Portia: Perfume That Got Away

Portia: Perfume That Got Away

Hi there Undina’s Looking Glassers. Do any of you share my shopping madness over the C19 period? It’s crazy! I’m earning less than the last 20+ years but it seems EVERYONE is going through their closets and selling off the unworn, unloved and unexceptional. Here’s the kicker though, some of those frags have been on my list for YEARS! They are being sold for a lot less than retail. Who cares that there are 5mls missing, or the box is dented, or there is no box? Don’t look at me, I couldn’t care less.

No, I’m not going to tell you all the things I’ve scored. Sorry. It’s too embarrassing. I will tell you though that I’m still on the lookout for a bottle of Greg Lauren for Barney’s. I had a decant which has long gone and I miss it a lot. One of my buddies was selling one on FB not so long ago but I missed out on it because she was only sending CONUS. I could easily have had it sent to mates in the US but……. NOW I’m kicking myself.

Does anyone even remember this salty vanilla beauty?

Greg Lauren for Barneys New York

Notes are extremely simple: Tonka bean, Vanilla, Marine notes. The whole is MUCH more than the sum of its parts though.

By the time I got my decant it had already been DCd and people bragged about the bargain prices they paid. As little as US$20 in its final mark downs. I would have bought 20 bottles for that and happily worn it as my signature scent.

Sadly it was not to be.

I’m sure every one of you has a similar story about a different fragrance.

What are the perfumes that got away from you?
Portia xx

Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis by Caron 2020

Hey Posse, Caron is owned by Cattleya Finance since 2018. It seems they have been taking stock and getting a feel for the company before launching anything new. It’s so interesting that they chose to market their first new outing to the boys. Needless to say, this is actually a unisex fragrance, it has facets from both major genders playing fields and melds them seamlessly. It could easily have been marketed to ALL genders. Interesting also that the name they chose has echoes of other Carons: N’Aimez Que Moi (1917) and Aimez-Moi (1996). The moment I read that this was coming I organised a split here in Australia and sent to Paris for two bottles. One I would keep and the other my very dear buddy Scotty would get, after we had split off the required amounts.

Aimez-Moi Comme Je Suis by Caron 2020

Continue reading

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 random.org 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

212-308-0270
877-88-CARON

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.

Pastry

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

Entertaining Statistics: September 2014

September was warm and pleasant. We even had several light rains, a couple of which I missed while I was in Maui (if you haven’t done it yet, you still have time to play a guessing game I started in that post). Rains didn’t make a dent in our drought situation but still it was nice to sleep with the rain drumming on the roof.

For this month’s statistics in Make Way for hajusuuri – Perfume Shopping in Boston post I asked a question:

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?

Twenty four (24) people answered the question (thank you, everybody!) and named 13 cities. I grouped all participants in three regions – U.S., Europe and Other. 67% of people (16) didn’t have to take a long pilgrimage to their perfume mecca: they named a city from the region where they live.

Stats September 2014

I don’t think it’ll surprise anybody that Paris got the most votes (7). New York got silver (4 votes), which was also expected. What I didn’t expect was San Francisco taking the third spot (3 votes) leaving behind Los Angeles (1.5 votes), London, Las Vegas, Cancun, Chicago, Dubai, Hamburg, Houston and Warsaw, each of which got just one vote and Bruchsal with a half vote.

Stats September 2014

I checked Perfume Shopping around the World page and discovered that less than half of the cities that made the list of the best perfume shopping for the respondents have a blog story written by a perfumista. Of course Your Perfume Guide online catalog referenced from that page has lists of stores and boutiques in most of those cities but it misses a personal touch of somebody who loves perfumes. So I urge you to write a shopping guide for your mecca, post it on your blog (or you’re welcome to do a guest post on mine if you do not have a blog) and send me a link to it.

And finally, we have a winner for the draw of the 3 ml decant of My Inner Island Vaniglia Sopraffina e Rhum AND 3 other vanilla-based perfumes from hajusuuri’s collection:

Shopping in Boston Draw Results

Nancysg, send your shipping address to hajusuuri at gmail. If a prize isn’t claimed until 11:59 PM on October 10, 2014, hajussuri reserves the right to randomly select another winner.

Images: kind of my own (I used as elements free pictures from http://www.clker.com and http://yoursourceisopen.com)

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.

Officina189

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.

Officina189

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 random.org 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.

“New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!”

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I love New York. Every time I go there I feel with utter clarity how much I miss living in a big city.

This time the weather wasn’t the best possible: the temperature dropped significantly the next day after we arrived; then there was a showering rain; it was cloudy and cool for several days and it got a little warmer by the end of our stay there with sun teasing us on the day of the departure. But we were mostly prepared for the weather and it didn’t prevent us from enjoying all the planned activities, of which there were plenty but since it’s a, more or less, perfume blog I want to highlight fragrant parts of my vacation.

I’ll start with saying a big thank you to Robin, Birgit and Gaia who created New York perfume shopping guides: it really helps to know where to look for which brand. If you plan a trip read through those posts, make yourself a list of everything you want to visit (with addresses) and try (with names) – you’ll be glad you did.

Slow down...

To Barney’s I went only to test newly available exclusive line of Serge Lutens perfumes (everything else is available at Barneys SF). All SAs I met there were very friendly and not pushy at all. I walked away with samples of two perfumes I liked the most (out of those I haven’t tried before) – Rose de nuit and Fourreau noir. I would have bought a bottle (one of  several that I want to add to my collection eventually) but why on earth has somebody decided to charge almost twice for those bell jars in the US?!! How does the price 130 EUR including VAT translate into $300 PLUS tax?!! Stupid rich Americans who would eat up anything? I refuse to do that. I’d rather give business to Suzan who charges just 10% on top.

At Bloomingdale’s Chanel‘s SA who was very proud of their perfume testing system – an Olfactive Bar (a mirrored table top with porous ceramic rods immersed into vials with different perfumes), in reply to my question if they had a test rod for Bois des Iles in parfum concentration, told me that 1) it smells exactly the same as EdC concentration; 2) because it wouldn’t have been an Exclusifs if it hadn’t smelled the same; 3) it was created by Jacques Polge and … At this point I told him “Thank you” and left.

The Unseen Censer was a great company for a perfume sniffing at MiN NY. Unfortunately for our visit we chose the day when they held a launch of three perfumes for the new brand – Jul et Mad. I say “unfortunately” because my vSO was promised a comfortable couch where he would be able to relax after our almost six hours stroll through the lower Manhattan while we would do our best to sniff through as many new perfumes as perfumista-ly possible… Instead of it my faithful companion had to spend an hour standing next to the wall and reading his smartphone in a crowd of people having great time. I hope strong cocktails served by nice people from MiN helped a little but I felt bad and we left a little earlier than I’d wanted to (and before I realized how much I liked one of the three Jul et Mad’s perfumes Amour de Palazzo and thought of asking for a sample). Also I think I fell in love with one perfume… But it’s too early to talk about it, I need more time.

Bergdorf Goodman NY

I didn’t plan to go to Bergdorf Goodman but it just happened on our way so I decided to check out Ramon Monegal. They had only seven perfumes from the line. When I asked a SA who was eager to help me with the brand if they had the other 7 somewhere else she was surprised by the fact that I knew about the brand and told me that they didn’t have the complete line. But when I expressed my regret that they didn’t have two perfumes that I wanted to try (Impossible Iris and Cuirelle) she answered me, with a smidgen of indignation, that those seven were the best sellers in the world. Oh well, I shouldn’t be upset if my tastes aren’t aligned with the rest of the world, should I? I didn’t feel like testing any of the seven they had on skin.

On the positive note, SA at By Kilian counter was very nice and even made me samples of three new perfumes from In the Garden of Good and Evil collection. The bottles and the box are as beautiful as they are on pictures. Now I need to test perfumes. My first impression: it doesn’t make much sense to test these three on paper; at least on my skin they developed very different from what I smelled on blotters.

At Saks I finally got to try Bois des Iles in both concentrations. What can I say? They don’t smell the same. But I still don’t know which one I should buy first. I got some other interesting samples there but it’ll be another story.

The last stop on my perfume journey was Henri Bendel. You wouldn’t know it by looking at their website but they have a very impressive and unique perfume selection. I didn’t have much time (I’d tested my vSO’s angelic patience more than enough by then) so I concentrated mostly on Huitième Art – the line I kept reading about but had never tested before. It is a very nice line! I didn’t test any of the perfumes on skin but found at least three I want to – Manguier Metisse, Ciel d’Airain and Ambre Ceruleen.

I haven’t bought any perfumes on my trip (traveling with just carry-on luggage helps fighting sudden perfume urges) but I think there will be at least a couple that will join my collection in future and I’ll associate them with this wonderful trip.

Have I mentioned how understanding and accommodating my vSO was? I have? I just want to say it again because I appreciate it very much. BTW, it was him who on our plane trip to NY pointed out that cartoon above from the New Yorker magazine.

NY Lady Gaga perfume ad 

Images: first one from New Yorker; the rest – my own.

Know-How: Perfume Shopping around the World

 

We, perfumistas, live around the world. We travel around the world. We publish our perfume shopping stories and share our first-hand knowledge and discoveries. A year later, while preparing to a new trip, some of us might even remember where we read that great guide for this tiny town in which we’ll have a stopover on our way to or from somewhere. Or maybe not that tiny but still.

SF Macys entrance

For a while I’ve been compiling links to those posts that I came across. Now I decided to create a page to hold links to those guides – Perfumes Shopping around the World. If you’ve written an article you want to include in this list (or exclude from it – I respect writers’ choice) or if you know about somebody else’s article send me an e-mail.

Also I think it might be useful to have multiple pages referring to these guides. So if you want to host a similar page on your site send me an e-mail and I’ll forward you the HTML file. I plan to update this page with new links three-four times a year and I will be sending updates to those who decide to host the page. You do not have to publish this page on your blog to have your links included and you can host the page even if you do not have any perfume shopping guides of your own (yet?).

I’m open to any suggestions. If you like the idea please spread the word. I have no commercial interest in this project I just think it might be useful for those who will be planning trips tomorrow. 

 

Image: my own.

Know-How: Perfume Shopping in Las Vegas

Las Vegas isn’t the most obvious destination for the perfume shopping but if you happen to be there for any more suitable activity (let’s say, a trade show or a tech conference ;-)), here’s several destinations you might want to check out.

Las Vegas

Sephora (1 on the map below – click to enlarge) next to The Venitian carries the range of usual mainstream brands.

Barneys (2) at The Venetian has a nice selection of niche brands: Acqua Di Pharma, Antonia’s Flowers, Arquiste, Bois 1920, Byredo, Carthusia, Cereus, Comme de Garcons, Costume National, Escentric Molecules, Frederic Malle, Heeley, L’Artisan Perfumer, Le Labo, Les Parfums de Rosine, Nasomatto, Odin NY, Parfums Del Rae, Serge Lutens, The Different Company and Yosh.

Las Vegas Strip Map

The Palazzo Hotel (3) hosts several boutiques: Guerlain carries the range of perfumes available in the US (I wrote more about it in one of my previous posts); Dior with all perfumes from this line including La Collection Privée (a sales associate Michael was very helpful and friendly, absolutely no pushing – I can highly recommend him); Van Cleef & Arpels has just a couple of perfumes from their Collection Extraordinaire (and very beautiful jewelry). There is also Fresh store in The Palazzo.

Las Vegas Dior Boutique

Wynn Hotel (4) has Chanel, Dior and Hermès boutiques but I haven’t checked if they carry cosmetics/perfumes. (UPD: Chanel boutique offers the Exclusifs collection)

Right across the street from Wynn there is an enormous shopping center – Fashion Show Mall (5). I won’t list all the brands since between Dillard’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus there are not that many mainstream, high-end mainstream or niche brands missing (those that are available in the US, I mean). In Saks I came across an item unique for that location – Saks Fifth Ave. Las Vegas by Bond No. 9. It’s a super-limited edition in a bottle decorated with Swarowski crystals. There are still a couple of bottles of this perfume, launched in 2010, left in the store but once they’re gone – it’s gone (just in case there are hardcore Bond No.9 fans reading this).

Las Vegas Bond No 9 NY

Caesars Palace Forum Shops (6) while being not the best place for a perfume shopping (it’s too big for the number of perfume-related shopping destinations) but if you go there anyway, there is a handful of shops that carry perfumes: Sephora, Anthropologie (with a very limited choice of perfumes), Fresh, Agent Provocateur boutique (with their complete perfume line), Emporio Armani (with a couple (literally!) of perfumes from Armani Prive line and several mainstream perfumes) and Chanel boutique (I think I saw the Exclusifs line there). That’s it. So unless you’re really into Agent Provocateur perfumes I’d recommend skipping this part.

Las Vegas Strip Map

With a big disappointment I should advise omitting Paris Hotel (7) from your perfume shopping trip. There is a perfume shop on premises but let me put it this way: it makes any of the nearby Sephora stores look like Les Salons du Palais Royale.

Planet Hollywood (8) has a shopping mall inside – you can ignore it, there isn’t much going there perfume-wise.

Skins 6|2 at The Cosmopolitan (9) has an assortment of niche brands: Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Serge Lutens (limited selection), Diptyque, By Killian, Juliette Has A Gun, Tokyo Milk, Creed (limited selection).

Crystals at City Center (10) – a new and, in my opinion, strange shopping center with sparse boutiques dispersed over an enormous building. For perfumes check out Hermès (Hermessence), Tom Ford, Van Cleef & Arpels (Collection Extraordinaire) and Prada (Exclusive collection).

It doesn’t matter in how great physical shape you are you will walk yourself to half-death if you do not plan your route carefully. Hotels and shopping malls in Las Vegas are huge, each hotel tries hard to take you from point A to point B through the point C (casino) which is understandable, that’s how they’re making money. So do not just wander around hoping to come across a store eventually, check maps/directories and choose the shortest path.

Las Vegas

Images: my own.