There is a nice article in last Sunday's Independent (link to article no longer active, sorry!) about the London boutique Les Senteurs, which celebrates its 25th anniversary of business this year. The author interviewed James Craven, the store's assistant manager:
Craven cuts a swathe through Les Senteurs' redolent array, from the oldest (the House of Creed, established in 1760, whose citruses and vetivers were supplied to Queen Victoria and Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, among others) to the newest arrivals. Among these is the Editions de Parfums collection from Frederic Malle, grandson of Serge Heftler who created Dior's classic fragrances. Malle gave nine of the world's greatest noses free rein, unfettered by price or fashion constraints and the results (the melon, mandarin, pepper and leathers of Le Parfum de Therese, the "elegantly depraved" Musc Ravageur) are, says Craven, "one of the most exciting things to happen in perfume since its golden age, from 1900 to around 1940, when you got all the firsts, like the first white floral in Fleur De Rocaille, the first vanilla in Shalimar, the first tobaccos when Molinard wanted their scents to smell like Cuban cigarette girls."
Les Senteurs can be found at 71 Elizabeth Street, London SW1. They recently created a website, but as of yet, Frederic Malle is the only line shown. I believe, however, that you can purchase anything from their stock by phoning or emailing, and they have a sample service as well.
An aside: I never bought that business about not rubbing the wrists together. It seems to me that the worst it could possibly accomplish is to make the top notes evaporate a bit faster. Let's face it, the flowers, if any, have already been mashed into a paste to make the fragrance. Your opinion?
I never understood why it was a no-no. But I've stopped the habit. If you think it's OK, dear R, then I will rub away!
It's sort of nonsense, but I would say not to rub, not because you're going to mash any flowers together, but because 1) there's no point and 2) at worst you're just going to scrape up your dead skin cells and oils into the mix if you rub really vigorously, and possibly rub them right off. I generally just press my wrists together to even out the application, but there really doesn't seem to be any point in rubbing, unless you're after some sort of invigorating massage. Which reminds me of a singularly striking MFK Fisher story about her going down the hall to massage cologne all over another boarder in a house, who had passed out from what appeared to be extreme sexual overexcitement. Gracious. Other than that, no point in rubbing, no ma'am.
Well, I don't rub anyway for the simple reason that I rarely put fragrance on my wrists. Since I am probably sniffing my fragrance more than the average bear (excuse the Winnie the Pooh reference), I tend to spray my whole forearm. It is just easier to lift the whole arm to your nose than to turn your arm to get the wrist. Am I lazy or what?
I love MFK Fisher, which book is that from? I will have to remember the advice in case anyone in my house ever passes out in similar circumstances.
Right- I'm glad you brought this up as I too feel the flowers have already been “mashed into a paste.” Many of the ingredients these days have nothing to do with flowers anyway, being synthetic components created in a lab. I tend to spray one wrist and then press the other one to it. I personally don't smell much difference if I don't press.
Also then, what about splash bottles? You have to dab with something to get the fragrance on- I would think that would be similar to pressing or rubbing. What about roll-on bottles? Here you're pressing the scent onto your body.
I don't know, the whole thing sounds a bit drama-queen like to me- “Oh for goodness sake DON'T RUB!” Then again, what do I know living out here in the back woods of the suburbs? ;~)
Ha, I'm not even sure my small town qualifies as “suburbs”, so you probably know more than me.
We need Luca Turin to weigh in on this question!
I love her too. You can find the story, which I believe is called “To Feed Such Hunger” in “The Measure of Her Powers: A MFK Fisher Reader”. It stars an omnious German, and oddly I don't remember the cologne part.
Thanks, I will look for that one! She is a wonderful writer.