The perfume department at Printemps (a gorgeous department store, 64, bd Haussmann) has gone through an upgrade since my last visit. It now hosts mini-boutiques of several important brands, including a full-size Frederic Malle area with sniffing booths. The Serge Lutens perfumes (export line only) have their own purple and dimly lit, Palais Royal-style cavern, and Tom Ford's counter is huge, well-lit and stocked with the new lipsticks as well as with the Private Blend perfumes (and an overly aggressive sales team).
Other familiar lines were Aqua di Parma, Nez a Nez, By Killian, a huge Guerlain counter that stocks the more exclusive perfumes, Annick Goutal and L'Artisan. But the most impressive display in the place, if you ask me, belongs to Dior Collection Privee. Dior has a separate area, elegant and inviting at the same time. There's a sitting area with white leather chairs (a very welcome feature after a full day of walking, sniffing and eclair-consuming) where you can relax and sniff the basic essences and notes used in the Colletion Privee perfumes. Then there are the bottles themselves, in three sizes that remind me of Starbucks: big, bigger and are-you-kidding-me. If it weren't for the small thing called budget I could have come home with 1/3 to half of these scents. But I took my time, sniffed and re-sniffed, and eventually chose one that I ended buying at the other fabulous destination, Le Bon Marche.
Le Bon Marché (24 Rue de Sèvres) was under an English invasion. The massive So London campaign could be seen all over town. The photo above was at almost every Metro stop, you couldn't escape London this month in Paris. Fashion, design and art- it was all there, including Bryan Ferry: Still Rockin’ After All These Years a photography and music exhibition at the ground floor of Le Bon Marché. As for British perfume lines, the store offers the unavoidable Penhaglion as well as Miller Harris, where I got to try the two newest perfumes in the line, La Fumée (=smoke) and La Pluie (=rain), which will be at MiN New York (on Crosby street) in a matter of weeks. You can guess which one of the two was my favorite.
Another special line at Le Bon Marché is Memo. The line has closed its free-standing boutique but has a great presence at several locations throughout Paris. It has grown significantly since my 2008 visit, improved the packaging and offers the perfumes in several sizes, including the fragonerd's friendly 30 ml (1oz). A bottle of the beautiful oud scent Shams (=sun) came home with us, as the husband and I found it utterly irresistible.
Speaking of oud, the store had a full display devoted to oud perfumes, showcasing offerings from each major line. They had all three By Killian ouds, Tom Ford Oud Wood, the aforementioned Shams, Dior Leather Oud, the classic YSL M7 and probably a few others I'm forgetting. It was a little too much after a while, but I liked the concept and the thought behind it. You don't see anything similar around here where each brand is a little overprotective of its shelf space and wary of direct competition.
The Dior area was not as impressive as it is at Printemps, but they have the entire line and the service was Bergdorf Goodman-worthy, something I appreciate greatly after a week in Paris (and that's all she said).
Top image of Printemps around the turn of the (previous) century by Oldimages on Flickr.
So London ad from Le Bon Marché .