The D.C. Perfume Tour

Cherry-Blossoms-

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

citycenter

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

shop

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

santamaria

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

parfumsdefrance

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.

Advertisements

International Women’s Month: Akiko Kamei

zzrose-366865

Before Frederic Malle began putting the perfumer’s name on his bottles 16 years ago, perfumers were mostly unknown and uncredited outside of their industry. Acknowledging the perfumer would have risked shattering the illusion that Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors sat around blending their perfumes themselves. As a result, it can be very tricky to find information about perfumers, particularly older perfumers from more secretive generations. But I have never found so little information as I did on Akiko Kamei. One photo, a list of creations, and an unverified claim that Ms. Kamei once worked at Givaudan. No interviews, no quotes, nothing!

So this is really less of a post and more of a cry for help. Does anyone know anything about the woman who created Rouge d’Hermes, Caron No. 3, Diptyque Oyedo*, and L’Artisan Mure et Musc eau de cologne**? I hate seeing such an accomplished perfumer come so close to being forgotten. I’ll update this post with anything we can find! Let’s solve this fragrant mystery.

* Source: http://olfatheque.com/fiche-personne-194-Akiko-Kamei.html

** Source: http://boisdejasmin.com/2006/02/mure_et_musc_an.html

Hermes Le Jardin de Monsieur Li

Despite the “Monsieur”, LJdML is by far the most feminine of the Hermes Jardin series. In direct contrast to its bracing, green ancestors, LJdML is a sweet, delicate floral. The star is a bright, fresh jasmine note, completely stripped of jasmine’s usual headiness. It’s a Baby’s First Jasmine jasmine, which just so happens to be the only kind of jasmine I can tolerate. Oh, Jean-Claude, you shouldn’t have! (In all seriousness, Jean-Claude Ellena is my Imaginary Perfume Bro. He spends half of Diary of A Nose talking about how much he loves Japan, so you just know he’d be totally down for a Studio Ghibli marathon. Let’s make it happen, JC.)

This face is CLEARLY saying, "Hey girl, it's Kiki's Delivery Service time."
This face is CLEARLY saying, “Hey girl, it’s Kiki’s Delivery Service time.”

I have no doubt that I would wear LJdML, especially on these gorgeous 70 degree days that we’ve just started having, but I don’t think I would actually buy a bottle. There are so many fresh jasmine fragrances out there, even if this is one of the prettiest.

The winner of last week’s Chanel Misia giveaway, as determined by random.org sequence generator, is commenter 14, Undina! Congratulations, Undina! Please email me to claim your prize!

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 1.49.47 PM

Hermes Epice Marine

visuel-prehome-epice-marine

So this post was supposed to be about the Diptyque sample sale, but then I totally slept through it. That happens a lot lately. I’m now working full-time at MiN New York, and most nights I get home stupid tired and genuinely excited to fall asleep at 9:30 PM. I just bought a book of smoothie recipes because sometimes I’m too tired to chew, which is exactly as pathetic as it sounds.

Last week I stayed awake long enough to visit the Central Park Zoo. I wanted to see the new snow leopard cubs, which are probably super adorable when they are not hiding behind large rocks. And then the red panda exhibit was closed! I think I have bad zoo karma from all of those times I unleashed tigers on unsuspecting zoo-goers in Sim City: Zoo Tycoon. The Central Park Zoo is just a few blocks away from the Hermes boutique, so I decided to stop in and try the newest Hermessence.

We all know the Epice Marine story by now: it’s a collaboration between perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and fancypants chef Olivier Roellinger. Epice Marine is very Jean-Claude. This salty, savory fragrance is so polished that you barely notice just how unusual the notes (toasted cumin, hazelnuts, “sea notes”, whiskey) are. I’ve never tasted the star ingredient, toasted cumin, but the spices in Epice Marine have a very Middle Eastern feel to me. The salty effect is familiar from perfumes like Heeley Sel Marin and The Different Company’s Sel du Vetiver, but Epice Marine is by far the most refined variation on this theme.

With my sweet tooth, Epice Marine isn’t something I’d be likely to wear myself. But I’d be perfectly happy to smell this quietly creative perfume on Hermes lovers.

Hermes Jour d’Hermes

hermes-jour1

The first paragraph of Jean-Claude Ellena’s The Diary of a Nose reads, “Since I started composing perfumes I’ve learned, I’ve invented “catchphrase-smells”, like the first sentence, the first notes of a piece of music, the initial images that are reworked at length to capture a reader’s, a listener’s, a spectator’s attention. So that he or she wants to carry on, in order to pursue the pleasure. In a society where speed is everything, perfumes are judged in a couple of seconds, as if at a glance. The hastiness of these assessments upsets me: a perfume can only truly tell its story when it is smelled and worn.”

I’m not sure what happened during the three years between that diary entry and the release of Jour d’Hermes, but Jour d’Hermes is exactly the kind of perfume that Ellena condemns in his Diary. The top notes, a burst of lilies brightened with lemon, are nothing short of exquisite. But each time that I put my nose to my wrist after those thrilling first ten minutes, I find that the fragrance has become thinner, more synthetic. After perhaps 45 minutes, Jour d’Hermes is just another pleasant but unremarkable lemony floral.

Quite a few other perfume bloggers really liked Jour d’Hermes; Robin at Now Smell This bought a bottle, as did Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels. Jour d’Hermes is even The Candy Perfume Boy’s fifth anniversary perfume. Here’s my explanation: I have extremely dry skin. Virtually zero perfumes last even an hour on me. I figure that Jour d’Hermes’ beautiful top notes must last longer on its fans.

If you liked Cartier Baiser Vole, another photorealistic lily perfume, then I think you might really enjoy Jour d’Hermes. Although I just called Jour d’Hermes’ drydown “unremarkable”, it’s actually much more successful than Baiser Vole’s drydown, which had an unfortunate Maxipad vibe.