I had a wonderful day of perfume shopping with friends in New York City on Saturday. Here is what we saw and smelled:
Bergdorf Goodman: The JAR boutique is not yet open for business, so I was spared the agony of smelling perfumes I cannot possibly afford in this lifetime. We revisited some of the Creeds & Etros, and smelled the recently reissued 1940s classic by D’Orsay, Intoxication. It is pretty but did not captivate me. I also smelled an old favorite, Tiempe Passate by Antonia's Flowers. One of these days I will buy a bottle.
We trooped over to the Jo Malone area to smell the new Nectarine Blossom, but it is not in stock yet. In happier news, the sales associates at the Guerlain counter say that they will be getting in some of the re-issued scents from Paris. Stay tuned!
Barneys: In an effort to convert some doubters among our group, we spent some time with the Diptyques. Unfortunately I failed to convince the old-classics-are-best school that Diptyque was worthy of consideration. Barneys must agree as they keep these hidden out of sight over by the candles. Philosykos and Tam Dao are among my own favorite fragrances, and I also like L'Ombre dans L'Eau, Olene and Oyedo.
Even if you have already smelled all the Frederic Malles, it is hard to resist another test with the tall glass columns into which they pipe the fragrances. We also smelled the new soaps. The vetiver is out of this world fabulous, but priced way out of my league at $65 for 3 bars. The very friendly sales staff confirmed that we can expect a tuberose scent by Dominique Ropion later this summer, and that the Olivia Giacobetti scent might appear by the end of the year.
We spent some time huddled around the L'Artisan table, and several in our group were captivated by Bois Farine, one of the few Jean Claude Ellena scents that I cannot really say I appreciate. They did not have the Bottega Veneta candle, but the sales associate said they would have it in stock at the L'Artisan boutique in Soho. And, more happy news, a quick internet search for the candle turned up this piece at Wallpaper magazine, with the magic words "a precursor to the company's first perfume".
I gave Comme des Garçons Nomad Tea a quick sniff, and had no particularly strong opinion either way. It just smelled like iced tea. Happily I managed to leave Barneys without buying a single thing, and then we were off to...
Caron: Visiting Caron is like stepping into perfume history, and it is always a joy to smell the classic urn fragrances again. V.'s blog, Bois de Jasmin, has lovely reviews of the old Carons. I took home a sample of Alpona, which has never interested me on a test strip, but which smelled very tempting on one of our party.
By the way, Caron has an extraordinarily generous sample program for the urn fragrances, all of which are in parfum form. A 1/16 oz vial is $5, so you can try all 13 for $65. That is an amazing price for what comes to over 3/4 oz of parfum, and even better, if you then decide to purchase one of the scents, they will apply the entire cost of the samples to your purchase. You can contact Diane Haska at email@example.com or call the boutique at 212-319-4888.
Hermès: One of our group wanted to purchase a bottle of Poivre Samarcande, and I took home a sample for myself as this is the only one of the Hermessences that I have not tried on skin. Will report on that later. I also tried the new limited edition L'Eau d'Orange Douce. It is nice but very light, and the sales associate explained that it is a body splash more than a fragrance and that it is not meant to be long lasting. I should add that I always expect the sales associates in Hermès to be snooty, but this was my third visit, and they have never been anything but friendly and helpful. Next stop...
Takashimaya: This is my favorite perfume floor in the city, not only because of the incredible selection, but also because the dim lighting and comfortable couches make for a restful experience after the big department stores. I succumbed to a bottle of Miller et Bertaux no. 3, and hopefully will report soon that the lasting power is better than I expected. Also picked up Gobin Daudé Sous Le Buis, which I had asked them to hold for me when I learned that the last few bottles were going for $19. This will surely be the best under-$20 perfume that I ever get my hands on. The Gobin Daudés are now sold out, but Tak has some other wonderful deals at the moment; all the Laura Tonatto Eau de Parfums are being cleared out and the remaining stock is marked down to $19.99. Creation Mathias Body Splashes are also on sale for $9.00. Call John Henry at (212) 350-0100 to see what is left.
New London Pharmacy: This was my first visit to this remarkably well stocked store in Chelsea — why doesn’t my local pharmacy carry Parfums de Nicolaï? I finally managed to smell the new Vetyver, but it was late in the day and my nose was already giving out. All that I can report is that the cumin is not heavy, and I will have to seek out a sample. The store also carries i Profumi di Firenze, Brandy, Calypso, Les Bains du Marais, Korres, Geo F. Trumper, and Kai, among others. They have a website, and it looks like they offer free shipping on many of the fragrances. I left with a box of Roger & Gallet sandalwood soap, and then we were off to...
Aedes: This is surely the prettiest perfume boutique in the city, and the selection is superb, so it is a shame that because it is in the Village, it is usually one of the last stops of the day on my New York perfume tours. I am promising myself that when Serge Lutens releases Cedre, I will head directly to Aedes from the train station so that for once I will be there before I have run out of energy (and money).
We played with the Rosines, including the new Rose d'Homme, and Karl very kindly let us smell all the Jalaines. This was not a favorite line of mine back when it was under Bagutta Life, and so perhaps it is no surprise that I didn't swoon over any of the new fragrances. The Vetiver is still the standout for me, but I do not love it enough to buy.
We did a quick spin through Bigelow Chemists, but by that time my nose was quite finished so I have nothing to report. Total damage for the day: 3 bottles and a box of soaps. That is more than I usually buy in a month, much less in one day. Since I also just purchased Ormonde Jayne Isfahan, I will be on a no-buy moratorium for some time to come (please don't ask me how long).
Apologies for this much longer than usual post — and for anyone still reading, I will add that the only thing better than perfume shopping in New York is perfume shopping in Paris. Check out the pictures of the new Guerlain boutique on N.'s blog, Life in Paris.