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?

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Jo Malone Whisky and Cedarwood

Pack it up, organized religion! Jo Malone just handed us definitive proof of reincarnation. Glory, glory, hallelujah!

The Arquiste for J. Crew saga is one of the great tragedies of our perfume times. In 2014, Arquiste created two excellent fragrances as a special collection for J. Crew. There appear to have been some major packaging issues (I bought a rollerball only to find that half of the perfume had already leaked out), and the line was rapidly, unjustly clearanced and dropped. My favorite of the duo was No. 57, a sultry whiskey fragrance with more spice than sweetness.

Three years later, Jo Malone taps Yann Vasnier, the dashing longtime Arquiste nose, for their new Bloomsbury collection. Yann must have missed No. 57 as much as I did, because lo and behold, his cinnamon-flecked hot toddy of a perfume has been reborn as Jo Malone Whisky and Cedarwood! As a whole, this is actually one of Jo Malone’s most solid collections in quite a while. (Yaaaay! We’re rooting for you, you crazy kids!) The hyper-realistic Blue Hyacinth is definitely not to be missed. But Whisky and Cedarwood is the one that I feel most compelled to wear myself.

The Bloomsbury collection is limited edition, so Whisky and Cedarwood is actually only the briefest of respites from fragrance oblivion (dang, that just got dark). If you were sorry to see No. 57 go the first time around, Whisky and Cedarwood offers a second chance at a lost love. (Although I have to say I much preferred the elegant Arquiste for J. Crew packaging to Jo’s tissue paper stained glass art project vibe. I’m also not 100% sure why “whiskey” needed to be misspelled. It’s always something with you, Jo Malone.)

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. I sampled Jo Malone Whisky and Cedarwood at my local Nordstrom. 

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

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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

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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.

Jo Malone Nashi Blossom

Oh no, Jo-Jo Ma. (That might be one of my best perfume puns, right up there with “Gindiana Jones And The Raiders of the Lost Ark”.) Underneath those adorable polka dots lurks one of the most outrageously mediocre, paper-thin shampoo florals I’ve ever had the misfortune of spraying. The official notes are lemon, Asian pear, rose, and apple, but the overall effect is diluted Lemon Pledge crossed with one of the fruitier drug store shampoos. There are (quite a few!) body sprays at Bath & Body Works with more complexity. Shame on everyone who was involved in the creation of this cynical dreck. Dishonor on you! Dishonor on your cow!

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Jo Malone The Herb Garden

I’ve been counting down the days until The Herb Garden finally sprouted up. (See what I did there, guys? Don’t make me make a “green thumb” pun.) It’s the first collection from Jo Malone’s new in-house perfumer, Anne Flipo, the woman behind icons like L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons and Alexander McQueen MyQueen. The last Jo Malone to really impress me was Blackberry & Bay back in 2012, so I can’t wait to watch Flipo work her magic.

With one exception, the five scents in The Herb Garden are a lot more ambitious than the last few Jo Malone collections (Rock The Ages, London Rain, Sugar & Spice). Unfortunately, they’re still plagued by that notoriously dismal Jo Malone lasting power. As always, the limited-edition bottles are deeply cute.

Nasturtium & Clover 

Notes: Rocket, lemon, clover, nasturtium, jasmine, vetiver

My favorite of the five, even though I’m still not sure what “nasturtium” is. (Turns out it’s watercress! Was “Watercress & Clover” not glamorous enough?) N&C is a leafy, vegetal green fragrance with quite a bit of depth. Immediately reminded me of a much less sweet L’Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa Pour Moi.

Wild Strawberry & Parsley

Notes: Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Tomato Leaves, Parsley, Violet

Probably the most conceptually interesting scent in the collection. WS & P is an aquatic fruity fragrance, a tricky balancing act between the sweetness of the berry notes and the tartness of tomato leaf. A little too sweet by the end, but it mostly works. Not distinguishably strawberry.

Carrot Blossom & Fennel

Notes: Carrot, Rose, Orange Blossom, Iris

An odd duck. Rooty iris, sweet, syrup-y orange blossom, and a touch of spice. I was hoping for a lot more carrot, like L’Artisan’s Fleur de Carotte, but I do have to give CB & F credit for being the only one of the five scents to last more than half an hour on my skin.

Sorrel & Lemon Thyme

 Notes: Lemon, Bigarde, Petitgrain, Sorrel, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary, Geranium, Moss

The weakest link of the five. This thin, tart lemon scent smells much closer to a citrus cleaning product than an actual citrus fruit.

Lavender & Coriander

Notes: Lavender, Coriander, Sage, Tonka bean

Barbershop lavender, dry and sweet. Nicer than Jo’s other lavender, Amber & Lavender, but nothing groundbreaking.

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. All samples were generously provided by the wonderful Katri, the most helpful and knowledgable sales associate at Bloomingdales Tysons Corner.