur  (434 Chatres St.)

In a Now Smell This Lazy Weekend Poll, I asked for New Orleans perfumery recommendations and someone mentioned Hove Parfumeur. The boutique is surprisingly boudoir-like despite the dark wood furnishings and stone floors. Hove carries its own line of fragrances; these are available in different formats and concentrations (perfume, cologne, solid) and can be added to lotion, shower gel and body oil. Some of the perfumes have a matching soap, candle and room spray. There are over 50 different fragrances split between the Standard Line and Luxury Line. This bifurcation did not make a difference to me other than the Luxury Line is a little bit more expensive than the Standard Line.

Hove Parfumeur

So how does one smell through 50 fragrances in one visit? On top of the counter, pre-dipped tester strips marked with the perfume names are laid out on top of a sheet of glass. As you cycle through the perfumes, push forward the strips you are interested in. The staff will then pull out the perfume bottles from the cabinets on the back wall and give you an opportunity to get up close and personal with the perfumes. Most of the perfumes had a classic feel and I had a difficult time narrowing them down but narrow down I did. I ended up with a shower gel fragranced with Corduroy, a travel atomizer of Mantrap, ½ dram each of Heliotrope, Spring Fiesta and Fascinator, plus a bunch of soaps (yes, I have a soap obsession).

Bourbon French Parfums (805 Royal St.)

Bourbon French Parfums was a serendipitous find. At the library, I came across Dollbaby (by Laura McNeal), a fictional coming-of-age book set in 1960s New Orleans. Normally, I would dive right into Chapter One but this time, I decided to read the Foreword. Lo and behold, the author mentioned that the perfumery in the book is based on a real perfumery that had since moved to Royal Street. You can just imagine my excitement when I found out that Bourbon French Parfums has a custom-blend perfume service!

Bourbon French Parfums is located on Royal Street, a 13-block stretch of fine jewelry stores, antique shops and boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Upon walking into the nondescript storefront, there’s an eclectic mix of colorful perfume bottles and atomizers, counter tops and shelves full of perfume and perfumed body products. Similar to Hove, Bourbon French carries house perfumes (Parfums de Maison), soliflors and blends with names like Voodoo Love, Kus Kus and Quadroon.

Bourbon French Parfums

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to consult with custom-blend specialist Jasmine. The custom-blend perfume corner has several trays of dropper bottles, consisting of what looks like about 100 different essences. After asking me questions about my scent preferences, she smeared 3 essences on my forearm: spicy, sweet and powdery. We went through 4 mods over 40 minutes until I got my scent. Although the minimum size of a custom blend is 1 oz., I was able to get two ½ oz. bottles since the 4th mod is different due to the addition of fig to mod 3 to brighten it. My custom-blend included: white tea, lily-of-the-valley (those who know me are probably gasping right now), tuberose, vanilla, musk, black cherry, sandalwood, amber tobacco, patchouli and citrus.

I asked Jasmine for tips for others who may visit and utilize the custom-blend service. She strongly suggests making an appointment and don’t wear perfumed lotion the day of the appointment. The store closes daily at 5PM so make sure you allow time for your visit even if you are not going to get a custom-blend.

Custom Blend Perfume

Other stores I visited that sold perfumes:

Forever New Orleans (301 Royal St.) – Would you believe this store does not have a web-shop? In addition to New Orleans themed merchandise, the store also carries the Royal Apothic line of perfumes, hand creams and candles. I bought a travel spray of Royal Apothic Plains of Thistle in a beautiful green bottle and package. Do read Undina’s post on “minor brands” to see which Royal Apothic perfume she recently bought.

Dollz & Dames (216 Decatur St.) – This is a women’s wear and accessories boutique. It carries two lines of perfume: Juliette Has a Gun and Alice & Peter. Not many stores carry these brands so this is an opportunity to spritz and test instead of buying samples.

Dollz & Dames

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (739 Bourbon St.) – While searching for Day of the Dead rubber duckies (don’t ask), I walked into this shop and the counter-top had perfumes for sale – Magnolia, Sandalwood, Musk, Vanilla, Patchouli and Jasmine. The shop was really crowded and I was very uncomfortable inside and left without buying anything.

Day of the Dead Duck

My New Orleans Food Experience

As someone who cannot stand hot & spicy foods, I was concerned about not being able to enjoy the New Orleans Cajun and Creole foodie scene. And boy, was I wrong! Cajun is country-style food, a combination of French and Southern cuisines, with the most common dishes being jambalaya and crawfish etouffee, both served over rice. Creole food is a refined combination of European and African cuisines with rich sauces, herbs and more extensive use of seafood. While I ultimately stayed away from Cajun food, I had my share of Creole food, including lots of gumbo. There is no shortage of restaurants in the French Quarter. I particularly enjoyed dinner at Red Fish Grill (115 Bourbon St.) and Olivier’s (204 Decatur St.).

On the sweeter side, a visit to New Orleans is not complete without a visit to Café du Monde (800 Decatur St.) and enjoying a plate of powdered-sugar coated beignets while sipping aromatic chicory café au lait.

Tip: Don’t wait to be seated. Look for an open table, sit down, and the server assigned to your section will stop by to get your order. Also, if you are planning to visit Café du Monde’s store, it is across the street from the Café and it closes at 5.


I hope you enjoyed reading about my perfume shopping, with a side helping of eating in New Orleans. I went to many more places worth visiting – the Louisiana State Museum at The Cabildo and at The Presbytere, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the World War II Museum, among others. I also had a chance to tour the Lower 9th Ward, the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Almost 10 years later, the area is still a ghost town with empty lots, perhaps every 10th house raised or rebuilt, but there are still no businesses (grocery stores, banks, gasoline stations) in the vicinity.

Tennessee Williams once wrote:

America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

Everywhere else is Cleveland.

He may be right.

It’s an infamous Black Friday in a couple of days. For Undina’s monthly statistics post please tell: 1) in which country do you live? and 2) have you ever done any Black Friday or Cyber Monday perfume shopping (with Internet there are no borders for a good deal, are there)? You will be entered into the draw for 2 ml of hajusuuri’s custom blend perfume and a block of Pumpkin Spice soap. The draw is open until 11:59 PM PST on (Cyber) Monday, December 1st. The randomly selected winner will be announced in the next statistics post.

Images: all by hajusuuri

Make Way for hajusuuri – Perfume Shopping in Boston

The title for this post was inspired by the Make Way for Ducklings bronze sculpture at the Boston Public Garden. The sculpture by Nancy Schön was installed in 1987 to honor Robert McCloskey and his most popular book, “Make Way for Ducklings”. In the book, Mr. & Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to start a family, flying over Boston and landing in a few places that did not meet their approval until they reached an island in the Charles River. After the ducklings hatched and had time to learn to be ducks, the family decided to take a field trip to the Boston Public Garden and along the way, policemen had to stop traffic to allow the family to cross safely. Make way for hajusuuri as I take you perfume shop hopping in Boston’s Back Bay and North End neighborhoods. By sheer coincidence, an “Island” met my approval. Read on!

Make Way For Ducklings

I went to Boston several days before embarking on a cruise1. Although I had visited Boston previously on vacation and on business trips, they were before I became a perfumista. This time around, I paid more attention to places that sold perfumes. I was particularly motivated to seek out samples to participate in the Now Smell This Scent of the Day Friday Community Project. The highlight of my Boston visit was a meet-up with fellow perfumista Patricia, a contributing writer at Bois de Jasmin and with whom I had often swapped perfumes.

I stayed at the Westin at Copley Square, right at the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and within a short walking distance from the Back Bay Station. I took the train into Boston from New Jersey and I have to say that despite it taking 5 hours end-to-end, it was more pleasant than flying and all its security preambles and cramped seats. The hotel is connected via sky bridge to Copley Place (100 Huntington Ave.), an upscale mall featuring Neiman Marcus and Barneys. At Neiman Marcus, I only stopped by the men’s perfume section where Francis Kurkdjian, Tom Ford and Acqua Di Parma perfumes were prominently displayed. The Barneys perfume section was tiny as compared with the store in New York; however, it does have those Frederic Malle smelling tubes where you can experience how the perfume projects around you. On a rainy day, Copley Place is an ideal place to browse around.

Newbury Street, near the Boston Public Garden, is one of the best-known retail shopping destinations in Boston. When my sister and I visited many years ago, we stumbled upon Essence Studio, a perfumery that sold custom-blended perfumes and essential oils, but which had since closed and moved to Colorado. These days, although there are still many art galleries and designer boutiques, the national chains have crept in and the shops I visited also have locations in other cities:

Chanel (8 Newbury St.)– Color me surprised when I saw testers for Les Exclusifs Parfum Extrait Chanel 1932 and Jersey! The SA was attentive and willingly gave out samples of the Les Exclusifs. Per the SA, Chanel allowed 6 boutiques in the U.S. to make 2 extraits available for testing although she did not know which other locations had the testers. I’m so impressed with this Chanel boutique that if ever I have a “need” to purchase any Chanel item, I will order through this Boston location.

Cartier (40 Newbury St.) – This Cartier location looked more posh than the one in New York. Unlike the New York boutique where the perfumes were tucked away in a corner, this location has the perfumes prominently displayed near the entrance, facing the cashier; however, only two of the 13 Les Heures collection were available for testing.

Bluemercury (160 Newbury St.) – Bluemercury is a luxury beauty products and spa retail chain. The chain is frequently compared to Ulta and Space NK with their breadth of choices of higher-end branded beauty products. The SA generously gifted me with La Mer, ReVive and Jo Malone samples. I should note that I was initially reluctant to walk in because my experience at a Bluemercury in New Jersey was quite opposite – despite having bought perfume, the SA refused to give me any samples; I’m glad I went in to this Bluemercury and my view of Bluemercury improved.

Other Shops in the Back Bay neighborhood near the Boston Public Garden:

Hermes (320 Boylston St.) –Boylston St. borders the Boston Public Garden. As with other Hermes boutiques in the U.S. and in other countries, the service at this Hermes boutique was top-notch. I happily left with a handful of samples.

Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill (46 Charles St.) – This store beckoned to me with its display of collectibles, ornaments, bags, stationery and other gift items. It carries the Soap Paper Factory products including solid perfumes, candles, hand creams and bar soaps.


Boston’s North End neighborhood is best known for its Italian-American flavor. I met Bois de Jasmin contributing writer, Patricia, for lunch at Gennaro’s (5 North Square), a quaint restaurant serving Italian soul food. After a sumptuous lunch, we walked to Officina 189 (189 North St.). From the outside, it looked like a second hand boutique, but upon walking in, we were met with an eclectic mix of jewelry, watches, leather bags, bicycles (bicycles? yes, bicycles, with brightly-colored frames), candles, body products and perfumes. The SA welcomed us warmly and helped us smell through the range of perfumes. Officina 189 carries only Italian-made products; the perfume brands available include: Acqua dell’Elbe, La Collina Toscana, My Inner Island and Nobile 1942. We left without purchasing anything – Patricia liked several perfumes but since she is in the area often, opted to take her time deciding; I, on the other hand, was itching to get one of the perfumes but was concerned I could not fit it into my luggage. We then walked off our meal with a stroll by the water and parted ways with a promise to continue enabling each other and other perfumistas.

Before walking back to Back Bay, I stopped in Mike’s Pastry Shop for people watching, Boston Cream Puff and coffee. When I got back to the hotel, my mind was still on one of the perfumes I smelled at Officina 189, so I weighed my luggage and determined that I do have room. I went back the next day and bought an Island that I approved – My Inner Island Vaniglia Sopraffina e Rhum.


And now – a giveaway!

To continue her enabling ways, hajusuuri offers a 3 ml decant of My Inner Island Vaniglia Sopraffina e Rhum AND 3 other vanilla-based perfumes in her collection. This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. To be entered answer the question below AND tell in what country you live. The giveaway is open until 11:59PM PST on September 29, 2014. The winner will be chosen via and announced in a future post. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the decants if they were to get lost or damaged.

If you do not want to participate in the draw, there’s no need mentioning the country where you live but please answer the question below for Undina’s statistics post.

Which city in the World is your mecca for perfume shopping: not sniffing, testing or getting to know brands and their offerings but actually buying perfumes – based on your previous experience?

Images: hajusuuri

1 Holland America New England Cruise from Boston to Montreal, with stops in Bar Harbor (Maine), Nova Scotia (Halifax, Sydney and Prince Edward Island) and Quebec City.

Love at First Sniff or Portrait of a Serial Spontaneous Perfume Buyer

Look at me – I’m all grown-up: I have a new and cleaner looking blog design (I had to do it since WP has retired my original theme), use a real poll and even got my first guest writer!

Please welcome hajusuuri – a perfumista, my close scent relative and a regular commenter on many perfume blogs.


In the hierarchy of perfumista sins, blind buying full bottles (FB) ranks as #1, and buying spontaneously (or impulsively) comes in at a close second. Given Undina’s meticulous recording of all perfumes in her possession (down to the very last sample) and her supremely enviable tracking of her SOTD and sampling activities for the past three years, was anyone surprised that the closest she came to being spontaneous) ended up being a YEAR after she took home a sample of Diptyque Volutes? (That was the post in which I offered hajusuuri to write a guest post to “compensate” for my indecisiveness – Undina)

Spontaneous Perfumes

So what normally prompts spontaneous perfume buying? Assuming you liked/loved the first encounter with a perfume, here are some of my reasons and a list of the perfumes I bought1:

  • The perfume is being discontinued or is a limited edition – Guerlain Iris Ganache
  • I’m on vacation and may not have the opportunity again – read all about it at Chemist in the Bottle
  • I have a deal such as % / $ off, Gift with Purchase (GWP), etc., and don’t have the patience to wait for a better one to come along – Atelier Cologne buy four 30 ml get one free and I ended up with Sous le toit de Paris x 2, Rose Anonyme, Mistral Patchouli and Vetiver Fatale,  Atelier Cologne Silver Iris (20% off at Sephora AND a free 30 ml of any Atelier Cologne…I picked Silver Iris for the freebie), Demeter Tomato and Pumpkin Pie (they were cheap and were buy 2 get a rollerball free), La Collection Privee Christian Dior Bois d’Argent ($s off event at Bergdorf and a very generous SA), I Profumi di Firenze Vaniglia del Madagascar (30% off 2 items and if you must know what the other item was…it was Mona di Orio Violette Fumee which became a relative bargain with the discount), Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense (gift event at Bloomingdale’s), Marni Rose (another creepy doll! and since I got this at Saks, I was able to have the SA walk around with me to obtain perfume samples from other counters), Tom Ford Violet Blonde (free faux ostrich leatherette atomizer filled with perfume of choice)
  • Do I really need a reason? – Atelier Cologne Cedrat Enivrant, By Kilian gold snake wrapped atomizer, Hermes Jour d’ Hermes and Voyage d’ Hermes, Jo Malone Ginger Biscuit and Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Spontaneous Perfumes

Tell us about your spontaneous perfume purchases (whatever this means in your book – be that purchasing a bottle the same day you tried the perfume for the first time or getting the perfume from the bottom position of your wish list).


For this month’s Entertaining Statistics post please vote on the main reason of your spontaneous perfume buys:

And now – a giveaway!

To celebrate her first guest post on this blog hajusuuri offers a 5 ml decant of Atelier Cologne Silver Iris. This giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. To be entered vote in the poll and leave a comment telling in what country you live. If you do not want to be entered still vote, please. The giveaway is open until 11:59PM PST on March 1st, 2014. The winner will be chosen via and announced in the February Statistics post. Please note that neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for replacing the decant if it were to get lost or damaged.

1It’s possible I may have selective amnesia but, to the best of my recollection, these were my spontaneous buys. Note: I excluded: 1) anything I bought online immediately after sampling at home and 2) any < 30 ml FBs; if I included these, this post would be 2x as long and that’s all I will say about that :)

Images: all by hajusuuri