Monday, March 22, 2010

Sniffin' In the City

The Blond and I celebrated spring in the city. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for walking our favorite blocks between Madison and Fifth and stopping at most of the usual suspects to see what's new and fabulous.

We started with the Frederic Malle boutique on Madison and 72 to check the home line. I was especially curious about the spiffy diffuser, Fleur Mécanique, a retro-looking small appliance (yes, it's the thing in the photo above). There are five or six scents you can use to fill it, all are floral. We both liked the gardenia best, but not enough to shell out more than $300 for the diffuser and then start buying refills. These scents also come in candle form along with four others which I liked much better- they smell of wood, incense, spice and my favorite one, Coffee Society by Carlos Benaim that would have been a good reason to at least consider the diffuser if it actually came in that form. We don't use candles (fire and nine cats just do not mix), so it's out of the question.

Next stop was Creed, where I was surprised to see that the Private Collection line was available again. They no longer come in the ridiculously huge splash falcons, instead they are sold in the leather covered spray bottles. I love Vintage Tabarome, but the Blond was not impressed, which is probably a good thing. I didn't ask for the price but I hear it's more atrocious than ever before.

There's a newish tenant in the fourth floor of the Mauboussin store. Francois Payard closed his famous Payard and opened the much smaller Francois Chocolate Bar. The last time we were in the now defunct Payard we were quite disappointed- the cakes weren't as fresh as they should have been and the atmosphere was too touristy. The Chocolate Bar is swankier, better and makes every calorie count. We both chose a verrine- a layered parfait in a small glass. My Bergamote was divine with its cherry cake, Earl Grey tea mousse, a gelee of red berries and tiny salty tea cookies on top. They sell the three Payard scents at the counter. While I'd skip the lychee-something, the only reason we didn't leave with both the Pistachio Ganache and the Bergamote Truffle was that both are an eau de cologne concentration and don't last much. They were completely gone by the time we got to Barneys.

You know what brought us to Barneys. I didn't know if I really wanted to smell the newest Lutens, L'Eau Serge Lutens. The whole idea of Uncle Serge making a Clean Scent that doesn't smell like perfume (his words, not mine) was too painful to take. But you know the drill- I try stuff so you don't have to (and the husband is apparently along for the ride). And let me tell you, with this one you really don't have to. It's not bad. Not at all- it's a crisp, clean, pleasant laundry smell, like a high-end version of the original Clean perfume. But that's hardly a compliment.

In a surprising twist of events, Bertrand Douchaufour is now doing a Lutens-Light. I've sniffed L'Artisan Al Oudh a couple of times before, but it was the first skin test and I like it a lot- it's a non-violent Arabie, and while I don't think it's the greatest oud scent ever, I'd be happy to wear it had the Blond not hated it quite so much. He doesn't deal well with cumin, and while he admitted it's not half bad on my skin, he'd still rather not have this aroma lingering in the air at home. Too bad.

Speaking of L'Artisan, it's time to clear up the confusion over who carries what, at least in NYC: Barneys has to full range, from their home pomander to the newest releases (Al Oudh and Havana Vanille). The same goes for Henri Bendel and Aedes. So there are no distribution issues and everything is easily available, including online.

There's some news from Takashimaya- They're getting rid of the Eau d'Italie line and selling all that's left at $50 instead of the regular $120 price.  Just as promised, Mona di Orio is back, including the newest two- Chamarre and Jabu. I tried Jabu for the first time and loved it. Like everything else Mona di Orio does, it's complex and shapeshifting between heady flowers and something musky in the best possible way. I see more of it in my future. The best part is that Takashimaya is now offering more perfumes online, including several of the di Orios. Why not everything? Who knows. The same goes for the Histoires de Parfums line- they have all of them in the store, yet only three are online. And speaking of which, three new Histoires de Parfums releases, Tubereuse 1, 2 and 3 are there, as well as the other one I've never tried before, Moulin Rouge. I can't tell you what Moulin Rouge smells like even if I tried, because the moment I turned my attention to the Tubereuse everything else was gone and forgotten. While No. 2 Virginal was a bit too much on the fruity-floral side and smelled like (nice) stuff we all tried before, No. 1 Capricieuse was quite interesting with its distinct powdery suede note. But the winner for me was No. 3 Animale.

I rarely buy a perfume nowadays after only one try. I prefer to get several samples and often decants before committing. Except when something grabs my skin and starts doing a Brandi Carlile "I was made for you" imitation. This tuberose is drenched in honey and immortal, and now, 12 hours after I applied 1 spray, what's left is a sweet tobacco note.

Serge who?

The last stop of the day was Henri Bendel (we skipped Bergdorf  since I'm planning to be there later this week). The bad news is that MPG is still not on the shelves. The SA didn't know what was the status and Giuseppe, the department manager, wasn't around today, so I don't have any news yet. The good news is the tester of Annick Goutal Ninféo Mio.  After reading Tom's review I had no doubt I would love this green fig with a dirty backbone, and indeed, the scent twindom wins again. I'm getting a bottle as soon as they're available for sale. It's also great on the husband, who usually avoids my fig scents for a reason known only to him.

And one last thing in case you were wondering: Sécrétions Magnifiques is still revolting.

Audrey Hepburn and William Holden in Manhattan during the filming of Sabrina (1954)-
Frederic Malle Fleur Mécanique-
A Francois Payard Verrine- Serious Eats: NYC


  1. That sounds like a lovely day!

  2. What a great day!
    On Saturday I finally discovered FM home range too: I fell in love with gardenia la nuit... The 100+ € for the candle are too much for my wallet, but as a white flower aficionado I would have happily bought 10, if I could!!

  3. Oh I just love that Sabrina photograph! Wow. So perfect for your post- as your pics always are.

    I am so looking forward to trying the Annick Goutal! Thanks so much for sharing your lovely spring day...

  4. Oh I so wish I'd been along for the trip- if only to see your reaction to Ninfeo Mio!

    You know, I'm beginning to like the Serge Water thing? Not enough to buy it, but I have to admit it's superbly done.

  5. So you bought the Animale, I take it? Guess I ought to give this line a chance. For some reason, it seemed kind off gimmicky to me, so I ignored it, despite the praise for many of its scents.

    Al Oudh is one of my current loves - I can't get enough of it. I'm sorry your DH doesn't like it. I have the advantage of having a husband who has a dead man's sense of smell, and has never even flinched when I'm wearing five sprays of Al Oudh. Go figure. And when he does notice my fragrance, he always asks if it's patchouli. (It never is).


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