An Anniversary Thank You

September 26, 2015!

The party’s not until November 5, but today is the actual one year mark for Arielle Shoshana. When I open the shop this morning, I’ll see your faces smiling at me from the Polaroids on the shelves. I’ll see the cash register that my mom manned for seven straight Saturdays after we opened. I’ll see the shelf lights that my dad spent hours soldering into place. I’ll see the exquisitely organized drawers that my best friend Daisy came all the way down from New York to help us set up. I look at the shop that they and you and I have kept open for an entire year, and I feel completely overcome.

Thank you to each and every one of the 1,483 people who’ve chosen a fragrance at Arielle Shoshana in the last year. Thank you for proving that D.C. was ready to smell more interesting. Thank you for the utter privilege of getting to meet you and talk with you and sniff with you. Today and every day, I feel so, so lucky to have you.

Missoni Eau de Toilette

Ten years ago, Missoni released a daring, excellent fragrance by the immensely talented Maurice Roucel. It was a pretty drastic flop, discontinued by 2011. Missoni has clearly learned their lesson: no good perfumes ever again! Instead, we get Escada summer release rejects. Missoni Eau de Toilette is a juicy, more-than-a-little-plastic-y pear-based fruity floral. It smells fine, if very Bath and Body Works, but it feels a little like wearing a full Juicy Couture tracksuit in 2016. Like, oh, are we still doing that? Are we still doing cash-grab fruity florals? I thought we were doing cash-grab gourmands now.

Maybe that’s too harsh. If an interesting and quality fragrance didn’t succeed, I gueeeeeess I can see how going in the complete opposite direction could seem like the right answer. But forgettable perfume is never the answer. Not in the age of 1,620 annual fragrance releases. (And that’s just 2014’s number.)

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored (clearly!) and does not contain affiliate links. I tested Missoni Eau de Toilette at my local Bloomingdale’s.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon and Rose

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Time of death: September 9, 2015. “The celebrity party is over,” WWD pronounced, citing the $100 million drop in celebrity fragrance sales between 2011 and 2015. It’s time for the afterparty, a more exclusive gathering of celebrities who made smarter decisions about their fragrance lines. At the top of the guest list are the Olsen twins, those plucky slow lorises behind Elizabeth and James.

Downright uncanny.

Nirvana Bourbon and Rose are the latest in a long line of shrewd choices over at Elizabeth and James. Rather than flooding the market with flankers after the huge success of the original Nirvana fragrances, the Olsens took a respectable three years to develop the next pair. The happy result: two solid-quality fragrances that actually surpass the originals.

Nirvana Bourbon is the clear breakout star of the duo. It’s a sheer, woody vanilla, closely related to niche vanillas like Arquiste The Architects Club and Le Labo Vanille 44. This is very good stuff, especially for the price ($25 rollerballs are yet another smart Olsen decision). Nirvana Rose is an elegantly musty rose; think warmer and less fresh than Stella McCartney Stella. I prefer Nirvana Bourbon for myself, but I respect the creative risk behind Nirvana Rose. Young American customers tend to be suspicious of rose notes, and while Nirvana Rose certainly isn’t heavy, it’s not a light, fresh rose, either.

That’s the secret to the Nirvana fragrances’ success, I think. They’re not lowest common denominator scents. They respect our intelligence. The nosedive in celebrity perfume sales is a lesson to brands who insult the customer’s intelligence by slapping a celebrity’s name on increasingly awful juice. You can’t get away with that anymore. Party on, Olsens!

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. I tested Nirvana Bourbon and Rose at my local Sephora.

The D.C. Perfume Tour

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Come for the pandas, stay for the perfume!

D.C. has been unprecedentedly fashionable lately (thank you, FLOTUS!), but the Nation’s Capital still isn’t exactly a world leader in perfume shopping. But as this perfectly respectable, approaching-double-digits list of D.C. fragrance destinations hopefully demonstrates, we’re starting to catch up!

Le Labo

le labo

D.C. actually got a double dose of Le Labo last year: a free-standing boutique in the Shaw, and the first Nordstrom Le Labo counter in the country at Nordstrom Tysons Corner. I’d opt for the boutique, which carries a wider range of products (15 ml sizes, concrete candles). Still waiting on the D.C. City Exclusive, guys!

CityCenter DC

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Shoulders straight. Pinkies up. We’re headed to D.C.’s fanciest new neighborhood, dahling. Don’t get distracted by Momofuku; we’re here for the trinity of luxury boutiques (and their boutique-exclusive perfumes!) This is the only Hermes boutique for several states, i.e. the only place to experience the wonderful boutique-exclusive Hermessence range. There’s also a Dior boutique, confirmed to carry La Collection Privee, and a Jo Malone boutique, currently the only outlet for Jo Malone Rare Teas collection.

Arielle Shoshana

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With everything from niche classics (Tauer Perfumes, L’Artisan Parfumeur) to the cutting edge (Neela Vermeire, Parfumerie Generale), D.C.’s first niche fragrance boutique boasts the D.C. area’s largest selection of both niche scents and cat-themed coffee table books.

Santa Maria Novella

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Wasn’t it thoughtful of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s oldest perfumery, to save us money on airfare by bringing Florence to us? Rose-scented dog deodorant is just one of the charming curiosities waiting inside this tiny treasure chest of a boutique. And while you’re in the area, don’t miss the particularly impressive Saks Fifth Avenue (FULL Guerlain line, Chanel Les Exclusifs) a block away.

Tysons Galleria

tysons galleria

The Galleria just hasn’t been the same since florist/fragrance shop Art with Flowers, may its memory be a blessing, closed a few years ago. But between a formidable Neiman Marcus (Byredo, Roja Dove, Boadicea the Victorious), a well-stocked Saks (By Kilian, Bond No. 9), and a Chanel Boutique (Les Exclusifs!), Tysons Galleria still packs quite a punch in the perfume department.

Parfum de France

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Parfum de France operates on a unique, intriguing business model. It carries both select niche lines (Amouage, Clive Christian) and vintage mainstream scents (often long discontinued). I was once lucky enough to find a bottle of Guerlain Meteorites here.

bluemercury (multiple locations)

bluemercury

Let’s show some hometown pride for Bethesda-based bluemercury! It’s been a few years since bluemercury carried brands like Serge Lutens and L’Artisan, but you can still find Creed, Diptyque, and Acqua di Parma alongside upscale hair, skin, and makeup products.

Did I miss any hidden gems? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links.

Not Even For Free

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I LOVE this story, you guys. So every day we put a “scent of the day” outside the shop. Last Wednesday, that scent was CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves. Towards the end of the day, two mischievous teenagers stopped in front of the scent of the day.

“Let’s just take it,” one of them giggled. “I’m gonna take it,” the other whispered back. (Note to mischievous teens: our shop has unusually good sound acoustics.)

Eventually, it occurred to our daring duo that they might want to actually try the fragrance they were about to run off with.

“Ugh!” Blonde Teen screeched. “I don’t want that! Who would want that?”

Our discerning critics immediately took off, leaving poor, rejected Burning Leaves safe and sound.

That exciting caper got me thinking: are there any fragrances you wouldn’t wear even if someone handed you a free bottle? My personal “not even if you paid me” would probably be Gorilla Perfumes Lust. There’s nothing objectively wrong with Lust, but that heady jasmine is completely overwhelming to me.