I spent a joyous afternoon sniffing and trying on perfumes at the NYC Le Labo store (233 Elizabeth Street). They have good stuff in those modest looking bottles. Everything is openly displayed on small side tables as well as on the main counter. Visitors can play on their own or be helped and advised.
I went straight for Labdanum 18, which is everything they promise. It's surprisingly powdery-ambery, very soft and sexy (and lasts forever). I would have bought it on the spot if it wasn't so close to Barbara Bui (at least on my skin). I'll have to test it further but it's good to know I have an excellent alternative for when my Bui bottle runs out.
I loved Iris 39. It's an elegant woodsy iris, nothing like my current favorite iris, Parfumerie Generale Iris Taizo, but still gorgeous and interesting. It's extremely well-blended and balanced, none of the notes is allowed to take over. I found it very feminine, but that might be just my skin, as there's no specific girly note in this.
I also tried the NYC exclusive, Tuberose 40. I should have tested Rose 31 instead, as the chances that a big humid white floral would agree with me are slim, while a spicy rose is much more interesting. But I gave the tuberose a chance, discovered that it's pretty, full of orange blossom but I really need to stay away from these kind of scents.
The other discovery was that The Blond can pull of white flowers beautifully. On a whim I made him try Fleur d'Oranger, and it worked. His skin made smell like smokey honey made of orange blossoms. It was quiet, not heady at all, and surprisingly masculine. Maybe he was the one who should have tried the tuberose.
The Blond also tried two more traditionally manly scents: The vetiver, which we both felt was too clean and sheer, and the patchouli, which was strangely appealing. Patchouli 24 smells like the love child of Il Profumo Encens Epice and Andy Tauer's Lonestar Memories. If you like smoke, birch tar and distressed leather, this would be your scent. I think I need more of this stuff.
I'm still undecided on which of those I should get and regretting not trying the rose. I'll have to go back soon or just order the Discovery Set. That would give me enough to play with and also perform some olfactory tests on the husband. That's what loving wives do.
Photo of Le Labo NYC boutique from wrinkleintimephotoblog.com