Quarter-Life Crisis

As of July 26, I have officially hit late twenties! (Which makes Scents of Self eight years old, y’all. Scents of Self is A THIRD GRADER. If she’s following in my footsteps, next year she’ll have to switch schools after a few “recess incidents.” Eight year old Ari had not yet quite mastered that most crucial of lessons, “hitting is bad.”) Staring down the harsh reality of never again (or, uh, before) qualifying for “25 under 25” lists, I gave in to my quarter-life equivalent of the mid-life crisis red convertible: a new perfume display shelf! (I had a college roommate whose mom celebrated getting divorced by buying a helicopter. She ended up selling it almost immediately, because “there’s just no place to park a helicopter.” We’ve all been there, girl.)

Shall we stroll down perfume storage memory lane to see just how extensive the upgrade is?
The mini-fridge stage! Pros: protected the perfumes from a newly-adopted Zelda. Cons: it was actually a wine cooler, so the perfumes kept falling through the intended-for-wine-bottles slats.This bookshelf loyally served me from high school all the way through my first post-graduation apartment. That apartment, however, was located in New York, and just a few trips to The Strand quickly exceeded its capacity.A very cute step shelf from Target. Not even close to enough room for the books.

Back to the fridge! Yes, it’s the safest place for a perfume to be (protected from heat and light), but now no one else can see all my beautiful bottles!The most recent storage solution, an eight cube Ikea Kallax. There’s finally enough room for both the perfumes and the books, but it’s not the most elegant piece of furniture.

My previous perfume organizational systems were always pretty much just “prettiest bottles up front,” but I feel like I should be taking advantage of the shelf’s segmentation. Any advice on the best ways to sort a collection?

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.

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc

I consider Drake and Tom Ford to be one of history’s most charmingly unexpected bromances. Drake dedicated a song on his bestselling album, Nothing Was The Same, to Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather; in return, Tom named one of his (outstanding) lipsticks after Drake.

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But I doubt even Drake would have much to say about the newest Tom Ford Private Blend. If Tuscan Leather merited a whole song, Soleil Blanc barely deserves a verse.

Soleil Blanc’s press release describes it as a “solar floral amber”. It’s a sunscreen fragrance, of the squeaky-clean Coppertone variety rather than a jasmine-drenched French tanning oil. There’s nothing that distinguishes Soleil Blanc from the numerous other sunscreen-y fragrances out there, like Bobbi Brown Beach or Bond No. 9 Fire Island. And at $220 for 50 ml, that’s kind of unacceptable. I was really hoping that Soleil Blanc would be the reincarnation of the heavenly Tom Ford for Estee Lauder Azuree Soleil, but no such luck. Hopefully the next Tom Ford fragrance will be more worthy of Drake’s adoration.

Disclaimers: This post was not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. I tested Soleil Blanc at my local Neiman’s.

By Kilian Addictive State of Mind Review and Giveaway

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Finally, y’all. After a few too many rounds of uninspiring releases from By Kilian (ahem, Asian Tales), the new Addictive State of Mind collection is a stronger, less commercial effort. I think the concept of perfumes based on addictive substances has a lot of potential; I can’t be the only one salivating at the prospect of a Kilian chocolate scent. The first three fragrances in the series, Intoxicated, Light My Fire, and Smoke for the Soul, focus on the vices of coffee, tobacco, and marijuana. Sadly unrepresented is the most potent intoxicant of all, Kilian himself. “Skinny Robert Downey Jr.!” I hissed at my Sniffapalooza seat mates.

Intoxicated is extremely sweet, with more cardamom and less coffee than I was hoping for. There’s a strong resemblance to Thierry Mugler A*Men and the dearly departed Rochas Man. I still prefer Bond No. 9 New Haarlem for my coffee fix, but I think Intoxicated will easily be the most popular of these first three.

Light My Fire is a dry tobacco fragrance, more masculine and easygoing than the voluptuous, honey-drenched Kilian Back to Black. Unlike most tobacco fragrances, the emphasis is on tobacco itself rather than the accompanying vanilla and spices. My personal favorite, although I’m not sure I would pay Kilian prices for it.

Smoke for the Soul combines a hilariously unsubtle cannabis note with harsh, billowing birch tar smokiness. Probably the most interesting and the least wearable of the trio. Curiously, even though Smoke for the Soul has a much stronger smell than the other two fragrances, it has the weakest staying power. Not a particularly lasting high.

I have an extra Addictive State of Mind sample set from Sniffapalooza, and I’d love to share it with you! If you’d like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us your favorite, non-depressing addiction. Perfume counts, of course. I will close the giveaway at noon on Friday, October 17th. This giveaway is open to U.S. and international readers. Good luck!

Bond No 9. Saks Fifth Avenue for Her

I’ve had this sample for more than four years now. I was not particularly impressed with it when it was first released, so I left it to languish in the Sample Fishbowl. Now I think that I may have been too harsh on poor Saks for Her. Saks for Her is a sinfully rich tropical gardenia. Coconut is not an officially listed note, but it dominates the fragrance. Although it claims to have a vetiver note, Saks for Her doesn’t have much of a base at all. My issues with Saks for Her have not disappeared entirely: it is much too sweet, and its level of complexity is not on par with its high price. However, these grievances seem almost trivial when I consider how truly great this sunny, smooth fragrance smells. Normally I would tell you that you could probably find something equally enjoyable for a much better price, but honestly, these days you probably can’t. If anyone has found a similar fragrance for cheaper, please share with us in the comments.