Recent Sniffs

Editor’s note: I swear that this post is not a ploy to make Bethesda’s perfume shopping sound so irresistible that y’all will be compelled to visit me. (That being said, y’all should definitely come visit me.)

While I was home for Passover, I had a chance to do some major perfume testing.Β My sniffing began at bluemercury, the only store outside of french Sephoras where you can try Serge Lutens fragrances, NARS lipsticks, and Chanel nail polishes without moving more than five feet. I was there to compare my recently acquired sample of L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing! to a full bottle. To my delight, the papery leather scent of my sample seemed virtually identical to that of its full bottle counterpart. And by “delight”, I mean “utter horror that I have somehow managed to fall for yet another only-available-in-100-ml L’Artisan”.

Umm, what's with the tiger, lady?

I quickly darted into the Lilly Pulitzer boutique next door, where I learned that I am going to need a child to dress up in this wee perfume dress. Or a kitteh…

Next stop was Neiman Marcus, which was full of many exciting new goodies. Of particular note is the A Dozen Roses line. I’ve been eager to try these because of the purty bottles and shockingly reasonable price tag ($95 for 100 ml). I tried all four scents briefly. They were all perfectly pretty rose fragrances, although nothing we haven’t smelled before. Gold Rush is a syrupy orange blossom rose; the new Electron is a bright, clean rose. I have to say I prefer Diptyque Eau Rose for my green rose needs.

The big news at Neiman’s was the new Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolu, which smells like… well… regular Infusion d’Iris! No real changes to the scent itself, just better longevity. I’m not a big Infusion d’Iris fan, but if I were, I would definitely upgrade to the new version just for that fabulous gold-plated bottle. That shit is fancy, y’all.

I never skip Anthropologie ever since the glorious day I found an Annick Goutal for $18 there. I was thrilled to find the Strange Invisible Perfumes line on sale for a great price (from $195 to $65), until I actually tried them, at which point I instantly understood why they were so highly discounted. Epic Gardenia was the only one that smelled appealing enough in the bottle to convince me to try on skin. It smelled horribly discordant and loamy for about an hour. After an hour, it smelled like mushrooms. Luca Turin frequently says that real gardenias have a mushroom note, but I can’t think of too many people off the top of my head who would knowingly spend $195 to smell like a mushroom.

This Anthropologie also had the full Ineke line. First, whoever designs those lovely Ineke bottles needs, like, five raises. I tried Field Notes From Paris, which boasts notes of tobacco, cedar and tonka bean. Field Notes From Paris smells like iced coffee with sugar. Iced coffee with sugar is not my favorite way to drink coffee, so as you might imagine, I haven’t quite decided yet whether I actually like Field Notes From Paris. I will say that this is a pretty daring perfume, especially considering that it’s marketed to women.

My final destination was my beloved Saks Fifth Avenue. Robin of Now Smell This hates this Saks, but I have to tell you that the saleswomen are extremely kind to me despite the fact that I have not bought a single thing in the four years since I discovered it. Sometimes they pinch my cheeks! I usually ignore the Tom Ford Private Blend line, considering that I am rarely (read: never) in the position to spend $200 on 50 ml of perfume, but today I tried Noir de Noir and Tuscan Leather. The Noir de Noir was just beautiful on paper- all red roses and saffron, like a darker Safran Troublant- but became muddled on skin. Tuscan Leather was a perfect butch leather fragrance. I would probably be all over it if Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories didn’t already exist.

The Guerlain counter had an awesome display for their L’Art et la Matiere line, which coupled the perfumes with their alleged raw materials. Unfortunately for Guerlain, no display in the world could distract me from the fact that they are charging $250 for resolutely average perfumes.

The Annick Goutal soliflores are back, including the delicately candied La Violette. With its sweet, dainty violets, La Violette may seem overly simple. Don’t be deceived: these perfect sweet violet perfumes are very rare. Perfumers seem incapable of resisting the temptation to gild the violet by adding rose or green notes. Like a figure skater, the skillful La Violette makes a difficult feat look effortless.

Please tell us about the perfumes that you’ve recently tried in the comments!

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29 thoughts on “Recent Sniffs

  1. I went to Chicago a few weeks ago and the one thing I had to do was go to Barney’s. I sniffed so many things, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Several Le Labos, almost all the Malles, some Serges I hadn’t smelled before, TDCs CdGs and Byredo. It was so overwhelming. And while 2 of the SA’s were great – left me alone after a while and gave me a bunch of samples – there was one who just wouldn’t leave me alone and kept trying to spray me. Two of my favorites were Byredos – Bal d’Afrique and Gypsy Water. I think they only sell the travel bottles in sets of 3 of the same – if I could have mixed them, I probably would have bought them.

    1. Oh God! I got sprayed against my will the other day with an unpleasant Bond No. 9 (can’t remember which one, which is not a good sign for Bond). I was hoping that whole aggressive spraying thing was on the decline.

      Barney’s is so amazing for niche perfumes. If you found Chicago’s overwhelming, you may not be quite ready for NYC’s! πŸ˜‰ I’ve read great things about Gypsy Water- heard it’s a cuddly, lemony delight.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your recent sniffathon, and I must say I am also a fan of La Violette. I gave my sample to a 7 year old called Violet, for as eponymous starter perfumes go, it simply can’t be beat!

    I must say that I am well past the age when a SA gets the urge to pinch my cheeks, though the other day one felt the need to smother mine in primer and foundation when I only asked to try a lipstick.

    1. I am about to go read your post about the Edinborough (did I spell that right???) sniffathon!

      I’m so sorry that you got smothered in primer! I never venture into the makeup counters at department stores for that reason. Prefer Sephora, where they mostly leave you alone.

  3. I was absolutely ready to buy a FB of Cuir de Beluga, fabulous gift with purchase at Nordstrom….and didn’t. Why? Don’t know. I was in LOVE! Just so costly, and I at first thought it had lasting power, but absolutely nobody but nobody noticed it….and I want to be noticed! So, let it go……

    1. Awww! That’s a totally legitimate reason. I don’t think I could spend so much on a perfume that no one else noticed either. Also, where is this magical Nordstrom that carries special Guerlains???

  4. Pardon if I ramble, I’ve been rather busy lately – so I feel as if I’m a bit behind with my ‘fume-talking!

    Favorite new and new to me’s:
    1) Tauer’s Une Rose Vermeille
    2) Olivier Durbano’s Jade
    3) Madona’s Truth or Dare (I mean, it’s Fracas + my old love Aloha Tiare – coconut! I love coconut, but don’t think of it as very Madge note!)

    I bought a bottle of Womanity yesterday, finally. I was going in for the small $28 bottle, but they were out, so I got the 1oz bottle since my favorite Sephora S.A. was here.

    Speaking of S.A.’s I have to say my favorite two places to shop for perfume in Boston are Saks and Barney’s. Our Barney’s is quite small, plus it’s tucked away from the mail Copley Place traffic, which for me…makes it even better!

    Re your shopping expidition: I rather do like Dzing! I almost bought a bottle when I was in Aedes earlier in the Spring.

    I really want to try the A Dozen Roses line…badly! Sad to hear about Noir de Noir….
    La Violette & (from the comments) Gypsy Water sound lovely!

    Lastly…I freaking LOVE Field Note From Paris! I’ll be getting a full bottle for next Winter! I love how it acts on scarves!

    1. Oooh, now I’ll have to try Field Notes from Paris on a scarf! πŸ˜‰ I wasn’t planning to hunt down that new Madonna scent, but your post on it has convinced me to. I owned that little bottle of Womanity briefly too- you are so lucky to have a husband who likes it! Drew was weirded out by it, so I wore it so rarely that I ended up just returning it.

  5. I went to Saks in Miami! Don’t usually shop in Saks but it was nice enough… Most of the SAs were average; the one at the Estee Lauder counter talked to me like I had a brain and Joseph? at the By Kilian counter is going to feature in a writeup as soon as I get a chance. Really liked the new By Kilians (though if you want to frown about prices!)

    I love how you shake your finger “Naughty, naughty” at Guerlain for being so mediocre. They should hear it more. (And I love me some Guerlains. But you’re so right.)

    1. Maybe in France Guerlain can coast on reputation, but that’s just not going to fly here in the U.S. The only Guerlain I see sold in most stores is Shalimar, which has been through so many reformulations that neither its old fans or young folk much care for it. They need to try a LOT harder (and I have to say that I have serious doubts about their choice of Thierry Wasser as their new house perfumer).

    1. You know, I can’t say it did! Maybe because there were some breaks in between sniffs, as I had to walk a little bit to each store. As you continue to exercise your nose, I am sure you will be able to start handling more and more! πŸ˜‰

  6. I managed to smell quite a few new things..I took my daughter to london for her birthday..so I made it to Roja Dove in Harrods..and also Les Senteurs..I of course..was swooning…the daughter not quite so much..but I did buy 2 new ‘fumes. I bought Malle Le Parfum de Therese and also Ormonde Jayne Zizan..so I am happy and content.

    P.S. Ari…I’m still waiting for the great Tysons meet!! I would love to fume shop with ya…oh and for those in this area…Killian will be at Saks on the 21st. πŸ™‚

    1. Wow, what an amazing trip! And you made such wonderful choices. I can’t wait until the day when I am finally womanly enough to wear Le Parfum de Therese (it would be ridiculous on someone as teenage-looking as me).

      I was soooo excited to read about the Kilian event, and sooo sad when I remembered that this weekend is my sorority initiation that cannot be missed for any reason 😦 😦 The reason that the Tyson’s meet has been delayed is that one reader who really wanted to come, Ms. Julie Price, fell extremely sick for months! So I have been waiting for her to recover before trying to set a date.

      1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ I hope Ms. Price gets well soon. I am quite sad you can’t make the Kilian event..I was quite looking forward to finally meeting you. I enjoy your writing so much.

  7. I sampled Diptyque’s Eau Rose just yesterday but it went terribly sour on me; unfortunately, that’s par for the course with rose soliflores. I’m finally caught up on my sampling (a bunch of unsniffed samples makes my anal-retentive self get all squirrely) so I’m feeling zen. The Parfums delRae and the Lush Gorilla scents were meh, but Dee sent several that I think are wonderful.

    1. Awww, what a shame! I liked that Eau Rose, but I can definitely see it going sour. Did you get to smell the Gorilla Smell of Weather Turning? That was the standout for me from that sample set.

  8. I’m not a big fan of Ineke’s perfumes in general (I’m a small fan πŸ™‚ ) but I have to say that Field Notes From Paris are a unisex perfume, not a feminine. It is my personal favorite from this line. I tested all of them on skin so I do not know how FNFP smells on paper but I’m surprised that you smell coffee in there. I’m less surprised about sugar: I do not smell too much sweetness in it but then I’m known not to smell some sweet components of some perfumes.

    My most recent pleasant “discovery” was Le Temps D’Une Fete by Parfums De Nicolai. I couldn’t believe how much I liked it. Need to keep testing to decide if I actually want a full bottle of it.

    1. Oh! Thank you for the info, Undina! Are all of the Inekes unisex? I didn’t see any feminine/masculine labels on the website.

      Hooray about your new De Nicolai love! I got to visit a Parfums De Nicolai boutique in Paris, and while I don’t think I tried that one, I was really impressed by the line in general.

      1. Henri Bendel has – or had last year – a box set of Ineke samples, quite well priced, up to but not including Fields of Gold – but Fields of Gold was in the sample bag at Sniffapalooza. (I bought the sample set during Sniffa.) Just a thought.

        They had, like, four, and they went quickly. But they were there.

  9. I love the Inekes. Definitely prefer them by far to the bulk of the Guerlains that are readily available to me in stores (which is not many Guerlains).

    I like Saks for shopping. It’s probably the best place near me. They see me coming at this point, but I do occasionally buy so they live with it. I live basically across the street from Neiman’s which you would think has amazing selection, but my Neiman’s is tiny and doesn’t have a ton of selection. 😦

    I friggin’ want a Lilly Pulitzer perfume print dress for my wedding rehearsal. But it can’t be strapless…….

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