Shalimar EdT by Guerlain: Current

Shalimar EdT by Guerlain: Current

Hi Crew, Shalimar seems to have been part of my life forever. That Guerlain released it nearly 100 years ago in 1925 and won the Paris World Fair design award for the bottle was a particularly auspicious start.

Mum and a couple of her girlfriends were Shalimar wearers. It was the scent of daytime and coffee catch up hugs in my early years. Funnily, when I was working as a squirt bitch I made Mum start wearing Samsara so she’d stand out in her crowd. When I started properly down the fragrant rabbit hole it was a big surprise that Shalimar was such a revered scent. Going back and revisiting it was a revelation. It seems to hold the highest place in my heart, nose and brain. Seriously weird that I became such a collector when my favourite perfume has been with me all along.

In the years of collecting I have amassed a Shalimar specific collection. From EdC to extrait, a bunch of the flankers and many vintages. It became a bit of an obsession for a while because every version has its own personality. They have all aged, been cared for and kept differently. Each year, as much as they try for consistency, the batch is every so slightly different. The year specific naturals included react to each other. The regulation, reinterpretation, quality, weather and available synthetics have all given each year of Shalimar a “vintage” much like wine or whiskey. Sometimes the changes are imperceptible till the perfume is 10 or more years old.

Sometimes people ask me which I love more but it’s not really like that. I tend to wear a few of them more than others though for various reasons. I have a small set that remain out of boxes and at hand in a Guerlain box behind my desk. It holds a bunch of unboxed Guerlain beauties and gets quite a bit of action. Impossible to tell what they all are but I know you’ll have fun trying.

Shalimar EdT by Guerlain: Current

Portia Loves: Shalimar by Guerlain

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Blossoms, Bergamot
Heart: Iris, Jasmine, Rose
Base: Vanilla, Balsamic notes, Tonka bean

Above is my new bottle of Shalimar EdT. It’s a tester bottle bought for sweet nothing from FragranceNet. For favourites that I know will get used to their dregs I don’t need boxes or packaging, just the bottle and juice. This will stay out and get its share of use with my current other Shalimars; EdC and Sha-Lemur.

So I know that a new bottle will smell different. No oxygenation yet. It does seem though that there is a marked difference between this bottle and my last.

That opening swirl of lemon sorbet has been cut down to a rumble. Also the whole fragrance seems cleaner and less animalic. A floral reinvention, more sparkle and less depth. I’m not complaining. It still smells beautiful. It just isn’t as thick or rich. To be honest it smells like a fresh flanker or an Eau Fraiche for summer.

The longevity is still good but not as long lasting as the older formulations, or even the current EdC in the older bottle. Also, I feel this modern version leans more modern traditional feminine.

I think it’s the most day to day wearable of my Shalimar pillar scent collection. Less an event in itself and more a comfortable, longtime travelling buddy.

Have you tried the latest Shalimar EdT?
Portia xx

Le Regent by Oriza Legrand

Le Regent by Oriza Legrand

Hi there ULG crew. I ordered some fragrance and soaps from Oriza Legrand back in November 2020. The world and postal services being what they are right now it wasn’t until late February the package finally arrived. Inside were some small soaps and a couple of fragrances. The Oriza boys had a fab deal going art that time that if I bought a 100ml bottle (I was buying 100ml of Heliotrope, review coming) they’d add a 50ml of my choice. Well, Le Regent is new from 2019, the notes sounded fabulous and it was a FREE GWP! Of course it’s the one I grabbed.

Le Regent by Oriza Legrand

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Peru balsam, Tolu balm, Benzoin
Heart: Vanilla, Benzoin, Ambergris
Base: Opoponax, Gaiac wood, Leather

The Le Regent bottles are super indie feeling. They are glass, heavy and simple so don’t have the usual luxurious Oriza feeling. Don’t let this put you off but I thought it important to say.

If you are a fan of Mona di Orio‘s Eau Absolue but always felt it was a bit too cool and detached then Le Regent will warm the cockles of your heart. All the same smooth resinous beauty but handled in a much more welcoming way. Also Le Regent is a much bigger, more potent perfume, it’s a bad ass showstopper.

From the Oriza L Legrand site: “Le Régent” 1st Tome of the Collection “Jewels of the Crown”, explores the 18th century archives of the Maison Oriza L. Legrand which was then called “Parfumerie Oriza de Fargeon-Aîné” at the Court of Roy Louis XV also called in Europe “The Perfumed Court”. 

One of the things I have loved about the boys at Oriza is that they always allude to fact that they are inspired by historic fragrance, not copying it verbatim. Which is impossible nowadays anyway because the way perfume and accords are created is so different, even some of the original ingredients have long gone.

How does Le Regent smell? Firstly, it’s BIG! An over the top, smooth, resinous beauty. Amber amped up by some fabulous bells & whistles that take it well up to the next level. The very slightly briny ambergris adds so much texture and depth. Scotty was over yesterday and he spritzed wildly and nearly asphyxiated himself. I could still smell Le Regent in the living room when I got up this morning. By then it had dried to a deeply burnished woodsy amber. So beautiful.

Unisex, extra large silage and longevity. Advised to use sparingly until you know how it blooms on you.

The Oriza boys have hit this over the fence.

Sound like you might like it?
Portia xx

 

 

 

Amyris Femme and Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Amyris Femme and Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Hey there ULG, Here’s a bit of a story. Back in 2015 the gorgeous Tara from A Bottled Rose sent me a package. It must have arrived with a few other packages. Maybe I was about to go off on a holiday, moving house or extremely busy but these packages all got put in a box. On top of the packages were a few small sniffed sample packs and some papers. Over the six years the box has been in various places in my office and I never went through it, thinking they were only already sniffed sample sets. Slowly, through the last year I’ve been going through my boxes and finding lost treasures. This box is one of the last to be explored and what treasure! Tara sent me a big decant of Tart’s Knicker Drawer by 4160 Tuesdays and a pair of Amyris 5ml(?) manufacturers samples! WOW! So let’s meet this 2012 duo together, eh?

Amyris Femme and Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Amyris Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Orange, Lemon blossom
Heart: Amyris, Iris
Base: Ambergris, Vetiver

I had a decant of this way back when. Gosh! Now I know why I loved it so much. Like a cologne style but with a lighter, more relaxed approach. The opening is like a breath of fresh air. Softly citrus white floral with green accents. So elegant and utterly unisex. Amyris Femme is a full blown version of those perfectly soft whisperings of the magnolia inspired perfumes. This smells like a perfume for someone who is unafraid to change the air around them and get attention.
Not a blockbuster by any stretch of the imagination, no reflection of those 1980/90s superscents, here we have a fully fragrant expression of refined and luxurious life. I know MFK is quite an expensive brand but Amyris femme smells expensive, thoughtfully produced and beautiful to me.

Amyris Homme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Virginia cedar, Brazilian tonka bean absolute, Saffron, Caribbean amyris, Florentine iris, Sicilian mandarin orange, Moroccan rosemary

So interesting! The opening for me is greenery and citrus with a resinous background. Very pretty, slightly sweet. I would never have picked it as being made for a masculine market. The underlay seems to be one of this ubiquitous modern woodsy bases but tricked up a little to give it more depth and breadth. There also seems to be a lightly salty aquatic note through the heart that is very interesting and really helps to make the fragrance shine. I am finding the whole fragrance a completely unexpected journey. The tonka keeps it sweet but not sugary or ice creamy. Considering this was created 10 years ago I’m surprised it smells so avant-garde.
Amyris Homme smells like a sweet woody L’Eau d’Issey flanker with luxe ingredients. I really like it.

Did you ever wear these Amyris perfumes?
Portia xx

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Hi ULG, Coco is one of my long term faves. It’s also a very close friends signature. There are so many happy memories associated with this perfectly poised far east dream inspired perfume. Since the mid 1980s Coco has surrounded me. Back then it was friends Mums and sometimes an adventurous young woman. It’s the fragrance I associate with smelling a lot of in the department stores for a couple of decades. In Australia CHANEL counters are mostly at the front of the beauty section and until Coco Mademoiselle came along it was like a thick miasma around the squirt bitches (men and women). Today is Monday and I’m cleaning the house. My friend Kerri B noted on a FaceBook SOTD post that she was wearing Coco so I decided to join her in glamour. Sometimes scenting for success even makes the turbines of tedium sing a happy refrain.

Coco by CHANEL EdP and Extrait

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin orange, Pimento, Coriander, Frangipani
Heart: Jasmine, Rose, Orange blossom, Ylang-ylang, Cinnamon, Iris, Angelica
Base: Patchouli, Tonka bean, Benzoin, Frankincense, Amber, Musk, Honey, Civet

Here’s the thing with Coco. It is its very own scent. I love it too much to really parse it deeply. Somehow it feels like the magic may dissolve a little if I look too closely and work out the tricks. Coco smells like luxury, travel, wisdom and sensuality. Though it is exciting and playful I also feel remarkably calm and poised when I wear it. Almost as if the fragrance has so much drama I can let my natural penchant for it go, just a little. Enough to get a really deep breath and exhale.

Whenever I hug a friend wearing Coco it’s one pf the fragrances I can usually pick. That’s another reason I love it.

Todays wearing while doing laundry, dusting and vacuuming in the 30+C (around 100F) heat was so divine. Loads of pepper and cinnamon over a honeyed, resinous amber base. It wafted off me in great, glorious gouts and I reapplied four times throughout the day to get the thrill all over again.

Has Coco ever been your thing?
Portia xx

 

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Hey there ULG, I know a lot of you are caught in the depths of winter so I thought we could look forward to spring through fragrance today. Muguet Fleuri is Lily of the Valley. That glorious harbinger of spring. On May 1 the whole of Paris smells of it and little bouquets and flowering pots can be bought on street corners. It’s heavenly.

In 2014 I first visited Hugo and Franck of Oriza L Legrand at their 18 Rue Saint-Augustin, Paris store. The brand is a modern resurrection of a long lost perfume house. They took us through their collection and I purchased some soaps and a bottle of Jardin d’Armide. This was the defining moment of my love affair with the brand. The space is gorgeous and chock full of soaps, candles and fine fragrance. Since then I’ve been back to the store a few times. Their affordable product and FREE postage over €100 to Australia means I often buy their soaps and fragrances for gifts.

Did you know that the original Oriza L Legrand patented the idea of solid perfume?

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand 2014

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Green leaves, grass, lily-of-the-valley
Heart : Galbanum, angelica, violet leaf, lily-of-the-valley
Base: Lily-of-the-valley, oakmoss, lily

I love the calm feeling of a Lily of the Valley fragrance, dewy and air conditioned. The Muguet Fleuri opening is cool and slightly mentholated. I get nothing grassy particularly but much more like the juice of Aloe Vera (yes, got a bit sunburned helping my BFF Kath high pressure hose her dad’s driveway). Flore by Carolina Herrera has a very similar plastic Lily of the Valley note but in Muguet Fleuri I find it subtle and refreshing, helped by galbanum and angelica to keep everything super green. None of the modern cucumber/aquatic note like in Muguet Porcelain by Hermès.

It’s excellent to me how they keep the focus so firmly on Lily of the Valley in Muguet Fleuri. The scent feels luxurious and refined while creating  a very nice silage for the first hour or so. Fairly linear througfhout its life, there are slight increments of difference and a gradual earthing of the scent towards the end.

If you often, or even sometimes, wish for a fragrance as true to cut Lily of the Valley stems from the florist as possible but still interesting and beautiful then I would send you immediately to try Muguet Fleuri. Only the first two hours are fragrant, then it hums along quietly as a soft, background wash.

Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

Oriza L Legrand has a €30/choose your 6 x 2ml Sample Set (delivered worldwide). My review today is from an old sample I refound in my collection, looking for something cool and summery.

Are you a Lily of the Valley fan? Do you have a favourite?
Portia xx

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

Hey Crew, 2020 has been so unexpected. Here in Australia it started with bushfires, then we got floods. The world got C19 and we watched the USA plunge into anarchy. Brexit has been exactly the shit show that any person with an ounce of rationale could see coming. While all this was going on my business collapsed completely, leaving myself and the five drag queens who work for Turbo Trivia jobless for months. Many people whose lives were previously affluent, the world over, find themselves in dire straits and it’s terrifying to watch and live.

I’m one of the seriously lucky few. Jin continued working through the whole crisis, though only about 2/3 of his regular income. He has been incredibly generous with his money, gave me a weekly stipend and paid for all our groceries. The Australian government gave me a Job Keeper handout that kept me paying my half of the major bills. Quite a turnaround from being the major breadwinner in the house and my ego took a small battering.

For any of you doing it really hard in these times my heart goes out to you and wish you a speedy financial recovery in 2021.

Portia’s 2020 Noted Things

There were the usual squizillion launches this year and I was fortunate enough to get to smell quite a few of them. Libertine Parfumerie in Sydney is Australia’s largest niche distributor and they have kept me in the loop. PHEW! Here are a few fragrant things that I really loved.

Amouage Meander comes in a celadon green bottle and had me sold before I even smelled it. Thankfully it is as beautiful as it looks. Dark, resinous iris with interesting floral highlights. I’ll grab a bottle when I’m more flush.

Amouage Interlude Black Iris is mainly powdery iris and amber with a very generous nod to the original but nowhere near as iconic, large or as resinous. I was given a Press Bottle and am loving it.

Etat Libre d’Orange Spice Must Flow is a take on the rose/oud/incense trope. HUGE! For most perfumistas it will be an unnecessary addition to their wardrobe because it’s not a very new story. I really like it though and it smells different in village than up close. Worth a sniff.

Le Lion de CHANEL was the biggest hype train here in Sydney of the year. A Shalimar style offering with extra labdanum rich amber in the whole fragrance. Many people find it leather or incense heavy too. A different ride for every wearer. To make it less of an investment I hosted a split.

Maison Crivelli Fleur Diamantine from 2018 made it’s way to my nose. WOW! One of the most beautiful fragrances I’ve ever smelled. Sparkling white floral with rich warmth and surprising minty undertones. It’s a freaking knockout and very high son my full bottle wish list.

Miller et Bertaux Pimiento is the first cut of a capsicum/bell pepper on a summer day. This oddball design duo always manages to create beautiful, weird surprises. The base is a little generic but the opening and heart are fabulous. Libertine gave me a Press Bottle of this beauty too.

Trussardi Behind The Curtain Piazza Alla Scala is a powdery leather. Beautiful but not stunningly original. The racing green bottle with the greyhound cap had me at hello. Thankfully it smells amazing and I found it on an Australian discounters for an amazing price.

So what were the things that grabbed your attention in 2020?
Portia xx

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

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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